Lecture Delivered by Amb. Joe Keshi, OON, at the 2nd Dipo Famakinwa Colloquium

Lecture Delivered by Amb. Joe Keshi, OON, at the 2nd Dipo Famakinwa Colloquium

“FEDERALISM, INSECURITY AND THE CHALLENGE OF AGRICULTURE WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE SOUTH WEST”

                       LECTURE DELIVERED BY

                           AMBASSDOR JOE KESHI OON

                            Director–General, BRACED Commission

            AT THE SECOND DIPO FAMAKINWA COLLOQUIUM

             HELD AT THE LAGOS AIRPORT HOTEL, IKEJA, LAGOS

                              WEDNESDAY April 21st, 2021

 

Protocol

I am delighted and honored to be here this morning and to join the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN) family for the Second Dipo Famakinwa Colloquium, in memory of the pioneering Director- General of DAWN.

To the current Director General Mr Oluseye Oyeleye, I thank you most sincerely for the invitation.

When Dipo Famakinwa a fine and gentle soul, left two years ago, to join the saints, the south west and indeed the country lost an illustrious son, a patriot and a strong advocate for regional cooperation and development. We became acquainted when the DAWN document was launched at the Lagos City Hall, Lagos. Then l was in the process of setting up the BRACED Commission, a similar organ established to drive the South-South aspiration for regional cooperation and integration.

BRACED by the way is the acronym for Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta states and was the major outcome of the First South-South Economic Summit which took place in Calabar, Cross River state in 2009. The establishment of the BRACED Commission was the combined initiative of the governors of the region and members of the private sector of South-South extraction. The BRACED Commission ultimate objective apart from economic cooperation remains the creation of a regional economy, an economic zone of development with the capacity to create jobs and wealth for the people of the South-South. In addition, it is to make the region globally competitive.

From our very first meeting, until he went to touch the sweet face of the Lord, Dipo and my humble self-interacted and strategized together on how best to build and position both DAWN and BRACED as credible institutions to assist the two regions in their development process. His strong advocacy and commitment for sub national development among contiguous states were genuine and focused.  They were based not only on his knowledge and understanding of the essence of regional cooperation and integration but also on the simple preposition that regional cooperation would strengthen and advance rapidly, the development of both regions and indeed the federation. This is especially as it will rekindle the competitive spirit that propelled Nigeria’s development in the first few years of independence, creating so much hope and expectations about the new independent Africa state

There were strong reasons for that global hope, which regrettably has diminished but Dipo’s dream for DAWN must not die. The best way to honour and immortalise him is to pursue the DAWN promise to its logical conclusion. That is now the task before Seye and his very able team. However, they cannot accomplish much without the leadership, commitment, support, and encouragement of current and future political leaders of the south west.  It certainly does not make sense to me for leaders to setup such organs like DAWN and indeed the BRACED with all the lofty ideas and ambition and develop cold feet when it comes to promoting, supporting, funding and providing leadership and direction to the organizations. This is why institutions in Nigeria are weak and ineffective.

All hands must therefore be on deck to ensure the success of DAWN and the BRACED Commission. I plead passionately with the governors of the south west, the various houses of assembly to nurture, support, encourage, promote, engage, especially in policy discussions and more importantly fund DAWN as a veritable developmental institution for the south west. For this to be accomplished and indeed appreciated, today’s and future leaders as well as bureaucrats of the region must seek to be knowledgeable about the essence and the potential benefits of sub national economic cooperation and open themselves to engage and work with DAWN

The essence of sub national economic cooperation include, pooling of resources to create a regional economy with a large market, and strong enough to attract investment, create employment and wealth for the people, leveraging on areas of strength through economics of scales to impact positively on the region, regional production of goods and services and coordination of policies, harmonization of regulations and mutual recognition of standards.

As THISDAY editorial of January 8 2021 wrote about the DAWN Commission,

“it is designed as the institutional and programme           management body to midwife the region’s integration agenda by coordinating the delivery of its composite development aspirations. The agenda focuses on mobilizing the collective strengths, assets and capabilities lying within the states of the south west Nigeria, towards achieving sustainable socio-economic growth and development that would result in high standard of living and improved wellbeing for the people of the region. . . . . The compelling  argument for the developers of regional agenda is that it would leverage repressed communal assets, talent and resources located within the region, by side tracking limitations placed on the country by the inchoate Nigeria federalism…………With state reaping the economics of scale, expanding their markets and collectively exploiting their resources, we think the chances are that the region’s economy would be strengthened, holding out hopes for the fast-tracking of Nigeria’s development as positive competitive regional initiative and actions across the country thrive”.

