Obasanjo Urges Int’l Assistance To End Insurgency

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has again called for more assistance from the international community to end the Boko Haram Insurgency in the North East so that farmers could return to their farms.

Obasanjo made the appeal on Monday in Maiduguri in his capacity as an Honorary Ambassador of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

The institute had organized an event to donate improved seeds to the Borno State government for the planting season.

The former President noted that Nigeria has the capacity to produce enough to feed its citizens, but added that insurgency in the Northern region, the country’s food basket, is adversely affecting food production and security.

He lamented that farmers in Borno cannot now plant the seeds donated to them until Boko Haram menace in the state and the sub-region is fully addressed.

“When I came in this morning I was overwhelmed; because I saw what I haven’t seen in Nigeria,” Obasanjo said. “I saw this line of tractors, one thousand of them. I saw combined harvesters five or six of them.

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“Then what struck me as I sat down and listening and watching is that we have to tell the world and particularly, the international community that our problem is not inability to feed ourselves; because we can do it.

“Our problem is the menace of insecurity and Boko Haram that we had in this country. And we must tell the world; we need your help.

“The inability of the lack of adequate funds in the North East generally and in particular in Borno state, is not because of the laziness of the people. It is not also because they are not ready and willing to work on agriculture or shying from their own responsibilities.”

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He called on international community to assist the nation in pushing out the Boko Haram menace saying, “Yes, Boko Haram is on the run, but its menace has not been completely vanished.”

In his brief remarks, Shettima recalled that Obasanjo was a pioneer of hybrid seeds, which farmers in Borno could employ to overcome the challenges of the eight-year Boko Haram insurgency.

Earlier during the presentation of 35,930 kilogrammes of seeds to the Borno state government, the Deputy Director of the IITA, Kenton Dashiell said the gesture was to help Nigeria to rebuild Borno in particular; and the Boko Haram affected states of Adamawa and Yobe in general.

The seeds include improved varieties of cow-pea, soybean, maize, millet, sorghum and rice.

“The seeds are adapted to the climate of the region with some being extra-early, early and intermediate maturing for harvests. They are high yielding and resistant to the major pests and diseases, and other biotic and abiotic constraints in the region,” Dashiell said.

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“We are concerned about the plight of the people of the Northeast who, many accounts, are very food insecure, malnourished and need assistance to get back to normal life.”

He added that another 3, 000 bundles of cassava planting materials will also be delivered to the state, once the rains stabilizes.

The agricultural institute will also partner with World Food Programme, WFP, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations during this year’s growing season.

“By next year, these farmers should be able to share the harvests of the seeds with their fellow farmers for planting during the 2018 growing season,” Dashiell said.