Nigeriaâ€™s ChargÃ© dâ€™Affaires to the United States, Hakeem Balogun; Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, and a former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, have lauded the emergence of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as the 2017 World Food Prize laureate.
Balogun and Okonjo-Iweala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the US that Adesinaâ€™s selection for the prestigious prize was a great honour to Nigeria.
Adesina, who is the current President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), was Minister of Agriculture during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
He was named winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize, regarded as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for Agriculture, at a ceremony last Monday at the US Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C.
Balogun described Adesinaâ€™s emergence as a great honour to our country.
â€œIt is a manifestation of governmentâ€™s efforts, past and present, at eradicating poverty and placing food on the tables of all Nigerians.
â€œAdesina is another show of the numerous Nigerians that are shining examples and who are excelling in their various professions all over the world.
â€œYou will recall that Adesina, while serving as Minister of Agriculture was known as the â€˜Farmerâ€™s Minister.â€
The Nigerian envoy said Adesinaâ€™s policies while serving as minister, expanded Nigeriaâ€™s food production and attracted over $5 billion in private sector investments in agriculture.
â€œHis (Adesinaâ€™s) food policies resulted in close to, if not more than, 20 million metric tonnes.
â€œFor us in the Embassy of Nigeria, we are glad that this is a Nigerian to showcase. I congratulate Adesina,â€ Balogun said.
On her part, Okonjo-Iweala, who served alongside Adesina, hailed the achievement of her former colleague.
â€œA proud day for Nigeria; President Akin Adesina, President of the AfDB, is announced as the recipient of the 2017 World Food Prize,â€ she said.
According to Okonjo-Iweala, Adesinaâ€™s feat as the new Laureate is an example and a testimony that about 99 per cent of our citizens are law-abiding and good natured.
Adesina is the 46th person and the sixth African to win the World Food Prize.
He midwifed the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) under which the e-Wallet system of distribution of agricultural inputs, the first of its kind, was introduced.
Also, Okowa in a statement issued in Asaba by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, lauded the outstanding contributions of Adesina towards food security around the world, adding that the former minister has once again brought pride and honour to Nigeria by winning the coveted prize.
The governor recalled with pride how Adesina as a serving Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, formulated the ATA under which the E-Wallet system of distribution of agricultural inputs, the first of its kind, was introduced.
â€œOn behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I congratulate Adesina on his emergence as the 2017 World Food Prize laureate for his outstanding contributions to the growth of production and reduction of hunger in the history of Nigeria.
â€œUnder Adesina as Minister of Agriculture, farmers in Nigeria received alerts on their phones to collect their allocation of inputs for the first time in the history of agriculture in Nigeria.
â€œOur national food production expanded by an additional 21million metric tonnes of food within three years which led to a decline in Nigeriaâ€™s food import bill by N466billion from one trillion naira during the Jonathan administrationâ€
Okowa further commended Adesina for cleaning up the corrupt fertiliser industry, which for over 40 years was riddled with corruption under the old order.
He said his administrationâ€™s SMART agenda was crafted to harness the gains made by the ATA as midwifed by the former minister