Like THISDAY, this is not only the promise of DAWN and indeed the BRACED Commission but the promise of the two regions. l urge the governors and the people of the region, to recognize that without political will, cooperation and commitment DAWN cannot succeed nor accomplish its mandate.

To my friend Oluseye and his team, l say good luck and all the best.

I have been asked to speak on FEDERALISM, INSECURITY AND THE CHALLENGE OF AGRICULTURE WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE SOUTH WEST. I have no doubt that the choice of this topic for our engagement this morning has more to do with the increasing agitations in the country for true federalism, fiscal federalism or what is now commonly referred to as restructuring, the prevalent insecurity in the country and the recent misguided ban on food transportation to the southwest from the northern states.

However, it is instructive and a sad commentary on our inability to solve problems that a country that in 1960 adopted and operated the federal system finds itself in 2021 debating or unsure what political system will guarantee it peace, tranquility, unity and progress. The quagmire is everywhere as l cannot think of any problem, we have solved in the last sixty years. Instead we continue, to our detriment to allow the problems to fester, becoming intractable and even more difficult to resolve. Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in the security sector.

The issue of federalism should have been put to rest once and for all in 1999, had the new political class, the courage of their conviction to return to the federal structure that existed and functioned relatively well before the incursion of the Nigerian military into national politics in 1966. Beyond the issue of courage, it is also a measure of the character and quality of our current leaders who have shown no inclination to acknowledge  the impact of the military destruction of our body polity, the  disregard of the federal structure and its replacement by a centralized unitary system.

The Guardian newspaper recently wrote a 25-part editorial with the title, FEDERALISM IS THE ANSWER AFTER ALL. I will urge you all to endeavor to read the editorials which sought to enlighten and educate its audience on Federalism. In concluding the part 1, the Guardian declared

“’Let’s not play the ostrich anymore: this newspaper would like to state for the umpteenth time that federalism is the answer. And so what is the question? What is this thing called federalism? We must warn that there is a lot of literature on the meaning of federalism and people have approached it from sociological, economic, and political directions. But we must avoid the rigmarole, in other words, the acrobatics of academics, and put it simply. Federalism is an agreement by peoples of different backgrounds, it could be race, language or religion to live together based on certain principles such as how to manage the wealth of the country, how to defend the country from a common enemy, and the type of rights the citizens should enjoy. The history of the peoples entering into a covenant or agreement to live together in a political unit normally shapes the nature of a federation. In our case, it must invest fiscal autonomy in the units as well as political authority to govern the people. The central government would be saddled with limited functions of leadership of the country in core areas like national defense, national currency, foreign policies as may be so defined by the peoples in the federal pact. In this respect we share the classical definition of Kenneth Where that a federal system is one that where both the central and state governments are equal and coordinate in the distribution of power. As he argues further, you have no federation without fiscal autonomy. In ways similar, Shidath Ramphal, former Commonwealth Secretary General, says a federal system “is process of unifying power within the cluster of states and decentralisng power within the unified state.”

Just for further clarity, Wikipedia defines federation as a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or regions under a central government. Alternatively, a federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs. This is to allow for a degree of political independence in an overarching structure.

Federations are often multi-ethnic and cover large areas of territory and among the well-known federations are Russia, India, Brazil, Canada and the oldest, the United states of America which became a federation 1789. In a federation, certain powers are reserved to the states that may not be excised by the central government just like the states have no powers for international diplomacy or national security which are the exclusive reserves of the central government.

For the first six years of independence, Nigeria operated a federation with three regions and later four. The military incursion into politics, the civil war, and the unreasonable creation of states by the military and its cohorts changed the dynamics of the federation leaving us with the challenges and agony we face today. The federal government over time began to expand its control and responsibilities to the detriment of the states. For example, it has been pointed out that within the period of military rule, the exclusive list which in the first republic constitution consisted of some 45 items grew to 68 items. In addition, the concurrent list which consisted of 29 items in the 1963 constitution, in the 1999 constitution shrunk to about 11 items. What happened to the rest, they simply found their way to the exclusive list.

