The basic fundamental of all economies is agriculture and all industrial nations know this. That their economies are on solid rock is basically because they have galvanized their agricultural potentials, which is also the offshoot of their industrial development. That is why concerned citizens of Nigeria have continued to warn on the dangers of continued dependence by the nation on crude oil which today is no longer the mainstay and sustaining source of the Nigerian economy.
The traditional focus of the Nigerian economy, before the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity, was agriculture and it played a fundamental role in shaping the economy of the nation and regions as Nigeria was then constituted in its immediate post independence era.
In the 1960s, each region of the country was noted for producing some cash crops such as cocoa, groundnut and palm oil as well as rubber in commercial quantities. Basically, the Western region, now the political South West, excluding Lagos, which was the Federal Capital, was noted for producing cocoa in large commercial quantities for export. The revenue from cocoa helped significantly in shaping the infrastructure and economic environment of the then western Nigeria and its legacies and landmarks were very visible as they affected virtually all aspects of life of the people.
In the Northern region, groundnut was the mainstay of the economy, to the extent that the volume produced in the region was typified by the “groundnut pyramid”. It symbolized the success of the crop as a veritable earner of revenue which impacted economically on the life of the people.
Also, the Midwest region was noted for its rubber plantation and was a huge success as the crop played its role as a major economic transformation agent to shore up the economy of the region.
In the Eastern and Mid-west region palm oil was its predominant feature and similarly, it was a success in boosting the economic landscape of the country and the region. Interestingly, it is now an irony that Nigeria has been relegated to the background in palm oil production and has been overtaken by Malaysia, a country which took the seed from Nigeria and adapted it to its own climatic conditions and is today a leading producer of palm oil in the world.
In line with the Federal Government’s policy on diversifying out of oil into agriculture, we are happy to note against the backdrop of media reports that the Edo State Government has taken the lead in this regard by recently agreeing to the request by Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc for Government land in Ovia North East Local Government Area and by signing over the certificate of occupancy, the Comrade Governor, in so doing, is also encouraging other agro-investors to come to Edo State. This is indeed a step in the right direction as it shows that the Edo State Government is serious in enticing investment through positive, and less cumbersome approach to judicious land allocations to serious investors in the agro allied sector such as Okomu, and others in the pipeline, which will benefit not only the Edo State Government but also other successive Governments and the generality of Edo People, now and in the future.
It is also worth mentioning that the ‘Oshiomhole initiative’ is coming at the twilight of his administration. Compared to many of his counterparts who would have spent this period possibly wining and dining, the Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole administration seems determined to leave behind a vibrant and self-sustaining Edo State to its citizens, without having them rely on crude oil in the future.
We therefore call on all beneficiaries in the agro-allied sector to make good use of this great gesture of the Oshiomhole administration, considering it a unique opportunity in this moment of time.