Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general election, Mr Peter Obi, has vowed to keep fighting until Nigeria is liberated from the clutches of corruption, bad leadership, and the country begins to work for all.
“We must dismantle this criminality and make Nigeria to work for our children,” Obi declared.
This is as the former Governor of Anambra State regretted Nigeria’s inability to achieve self sufficiency in food production.
Obi who delivered a keynote speech at the 47th annual conference and general meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), held Wednesday in Umuahia, Abia State, declared that with a land-mass of over 34 million hectares of arable land, Nigeria has no excuse importing food products.
According to him, with a landmass of 923,769 square kilometres Nigeria should be able to feed herself and the entire Africa.
Obi said that Nigeria could drastically crash the high exchange rate using export of food products but regretted that the country still depends on import for her food needs.
He challenged Nigeria leaders to consciously invest in agriculture both for local consumption, job creation and export.
Obi cited countries like America, Vietnam, and Thailand as good examples of countries which have improved their GDP through agriculture.
The LP candidate restated his plans to make agriculture one of the major revenue earners for Nigeria.
Obi regretted that corruption and lack of interest had remained the major setback in the efforts to develop agriculture.
In his speech, Gov. Alex Otti said Nigeria should be a major exporter of agricultural produce in the world, but regretted that the country is still struggling to feed.
He harped on the need for the country to first produce for her local consumption before exporting to other countries.
Otti who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Kenneth Kalu, said Nigeria had no excuse to import food when it has millions of hectares of arable land lying fallow.
“If we commit to improving agriculture we will move to achieving self sufficiency in food production and then we can begin to export,” he said.
Gov Otti said his administration was already making huge investment in agriculture.
He hinted of his administration’s plans to provide job opportunities for Abia youths through mechanised agriculture.
Earlier in his address, President of NIFST, Professor Joseph Abu, regretted that Nigeria still depends hugely on imported food to feed her population.
He expressed shock that in 2022 alone, Nigeria imported N1.9 trillion worth of food products, while only N598 billion worth of food products was exported.