Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Council of State presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari thursday rose from its over five hoursâ€™ meeting in the State House with a resolution approving the investment of $1 billion in agriculture including livestock farming.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said the council observed that the sum of $200 million hitherto being spent on agriculture is meagre when compared to the volume of investment being made in the oil sector.
According to him, if the country must attain the level where it grows all it needs and be prepared to put paid to dependence on foreign products, funding of agriculture must improve and planting done throughout the year.
Amosun also said the council commended the government for raising the annual budget from over N4trillion when it came on board to over N8trillion now.
â€œ The council advised that we improve on the funding on agriculture. That the paltry sum of $200 million when compared to what is being pumped into the oil sector is insignificant. The council recommended that at least about $1 billion be pumped into agriculture.
â€œCouncil noted how Nigeria moved the budget from about N4 trillion to now about N8 trillion. It also noted that when this president came in… oil had nose dived from $112 in 2014 and in 2016, it was $30. in 2016 Council also appreciated the efforts of the Ministers of Agriculture and Budget and National Planning after their briefings, on the efforts they are giving to the president, and agreed they should continue in what they are doing.
â€œThe Council advised that planting should be done all year round and not only during planting seasons and that we should grow what we will need, what we will eat and eat what we will grow. The era of wasting our scare foreign exchange on everything that we will need is over,â€ Amosun said.
In his briefing, the Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, said the council also discussed all security crises confronting the country, including herdersâ€™ violence, Boko Haram insurgency, militancy in the Niger Delta and kidnapping, and observed that in some instances, violence is perpetrated by bandits.
Against this background, he said it was agreed that security forces should be deployed to comb existing forests in various states with a view to flushing out such bandits, adding that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, told the council that if cattle routes and grazing reserves are identified, violence may be curtailed.
â€œOn the security situation in the country, we received a very long briefing from the National Security Adviser ranging from farmers/herdsmen clashes, Boko Haram, militancy in the Niger Delta, kidnapping to cattle rustling.
â€œFarmers/herdsmen clashes were discussed thoroughly and we learnt that these take three dimensions. First is the real farmers/herdsmen clashes, where the normal herdsman moves around with his cattle and get into a farmerâ€™s land and eats up his crops.
â€œIn some situations, itâ€™s pure banditry. Some of the pastoralists that are not herders attack, steal and kidnap, and that has to be defined as such. Some of them rustle cattle and move into the deep forests, and because of the thickness of the forests, response are usually very difficult. That was also discussed today (yesterday) and solutions were proffered on how to get deep into the forests to check those bandits that hide and continue to commit havoc.
â€œThe third aspect usually classified as farmers/herdsmen clashes is also the settlers and indigenesâ€™ clashes like in the Southern Kaduna. Some migrant farmers or herders stay in an environment for a very long time and when you have such clashes, they are also classified as farmers/herdsmen clashes.
â€œSo, we understand and acknowledge these three aspects, and all have different approaches in solving the whole problem. And from the discussions today, a lot has been done, solutions have been proffered and the government believes solution is near.
â€œThe Minister of Agriculture also presented a position on how to resolve the first part of the farmers/herdsmen crises. That is the actual migrating herdsmen that pass through towns and farms, eat up crops in the farms and create a lot of problems,â€ Badaru said.
Also briefing, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, said the council approved appointments of 23 members of National Population Commission (NPC) and unspecified numbers of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commissioners as well non-legal practitioners in the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Shehu Shagari, former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, and former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) were absent from the meeting.
Present at the meeting were former Heads of State, Gen.Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd.) and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Also in attendance were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Mohammed Uwais, Idris Kutigi, Alfa Belgore and Aloma Muktar.
Others present in the meeting were Governors of Sokoto, Delta, Adamawa, Imo, Benue, Lagos, Nasarawa, Abia, Bauchi and Jigawa, Kebbi, Plateau, Kano, Wike, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun, Ogun, Niger and Ebonyi States and deputy governors of Bayelsa and Enugu States.
The meeting was the third to be called by Buhari. The first was held on October 21, 2015, while the second took place in September 2016.
The Council of State is an organ of the federal government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy making.
Its duties include: advising the president in the exercise of his powers with respect to the national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same; prerogative of mercy; award of national honours; the Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that commission); the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex-officio members of that council); the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that commission).
The council also advises the president upon requests on issues bordering on maintenance of public order among others.