A former Chief of Staff to the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and one of the governorship aspirants in the state, Professor Adeolu Akande, made the submission on Monday, during a visit to the senior editorial staff of the Tribune titles, at House, Imalefalafia, Ibadan, the state capital, to intimate them of his aspiration to become the state governor in 2019 and how he intends to turn around the fortunes of the state through agriculture.
Akande said the state has the fifth largest land mass in Nigeria, adding that if the land is adequately used for agriculture, the state would generate double amount the allocation the state is getting from the Federal Government in a year.
“If you are going to Oke-Ogun from Ibadan, from Moniya to Iseyin, is a “stretch of 60 Kilometres and on both sides of the road is bush. It is a land that you do not need other efforts to cultivate for instance, cassava. If the state focuses on cassava, we can multiply the public finance of the state by at least 10, within a year because Nigeria produces 54 million tonnes of cassava yearly and we export less than one per cent of it.
“Out of the 54 million tonnes, the state alone contributes 20 per cent. So, if government focuses on it, cassava has 14 derivatives. If you take ethanol alone, Nigeria import 98 per cent of it yearly. The value of that 98 per cent is N800 billion. What that means is that if the state focuses on cassava, even, if it is 100 out of that N800 billion, we can bring to Oyo State and that will be twice the total budget of the state”.
He further stated that rather than for the state to export food, Oyo State is one of the states that is buying food items from the North.
He, however, listed a three-point blueprint with which he intended to make the state financially independent.
“Number one is agriculture. We are the largest producer of cassava in Nigeria. We are the largest producer of poultry products which is also 20 per cent. Number two is tourism, we have great potentials in tourism that we are not exploiting.
“Why we are not making headway with agriculture in the state is that as of today, the state has 22 agric extension officers. Meanwhile, 70 pe cent of the population of the state are engaged in agriculture so we are talking about five million people who directly or indirectly are involved in agriculture and we have only 22 agric extension officers who are supposed to tell them about new seeding, new technology, new machinery, as well as market for farmers”.
Akande, therefore, said he will do all within his reach to ensure that the state utilise the opportunities abound in agriculture to turn around the fortunes of the state if given the mandate by the people.
Responding on behalf of the senior editorial staff, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Mr Edward Dickson, pledged the support of the senior journalists whenever and whatever form, adding that they are solidly behind him, as a former member of staff of the organisation.