WE may not be where we ought to be, but there is hope for the country; we just need to chart a new course in our developmental agenda.
The current economic crisis in the country presents us with a great opportunity for us to start afresh. Over the years, we relied only on crude oil, which made our people lazy. As a result, we forgot agriculture, which we built the early years of our nationhood around. Then, we had cocoa in the West, groundnut in the North, palm oil in the East, and the economy was thriving. In fact, there was a time Nigeria was the world’s largest exporter of cocoa. The biggest mistake we made was losing focus on developing through agriculture, while diverting into crude oil. Today, that crude oil that took away agriculture from us is now a curse to us. We had over-relied on the black gold, and its crash in the global oil market has brought us nothing but economic woes.
I, however, believe that we can still retrace our steps and return to agriculture; in fact, we have no choice than to return to agriculture. It is often said that agriculture is the largest employer of labour in the country, and it can absorb all unemployed people; so if this is the case, why don’t we reorganise this sector to our advantage. We can begin to work towards overcoming Ivory Coast and Ghana as the world’s largest exporter of cocoa; we can develop our cashew industry, thereby becoming one of the biggest cashew exporting countries in the world. The same thing goes for other agricultural produce, and we can imagine how many jobs can be created when we focus only on agriculture. What we just need are visionary leaders who are ready to direct the country and her people on the right path.
Therefore, as Nigeria celebrates its 56th independence anniversary, we should not lose hope, but we should believe that with more hard work, we can achieve our dream for a better country. We should see the opportunities in the challenges we are facing at the moment to re-strategise on the right path to follow, and to me, that right path is agriculture. We cannot compete with the Asians in vehicle production, or with the Germans in machinery, or with the Indians in services, but we can become the leader in agriculture, and through that, we can achieve a prosperous Nigeria.
- Edwin Onome,