Oyo: Tantrums between Makinde, APC over agricultural strides 

BAYO AGBOOLA in this piece recalls the verbal exchange between Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state and the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) over claims of achievement in agriculture.

Governor Seyi Makinde was recently at the Oyo State House of Assembly for the special plenary to mark the first anniversary of the 10th State Assembly during which he presented a state of the state address.

Makinde used the opportunity to reel out some of the achievements of his administration, especially, in the area of agriculture in the past five years and his projections for the state in the remaining years of his government. 

Makinde was quick to say it has been five years since his administration took over the reins of office in Oyo state but recalled that “From day one, our promise has been to restore the dignity and pride of the good people of Oyo state so that we maintain our mantra as the state of firsts—the Pacesetter State.”

It’s not all rosy but…

He further said: “In all this time, we have prioritised our economy and taken steps that put us ahead of all other states in times of crisis.

“We have seen crises, and we have overcome them. This is because we have always had your support as we made people-first decisions. Some have said we make populist decisions. Well, our decisions are not populist because they are not anti-elite or anti-establishment. We are pro-people because we know that the source of our mandate is you. We are here to serve you.”

“Well, I am here today to deliver the state of the state address. And I must start by acknowledging that it has been a tough year with untold hardships for our people. But as I have always said, our administration was built for times like this. Like the eagle, we rise.

How we implemented SAfER

“From accelerated development to sustainable development, we have always believed in taking a completely different approach to the economic development of our dear state. This is why when fuel subsidy and the peg on the dollar were removed, while other states were busy distributing palliatives, we were thinking of short, medium and long-term solutions. We came up with SAfER – Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery. 

“SAfER has various components, including a food relief package, transport subsidy, food security measures, provision of health insurance, and support for small and micro enterprises and civil servants.”

The governor maintained, “these interventions have directly impacted the development of our dear state. The food relief package went to 200,000 poorest of the poor households. We used this component to stimulate our economy, as the food items distributed were locally sourced and purchased from our traders in all the zones where distribution was done.

How opposition kicked 

Amidst this, the major opposition political party in Oyo state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) wasted little or no time to voice out and fault most of the Gov Makinde’s presentations at the special plenary of the Oyo assembly, accusing him of alleged failure to come up with concrete actions capable of assisting the state to fully explore its potentials in agriculture and other key sectors of the economy in the last five years.

They alleged that this resulted in food crisis and high rate of unemployment in the state. APC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, in Oyo state, Comrade Olawale Sadare, faulted Governor Makinde’s claim that his government had lifted 20,000 household from poverty, describing it as “a futile attempt to mislead the whole world when the facts available to the general public indicated that the Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER) was another programme allegedly designed to hoodwink the people of the state. 

The state APC noted that “It is obvious that with a governor like Engr. Seyi Makinde, whose only interventions in agriculture and other key sectors of the economy, could only be felt in the media space, Nigeria would need a miracle to be able to feed its citizens in the nearest future because in the last five years of the PDP administration, the state government cannot bring out a single visible achievement which has a direct effect on food security or promotion of agriculture. 

“Oyo has the largest land mass in the whole of southern Nigeria but we cannot boast of being the largest producer of a single farm produce or livestock. Yet, the state government is always in the media space misleading the public with stories of interventions, policies and programmes in the agricultural sector.”

According to APC, Makinde allegedly got a loan of N7.6billion in 2019 ostensibly to revamp the Farm Settlements in Akufo and Eruwa but up till now, nothing has happened in those facilities, and that “The same governor claimed to have sponsored dozens of youth on a modern farming skill acquisition course in Nasarawa state about five years ago but none of the supposed beneficiaries could be seen in any part of the state engaging in one agricultural practice or another even though the purported training tour cost the state government a fortune. 

“Rather than make funds available to the Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP), they came up with a name change only to put up the headquarters of the agency in Saki.

APC challenges Makinde 

“Also, we are using this medium to challenge Governor Makinde to show the world what he has done with the large expanse of land belonging to Fashola Farm in Oyo. A large chunk of the facility has been converted into Housing Estate with most of the plots shared out among the governor and his cronies. But they keep telling the world that Makinde has revamped Fashola Farm and it is on this note we are asking them to showcase the magic done on the facility which is capable of helping the cause of agriculture.

“It is a big shame that Oyo is not exempted from the list of southern states which depend on the North to get their food supplies on daily basis. Ordinarily, the good people of the Pacesetter State should have no business lamenting the high cost of pepper, onions, yams, livestock and other food items if we had a focused and responsive government in place. 

“While states like Niger and Borno are procuring tractors and other implements in large quantities to assist their local farmers, Oyo is chasing its own away from their farmland to pave the way for estate developers,” APC stated.

More of Governor’s explanations 

But Governor Makinde at the plenary session was categorical of possible reactions to his comments, especially, from the opposition parties in the state when he took his time to shed more light on his points.  

He said: “At the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub, which is located on the Oyo-Iseyin Road, we are hosting agri-industries such as Friesland Campina WAMCO, who have 200 hectares out there for dairy production, Milkin Barn Agro Services Ltd who have 150 hectares for maize cultivation and dairy production, IITA platform Generative and GOSEED Vegetative Ltd with 100 hectares for cassava value chain development”

“We also have E4 Farms with 40 hectares for crop and dairy production, Brownhill Farms with 30 hectares for crop production and greenhouses and Zigma Ltd with 37 hectares for cashew production, adding, 

“We have also attracted processors like African Agricultural Tech Foundation (AATF), Flash Agro farm and Trolil International Ltd. And last but not least, we have Agridrive who are big in farm mechanisation”.

“Just down the same road, we have Oyo Sugarcane Processors Ltd, producers of brown sugar and molasses. Chief Adepoju Olusola is expanding his operations to include a 20-hectare sugarcane plantation at the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub, gingered by the completion of the Oyo-Iseyin Road and the Adebayo Alao-Akala Memorial Highway.

“Our modest estimate is that the operations at Fasola will provide 1,500 direct and indirect new jobs and support to 7,000 smallholder farmers. The current cumulative investment of the private sector in that hub is over N10 billion. 

“This is expected to grow to N20 billion within the next year. We took a different approach to agricultural development and we continue in this trajectory. Our Oyo State Land Tractorisation Subsidy scheme is designed to reach real farmers. And this is why we enlisted 123 Extension Officers in all 33 LGAs to ensure that our farmers have direct access to the tractors. We are also deploying technology to make the process of requesting and accessing this intervention seamless. 

The governor stressed further, “For the distribution of farm inputs, we designed a data-driven distribution system that started with the biometric capture of farmers. It is on record that the World Bank saw our system and decided to adopt it as the NG-CARES model. In the past year, we have distributed farm inputs to 2,573 smallholder farmers in 15 Local Government Areas”.

According to political observers in the state, playing politics with the growth and development of the society or state should no longer be the norm in the modern day, but the need for all and sundry to be engaging in constructive and solution bond criticism for a better state and Nigeria as a country in general.