- It is uppermost that the nation make it a point of duty to be able to feed its citizens, he says
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) Tuesday in Ekiti, called for a revisit to some of the Federal laws controlling water resources saying they unconstitutionally empower the Federal Government to encroach on resources belong to the component states.
Governor Fashola spoke as a discussant alongside his Osun and Ekiti counterparts, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Dr. Kayode Fayemi at the maiden edition of Agbeloba Agri-Business Forum 2013, at the Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort in Ikogosi, Ekiti State.
The Governor, who noted that some of the laws have their genesis in the military era, explained that decrees were enacted when military administrators were in control in states and could not tell their appointing officers that the Federal Government was encroaching on some of their resources in the State.
According to the Governor, “The transition to democracy quickly brought about a quick adoption of most of the decrees as laws which were deemed to have been made by the National Assembly”, adding that there is a need to now look back to see if indeed the National Assembly would have made those laws as a matter of fact and as a matter of constitutional authorization.
“In that way, we might be able to free up some of the laws because irrigation is also vital to agriculture as it has been clearly seen. It is another input that determines the quality of yield”, the Governor said.
Describing the First Annual Agbeloba Agric Business Forum as a step in the right direction, Governor Fashola said it was uppermost that the nation made it a point of duty to be able to feed its citizens, adding that when that is done, the country would be on the way to prosperity and economic growth.
He reiterated that the state is taking advantage of the development agenda being pursued by the states of former Western Nigeria which, according to him, “is designed to integrate the states and bring about interstate agriculture trade”.
The Governor, who noted that interstate agricultural trade had been in existence for a long while, added, “No one needs to tell a farmer in Benue that his yam would find a market in Lagos before he decides to transport them to the city”.
“What is left is to see what can be done individually and interactively to promote what exists as interstate agricultural trade because even historically in the former Western Region, the practice was for all farmers to gather all their produce together and appoint a representative to export the produce by trucks to the ships waiting in Lagos for exportation to Liverpool”, he said.
While commending the Governor of Ekiti State for the Agbeloba Agric Business Initiative, the Governor commended the current Minister of Agriculture for the successful elimination of the fraud in the marketing and distribution of agricultural inputs especially fertilizers.
He however cautioned that the Federal Government should as a matter of necessity divest itself of some powers and issues that are clearly within the purview of the states in the agricultural sector, adding that the issues of appointing liaison officers should be approached against the background that states have very competent commissioners manning the agriculture portfolios.
He informed that the decision of Lagos to embark on direct cultivation of land for agriculture purposes was necessitated by the inability of the state to affect prices because clearly it had become a sellers market as demand had outstripped the available supply.
“We thought to ourselves that if we could stimulate supply by direct intervention, then we would be able to bring some equilibrium nearer the demand and supply curve. Unfortunately our land is much more valuable for its real estate value than for its agriculture value,” Governor Fashola said.
He said it was therefore no rocket science for him to approach his colleague Governors to get land for farming and ensure that many of those who would ordinarily have emigrated to Lagos in search of good fortunes from the neighbouring states are still kept back on the farms through gainful employment that has been provided by the investment of Lagos on the farms.
Governor Fashola informed that already Lagos has acquired 500 hectares from the Ogun State Government and also purchased a sizeable land size from Osun state which is being used for cultivation of vegetable and pepper to service the growing Lagos market.
Also speaking, the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregebsola said Lagos is the nucleus of prosperity for West Africa, adding that for those who are Yorubas, there is no other centre of wealth outside Lagos as such everyone must work towards supporting Lagos.
Ogbeni Aregbesola said the role of the Federal Government in agriculture should be minimal and should primarily be concerned with guaranteeing minimum prices for agricultural commodities nationwide so that several jobless youths who have left their states of origin in search of the golden fleece can return to a flourishing career in agriculture.
Earlier, the Host Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi had spoken of the intention of Ekiti State to pursue regional integration which is about formulation of an agriculture policy that would drive the sector.
He said as part of efforts to ensure that Ekiti also gets a sizeable chunk of the N3Billion that is spent on food in Lagos, the state is assisting her farmers in getting whatever they produce to the market in Lagos by addressing the issue of transportation and farmers.
Governor Fayemi said Ekiti State is engaging in land banking which is about acquiring as much land as it could and making same available when requests are made by interested people to acquire land for commercial activities.
He said the role of the Federal Government should be to support rather than regulate farming or agriculture through bank supported initiatives.
While speaking on how the Federal Government can incentify the states in the field of agriculture, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Adewunmi Adesina who was represented by a director in the ministry, Alhaji Azeez Olumuyiwa said the federal ministry of agriculture is now working closely with the states in the area of agriculture to achieve desired results.
The event was also attended by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha and moderated by a senator representing Ekiti –North Senatorial district, Senator Olubunmi Ajetunmobi among several other guests.