Nigerian governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, are meeting, in what is their third retreat, in Lagos today, to brainstorm on burning national issues – ranging from how to build a strong defence against corruption to how to harness Nigeria’s agricultural potential.
The Forum, led by the Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, will also discuss strategies for improving access to quality education. The governors and other participants will listen to presentations from experts and university dons.
All the 36 state governors are expected to attend the event, holding at the Eko Hotel and Suites, in Lagos, the organisation’s Director General, Asishana Okauru, said.
PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters are attending the sessions and will bring you live updates of the event, tagged ‘Towards a Sustainable Democracy”.
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The Governors and other dignitaries have started arriving the venue. Governors Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi were the first to arrive. Others are Nuhu Ribadu, Grace AleleWilliams and former Police Affairs Minister, Yakubu Lame.
More dignatories have arrived and the hall is almost filled.
Retreat begins. Governor Fashola gives opening remarks. He says retreat aims at sharing experiences and engaging in healthy competition targeted at improving the lives of the people.
He says retreat will focus on key sectors necessary for national development.
“Welcome to Lagos and enjoy your stay,” he concludes.
First session on Agriculture to be chaired by Senator Bukola Saraki.
Mr. Saraki speaks: “The communique of your retreat in Sokoto talked about diversifying Nigeria’s economy to reduce dependence on oil.
“This session will take a look at an overview of the current state of Agriculture in the states, and Nigeria without oil and how to unlock the agricultural value chain. We will have four discussants and it will be interesting to see how poverty can be reduced through agriculture.
“We will also listen to what have really been done to unlocking the value chain of Agriculture. The question is can it be done? And the answer is yes.
“In the 60s, export crops was the number one source of revenue, so it has been done before, and can be done again.”
The first presenter on the current state of Agriculture in the states is Dr. Babagana Abba Gambo.
Highlight of his speech
– Agriculture is the largest contributor to the. GDP from the non oil sector.
– Rainfall pattern in Sokoto is only about three months while some states experience 12 months, this unique diversity is a great advantage to Nigeria
– The Federal Ministry of Agriculture has changed its name 27 times.
– The hoe remains the major instrument of farming in Nigeria.
– Fertilizer and other inputs remain a mirage
– Low input equals law output
– Farmers have little knowledge of harsh environmental vagaries,- erosion, desertification soil degradation
– The average age of Nigerian farmers is 58 years old. The youth are staying away from farming
All these, he says, constitute present status of Agricultural practice in Nigeria
Dr. Gambo continues:
– Food and Agricultural Organisation requirement is one extension officer to fifty farmers, but in Nigeria it is one officer to 350,000 farmers
– Nigeria spent 13 billion Naira on the importation of tomato paste in 2013 alone
– Cows in Nigeria give 1 liter of milk per day, but in other countries, they give 80 liters per day
The presenter now talks about the successes in some states
– In Adamawa the government has deviced a means by which their cows produces at least 10 liters per day
Kwara: the Zimbabwean farmers increased yield of rice from one tone to five tonnes per hectare. The highest yield of rice and maize is found in Kwara
Sokoto: Skills acquisition programme mopped up about seventy thousand youth from the street to the farms
Rivers: Agriculture has been brought to a modern level by the provision of latest technology. Youth there are now proud to identify themselves as farmers unlike before
Enugu: Successful implementation of pineapple policy
Lagos: Very soon, people in Lagos will not need tomatoes, peppers, cattle etc from the north due to the new Agriculture policy in place. Lagos is the only state that is food sufficient.
Plateau: A group of women in Plateau state are presently exporting flowers. During the last valentine, they made over one million dollars
“Governors are trying, but more has to be done,” Dr. Gambo says.
The Jibia Dam can produce all the wheat required in Nigeria, what is needed is post-harvest policy.
Tomatoes, onions are wasted due to lack of functional post-harvest plans
No single post-harvest plan in any of the 36 states of the federation, hence produce are wasted
Constant movement of cattle grazers can be curtailed by keeping them in one place and get all they need there- zero grazing
Dr. Gambo ends his presentation.
10: 55 a.m
Second presenter, Victor Okoruwa, now on the podium
He says: “During the Obasanjo regime, Agriculture contributed between 39-40 % to GDP, but now it is 32%
“There is a need for the Federal Government to form synergy with the states in its Agriculture Transformation Agenda in order to encourage the states to key into the agenda
“Most states have Agric policies based on their unique needs.”
