South-West Govs Must Embrace Farming to Enhance Regional Prosperity Like Awolowo, By Sola Olatunji

In the word of Martin Luther King Jr. “Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city ,at any table when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide the basic necessities of life’? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in the human will.” This is absolute truism. Nothing more to add.

People often say that those who fail to learn from the lesson of history are fools. And I can beat my chest with utmost confidence that our governors in the South-West region are not foolish. They are men of timber and caliber poised to give the region their best. And this piece is my candid and clarion call to them to wake up from their slumber and face the monster called hunger with all the financial arsenal and weaponry at their disposal, looking at Awolowo’s legacy and circumstances evidence available to them.

In the 50s, precisely 1954 shortly after the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo became the  Premier of Western Region, he began with his social revolution philosophy, provided the much anticipated leadership by introducing three evergreen and impactful policies in health, education and agriculture within the region that soon became the envy of other regions. These tripod and social revolutionary policies triggered the much anticipated socio-economic catalyst that suddenly transformed the regional human capacity and metamorphosed the region into food hubs as people living there had more than enough to eat.

With food security being guaranteed through agricultural expansion schemes and  rural farm settlements, in addition to farm estates development, there was ultimately expanded  cash and food crops farming simultaneously. This strategy exponentially crystalised unimaginable productivity in both food and cash crop farming. The farmers in this region  who were formerly living in penury suddenly became  stupendously rich and had no problem in sending their wards to the universities to acquire degrees .The region that was famous in cash crops farming like Cocoa, oil palm plantation, Timber, Cashew, Rubber, Colanut and others, including crops farming in yam, cassava, vegetables, cocoyam, plantain plantation, pepper and tomatoes subsequently amplified the prosperity of the region and  eventually placed it as the most sophisticated part of the country till date.

The prosperity and fame brought to the region through farming vocations also  provided  compelling opportunities for the region to embark on massive diversification of businesses and venturing into more  profitable enterprise which triggered unprecedented growth that culminated in infrastructural development like the Cocoa House in Ibadan, Western House in Lagos and other business conglomerate that are still upstanding till today.

Honestly speaking, one can unequivocally submit that farming activities brought fame and prosperity to the Western Region and this trend was  sustained till the early 1990 as food was not our problems until rain  began to beat us as successive political authority that emerged in the mid-90s and since the 4th Republic began to shift focus from farming into  white elephant projects  and classified farming as a no go area because of lack of the will power to sustain the philosophy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo  Here we are today, a region that once earned her fame and prosperity from farming can’t afford to feed its teeming population.

It’s even regrettable that people from other regions are threatening the region once reputed with food glut with food supply cut, anytime there was any misunderstanding between our people and theirs. It is a pity that we now have to rely on other people to feed our people despite the fact that we are blessed with large arable land and huge youthful population full of energy who can sustain this traditional economy. One would have thought that the various political leadership and the governors who emerged in this region over the years  would have sustained the legacies of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, especially his rural farm settlements and estate farming policy. There was no basis to abrogate a tested and successful policy.

This is the time to take farming to the next levels as farmers are generally referred to as kings in any society because they provide food for the teeming population This is the time to shift our focus from construction of multiple bridges and drop our emphasis on agric theories. I think farming is one of the oldest vocations in the world and the South West region had embraced farming from time immemorial. While it’s not out of place to welcome any positive modernisation of agriculture within the region, the will power of our governors by providing leadership in mechanised farming can’t be over-emphasised.

I want to especially recognise the concerted efforts of the governor of  Oyo, Lagos,  Ogun,Kogi, and Niger State. Let’s adopt and replicate what these governors are doing in their respective state in our region and I am sure,  it is a clear  way to go in this region. The need to incorporate public schools into farming from primary to the tertiary levels is also germane. We need to convert idle lands in  public schools into farming because of what relevance is the curriculum in Agric if students are not exposed to the practical knowledge in farming?

Otunba Sola Olatunji
Otunba Sola Olatunji

Some of us are scared of two vices. These are poverty and hunger. And my piece of advice is that  hunger shouldn’t be downplayed by any political leadership of any nation. I said at a time in the history of India that there was acute hunger reminiscent of what we are experiencing in our country today. The political authority did not want to take the docility of the Indians for granted and had to embark on massive food importation from overseas. This strategy brought down escalated prices of commodities, and food became affordable to the people and the agitations nosedived. Today, the Indians that once experienced hunger and deprivation are amongst the largest economies in the world.

Nigeria can’t afford to have food riots.  We may build countless numbers of  bridges and parks, but it’s very obligatory on the political authority to consistently design strategy to quench hunger of their citizens through different impactful policies that are enduring and sustainable like what Chief Obafemi Awolowo did in the region which are still enduring till date.

.Otunba Sola Olatunji, Chairman, Ikale Heritage Development Association, writes from Lagos.


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