A former Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Adamu Bello, has described as uncharitable and misplaced various claims made by the current Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, on the achievements of the agriculture sector under his watch.
In a document released by Bello and made available to journalists, Bello, who was Agriculture Minister between 2001 and 2007, said the claims of performance of the current minister were unjustified as they cannot be verified from the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS). The former minister said the performance of the sector in terms of GDP growth has been in decline since former President Olusegun Obasanjo left office. According to data from the NBS, the last time a growth rate was recorded in the sector was 2007 with a rate of 7.20 per cent. Between 2008 and 2011, the growth rate was 6.30 per cent, 5.90 per cent, 5.60 per cent and 5.60 per cent respectively. In 2012 and 2013, even though a target of eight percent was set, the growth rate was 3.97 and 4.50 percent growth. Bello said: “From the performance levels indicated, the growth rate of the Agricultural sector has been on the decline since President Olusegun Obasanjo left office. “I have however noticed that the achievements being mentioned at various fora especially by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, have no basis except that they were stated by the minister in charge of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. “I have personally spoken with the SSA as to his source and he gentlemanly told me that he got all he said from the minister. I reminded him that there are independent government agencies especially the National Bureau of Statistics that he should check with, and he promised to take up the issue with the minister and revert back to me.” Bello also disputed specific claims by Adesina on fertilizer subsidy saying claims that N870 billion had been spent on fertilizer subsidy is untrue. “It is only God the Almighty that will judge the unfair way past administrations are being portrayed. To claim that there was subsidy of N870 billion spent on fertilizers since the use of fertilizers was initially encouraged by the government about 40 years ago is most unfair, as I doubt if the entire agricultural budgets for the whole period was up to that sum,” he said.
Claiming that the sum was far lower than that claimed by the minister, Bello said the subsidy between 1999-2007 was under N25billion.
“For a fact, from 1999-2007, the total subsidy on fertilizers was under N25 billion. This can be verified from the Budget Office of the Federal Ministry of Finance. However, according to Adesina the subsidy which was abused and corruptly taken was claimed to be N26 billion annually over a period of 40 years.
“He further claimed only N2.9 billion reached the farmers annually. Any discerning person can see clearly that under Obasanjo’s administration, we had only N3 billion on the average per annum for fertilizer subsidy. How can N26 billion be corruptly taken annually when only N3 billion was allocated annually?
“And where did the figure of N870 billion subsidy on fertilizers come from when only about N25 billion was committed in eight years, which represent 20 per cent of the 40 years mentioned? It is clear that there is no basis for the claim being made by Adesina except for the purposes of getting unearned awards at the expense of those who served in previous administrations,” Bello said.
The former minister said Adesina’s claim to have stopped 40 years of corruption in the agricultural sector in 90 days as ‘misplaced.’
“This statement is misplaced, as over the purported period, he had not overseen the purchase of a single bag of fertilizer. This can only be accepted as a statement of intent and not an achievement. Adesina can only claim this as an achievement if there was successful supply of fertilizers to farmers during that period.”