Agric Budget: Akpabio’s senatorial zone gets 21 projects, food-belt states receive nothing

THE zone of Nigeria’s Senate President, Mr Godswill Akpabio, will be getting 21 out of 118 projects planned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in 2024.

While Mr Akpabio’s zone will get the highest number of projects from the ministry in 2024, some food-producing states are set to receive nothing, Economy Post analysis of the 2024 budget has shown.

Akpabio represents Akwa Ibom North West senatorial zone comprising 10 local government areas of Abak, Essien, Etim Ekpo, Ikono, Ika, Ini, Ikot-Ekpene, Oruk Anam, Obot, and Ukanafun.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Senate president throws lavish birthday party in Uyo despite rising poverty

Except the Federal Capital Territory which has one senatorial district, each of the 36 states in Nigeria has 3 zones. In total, Nigeria has 109 senatorial zones.

Yet, only one senatorial zone belonging to the topmost lawmaker in the country has been allocated 21 projects in the 2024 budget, even when some food-producing states such as Benue and Taraba have no specific project assigned to them in the coming year.

But rural farm roads in Ikono and Abak, two local government areas in Akwa Ibom North West, will be constructed in 2024 at the cost of N1 billion.

There will also be constructions of Essien & Etim Ekpo rural farm roads at the same cost of N1 billion.

READ ALSO: How rubberstamp National Assembly plunged Nigeria into N96trn debt

The same projects will be repeated at Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Ini, Obot, Orun Anam and Ukanafun, all in Akwa Ibom North West zone. These roads will cost N3 billion.

Similarly, there will be fabrication and lightening of all rural farm roads “with all in one standard solar street light” at Ikono, Abak, Essien, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Ini, Obot, Orun Anam, and Ukanafun at the cost of N2.5 billion.

Furthermore, there will be rehabilitation of selected roads and installation of new transformers and cables at Ikono, Abak, Essien, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Obot, Ini, Orun Anam and Ukanafun at the cost of N5 billion.

READ ALSO: How NDDC mismanaged N6.32trn received from Nigerian govt

The Agric Ministry’s 2024 budget also contains an allocation for the construction of Ibiakpan-Akan Road to “boost agricultural output in Akwa Ibom State” as well as the construction of Ikot Uko Road and Ikot Aba Road “to aid movement of fishers produce in Akwa Ibom State.”

The Senate president’s zone also has a budget of N1.5 billion set aside for “erosion control in some parts of Abiakpo, Ikot Essien-Ikono to ease agricultural movement of far, produce.”

There will yet be another N1.5 billion set aside for the “construction of internal roads at various communities in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District” as well as the “construction of market in various communities in various communities in Akwa Ibom North West” at the cost of N1.5 billion.

Total budget set aside by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for Mr Akpabio’s senatorial zone in the 2024 budget is N18.5 billion(over $23 million).

Lopsided allocation

While Akwa Ibom North West will get 21 agric projects in 2024, some states are not sure of getting any.

A typical example is Benue State which is the largest producer of cassava, mangoes, and oranges, second largest producer of yam, and third biggest farmer of rice, The Republic said.

READ ALSO: https://www.economypost.ng/featured/ajaokuta-staff-get-n4-3bn-package-despite-shutdown-of-steel-complex/2023/12/20/

There is no specific project assigned to the state touted as “Food Basket of the Nation.” Without doubt, some projects in the budget are not assigned to any state or local government specifically, but others are. Secondly, some projects are meant to be executed in the 6 geopolitical zones in the country. So, it is not clear if the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security will assign specific projects to the state later.

StateNumber of Projects
Bauchi0
Bayelsa0
Delta0
Adamawa0
Ondo2
Cross River0
Rivers0
Jigawa0
Katsina0
Benue0
Nasarawa0
FCT0
Kaduna0
Gombe0
Zamfara0
Yobe0
Abia11
Akwa Ibom North West21
Borno2
Edo1
Kano1
Kebbi2
Sokoto2
Imo3
Ebonyi4
Ekiti6
Osun3
Lagos4
Niger3
Ogun2
Kwara2
Anambra3
Enugu3
Kogi1
Oyo3
Plateau0
Taraba0
Source: Budget Office of the Federation, Economy Post

Director of Information, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Joel Oruche, did not respond to a question in this regard.