More from Victor Okoruwa:
– Many states are experiencing growth in Agric but not much has been recorded
– Unlike many states, Lagos has in place facts and figures of its Agriculture strategy. They are producing 1600 tones per annum, others states should emulate Lagos so that data can be available all the time
– Governments at all level should play less role in Agric and allow the private sector to take over
– Government should concentrate on monitoring of outline policy and strategy in order to ascertain which to strengthen or drop
– The Federal Government and states must harmonies their Agric policies
– Government should also increase utilization of output from research centers
**** Light keeps going off and has been disrupting the programme. Light has gone of and on for three times now.
Dr. Alfred Dickson now speaking on Nigeria without oil; unlocking the agricultural value chain
Light is gone again, forcing for a ten-minute break
The governors are back and the retreat is continuing.
Dr. Dixon continues with his presentation on Nigeria without oil: unlocking Agricultural value chains for economic growth at the sub national level.
– Agric can bring back Nigeria’s glory days
– North East can be sufficient in cotton, livestock, fisheries, sorghum, rice and cassava
– South-south can be self-sufficient.
– Agric can be funded through PPP, private sector investment and foreign direct investment
– Government can provide incentives to Agric through zero per cent duty on Agric machinery,
– Nigeria produces enough cassava, textile and other industries should be encouraged to use higher percentage of the product in their production
– Nigeria has had many Agric policies, government should learn from successes and failures from these programmes
– Government should always consult relevant staheholders in the planning and implementation of Agric programmes
– Strategies for sufficient supply and marketing value chains must be put in place
– Government should also encourage cluster farming
– Agric policies should start from the local level, then states, before going national
– There are no quick fixes for sustained economic growth- policy needs 7-10 years
Dr. Dixon suggests three models that can be used to improve Nigeria’s Agric value chain-
1. Integrated commodity chain approval for competitive production and marketing of value added products
2. Production, processing and packaging e.g. (cassava enterprises development project)
3. Farming for business in order to change the mindset of the average Nigerian farmer
Next to speak is Bismark Rewane. He is speaking on: Agriculture: the fulcrum of the Nigerian economy
Crisis is the catalyst for change especially in Agric in Nigeria
Declining price of oil and leakages affect Nigeria’s economic outcomes
Strong institutions lead to strong outcome, while weak institutions lead to negative outcomes
Declining oil price leads to low GDP growth, low revenue, low external reserves and poor exchange rate
Nigeria’s nominal GDP is $304bn in 2014
The second largest economy in sub Sahara Africa
Nigeria produces 2.43% of world population but share only 0.18% of world GDP
External reserves as at this morning is $38.8bn while unemployment is 30%.
Peter Kishira, Deputy Governor of Kwara state and Moses Adesewo, deputy governor of Oyo state discuss the presentations made by Messrs. Gambo, Dixon and Rewane
Most of Nigeria’s development was financed by revenue from Agric products.
The diversity in rain patters must be used to grow the country’s economy
Agricultural policies over the years are perfect, but hardly implemented
Grazing areas for herdsmen is long overdue to solve the incessant conflicts between herdsmen and farmers
We must practicalise what we have in theory.
Peter (Kwara Dep. gov)
In the developed world, government buy surplus from farmers
There is good production of milk and poultry in Kwara
Agric industry is capital intensive, and for states that are not rich, it becomes difficult to encourage commercial farming
The Federal Government should help states willing to encourage commercial agriculture
Chairman of session, Senator Saraki summarises presentations
1. The FG has an Agric in place but lacks synergy with states, so a forum between the states and FG should be formed
We must fashion out
– How can policies be monitored?
– How to support private sector participation in Agriculture
2. Nigeria has all it takes to unlock Agric potential to ensure job security
3. There are incentives at the national level, but lacking at sub-national levels
4. How to engage research centers to take advantage of research outcomes for positive yield
5. Integration and orientation of all farmers at all levels
6. Nigeria must reduce food import and curtail domestic consumption.
The second session on “Building Systems and Institutions That Prevent Corruption” begins. Session to be chaired by Justice Mustapha Akanbi and papers to be presented by Prof. Akin Oyebode and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu
Discussants are Govs. Fashola, Oshiomhole, Wammako and Amosun
Justice Mustapha Akanbi speaks:
“Until corruption is reduced to zero tolerance, this country cannot make progress.
