The chairman of all Ex Presidential Candidates and a renowned Farmer in Nigeria, Alhaji Kabir Shittu took his time in this interview with OLUWASEUN SONDE to explain why Nigerians should embrace RUGA and advise the incoming agriculture minister to encourage cotton farming
As a voice for the masses what is your reaction on RUGA settlement?
Ruga settlement! If you remove the name, it is a concept that would have promoted Nigerian animal husbandry system.
A concept that our leaders like Awolowo, Azikiwe and Sardauna have embraced even before now .It is this same concept that we want to revive but the name given to it, and it was killed on arrival.
It’s a concept that would improve Nigeria economy but Nigerians are not well enlighten on it. You can’t tell me that the American Cowboys were Fulanis.
They are white men or the South African Ranchers, are there Fulanis, the answer is no or the Namibian Ranchers are Fulani?
Do you want to talk of exportation of meat, do you want to talk of the blood, or the dung which is manure, or the bone which is good for Pharmaceutical.
Therefore, my appeal to Nigeria is to do away with the name RUGA-don’t throw the bathing water with the baby look at the derived advantage in the concept by government which is a concept given. The richest people in the United States are cattle ranchers.
Don’t forget that we have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and if we don’t join hands together, in few years from now, others Africans may take over our economy and then we would be backward.
So whatever would put money in our pocket and food on our table, should not be joked with. We should look at the economic scale of cattle ranch then it’s disadvantages.
There is a misconception about Ruga. Therefore, let’s rename it to Ranch. You probably am not part of the policy or government but I think they want to Promote Local Area of ranching but it’s misunderstood.
Is there anything that can be done to enlighten Nigerians?
The National Orientation Agency should start a program to enlighten Nigerians. We have the ministry of Information and a minister, broadcasting firms like NTA that can enlighten the Nation.
Some Governors in Nigeria are not welcoming the idea while some are in full support. What is your reaction?
Everyone has his right. One man’s food is another’s poison. Probably those state that accepted it, by the time they start manifesting the benefit of it, it would be embraced by other states.
We are in this country where people openly call for military intervention.
We believe that those states wanting to go into ranching should be encouraged so in the future others would see the benefit & embrace it.
Majority don’t know what ranching really means. It entails other things not only cows. I can rear pig which gives more money than cow, ostrich and birds.
Most people prefers to drink good milk which is nutritious Ranching does not entail until I carry cow and keep in a place I can go for finbar which is to say I can plant I corn. Elephant grass, & export it that ranching where do we buy our horses from it’s from the ranch in Argentina we ride horses in Nigeria, but in Argentina its reared one can even ranch rats.
In the economic interest/diversification would you say that National Orientation Agency is not doing enough?
It’s a national Orientation, you orient the mind people. Let them see reasons to why ranching is necessary. We know that the oil is dropping we are importing milk with hard earned money that’s Foreign exchange. Our oil is going down drastically.
The rush to Nigeria to get oil has stopped as America now produces oil. The diversion has shifted to the US. Ranching is a concept we must buy into very soon there won’t be Foreign exchange to export.
What’s your advice to the incoming minister of Agriculture on how to manage and promote forex and how to make agriculture alone sustain Nigeria?
Foreign exchange is beyond usual petroleum it the minister can channel the potential that awaits him in the ministry of agriculture.
We have other resources such as flour rice that is expensive then the oil we are crazy about. He should take effort to promote those resources.
Fishery should be promoted. The best cotton is in Oyo State. We can promote our garment industry go to Funtua, what are we doing with the cotton’s there? it’s a wakeup call. He must work in partnership with the CBN governor who has seen the future. Promoting ganarabic should be in his plans one ranching which other African countries have started.
You mentioned that ethnicity is a challenge and you mentioned how Americans call it cash cow as established by past leaders. How do you think that people should understand ranching?
What we need to do is to promote processing. That’s why when economist tells us that government do not drive economic activities, I laugh because government have to drive the policy it and they must be patriotic in driving the policy & program.
As the Chairman of Ex-presidential candidate what’s your reaction to Sowore’s arrest?
For us we believe in the rule of law and I am certain that democracy & governance has no alternative to enjoy democratic setting.
There are certain policies that must be in place & must be observed to get to our destination until the best is followed you are toiling with the future of the nation therefore.
The law will take its precedence.
CBN has been doing a lot in term reviving the nation economy. Can you throw more light on what CBN has done and other advice you have for them to move the economy forward?
If you look at CBN, they have been pro-active. If you take a look at the achieve and check in 2006, this is what has propagated Nigerians. We must stop the importation of any kind of crude in fact if you let me, I would close the country in a situation where you don’t bring in anything available here in the country. I would negotiate with that pro-organization in 2006 check Gbenga Arulegba I have the CD with me, what are we doing with tooth pick importation, what type of leadership example are we exhibiting to other African countries.
Now CBN has given incentive for people to establish business which helps in promoting our locally made product. This is how china took herself out of the woods. In the 60’s, Nigeria gave china a grant of $10 million. Today Nigeria go to china to borrow money.