Based on Economy Post‘s critical review of the budget, states like Taraba, Jigawa, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, and Yobe (food-belt states) will have to depend on the mercies of the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Abubakar Kyari, a former senator, for projects in 2024.

But Abia (11) and Akwa Ibom North West (21) will be taking the largest chunk, even though there are states doing much better than them in terms of food production.

State of Nigeria’s agriculture

Agriculture contributes 21-23 percent to the Nigerian economy, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The country has 34 million arable land, says the Food and Agricultural Organization (FOA).

Nigeria is one of the least mechanised countries with the country’s tractor density of 0.27 hp/ hectare, which is below the FAO recommended tractor density of 1.5 hp/ hectare.

It is the 132nd out of the 188 countries worldwide in terms of the number of tractors owned. 

READ ALSO: https://www.economypost.ng/featured/nigerian-smes-pay-over-100-taxes-but-some-of-them-go-into-personal-pockets/2023/12/07/

Its cassava output is 42 million metric tonnes (MT) but demand stands at 53.8 million MT, with a gap of 11.8 million MT, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security data show.

Irish potato potato production is 900,000 MT per annum but demand is estimated at 8million MT.

Sweet potato production is estimated at 1.2 million MT, but demand is 6million MT, showing a gap of 4.8 million MT.

It produces 400,000 MT of wheat annually but has a demand of 4 million MT, which leaves a gap of 3.6million MT.

Maize production is 10.5 million MT, while demand is 15 million MT, leaving a gap of 4.5 million MT.

“The challenge is usually funding,” said President, Community Allied Farmers Association of Nigeria, Dr Austin Maduka.

“We need to make funding available for agriculture and also address issues relating to the land tenure system.”

Experts knock Agric ministry, Senate

Scholars have knocked the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Senate committee responsible for agriculture for allowing this situation to happen, stressing that it would lead to uneven development in the country.

“This is not acceptable,” said a senior university lecturer, Dr James Tahiru.

“It tells you why some places do better while other areas are left undeveloped. In other parts of the world, what determines annual allocation is the contribution of an area to food security. In this case, the ministry has left food-belt areas and focused an attention on an area or areas that are not doing so well in terms of food security,” he said.

A United Kingdom-based agriculture economist, Dr Bunmi Kehinde, said the misallocation must have come from the Senate Committee in charge of agriculture, stressing that this had been the bane of development in Africa’s most populous nation.

“This has been the major reason why we have failed to develop. The allocation is just political and makes little sense in terms of Nigeria’s plan for food security. There is a need for politicians to understand that once they get to the National Assembly, they represent the whole country – not just their constituencies,” she said.

READ ALSO: https://www.economypost.ng/economy/busted-nigerian-govt-agency-uses-fake-contractors-to-execute-over-n800bn-project/2023/11/24/

Powerful people have been accused of influencing projects to their areas, with allegations of budget padding common during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

There is, however, no evidence that these projects were influenced by Mr Akpabio. Mr Akpabio is a former governor of Akwa Ibom State and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

When contacted, Mr Akpabio’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Eseme Eyiboh, referred the reporter to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for explanation. He did not provide an answer as to why his principal would be getting 21 projects just from one government ministry.

Director of Information, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Joel Oruche, did not respond to text and WhatsApp messages regarding whether the projects were influenced by Mr Akpabio or any other politician – even though he read them.

Economy Post could not get Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Production Services, and Rural Development, Mr Saliu Mustapha, for his response.

+ posts

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent

The Ultimate Managed Hosting Platform
Load WooCommerce Stores in 249ms!

More like this