An issue that has consistently rang a bell of importance and acceptability in the camps of the two leading Presidential candidates in the March 28th 2015 Presidential election is the quality of persons nominated as field workers for both sides of the political divides to seek the mandate of the electorate for their principals.
In the case of President Goodluck Jonathan, an interesting angle is the engagement of a core loyalist and a respected human rights activist Chief Longers Anyanwu of Imo State as one of his mainstream youth-led field campaigners.
Incidentally, Chief Anyanwu is credited to have founded the Imo State ultra-modern pre-nursery oil palm seed development centre in Nekede Owerri Imo state that produced over Five Million (5M) high yielding tenera species seedlings; Commissioned by Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, This remarkable achievement earned Chief Longers Anyawu an award by the Malaysian Oil palm Corporation “Award of Excellence” in Kuala Lumpur – 2013.
Anyanwu who served as commissioner of Agriculture for four years under the PDP state government blocked serious avenue for financial leakages in the Agric ministry.
“Billions of naira has been wasted in the last 3 decade for procurement of tractors of all type in Nigeria.
Why has there not been a corresponding impact on large scale farming or commercial farming?” he asked.
The answer is simply because the environment for tractorization has not been place. It cost average of N350,000 to clear and prepare a normal arable land to make it tractorable. In the case of swampy areas it can even cost more. You find out that to prepare 10,000 hectres of available land before tractorization would take billions of naira which only government can do this primary agricultural development before agro business can work through tractorization.
An average tractor will require a minimum of at least 5 hectres to work on a day to archive optimum utilization.
How feasible to get this quantum of prepared land is a great challenge to large scale farming in Nigeria.
Recommendation: Government should set aside agric zones where lands must be prepared by government and leave it for leasing.
World Bank rural Area Revolution Using Small Hold land Scheme Initiative” A paper presented at the World Bank round table in Washington in 2010.
This gentleman activist wrote a beautiful and scholarly piece on how to take Nigeria’s agro sector to the next level as alternative source of foreign revenue.
He wrote as follows: Realising the difficulties in getting large size of land in Imo State for agric purpose because of the Small size and Nature of land ownership in Igbo it becomes difficult to get enough.
However with various world bank sponsored agric programmes such as FADAMA, Food security, roots and tuber etc rural farmer Mobilized through cooperatives and CBOS to benefit from world bank grants and soft loans which has led to larger output of agric product.
Chief Anyanwu further stated thus;
“My paper posited that the World Bank in deed the international donors will achieve meaningful impact better if the partner directly partner with the rural and very poor of the poor in the land. Instead of wasting Nigeria mega oil dollar on “grant” but white elephant projects in the cities without feasible impact.
Until Goodluck Ebele Jonathan government, past government only paid lip service to agric development.”
He has the following rich backgrounds in activism:
• Involved in student Leadership from secondary, high school to university levels;
• Was active member of SDP campaign council member of HOPE 93;
• Involved in the formation of Peoples Democratic Party PDP in 1998 being the leading member of Vision 98 and New Era Alliance that eventually merged;
• Served at Various committees of the PDP party both at the state and National levels;
• Chairman Sure-P Imo State;
• Coordinator Jonathan/Sambo Forum Imo State;
• Member PDP Gubernatorial Appeal panel for Adamawa 2014 and
• Former Chairman Forum of conference of State commissioner of Agriculture 2008-2010.
As an activist myself I am usually delighted to see such respectable quality of activist working to rebuild our country through the platforms of their political parties. There is no doubt that Chief Anyanwu can bring quality service to bear if rewarded with higher national calling if his team emerges reelected come March 28th 2015. Next week we will highlight one of the activist in the General Buhari’s campaign council.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs @www.huriwa.blogspot.com;www.rightsassociationngr.com, www.huriwa.org.