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Beyond The Limits of Federal Allocation By Olawale Dibia Ajayi

I spent this Resurrection Sunday pondering over the precarious financial mess most states in Nigeria have found themselves in. Apart from the ever decreasing statutory allocations from the centre, the IGR base of many states is so appalling that you feel like querying the population figures such states parade as part of their statistical data. Experts have argued that if all eligible citizens living within a state pay their tax, all the states in Nigeria would survive financially. That is, if we take taxation as one of the major revenue sources for government.

However, it has long been established that agriculture remains the only guarantee for a sustainable developmental template in a country well endowed with abundant  resources below the earth. This was what propelled post-independence Nigerian leaders to prioritise agriculture in such a way that regional development was anchored on the proceeds from cotton and groundnuts from the North, cocoa from the West, Palm produce from the South-East and Aqua-culture from the Niger Delta, long before crude oil was discovered. The consequences of the discovery of oil is a topic for another day.

Of particular interest is the aggressive agricultural policy of the Awolowo-led administration in the old southwestern region of the country. To make agriculture attractive not only to the peasants, but also to the young graduates at that time, farm settlements were established in all parts of what constituted the southwest, with all the facilities that could make living in those locations very conducive. One of the resultant effects was the massive employment the scheme generated coupled with the high food production and its attendant chain effects. That was the period when governments at all levels could be said to have really worked for the money they earned.

With the discovery of crude oil and the easy money it brings, investment in agriculture continues to suffer major setbacks. Beyond the immediate proceeds from arable crops, only cash crops provide the expected long earnings any government could rely on for sustenance. Unfortunately, most governments are not willing to invest in cash crops because earnings from them are not immediate. This has become the major albatross as far as agriculture is concerned in contemporary Nigeria. Every government wants to reap from its own investment before leaving office.

Curious to find out the current state of things in one of the farm settlements established by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, l visited the one located right in his hometown, Ikenne. The spectacle was an eyesore. It was a clear case of crass negligence and abandonment by the authorities concerned. I saw the potentials for huge government revenue wasting away. Old rubber trees violently tapped over the past fifty years begged for replacement to enable maximum yield. An informed source claimed that with the many rivers running through the settlement, the farm could produce about 50% of the fish needs of the country. I couldn't verify this claim because the research officers from IITA and another Federal agency whose contributions would have shed more light on why the centre is now a ghost town, were on Easter holiday.

However, I have resolved to go back to that farm settlement when those who should have answers to the many nagging questions agitating my mind are back on the farm. But for now, this is the evidence of the decay, desolation and abandonment.
Beyond The Limits of Federal Allocation By Olawale Dibia Ajayi Beyond The Limits of Federal Allocation By Olawale Dibia Ajayi Reviewed by Emeka Oparah on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 Rating: 5

1 comment

  1. It is common knowledge that farming is not only the way to go but is a MUST. Nigeria is the second or third largest importer of rice. So many other products that could grow here are also imported. Two things Nigeria has in common with the rest of the world.Firstly that water will become a major supply problem over the next ten to twenty years. Secondly that food will follow this very soon after. The fact thatNigeria can solve their own problem themselves without having to beg or import is a crucial consideration for all. Solving these problems will also create employment and as mentioned in the write up, to huge levels. It will also reduce the amount of forex being asked for to import items such as rice. It will start to create an economy that we can all build on with confidence. I believ this government has the will to do this but I suspect does not have the knowledge as to how. Do not be ashamed. Ask the people who do know and get on with it. Pride does not pay the NEPA bill!


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