Nigeria can longer depend on the oil sector for survival after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Plateau State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Hosea Istifanus Finangwai, warned on Monday.
The commissioner applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for diversifying the Nigerian economy and invest hugely in the agricultural sector as the mainstay of a reformed economy.
Dr Finangwai stated this on Monday during the inauguration of a Joint Technical Task Team to ease the movement of agricultural implements and food during the COVID-19 lockdown in Plateau.
‘President Muhammadu Buhari has actually identified Agriculture as the mainstay of the Nigeria economy. Nigeria can no longer depend on oil,’ he said.
‘We have to diversify the economy and agriculture has provided an alternative way to go. It is unfortunate that we are facing this national and global challenges from the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
‘But the earlier we identify the way to manage it and navigate our ways out the better for us. That was the wisdom of the Federal Government for us to name this task team to help us allow our key players to move about doing business and yet not compromise [public health protocols].’
Dr Finangwai said the team’s primary responsibility is to ease movement of agricultural inputs and food into the state during the pandemic lockdown to avert acute hunger.
The State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akwashiki Haruna, said the country is fighting two battles – coronavirus and hunger.
‘The meeting today is to brainstorm on ways of cooperation by all stakeholders here to fine-tune strategies for free movement of foodstuff and other agricultural inputs in the country, particularly as it affects Plateau State.
‘The team will come up with strategies that will ensure minimal impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the year 2020 farming season in line with the directive of Mr President. The truth is that Nigeria and indeed the whole world is presently fighting two battles: coronavirus and hunger.’
The Plateau State Commissioner of Police, who is the Chairman of the team, Edward Egbuka, represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Administration, DCP Warebi Owotorufa, described the initiative as apt and said that it will curb hunger among citizens.
He noted that the presidential directives on interstate and intrastate travel restrictions would be fully implemented with the exception of people on essential duties including farmers and movement of agricultural inputs.