Farming key to Nigeria's greatness, says Afe Babalola – The Sun Nigeria – Daily Sun
By Chukwudi Nweje
Legal icon, founder and Chancellor of Afe Babaola University (ABUAD), Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has said Nigeria cannot be great if it neglects indigenous potentials of the country.
He advised Nigerians not to think that all that is foreign and English were good and greater than their own because such would make them lose their self-esteem.
He admonished Nigerians to go back to agriculture.
Babalola spoke at the grand finale of the 2021 edition of the annual Afe Babalola Agricultural Expo, popularly known as ABAEX, at the ABUAD sports pavilion.
He regretted that despite the huge fortunes in agriculture, many Nigerians have abandoned the occupation, and cited insecurity as a major factor to the decline in agriculture.
he doled out N13.2 million to outstanding farmers in Ekiti State as part of efforts to encourage farming and lift farmers financially.
Mr Aribasoye Emmanuel, from Ado Local Government Area, got the star prize of N2 million as the overall best farmer in the state for the year.
Five best farmers in each of the 16 local government areas, got N250,000, N150,000, N100,000, N75,000 and N50,000 respectively.
Babalola said distributing money to hardworking farmers on annual basis was a fulfilment of his dream.
“This is in realisation of my dream. It all started like a dream which translated into reality since 2015.
“The dream was my burning desire to make people realise that farming is a divine vocation.
“It is also part of my individual contributions to on-going efforts at revitalising farming as well as reducing unemployment in the country.
“Another reason why I started this Expo was that I found it utmost painful that many Nigerians have abandoned farming for white collar or menial jobs and also for no jobs
“Many of us in the country are familiar with the story of the Garden of Eden in the Holy Bible where we were made to understand that God, in His wisdom, established the Garden and asked Adam and his wife, Eve, to look after the Garden.
“There was a time in this country when whatever one’s profession was, such a person would still have a small garden at the back of his house, if only for vegetables, tomatoes, pepper and garden eggs, among others,’’ he observed.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to establish a special Agriculture Bank, which will be completely different from those before it.
“This is where farmers can obtain loans at low interest rates with their cooperative societies serving as guarantors,’’ he added.
The ABUAD founder expressed regret that farming has suddenly become abandoned and discouraged in Nigeria.
“Farming has been abandoned in Nigeria today and Nigeria is the worse for it.
“For instance, time it was when Ekiti State alone was producing 52 per cent of the Internally-Generated Revenue of the defunct Western Region.
“Today, Ekiti State is the poorest state in Nigeria. In fact there was no beggar in Ekiti State at that time as everyone was gainfully employed, but today beggars are found everywhere.
“Regretfully, Ekiti State has become the poverty capital of Nigeria,’’ Aare Babalola said.
Continuing, Babalola said “Also, no thanks to the spate of insecurity ranging from kidnapping, robbery and invasion by herdsmen ravaging the country, life is no longer safe at home, on the farm, on the road or even in classrooms.
“The combination of these ills has led many farms to be destroyed with many farmers having to abandon their farms.
“Thank God that despite all these, Ekiti State farmers have been able to forge ahead. I believe in farming because I grew up on the farm and I am still a farmer as many of you know,’’ he said.
He added that he included the study of agriculture in the curriculum of his university, with a 50 per cent slash in tuition fee for the course.
“In my university, we provide seed money for graduates of agriculture to start their own businesses.”
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By Chukwudi Nweje Legal icon, founder and Chancellor of Afe Babaola University (ABUAD), Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe…
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