At this juncture, l think a couple of points needs to be made. First, until our leaders summon the courage and show leadership by entrenching federalism in the real sense of it, real peace, stability, national cohesion, and progress will continue to elude the country. This is even more so, as the frustrations of operating a lopsided federal structure is been exacerbated by the nepotic and unapologetic discriminatory tendencies of the current APC lead federal government.

What makes the conversation  even more interesting and contrary to the self-serving apologists of the regime who seek to portray agitators as wanting to break up the country is that , APC not only campaigned and promised true federalism, a committee of the APC on True Federalism, under the chairmanship of Governor Nasir el Rufia of Kaduna state, actually and unambiguously recommended  the devolution of powers to the states. Other recommendation of the committee included, merger of states, adoption of the derivative principle, fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, state police, local government autonomy, among others. Similar recommendations have been made , first by the Abdurahaman Okene Committee on the Devolution of Powers, established after the 1994/95 General Abacha’s constitutional conference and second but more recently by the President Goodluck Jonathan  2014 National Conference which in fact made more extensive recommendations on the devolution of power to sub-national entities or regions.

Second, as the Guardian part 1 editorial concluded, “the current system is obviously unsustainable and a deviation from the federal spirit”. This is even more so, as we all know that the current state structure is not working, and if the states do not work, the Nigerian federation has little chances of surviving or achieving its manifest destiny as the giant of Africa. To enable the states to work, we must return to a true federal structure in which states grow in accordance to their resources and capability. Let’s be very clear about this, if the states don’t work, the federation will continue to struggle and states will not work until they are properly resourced and capacitated  as well as  made to contribute to the running and maintenance of the federation.

Third, It is fallacious to believe that some states will not survive due to lack of resources. The truth is that there is no state in Nigeria that is not relatively well endowed and each state in different proportion have resources they can exploit for their development and support the center.  It is the center and the monthly unaccounted free oil money, sourced from the Niger Delta and distributed by the federal government, that has made several states improvised, wasteful, indolent and their leadership uninspiring.

Fourth, we must look across our shores and appreciate how other federations like the USA for example operates, given that we patterned our constitution after that of the United State. The United States operates a federal system in which the powers of the federal government over the states are limited. In the USA, policing for example, is the exclusive responsibility of the states and local governments.  There are over 17,000 highly decentraralised and fragmented states and local governments law enforcement agencies. In the USA, there is no national grid and the federal government does not own any power plant. Power or electricity is within the purview of the states and the regions some of which came together to establish power pools. Until, we de-couple the national grid and allow regional power pools, as the BRACED Commission had and continue to canvass, l have my doubts if our power problems could be solved.

Of the 5000 plus public use airports in America, the federal government does not own or manager any. Like the seaports, they are managed by states and local governments.  At a time when several states in Nigeria are building their airports, some unnecessary in my view, why would the federal government continue to maintain and manage all the airports in the country, many of which are unprofitable. The Federal government should be persuaded to privatise all the airports except Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu, and Abuja. Similarly, it is not enough to just concession the seaports. They should be decentralized into Apapa, Tin Can, Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Warri Ports authorities under the joint management of the federal, states and local governments. The port congestion in Lagos is a clear example of how unimaginable and visionless leadership deliberately program nations to fail. With so many seaports in Nigeria, successive federal government for whatever reason has failed or refused to develop other ports to reduce the burden on the Lagos ports

Fifth, what is missing in the conversation is the voice, leadership and courage of state governors who must stop playing the ostrich. The battle for true federalism is not and should not be left only in the hands of ethnic nationalities and civil society groups. Even within the current constitution, there is a lot governors can do to change the dynamics and compel some changes. Like the commendable initiative to establish, the Amotekun, and other state security organs is one and should be properly pursued by laying a strong foundation for the organs beginning with recruitment. The other powers the governors have is to drive the economic development of states and regions with agriculture and industry at the top of the agenda.  Economic development requires a holistic approach, that ensures the development of every sector to improve the well-being of the people. That is not the case in Nigeria today as unemployment and poverty is on the increase. The federal government alone is not responsible for the unfortunate situation. Regrettably there is no state in the country, that is creating employment which is a major failure on the part of the states. When Governor Nasir el Rufia of Kaduna state recently boasted that Kaduna state will soon stop depending on the monthly hands out from Abuja, that should be food for thought and a challenge to all other governors.

