As freshly-harvested foodstuff arrive the markets and altering the widely-acknowledged countrywide high food prices gradually, it will be historically appropriate to make public the unique contribution of the Northeast geo-political zone to the development of agricultural sector in Nigeria. The zone produced nine Ministers of Agriculture from 1966 when the Ministry was created to date.
It is intriguing that the former North Eastern state, which is now broken into Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi states has produced the largest number of Ministers for the Agricultural sector in Nigeria.
The lofty purpose of the Ministry was written thus, “to optimize agriculture and intergrate rural development for the transformation of the Nigerian economy, with a view to attaining food security and making Nigeria a food exporter.”
Dr. Bukar Shuaib, from Geidam now in Yobe state, was the first Vertirinary Doctor in Nigeria and the first Nigerian from the North East to be appointed as Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources. That was in 1984. Another illustrious son of Yobe state, this time from Potiskum, Malam Adamu Ciroma, served the country as Minister of Agriculture twice, in the administration of President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari and that of General Sani Abacha respectively.
Alhaji Abubakar Habu Hashidu from Gombe state was Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources during the military Presidency of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Malam Adamu Bello, from Numan in Adamawa state, had a long tenure as Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Dr. Shattima Mustafa, who taught agriculture in the University and from Borno state, had a shot at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources when Malam Umaru Musa ‘Yar’Aduwa was the President.
In the era of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Bukar Tijani, an accomplished agriculturist from Borno state, who often proudly says he started his career in the sector as a village extension officer, was the Minister of State for Agriculture.
Bukar Tijani assidiously worked alongside Minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina in successfully implementing the Flood Recovery Programme conceived in the aftermarth of the devastating flooding that had adverse effect on agricultural production in the country in 2011. He was also the co-pilot of the Agriculural Transformation Agenda (ATA) which gave prominence to the development of the value chains of different commodities. There were other initiatives that really made Nigerians to see and engage in various agricultural activities as businesses through which to exit poverty.
After his tenure at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, he moved to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). He worked as Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa. In November 2018 he took office as Assistnt Director-General in charge of Agriculture and Consumer Protection at the organisation’s headquarters in Rome, Italy.
He had an unbroken career in the agricultural sector at the domestic and internacional levels for about four decades until his recent appointment as the Secretary to the Borno State Government by the Borno state Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, himself a specialist in agricultural engineering.
President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mustapha Baba Shehuri from Borno state as Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development. He served from 2019 to 2023.
The appointment of Senator Abubakar Kyari from Borno state as Minister for Agriculture and Food Security by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, completes the record number of nine citizens from the Northestern geo-political zone appointed to play a leading role in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
To cap it all, the appointment of Lawan Kolo Geidam from Yobe state as Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory, it is indeed intriguing.
Salisu Na’inna Dambatta,