Agric minister lashes his predecessor

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Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ak i nwunmi Adesina has described claims by one of his predecessors, Dr Adamu Bello as an attempt to discredit successes recorded in the sector under this administration.

Adesina in a statement by his Special Assistant on media, Olukayode Oyeleye said the timing of Bello’s comments was blatantly wrong.

It is regrettable that the former minister “would choose to dwell on only the annual GDP growth rate as a measure of his performance to the exclusion of a good number of other indices and thereby arrogate to himself a success during his tenure as federal Minister of Agriculture, while desperately seeking to discredit the current minister.”

Bello had in media reports on Thursday refuted earlier claims by Adesina that a total of N870 billion was spent on subsidy for fertilisers by the past administration. Adesina was reported to have said that N26 billion was corruptly taken on subsidy annually over a period of 40 years, but that only N2.9 billion actually reached the farmers annually.

Bello, who was minister from 2001 to 2007 said the quoted amount was bogus and not a true reflection of the facts. He said from 1999 to 2007, the total amount spent on subsidy for fertilisers was N25 billion, maintaining that his claims could be verified from the budget office of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

In his reaction to Bello’s claims, Adesina argued that “parading those year-on-year GDP changes by the former minister has neither explained nor proved any point. Rather, it raises questions about the concrete achievements the minister had to show for his role as minister during the period he was at the helm. The differences, in terms of concrete performance, between Adamu Bello and Akinwumi Adesina, are poles apart. The purpose of the current minister, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, is not to generate or churn out flat figures but to build verifiable sectoral statistics built upon tangible performances.”

To justify his argument that he has done better in office than Bello, the minister listed some of his achievements since he assumed office.

“Private sector investment into agriculture has risen to unprecedented level within the last three years, arising from both local and foreign direct investment because of the current reforms in the agricultural sector. This includes the decision by Dangote on August 2014 to invest $1 billion in commercial rice production in Nigeria, which was the largest ever single investment on food production in Africa. Currently, Olam’s investment of $70 million in a fully mechanised rice farm is visible in Nassarawa State in response to the investor-friendly policy under the Adesina’s leadership in the ministry of agriculture.

“The old method of government’s involvement in direct procurement and distribution of fertiliser has been recognised and unsustainable and had to be changed. Right now, the deregulation of the fertiliser sub-sector has created a new lease of life for stakeholders in fertiliser business who no longer have to come knocking at the minister’s door for allocations as they now sell their fertiliser without recourse to government. We expect that ex-minister Adamu Bello should have spared some commendation for Adesina for this business-friendly policy that has attracted supports from financial institutions.
 
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