Finally, there can be no true federalism as well, without a strong well resourced, structured, and capacitated local government administration. The local government is regarded as the third tier of government. Since 1999, state governments have not allowed the local governments to function effectively. This has led to debates about the future of local governments in Nigeria. We do need the local governments and Nigeria cannot operate a true federal structure, without a strong local government system. As power devolves from the federal to state governments, state governments must take their kneels of the necks of local governments and allow them to breath. In a new federal constitution, local government autonomy must be adequately protected from the whims and caprices of the state governments. Equally the balkanization of the local governments needs to be revisited to ensure a fair and balanced federation.

That insecurity is the bane of Nigeria today is an understatement. You only need to survey newspaper headlines in the last few weeks to appreciate the depth of our security challenges and people’s apprehensions about the future of the country.  Our security challenges were foretold, the warning signs were evident, but we kept stretching our luck by ignoring the warming signs.

The United states Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had warned that Nigeria could break up by 2015. When in 1999, some northern governors, for political expediency introduced the Sharia and instead of providing quality education to their youths, consigned a generation of northern youths to Arabic studies and cramming the Koran, what do they think they were doing? When the country collectively failed to make the development of  its huge human resources a priority, promote quality education, create access and opportunities for the education of all Nigerians, build skills  and the necessary capacity for the 21 century economy, ignored the growing number of out of school children, promote merit and integrity, what do Nigeria leaders  think they  were doing?.

When from the 1970/80, the Nigerian economic summit and many economists and progressives began the campaign for the diversification of the economy to boast our external earnings, attract investment, create jobs and prosperity for the citizens,  build the middle class,  we opted to take our time,  to engage in policy summersaults and pretended that continuity has no merits,  that agriculture and industry can wait as long as oil money was available,  cared little if many young Nigeria professionals and nonprofessional voted with their feet’s to find solace elsewhere,  what do our leaders and their cheers leaders think they were doing?.  When we bulkanised the states, bulkanised the police force, failed to develop our criminal justice system, ignored the cries of marginalization and  even breached the constitution by not promoting justice, fairness and equity as well as building a humane and egalitarian society , for goodness sake, what do we think we were doing?. We were simply laying the foundation for today’s Nigeria!

Such is the state of insecurity that some like Simon Kolawole of THISDAY, are already expressing deep fears that Nigeria could become another Somalia, a country that descended into chaos and anarchy over 30 or more years ago leaving the country without a functioning government but in the hands of tribal or clan warlords. Some even argue that Nigeria is a failed state, which l vehemently disagree, more because l have been privileged to live in two failed states, where in one, there was a complete absence of a functioning government and in another, just a modicum of government with authoritarian powers.

However, l understands the sentiment of those who think Nigeria is a failed state. This is because, the primary obligation, the major responsibility of government is the security of its citizens, the protection of lives and property. Long before the 1999 constitution, Section 13(2b) had declared that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’, Cicero had explicitly stated that “the safety of the people is the supreme law” (Salus populi suprema lex).

It is thus a serious breach of the Nigerian constitution when the government of the day abdicates its responsibility to protect the Nigerian people. Where a government cannot guarantee or protect its citizens, especially its school children who have become the targets of boko haram and  bandits particularly  in the north, nor protect travelers on the road, farmers on their lands, watch host of villages ransacked, watch its women and daughters raped at will, have no capacity nor the appetite to seriously prosecute or sanction criminals but instead watch  criminals and murderers  roam around the country, that government has failed its people and should not expect a vote of confidence from its citizens especially as it is failing in order areas of development.

As Chidi Amuta however pointed out in his DISSENT and the FAILING STATE DEBATE in THISDAY of Sunday January 3, 2021,

“state failure is not such a complicated matter after all. Its symptoms show up in little things that ordinary people can measure in their very daily lives. Simply put state failure occurs, when the state serially fails to discharge its part of the social contact that bids people and government. It means that people leave their homes unsure that they will return in safety because forces of violence have taking over the streets and highways. It means that when confronted with danger in the normal exercise of civic rituals, citizens can no long trust in the capacity of the government to protect them from dangerous people. The superior coercive power of government that should serve as the amour of protection for the people is out gunned by non-state actors”.

This is the situation Nigerians find themselves. The whole country is in turmoil and in a state of instability that nowhere is considered safe. Certainly not the north east which since 2009 has become the playground of  boko haram insurgents and there is  no evidence that we are close to ending the insurgency, nor the north west the epicenter of bandits activities in Nigeria, nor the middle belt  which has been for years a killing field as a result of settler/indigenes, farmers-herdsmen conflicts, nor the south west which is now grappling with the farmers/ herdsmen conflict that recently turned into ethnic conflagration.

