A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, on Monday, July 23, said Nigeria will remain one despite the agitations in the country and other developments threatening the unity of Nigeria.
Gowon spoke at a forum lead by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and which is the 50th anniversary programme of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Oyo state.
The dignitaries present at the event were the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who represented acting President Yemi Osinbajo; the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Moses Alake, who represented Governor Abiola Ajimobi; and the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Punch reports.
NAIJ.com gathered that others at the ceremony were the President, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; Chief Joe Makoju, who is the Special Adviser to President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; and other dignitaries from across Africa.
Gowon said: “I am not scared for the unity of the nation. I have confidence in Nigeria and the youths of this country that they will make sure that they take over and do better than we left for them.
“I have no fear that all these rantings and so on, no; I have confidence that the youths of this nation will keep Nigeria going and make it greater. Diversity is our source of unity and strength.”
He also said that there must be concerted efforts to trigger the interest of the nation’s youths in agriculture.
He also said: “The average age of farmers in Nigeria is 60 years; soon, they will pass on and that includes me. We have to encourage the younger ones to be interested in agriculture so that they can take over from the older generation that have been feeding the nation.
”This is what happens in Europe, America and China today and we must encourage it in Nigeria.
“During our time, agriculture was the main thing and plans were made for agro-allied development.
”We started to clear big areas for agriculture and inviting the federal and state governments, private sectors and even individuals to get involved in agriculture.”
In his speech, Obasanjo urged African countries to increase their interest in all aspects of agriculture and research while effort must be made to engage more women in agriculture.
The former President said: “Looking back, lITA has been a major blessing to the continent of Africa. In the past 50 years, the institute’s research has helped to avert major disasters that plagued African staples, including cassava and maize.”
Osinbajo, who was represented by Ogbeh, said Nigeria was heading for 450 million in population, arguing that feeding such a large population would be tough but possible.
Osinbajo: “At over three per cent growth per annum, we are reportedly heading for 450 million persons by the year 2050; but feeding 450 million is tough though not impossible.
“If China and India did it, we too can. So, as we move on, we must reflect on the challenge of quantity of output and quality of consumption. And to achieve this, we urge you (IITA) to engage in more research.
“At the African Development Bank, we have decided to work with amazing institutions to help drive Africa’s agricultural sector transformation.
”The bank will be investing $24bn in agriculture over the next 10 years to help turn agriculture into a business all across Africa.
“Our goal is to ensure that Africa feeds itself within 10 years and unblocks the full potential of its agriculture.’’
Danfulani made the statement on Monday, July 24, in Umuahia, Abia state, when he paid a solidarity visit to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
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