“The purveyors of corruption are very powerful. Over the years while Nuhu Ribadu and I were fighting corruption, we knew it was possible to take a governor to court. But now things are different.
“Protecting the head of a corruption fighting body should be a priority.
“I’m very happy that the governors forum has deemed it wise to put corruption in their agenda today. The people at all times should be part of the fight against corruption.”
Prof. Akin Oyebode:
He says he got the invitation few days ago and was only able to scribble down a few thoughts. He also thanked the governors forum for putting the issue of corruption on the agenda.
“Corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria. Corruption has become part and parcel of this country.
“Last week we saw protests by some Turks against corruption of their leader by the imposition of his son…. Unfortunately, in our own situation, most people say ‘leave am for God.’
“Two weeks ago, I got nominated for the confab. And my phones have not stopped ringing, people congratulating me, that perhaps, this is my opportunity to move away from poverty.”
Prof. Oyebode still reading from his prepared speech: “If Nigeria does not do all it can to stop corruption, then corruption will stop Nigeria. Once there is general agreement as to what can be considered unacceptable behavior, it is but a short step to whoever breaks the commandment.
“Corruption is not much of the problem, it is the failure to punish corrupt people. The centenary celebration was what could be considered a gathering of rogues. The nation will be judged by the preparedness of the ruling class to try all violators of the law without fear or favour. Nigeria does not suffer from a lack of law against corruption. Corruption and capitalism are partners. Capitalism is legalized armed robbery.
“Nigeria needs great leaders. It’s not enough to have institutions. It is a paradox that Nigerians who have gone scot free in Nigeria have been convicted abroad. Even if there is not much to see in terms of restitution. Corruption is a hydra headed monster and a global octopus which needs to be attacked.
“Thanks to people like Femi Falana who have approached the international criminal court to try our corrupt leaders for crimes against humanity. Although the ICC does not see corruption as a crime against humanity, there is a need to continue to push.”
Prof. Oyebode ends by seeking a collaboration in the fight against corruption.
Nuhu Ribadu begins his presentation by thanking the governors for giving him a platform to share the podium with fellow anti-corruption crusaders like Justice Akanbi.
Speaking on ‘Building systems and institutions that prevent corruption’, Mr. Ribadu says that if Nigeria had done the right thing, we would be producing 45 million barrels of oil per day today. “Fight against corruption should be holistic and all encompassing. Corruption is about money. Wherever there is money, a suspect is there.
Ribadu: “The money coming to us is ending up in extremely few hands. Corruption must be made unattractive and difficult to commit. When there is transparency, there is less room for direct stealing…where there are sanctions, there will be no impunity. Impunity means failure to punish.
“Fighting corruption require your personal lead as political leaders. I’m talking to our governors here. If you have less private jets, less beautiful state houses….will discourage corruption. Impunity is the tail end of the process. The laws are there. Anti corruption requires you to be physically there. If you don’t, I’m telling you, they will steal.”
Justice Akanbi, the chair of the session, announces a short break.
The session reconvenes with Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State Governor, saying that it is not possible to rid a society of corruption. He says there is a lot of focus on the public sector.
“When you look at a system that people way of living is incompatible with their income. In terms of values, from the leadership side, when we reward people for no work done. 20 billion dollars missing and all seems to be well. I can’t contemplate what will happen now.
After Fashola, Governor Oshiomhole takes over the microphone.
The Edo State governor starts with reechoing what Ribadu said about governors taking the lead so their subordinates could follow. He says that if subordinates realize they could be fired, they would shun corruption.
“In terms of looking at corruption induced capitalism, the Nigerian environment has gotten to a point where all of us should get up and fight corruption. When we talk about who will throw the first stone… Just as we have so much more money, some people are getting more poorer.”
The mic moves to Segun Adesegun, the Ogun state deputy governor.
Former Police Affairs Minister, Yakubu Lame will now chair the session on Institutional and Social Drivers of Insecurity at the Sub-National level, finding workable solutions.
Those to make presentation are: John ode, Innocent Chukwuma, and Haruna Abdullahi
The issue of security is a very serious subject especially in these times. We need to find out the state of our current security situation.
Provision of security is a social contract between the state and the citizens.
Security must not be reduced to mere policing.
Post civil war Nigeria has witnessed steeped and accelerated decline in the level of safety and security of its citizenry.
