President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressive Congress (APC) has committed more resources to diversify the economy than any previous administration.
According to Lawan, no past government had invested as much resources, particularly in agriculture as the Buhari government has done.
He made the comments on Saturday at the commissioning of a Poultry Farm Center which the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) established in Gasamu, in Jakusko Local Government Area of Yobe State.
“We have promised to diversify the economy of this country. For more than 50 years, our economy had been dependent on one single commodity and that is oil,” the Senate President was quoted as saying in a statement signed on Sunday by his media aide, Ola Awoniyi.
“Oil does not provide so many employment opportunities. There could be revenues but definitely not the mainstream opportunities in terms of employment. But when you diversify into agriculture, you would have much more people engaged, especially our youths who today are largely unemployed or under-employed.
“So, we are diversifying the economy of Nigeria through agriculture, and we have done so much as a country, as a government, in the last six years or so.
“No previous administration in Nigeria has committed as much fund, resources in agriculture than this administration. And I stand to be contradicted, that if not because of resources that we have put in the agriculture sector, Nigeria would still have been importing the food that we eat.
“But everyone knows that the rice import bill had gone so low, almost to nothing today. We used to spend billions of dollars every year to import rice but we have been producing the rice that we eat.
“Of course, we still have to work to stop the smuggling of rice into Nigeria. But I want to assure you that the APC administration at all levels of government, from the local government to the state and federal government, will continue to work for diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“Only last month, the National Bureau of Statistics released the report that our economy has grown by 5.01 percent in GDP. That is to show that we are making progress. We are not yet there but we will be there by the Grace of God and all indications are there that we will be there.”
Lawan thanked Buhari for giving the approval for the farm. This, he said, was in fulfillment of the promise made by the President on behalf of the APC in 2015, to provide employment opportunities for the youths.
“Presently, 30 youths will be engaged to manage the farm.
“This is only the direct employment on this farm. When you look at the indirect opportunities, when you establish poultry farms across this zone, you would have brought in many youths to manage the poultry farms.
“Gasamu, because of this project, is now going to be prominent in the Nigerian map. And this is something that is very important for us as a community here.
“If someone will come from Kano. If someone will come from Imo. If someone will come from Akwa Ibom to buy chicks here, to go and grow them and sell them to make money, why can’t we in this community do the same?
“That means we should be able to have poultry farms coming up across this zone particularly in Jakusko Local Government.
“This is one of the immediate benefits and I will urge our people not to lose the opportunity. I want to seize this opportunity also to appeal to NALDA that we want the capacity to go beyond 250,000 per annum. I want to assure you that our people will exhaust the 250,000 and they will need more,” Lawan said.
The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Hon. Paul Ikonne said the farm center was established on the mandate of President Buhari in order to empower the youths and get the country closer to achieving food security.
“Mr President has directed NALDA to make agriculture attractive for our youths and for NALDA to produce what we are to eat and for Nigerians to eat what we produce.
“So, we are here today for the commissioning of this 30,000-bird capacity which is specially made to produce Noiler (a hybrid of broilers and cockerels).
“This center is like a reproduction centre that will be producing our locally improved birds that will be distributed across the country,” Hon Ikonne said.
He said the farm had the capacity of generating 850 eggs daily and N1.1 million daily from the sales of birds only.
Ikonne said the birds also had an incubator centre in order to produce day-olds that would be used to establish or sent to other poultry houses across the country.
He said the revenue projection for the farm center, with capacity for up to 250,000 birds, would generate not less than N400 million annually.
“NALDA Integrated farm estates are meant to empower the community, to develop the land within the community, empower the youths, create employment and reduce hunger in our land.
“So, communities within the country are expected to donate land. Mr President has directed NALDA to establish Integrated Farm Estates in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. So, these lands are developed for the immediate communities and for the empowerment of the communities,” he said.