Kitaoka: Nigeria’s Rice Importation is Ridiculous


•Says JICA has invested N600billion in Nigeria

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Emeritus Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka, has described the importation of rice by Nigeria as ”ridiculous”.
Kitaoka, who was on his first visit to the country stated that Nigeria has huge agriculture potential, which when utilised, will triple the country’s export of the product to other countries.
He disclosed this at a media parley in Abuja,

He said: “When I was an Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations between 2004 -2006, I was involved in the Security Council’s Reforms Movement. Japan was together with Germany, Indian and Brazil. We created G-4 and we tried to make reforms. Our counterpart was particularly, then; President Obasanjo. We were closely following his demands and style of leadership. That was actually the first time I came to have contact indirectly with Nigeria.

“You see, my understanding is that, Nigeria is key to all Africa, and if Nigeria becomes unstable, it is difficult to expect Africa as a whole to be stable and to develop. This is our basic understanding of Nigeria and Africa.
“I see that Nigeria is a rich country and I was first impressed by the green, the land is very green and I saw a huge potential of more and more Agricultural production.”

Furthermore, he said: “Some eleven years after my contact with Obasanjo, then in terms of economy, Nigeria was number two after South-Africa. Now, Nigeria is the most important country in Africa in terms of population and economic size and the same time, you have difficulty in Northeast with the rise of radicals and also another is the sharp dropped of oil.

“We need a stable Africa, prosperous Africa and Nigeria’s development and stability is a key to that. So, our interests are in general and not very specific. In my meeting with the government officials, nothing has been opened, but, actually, there are a couple of things that I am thinking.”

He added: “Our biggest plans in the future is the urban transit system, city transit systems in Lagos and this is quite the universal programmes in all the developing countries. They are expanding very rapidly and therefore, transportation is the key and that’s the kind of place we can assist to effectively help the lives of the Nigerian people. The process of feasibilities studies has started. And if it is complete, and if we decide to start this one, it will be very unique. We have already started the discussion with Lagos State Government through Labatan, it’s transportation agency. The projects we have executed in Nigeria so far on monetary value is N600 billions since 1983 in Lagos.”

Kitaoka stated further that, when it comes to individual’s efforts, cooperation can be done either by the two sides, our side and also your side. What we are good at traditionally, we have been successfully assisting South East Asian countries, then; expands it to Asians, and then Africa. Our support stems from public’s health, education, agriculture, to some extent, infrastructure and some others. I think we have a unique approach on health here, we have been engaging in the activities of the eradication of polio in this country together with the Gates Foundation and it was quite successful.”