The claims by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar that the federal government has lifted 4,205,576 Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years through its various agricultural policies, is a comprehensive assault to honesty and amounts to the worship of the goddess of falsehood, says the prominent Civil society and pro-democracy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
HURIWA quoted the media as saying that the minister informed them that the ministry’s strategic policies and programmes including Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 of the current administration, have seen agriculture as the alternative to oil for meaningful diversification of the economy.
HURIWA recalled that The minister stated this in Abuja while observing this year’s World Food Day, themed, ‘Our Actions Are Our Future. Better Production, Better Nutrition, A Better Environment And A Better Life’ even as he noted that investment in agriculture can guarantee food security with the potential to be a major contributor to job creation and save foreign exchange required for food imports.
The minister spoke further: “our various empowerment initiatives along production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities, we have lifted a total of 4,205,576 Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years, this is going to continue as part of Mr. President’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years. In the area of capacity-building, the minister maintained that a total of 2,205,576 farmers/youths/women were trained and empowered on different agricultural value chains.
Reacting to what it called the mere political figment of imagination of the minister of AGRICULTURE who is sounding sycophantic to please his political master and avoid the fate that befell his predecessor recently dismissed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has tasked the minister to publish the names of the citizens and their exact locations who he claimed to have lifted out of poverty just as the Rights group said the Minister even contradicted himself when in that same speech he acknowledged the devastating impacts to farming productivity by the heightened state of insecurity in the Country.
Besides, HURIWA noted that so much of the farming activities that hitherto went on before the coming of the current administration have all but disappeared due to the insecurity created by boko haram terrorists who upped the ante of their attacks since the coming of the present administration just as the armed Fulani attackers are on constant rampage in all parts of the Country destroying farmers crops and killing farmers with Southern Kaduna as the major flashpoint just as the Federal Attorney General, the Inspector-General of Police and the heads of all strategic security agencies who are Fulani or Northern Moslems have failed to arrest and prosecute these terrorists destroying farms across the Country.
HURIWA said international organisations have even documented evidence that terrorists have driven farmers away from their farms in the North East and North West of Nigeria just as the activities of terror groups masquerading as armed Fulani herdsmen have destroyed many farms in Benue and Nasarawa States in the last five years.
HURIWA said that credible reports have it that in the north-eastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgency has led to heightened levels of displacement and food insecurity. While humanitarian access is improving, most displaced families still rely on vulnerable host communities for basic needs, including food. This has put already impoverished host communities under extreme pressure, leading to increased exposure to food insecurity and malnutrition. Lootings and fear of attacks have prevented many farmers from working in their fields, leading to the loss of harvests and productive assets, and extremely reduced purchasing power.
Still quoting international reports by Food and Agricultural Organisation, HURIWA stated that the fact is that alarming food insecurity situation in northeastern Nigeria titled “The latest Cadre Harmonisé analysis (November 2019)” study indicates that there is an estimated 2.6 million people who face severe food insecurity in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, a reduction of nearly 300 000 people from June 2019. However, if no humanitarian support is provided, a projected 3.6 million people in the three states are likely to be severely food insecure from June to August 2020 – traditionally the lean season in the North-East.
HURIWA further recalled that FAO made the following factual claims-: “Immediate support to affected populations In order to respond to the immediate needs of the affected population, FAO has launched a full scale corporate surge response. A dedicated team of experts is based in Maiduguri and works closely with partners on the ground. FAO’s priority is to provide immediate livelihood support to vulnerable pastoralists and agropastoralists, including returnees, IDPs and host communities. “
HURIWA maintained that Nigerian farmers have quantified their production losses occasioned by the level of insecurity across the country to about 50 per cent just as the farmers described the development as precarious, the farmers expressed fears of imminent food crisis should the Federal Government still fail to check Nigeria’s worsening security situation. “Although it is difficult to quantify what farmers have lost as a result of the precarious security situation in Nigeria, the truth remains that our losses are very huge,” the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabir Ibrahim, said.
The Rights group recalled that the National President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Segun Adewumi, said cassava farmers were being threatened by herdsmen who often invade their farms. “This, of course, is another form of insecurity and our losses due to this cannot be quantified because it is so enormous,” he told our correspondent. He added, “The greatest challenge we have in cassava cultivation is the activities of herdsmen. You know that during the dry season, cassava is the only crop that stays wet and remains green.
HURIWA said the claims of the Agriculture minister is unreal and amounts to a phantom political statement of exaggeration because Nigeria has maintained the infamous position as the poverty capital of the world, with 93.9 million people in Africa’s most populous country currently living below the poverty line. Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited and a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Mr. Bismarck Rewane, has stated. Quoting a World Bank data, Rewane, in a presentation at the monthly Lagos Business School’s economic breakfast meeting for September 2021, stated that seven million Nigerians fell into extreme poverty in 2020. The report was titled: “Re: Growth Spikes (5.01 per cent), But People are Hungry?”
HURIWA recalled that Nigeria, with its 200 million plus population, was first declared world’s poverty capital in 2018 in a report by the Brookings Institution, knocking off India from the position. The report had then stated that the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increases by six people every minute. The Brookings Institution’s report had stated in 2018, “At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.”
HURIWA is therefore appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet to implement result oriented economic development programmes that will promote jobs, industrialisation, adequate food security and infrastructural revolutions across boards and to desist from bandying and propagating fake figures and making exaggerated claims that are provocative, senile, infantile and dubious whereas the costs of living keep skyrocketing with the cost of Gas cooking infrastructure going beyond the reach of virtually 100 million Nigerians who are now absolutely poor.
The Rights group said it is economic satanism for the government to introduce policies that lead to the hike of the purchasing prices of such basics like bread, fuel, gas and agricultural products just as the Rights group accused the Federal Government of pampering the daredevil armed Fulani terrorists that are destroying farmers crops and taking over the property of natives all over the Country. HURIWA said the policy of reintegration of terrorists of boko haram genre back into the same society they destroyed will not allow local farmers in the North East to resume their farming activities.