President Muhammadu Buhari, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu Tuesday, advised Nigerians to go back to agriculture. He added that it is imperative for Nigerians to return to the farm as the oil sector which the country is overly dependent on is now in turmoil.
From a progressive point of view, if there ever was a timeline to diversify the economy, the country is already behind schedule – considering the precarious situation the fall in global oil price has plunged the country into. In addition to that, Nigeria is said to be experiencing its worst recession in decades, so economic diversification should have gone beyond the stage of discussions. It is about time we started capitalising on agriculture to correct the economic gloom.
Agriculture is said to be the foundation of Nigeria’s economy and the largest employer of labour; despite the presence of oil in the country – yet, it is among the most neglected sectors of the economy. While harnessing the country’s agricultural potential is sure to contribute to economic growth, food security and job creation, the insecurity challenge in Nigeria must be urgently addressed if we must achieve this.
At a time like this, when farmers have become major targets to bandits and terrorists, the president will do well to fix the deteriorating security situation in the country before encouraging more Nigerians to go into farming; otherwise, he will be endangering the lives of more innocent citizens. The earlier he does this and empowers more people to take to farming, the better the country’s chances of economic recovery.
It is saddening though, that things had to degenerate to this level before realisation dawned on the Nigerian government that there is a need for diversification – but it is better late than never. Not only do we need to look to farming to bail the nation out of the current economic rot, we must also harness all of the country’s untapped mineral wealth including the solid mineral industry to restore Nigeria to her pride of place as the economic giant of the continent.