Nigeria’s Agric Minister fails to explain funding for 10 million farmers phones

Minister of Agric, Akin Adeshina
Minister of Agric, Akin Adeshina

The Minister did not give a specific sum of money for the project.

The Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, on Friday released an ambiguous statement that failed to give clarity to the government’s position on the 10 million telephone handsets to be purchased for an equal number of farmers.

Mr. Adesina said that while his ministry intends to buy phones for 10 million farmers, it will not spend N60 billion on the project.

On Thursday, Permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Ibukun Odusote, was quoted as saying the Federal Government will procure 10 million telephone handsets worth about N60 billion for farmers.

The Agriculture Minister said it is untrue and that his permanent secretary was quoted out of context.

Even he, however, failed to give a definite cost or source of funding for the phones.

In a statement released by Mr. Adesina, he said that his permanent secretary was misquoted.

“My permanent secretary was totally misquoted out of context. There is no 60 Billion Naira for phones anywhere.

“As a responsible Minister, who takes public accountability and probity very seriously, there is absolutely no way in the world that I will even contemplate or approve such expenditure. All our focus as government is on creating jobs in Nigeria, not exporting jobs elsewhere,” Mr. Adesina said.

The minister stated that the provision of the phones is a partnership between different public and private bodies.

“The distribution of the phones will be supported through an MoU signed between the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communications Technology and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, with the Ministry of Women Affairs. Out of the 10 million phones, 5 million will go to women.

“The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), which supports expansion of mobile operators into rural areas, through a tax, will support this initiative, in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. We intend to work with existing mobile operators in Nigeria through a public-private partnership,” he said.Reno Omokri's tweet on Agric 60billion phone

He, however failed to provide details of the total cost of the phones, and how much each partner would contribute to the expenditure, thereby fuelling claims of the original N60 billion mentioned by the permanent secretary.

While Mr. Akinwunmi was trying to salvage his and his ministry’s reputation over the proposed expenditure by denying the speculated amount involved, the presidency was defending the figure.

Omokiri defends N60bn

The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on new media, Reno Omokiri, strongly defended the N60 billion proposed spending, revealing a blurred strategy in the Federal Government’s financing of the project.

While the Minister of Agriculture insists that N 60 billion will not be spent on the phones, Mr. Omokiri, on Twitter, said 10 million farmers will get phones worth 6,000 per unit.

“For those who have an objective mind, 60 billion divided by 10 million farmers gives you a unit cost of 6000 Naira per phone,” Remo Omokiri said.

Mr. Adesina, however, said his policies in the Agricultural and Rural development Ministry is to ensure sure that no farmer is left behind in the ministry’s agenda to move Agriculture in Nigeria from a development program to agriculture as a business.

Efforts made by PREMIUM TIMES to get a detailed breakdown of how the ministry arrived at the 10 million figure for farmers, as well as the total cost of the project and contribution by each partner, failed as the minister’s spokesperson, Tunde Oladunjoye, declined to respond to telephone enquiries and text messages.

  • Olufemi

    Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is obviously in a quandry over his wrong-headed policy, if implemented, is not sistainable. But this is even giving the Minister some credit. As Premium Times rightly pointed out, the Minister failed to state the exact cost of this misguided programme. Let us ignore Reno Omokri, the President’s assistant on social media, as he is lazy and incapable of thinking. If Omokri had any sense at all, if each phone set cost N6,000, then the logistics of distribution will have its own cost, and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Odusote mentioned procurement of “rechargable lamps” as part of this ridiculous 10- million phone programme. The truth is that Minister Adesina and his collaborators came up with this programme to fleece us Nigerians of our money.

    The Minister’s clarification is short on specifics and reveal a convoluted implementation plan, at best. The reality is that Adesina will EXPORT jobs out of Nigeria and IMPORT craps. How many reputable factories can manufacture 1 million phones in 6 months. Which database did Adesina use to arrive at 10 million farmers? We are now told that 5million will be given to the Ministry of Women Affairs! Will these be women be farmers, rural or poor, or all three? Adesina may have come up with a programme to bribe voters on behalf of Pres. Jonathan, but he cannot pretend or fool Nigerians that the programme is to improve our agricultural output. The programme is phony and a platform to loot our treasury on a massive scale.

    The Minister can formulate a better programme to give incentive to young farmers to return to the hinterland. For N60bn, even half of that, he csn launch arogramme that attracts young educatec people (aged 18-30) , 25 in each state of the federation, secure 20 hectares for each of them (that is 500 hectares per state and 18,000 hectares nationwide). Tractors csn be hired out for clearing at massive discount and harvesters provided. Veterinary doctors and nurses can be trained to support our nomadic cattle rearers and designated grazing ground and watering holes provided for them, special breed of cattle can be providec to introduce more resilient breeds. Fishermen can be supported with fishibg gear and provision of centres for cold room, etc. These will be clear practical steps, money spent on Nigerians, mostly in Nigeria on assets that can be seen for many years, and most of which are sustainable, not the ‘craps’ Adesina and a cobsortium of 3 other ministers and un-identified private sector companies want to supply as a ruse to take money out of our treasury, devalue our currency by the time they change the mobey to fx. Adesina must be stopped. The whole thing is a farce.

  • True9jaDeltan

    This man is an imbesile because he has failed to give any sensible explanation about the amount allocated as far as I am concerned. If mobile providers want to extend their reach to rural areas, what concerns the ministry with providing handsets to farmers, how would the handsets boost food production?. This is obviously a strategy for Jonathan to steal and bribe his way for 2015.

  • teebaba

    @782157429afd210bfe0d88c2c1b7a679:disqus i understand your reservation and distrust for the system. it is not misplaced. i must commed your ability to provide a workable solution. Most people just insult the government without giving any wisdom on the way forward. Infact, i feel you can do better than the minister himself.

  • Faseyitan

    If there is any truth in this story, then its very disappointing. Minister of agriculture Akinwumi Adesina has been the best performing minister amongst the gang of bandits called cabinet of GEJ. If he came up with this very deceptive and rudderless programme its most disheartening. Granted that ICT and mobile communications is vital to agri business today, but its not a priority in the present scheme of things. When are we going to start learning that developments start from rudimentary stages, why do we crave for the very best when we have nothing yet. No sufficient foods yet we want to spend N60B on mobile phones as if this would increase food productivity.

    Nigeria is blessed with many intelligently stupid people blinded by greed. No good roads, standard airports and we are all buying jets, no power supply and the country is flooded with all sorts of eletronic gadgets. No visible accessible roads and we are all building mansions, we can go on and on. The ROAD to any DEVELOPMENT starts with the construction of ROADS. Most farm areas are not even motorable.

    About time our common thieves in government reduce their thievery because the citizens are sick and tired of it all. Many in government have lost the dignity their office commands, even their human dignity gone due to excessive pursuit of rational self interest. Very disgraceful lot………………

  • wenogodie

    its incredible how our government think and works. what corelation has a farming with handsets. Does the minister wants farmers to be diacussing their needs directly with him. can he cope talking to half of nigerian farmers a day? even if he can, will the next minister follow in his steps? As a farmer, i know better, those of us that need phones , either we have bought already or our children bought for us. We need more of ferterlizers, chemicals and tools that can revolutionalized our agiric system. Whoever has craftly giving you that proposal only wants to rip off farmers. pls forget about it,mr minister. those kind of proposals only fits first ladies

  • kenneth

    Why must everything about the government be shrouded in secrecy? Again why should the government say different and conflicting things over an issue as if they are some motor park tout? God help us before its too late