The South east is also dealing with the farmers/herdsmen as well as separatists’ agitations because of the mindset of the current federal government which unnecessary high handedness in anything concerning the south east continue to fuel the separatist’s agitations.  A new and dangerous dimension is now compounding the security situation in the south east, the serial attack on police stations and formations. The occasional rumblings from the south south over its margination, poverty environmental degradation and underdevelopment is a clear indication that we are yet to fully put to rest the youth restiveness and militancy that crippled the Nigerian economy few years ago

Why and how did we get here, that terrorism, banditry, abduction, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, murder and rape have become the Nigerian narrative. First is leadership failure, more precisely, the absence across board of serious minded, dedicated, committed, knowledgeable, visionary  compassionate and transformational leaders with the mental and intellectual capacity to organize or re-order society both for its advancement and for the well-being of its citizens. There is no better way l can  make the case that leadership matters, that leadership makes the difference, especially transformational and charismatic leadership than to ask you all to compare Nigeria in the last 60 years to Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, United Arab Republic, India China and Vietnam.

Vietnam is particularly interesting, especially after the Americans came close to annihilating the country during the Vietnam War. In less than three decades, the Vietnamese have recovered, cleaned the chemical polluted land to become a major rice producer and now becoming industrialised. Our leaders with little or no shame are fond of boasting and loudly too, of their holidays in Dubai, yet fail to appreciate the critical thinking and transformational minds that transformed a desert enclave into what Dubai is today. I doubt if they are also aware that the UAR which was not in existence as a nation when Nigeria became independent has a spacecraft orbiting Mars. That same country by this time next year will become a nuclear power and a country completely driven by technology.

Closely related to the leadership question is the absence of a national consensus on how best to effectively respond to our security crisis Ethnicity and religion  have colored our patriotism, even our compassion and the body language of the leadership has exacerbated the situation as we are unable, unwilling or lack  the capacity to prosecute criminals and bandits rampaging the country and killing innocent people. The current government has been up in arms  against the media and others who use the term Fulani herdsmen and continue to encourage the recruitment of so called repentant boko haram elements into the military rather than prosecute the criminals and their sponsors. Indeed, it is amazing but worrisome that this administration has shown no inclination to arrest and prosecute the criminals and their sponsors.  Even where the military is suspected to be complicit in channeling arms to the criminals, there have been no reports of serious investigation. This has served to enable and emboldened the criminals and their impunity. Indeed, we should be worried

Secondly, we must not discard the fact of the weakness of our security agencies. It would seem to me that we are paying the price for some of the choices we have made since 1999 when we failed to reform, reposition, and strengthen our security architecture. Instead we allow them to be weakened by poor leadership and mismanagement, nepotism, corruption,  poor training, capacity and orientation, poor welfare and  recruitment, poor maintenance and obsolete  equipment There is also the centralisation of command, management and resources especially in the Nigeria Police Force. The overall consequence of this is that we have an overstretched, unmotivated, and poorly equipped military especially the army which is in operations in about 24 states of the federation, engaged in matters not related to the defense of  the country’s sovereignty.

Now is the time to reform, rebuild and modernize our security architecture and  government must appreciate the urgency to review our current security structure with the objective of ensuring that Nigeria has a strong capable, effective and efficient security institutions that can guarantee the nation’s security at all times. In the new security arrangement, all the security apparatus, including the military needs to be modernized and made accountable.  To ensure police effectiveness, apart from training and capacity building, reorientation and proper recruitment criteria,  power, authority and resources must be decentralized to the state commissioners and divisional police officers who must be held , at all times responsible and accountable for security breaches in their jurisdiction.. All this is in addition to creating state and local government police.

