Chris Steven, Abuja
A former Accountant General of the Federation, Kayode Naiyeju has said that the current economic recession facing the country would have been averted if all and sundry were not paying lips service to diversification of the nation’s economy in the past.
He argued that the oil boom that the nation experienced in the past blindfolded everyone who were supposed to embrace the diversification of the economy.
“When we were talking of diversification of economy, people were paying lips service to it until we got to the point of recession. The recession will put a lot of stimulation in us to think outside the box. The young ones, school leavers and adults were carried away by the boom of the oil: the only thing that was flowing and we were earning from it and people did not appreciate the dignity of labour.” He said
Naiyeju who is also a former Chief Executive of Federal Inland Revenue Services(FIRS) spoke in Abuja at the weekend during a one-day seminar on Agric business organised by the JICA Alumni Association of Nigeria (JAAN).
He stressed that the way out of recession is “to now think more than oil ” adding that “people should think less about getting allocation from government”.
His words: “Agric business is an idea to let people know that agriculture is enough as a business and once you make it a business , it is something that you can do, feed and enjoy life abundancy out of it.
Therefore, it means you have to think very well on what to produce, using all the resources. Nigeria is so blessed. From Lagos, to Maiduguri, Sokoto to Calabar the land is fertile. Look at what is doing best in your area and dwell on it. If it is banana go into it, if it is palm fruits, turn it to business, if it is fishery turn it to business. Every hand will be engaged and we will not only be able to feed ourselves, we will earn foreign exchange and there would less of friction.
In agriculture business, you must be patience, you cannot be in a hurry. It takes nine months to get a baby: you have to be patience to allow for the conception of the child, growing up, three years or there about before you can now say this is my child. The same thing with agriculture: there is always a gestation period and the awareness has just started but I can bet it, give a year or about two more now from what I’m seeing in Nigeria now you will see great abundance of food. I’m very optimistic about that.
Government has to provide infrastructure: the road has to be there, light has to be available. That is the area where government has to concentrate. We must also know that government is constrained with limited resources, so we cannot expect that all the neglects of past years will be met in a year. Some things have to privatised, phased out. I’m happy when we are talking of rail road: Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos is coming on.
By the time we put all the necessary infrastructure in place, the air, the land and then the electricity not necessarily from one source: using the water and solar. All these would go a long way to revitalise the agriculture business. The private sector and individuals should think outside the box. The education our young ones have should enable them to tilt the land in refined ways and not using hoe and cutlass.
I want to tell the government, all those who are retiring from federal and state let them go back to their states and come up with agriculture models “.