Describing himself as the farmers’ President, Goodluck Jonathan on Friday said in the face of declining crude oil prices, agriculture was now the life-line for the country.
Jonathan who spoke at an agricultural show tagged Agrifest in Abuja affirmed that he had done so much in Agriculture and that should it turn out that farmers were not happy with him, Nigerians should not even vote for him.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adewunmi Adesina, who also spoke at the forum disclosed that the reforms in the agricultural sector by the Jonathan administration had attracted over $5.6 billion in foreign investment.
Jonathan said since agriculture was paying off so well in America, he saw no reason why Nigerian farmers should not be millionaires and even billionaires, saying the goal of his administration was to make Nigerian farmers that wealthy.
To this end, he said 750,000 young commercial farmers were being created, with the philosophy being to catch the youth early and change their mindset towards agriculture.
“Agriculture is now the life-line for Nigeria,” he told farmers from around the country gathered at the Eagle Square for the Agribiz.
“As crude oil prices decline, we must create new wealth from the richness of our soil, the vastness of our rivers and the abundance of our labour. We will produce more and industrialise the agricultural sector. That is our total commitment. One area we can say we are doing very well is agriculture.
“Great farmers of Nigeria, you can rely on me as a farmers’ President. Even in my campaigns yesterday, I mentioned it in Benue, that Nigerians should reach out to you, farmers, and if you are not happy with me, they should not even vote for me.”
He expressed gratitude to farmers, saying were it not for their efforts that have made all manner of foodstuffs readily available and prices stable, there could have been food riots by now.
Jonathan also revealed how he ended 40 years of corruption that made it impossible for farmers to get fertilizer at government-subsidised rate through the deployment of the now-popular e-wallet.
He said over 14.5 million farmers have been “raised” through this G.E.S. system.
Adeshina attributed the over $5.6 billion foreign investment attracted into the economy by agriculture to a strong political will to tackle the underhand corruption associated with the distribution of seedlings and fertilizer to rural farmers across the country.