The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said at the weekend that President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressive Congress (APC) has committed more resources to diversify the economy than any previous administration.
Lawan said no past government had invested as much resources particularly in agriculture as the Buhari government had done.
He spoke on Saturday at the commissioning of a Poultry Farm Center which the National Agricultural Land Development Authourity (NALDA) established in Gasamu, in Jakusko Local Government Area of Yobe State.
The Senate President said: “We have promised to diversify the economy of this country. For more than 50 years, our economy had been dependent on one single commodity and that is oil.
“Oil does not provide so much employment opportunities. There could be revenues but definitely not the mainstream opportunities in terms of employment. But when you diversify into agriculture, you would have much more people engaged, especially our youths who today are largely unemployed or under employed.
“So we are diversifying the economy of Nigeria through agriculture and we have done so much as a country, as a government, in the last six years or so.
“No previous administration in Nigeria has committed as much fund, resources in agriculture than this administration. And I stand to be contradicted, that if not because of resources that we have put in agriculture sector, Nigeria would still have been importing the food that we eat.
“But everyone knows that the rice import bill had gone so low, almost to nothing today. We used to spend billions of dollars every year to import rice but we have been producing the rice that we eat.
“Of course we still have to work to stop smuggling of rice into Nigeria. But I want to assure you that the APC administration at all levels of government, from the local government, to the state and federal government, will continue to work for diversification of Nigerian economy.
“Only last month, the National Bureau of Statistics released the report that our economy has grown by 5.01 percent in GDP. That is to show that we are making progress. We are not yet there but we will be there by the Grace of God and all indications are there that we will be there.”
Lawan thanked Buhar for given the approval for the farm. This, he said, was in fulfilment of the promise made by the President on behalf of APC in 2015, to provide employment opportunities for the youths.
“This is one way of doing that and this is a very practical way of doing it. We have our youths who will be engaged. Presently, 30 youths will be engaged to manage the farm.
“This is only the direct employment on this farm. When you look at the indirect opportunities, when you establish poultry farms across this zone, you would have brought in many youths to manage the poultry farms.
“Gasamu, because of this project, is now going to be prominent in the Nigerian map. And this is something that is very important for us as a community here.
“If someone will come from Kano. If someone will come from Imo. If someone will come from Akwa Ibom to buy chicks here, to go and grow them and sell them to make money, why can’t we in this community do the same.
“That means we should be able to have poultry farms coming up across this zone particularly in Jakusko Local Government.
“This is one of the immediate benefits and I will urge our people not lose the opportunity and I want to seize this opportunity also to appeal to NALDA that we want the capacity to go beyond 250,000 per annum. I want to assure you that our people will exhaust the 250,000 and they will need more,” Lawan said.
The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Hon. Paul Ikonne said the farm center was established on the mandate of President Buhari in order to empower the youths and get the country closer towards achieving food security.
“Mr President has directed NALDA to make agriculture attractive for our youths and for NALDA to produce what we are to eat and for Nigerians to eat what we produce.
“So we are here today for the commissioning of this 30,000-bird capacity which is specially made to produce Noiler.
“This center is like a reproduction centre that will be producing our locally improved birds that will be distributed across the country,” Hon Ikonne said.
He said the farm had the capacity of generating 850 eggs daily and N1.1 million daily from the sales of birds only.
Ikonne said the birds also had incubator centre in order to produce day old that would be used to establish or sent to other poultry houses across the country.
He said the revenue projection is that the farm center which entire capacity is to have 250,000 birds would generate not less than N400 million annually.
“NALDA Integrated farm estates are meant to empower the community, to develop the land within the community, empower the youths, create employment and reduce hunger in our land.
“So communities within the country are expected to donate land. Mr President has directed NALDA to establish Integrated Farm Estates in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. So these lands are developed for the immediate communities and for the empowerment of the communities,” he said.