Causes of insecurity include: rising unemployment and poverty,widening inequality of access to and distribution of national resources, high level illiteracy, religious bigotry and ethnicity, effect of globalization, and governance deficits.
Nigeria has witnessed increased security challenges since 1999.
Building strong national institutions is one way of curtailing insecurity.
We create new crime fighting agencies but fail to implement laws that are supposed to enable them work.
Next to speak is Dr. Innocent Chukwuma who will speak on Insecurity in Nigeria: key drivers and intervention options.
Dr. Innocent Chukwuma:
The military is presently usurping the functions of the police in 33 out of 36 states, and that is alarming.
Nigeria is rated the worst in sub-Saharan Africa in rule of law ranking in 2014.
2 out of every 3 Nigerians are fearful of crime.
People are likely to suffer from crime at home than any other place.
Some social statistics in a Nigeria shows that inequality is 48.8%, youth unemployment 54%, poverty rate, 62.6%, population of youth in Nigeria, 64%, housing shortage, 17 million, prevalence of mental illness in a Nigeria, 20%, fertility rate is 5.5%, the seventh highest in the world.
Possible interventions: prioritize transformation of secondary education, support the implementation of of new WAEC’s senior secondary education!
Integrate and link work place learning in the school curriculum, in partnership with the private sector.
Youth unemployment: we need value reorientation, promote enterprise education at all levels including for out of school youth, effective manpower planning in collaboration with the private sector, target youth incentive sectors such as ICT, entertainment, music, films and hospitality.
Also create agencies to enforce physical and social disorder law to employ youth.
Better population management :
We need to encourage girl child education, late partnership formation, delayed child birth, use of contraceptives, and codifying provisions to protect girls against forced marriage.
Youth unemployment: we need value reorientation, promote enterprise education at all levels including for out of school youth, effective manpower planning in collaboration with the private sector,target youth incentive sectors such as ICT, entertainment, music, films and hospitality.
Also create agencies to enforce physical and social disorder law to employ youth.
Better population management :
We need to encourage girl child education, late partnership formation, delayed child birth, use of contraceptives, and codifying provisions to protect girls against forced marriage
Next is Dr. Haruna Abdullahi, a security consultant
The state of insecurity in Nigeria is becoming worrisome considering the high rate of escalation of violence in North Eastern states.
The security strategies of the combined forces of the military and police are not yielding substantial results.
The institutional arrangement for security management at the state level is a replicate of what is obtainable at the centre.
The main actors responsible for security management are the governments at states, LGA and government agencies.
Other actors involved in keeping the peace are traditional rulers, religious leaders and leaders of youth and women organizations.
IMO state Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere and Governor Fayemi will discuss the papers presented.
I am an accidental discussant, but security concerns all of us and the primary role of government is to provide security and welfare to the people.
There is a correlation between security and the nation’s economy.
Most of the insecurity issues have to do with inequality.
Random violence and the insensitivity to it is disturbing. “People were killed and we still held the century celebration. That’s baffling”.
By definition, any country that loses 100 people is in a state of war. We have lost almost a 100,000 people to random violence since the return to democracy.
We owe it as a duty to secure our people.
Gone are the days when attention to security is focused only on the president.
Police at the state and local level will help curb the crime prevalence.
The best solution lies in economic equality.
In Imo State, we created community government where power is taken back to the traditional ruler with the Eze as the Chief security officer.
All criminal elements come from one community or the other.
The Eze, Women leader and the Youth as well as the President General who are all elected except the Eze as the leadership of the community government.
The free education policy at all levels in Imo is run throughout the communities. Beneficiaries get their cheques from their communities.
Pensioners also get their pay through their community governments.
In the next five years Imo State will not depend on the Federal Government.
Each community has eleven vigilante paid by the government who identify criminals.
Insecurity can be solved through adequate education. Imo’s experience if replicated can help a lot.
We have less than 375,000 badly trained and poorly equipped police for over 170 million Nigerians.
The DPO’s must be empowered instead of concentrating power at the highest level- the IGP.
Nothing can be achieved in Nigeria until good governance is greatly improved.
What is happening today should freighter everybody.
The Federal Government basically neglected the issue of Boko Haram until the progressive governors went to Maiduguri.
Because of the insensitivity of government, people are now losing confidence in the government.
If a governor cannot be heard, then we are in a very serious situation.
The retreat has come to an end with the reading of the communique by Mr. Amaechi.
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