Turaki Hassan, Abuja: Speaker Yakubu Dogara has, again, called on the executive to give priority to steel development in Nigeria, saying it is the bedrock of the development of the country.
He argued that the country keeps losing revenue through importation of steel, even more, that the government is focused on implementing projects that are dependent on steel such as the Mambilla power project and the Second Niger bridge among others.
Hon Dogara, who was speaking at the Open NASS event ongoing in the National Assembly, also harped on the need for the provision of mechanized tools and subsidies to farmers for the agricultural revolution to work.
“Point to any nation out there that is industrialised that doesn’t have a robust steel and aluminum sector,” he stated, while adding, “As we edge towards the Mambilla Power Projects, we are utilising millions in tonnes of steel, and if we don’t have a robust steel sector, all the money would go to China for instance where we will be importing this steel from.
“The second Niger bridge is there, it’s going to also consume millions of tonnes in steel. If care is not taken, China will also earn all the money. So what are we doing as a government to ensure this doesn’t happen?
“Without the aluminum and steel sector, there cannot be industrialization in Nigeria. The President of Ghana was speaking recently before an enlightened audience and he spoke of the need for Ghana to have a steel plant and they are starting soon. So if care is not taken, Nigeria, the giant of Africa will be importing steel from Ghana.”
Speaking on how to revolutionalize the agricultural sector for the benefit of both the farmers and the country, the Speaker said, “To be very frank, if we don’t talk of mechanization and subsidies for farmers, any talk about revolution in agriculture without mechanisation and subsidy is just rendering cheap talk. It will not be competitive and it will not work. I’m yet to see any developed country be it in America or Europe that doesn’t subsidize farming, and I’m yet to see any country that has completely mechanized its agriculture that doesn’t have a competitive edge against other nations.
“What are we doing in terms of mechanization of agriculture in Nigeria and giving subsidy to farmers? Because virtually every practice that was there before is still there, you are a farmer and you are looking for the loan, forget about anchor borrowers, you might not get the loan. And when you raise your produce, for instance, I have an orchard which was done about fifteen years ago, they come to your farm and they want to buy your mango for thirty or fifty Naira, yet they turn around and sell the same mango for a hundred and fifty Naira. So the problem has always been these middlemen, and it is more profitable in the agricultural value chain to be a middleman than to be a farmer. So how do we encourage the farmers? So that we grow what we eat, and we eat what we grow?”
He also identified high interest rates on loans from Commercial Banks at the current high interest rate as a poverty trap that discourage entrepreneurship and encourage the movement of wealth from the citizens to the corporations, noting that this does not propel growth of the economy as it’s actually those who employ between ten to thirty people that are really the engine growth in any nation.