There is also the fact that we are not paying adequate attention to the developing our human resources, to creating and strengthening the middle class with the knowledge and intellectual capacity to drive development and progress. Our penchant to disregard professionalism or appreciate experts is unbelievable. Even more, we are not paying due attention to the poor quality of education and the absence of technical skills that are needed for the 21st century. There are more than 13 million children out of school especially in the north where illiteracy is very high and makes it an easy recruitment ground for bandits and insurgents

Closely related is our failure over the years to become a productive entity, creating employment and wealth for the people. Our overdependent on crude oil for too long and failure to utilize the proceeds to transform the country has come to hurt us. The Nigerian Bureau of statistics latest report indicated that unemployment is very high. The unemployment rate has grown from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter to 33.3. it is reported that there are 23.2million of 69.7 million Nigerians in the labour market are jobless. There is a nexus between criminality and unemployment. In a country with high unemployment and limited opportunities, increasing poverty, unemployed youths, graduates, and non-graduates who have given up hope on employment have resorted to crime and criminal activities for survival. In the process, the lucrative nature of criminality has continued to fuel kidnapping and abduction for ransom, senseless killings, and rape which are prevalent across the country. In the midst of all this, we continue to stifle the private sector and investments opportunity by not creating the necessary environment for the private sector to blossom and create opportunities for employment and wealth creation.

Finally, there is the issue of arms proliferation which we general blame on our porous borders but which l blame on intelligence failures.  It is reported that more than 70% of illegal weapons in Africa are in Nigeria or 350 of the 500 illegal small arms and weapons circulating in west Africa are in Nigeria. The question is, with all the security agencies operating at the borders, how did the arms get into the country. In addition, it will be interesting to find out how seriously we worked with our immediate neighbours to stop the flow of arms into Nigeria. The fact that this has been going on for years and we have no evidence of efforts to disrupt the flow of arms into the country creates some suspicions. All this should worry us especially as the bandits from the little we can see are up grading their armory and out gunning our soldiers.

Given the uncertainties we face, it will be unfortunate if southern leaders do not engage in some critical thinking, in some deep reflections  and introspection not only about how to protect their citizens but how to drive development and improve the wellbeing of their people. This is the time to read the coffee leaves. The south west for example, has tremendous advantages that it could exploit to consolidate its place in the affairs of Nigeria.  For the south west, human capital development, in the form of free education and agriculture built western Nigeria especially under Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Had successive governments in the region sustained, consolidated Awo’s development strides and continued to modernize the region as technology evolves, the south west would have been far more advanced, and nobody would have threatened the region with food blockage.

The blockage however is a wakeup call and a challenge to the region and its people to revisit their development strategies  and give priority to agriculture in order to ensure food security for the region and avoid the possibilities of hunger which is spreading in the country. This is imperative, with the declining price of oil, the region must become innovative in increasing its resources, especially as it is estimated by the Odua Investment company  that agriculture can boast south west Gross Domestic Product to over $80 billion annually as well as create jobs  and prosperity for the over 40 million people.

The south west  is blessed with abundant arable land to produce its critical needs and l believe that with the possible exception of onions,  beans and large scale production of tomatoes as well as some fruits,  south west has the capacity to produce everything else including rice which can grow in at least three south west states, namely Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun.  As a result, agriculture, should be the fulcrum for the industralisation and transformation of the region

The first thing l believe the region should do is to give priority to agricultural development to ensure the region is self-sufficient in food production, generate external resources as well as   create employment and wealth for its people. Next is for each state to produce on a large scale what it has the comparative advantage to produce and across the value chain.  This must be sustained over time as the region gradually innovates, strengthening subsistence farming and complimenting it with mechanized farming to enhance rural economic competitiveness and diversifying economic activities.  This would require considerable rural infrastructure, roads, markets, power, and water to support agricultural production and value chains which governments in the region must be prepared to undertake.

In addition,  governments in the region must be prepared to help businesses interested in farming or poultry development with the procurement or provision of land, incentives for agro processing and market developments, provision of trained agricultural extension workers, reduction of high cost of imputes and subsidies for farmers as well as guaranteed price incentives, provision of incentives to youths and farmers to encourage, on one hand youths involvement in farming and other to encourage the farmers.  The region like the nation must invest in storage facilities to curtail and prevent food wastage which is rampant in the region and indeed throughout the country. It must equally encourage research and utilization of science and technology. That is inevitable in our world today.

Few nations in the world have developed without paying close attention to agriculture. Till today, agriculture is subsidized in several advanced countries and we must recognize that subsiding agriculture across the valve chain is one sure way of ensuring food security and alleviating poverty. In the spirit of cooperation and integration, l believe DAWN is in a better position to provide the leadership, inspiration, and the regional strategy to change the development paradigm of south west using agriculture as its main tool.

 

THANK YOU ALL, ESPECIALLY FOR YOUR PATIENCE.

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