Nigeria and Africa can easily break the shackles of poverty through proper investments that lead to food security as well as various safety net programmes that directly put money in the pockets of those mostly in need of it, Kwara State Governor said on Monday.
AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said at a meeting with Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) that coordinated investments in agricultural value chains and social investment programmes that target the most vulnerable groups could help to lift millions of people out of poverty.
Apart from its support for agriculture, the Governor said the administration continues to support small businesses and lift up people below the poverty line through its social safety programmes such as Owo Arugbo and Owo Isowo, among others.
Speaking with the IsDB team on National Programme for Food Security, the Governor said everything must be done to grow the agricultural value chains such as the one being supported by the bank.
Kwara, Kebbi, Kano and Ekiti have been identified to benefit in the first phase of the programme which is funded by the IsDB.
“The global problem created by Covid-19 is still subsisting. We have a huge problem globally not just in Nigeria which has affected food security throughout the world. Africa, and indeed Nigeria, is ready to feed the world. We have the land and everything to achieve that. But we have to be organised. And it is programmes like this that will put us in the right footing to feed the world in every aspect. It is a serious thing that you sent a team down to Kwara to make sure you have hands-on approach to the programme,” he told the IsDB Operations team led by Javed Khan.
“Our 10-year Agriculture Transformation Plan shows the seriousness our administration attaches to agriculture and its value chains. The future for us is agriculture and agro-processing. That is where we have comparative advantages.
“We thank you for your interest in our state. With thorough engagement and sincerity of purpose, be assured that our team is prepared and very serious about this project, because we don’t have oil in Kwara, agriculture is part of what we are looking at to sustain us. So, we need to and we indeed can break the chains of poverty through agriculture.”
Khan, for his part, said on the food security programme: “As a procedure, we are here just to confirm and we got the confirmation from the relevant team here, that whatever is designed is according to the needs and requirements of the Kwara State. We are here to listen to all the technical people if they need to add or remove something from it. This is a project for the people of Kwara.
“What I saw in the last few months that I joined the Nigeria’s team in Abuja is that there is a lot of potentials not only in Kwara but also in many other states. But you need to harness this potential for greater benefits. How do we get this benefits from it? We need to work together to achieve the set objectives.
“I will like to convey the appreciation of the bank to Your Excellency for your commitment to the wellbeing of the poor. With your government’s support, I am sure, we will be able to conclude our technical meetings here and have a good implementation.”
Khan said he led a combined team from the Office of the National Programme for Food Security; the Islamic Development Bank; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Federal Ministry of Finance.
State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Abdulateef Gidado Alakawa, said Kwara would join three other states — Kano, Kebbi and Ekiti — that have been captured in the first phase of the programme.
He attributed the choice of Kwara and other benefitting states to their government’s commitments to agricultural sector in their respective states.
“I am glad to inform Your Excellency that the State under your watch has met all the criteria, and in all the assessments Kwara State came first for the first time they did it, the second time they did it, and the third time they did it. So they are here this morning to do the final stage,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by Commissioners Olasumbo Florence Oyeyemi (Finance); Dr. Raji Razaq (Health); and KWASSIP Chairman Abdulquawiy Olododo; and Agricultural Development Project (ADP) chief Dr. Khadijat Lawal; among other government officials.