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Agriculture, Catalyst For Economic Growth, Poverty Alleviation – Bago

By Mohammed Baba Busu

Gov. Umar Bago of Niger said in tandem with the Federal Government’s infrastructure initiatives, the state government has prioritized agricultural development as a catalyst for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The governor spoke on Monday at the inauguration of the remodelled Domestic Terminal of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport, Minna, and the official take-off of the Niger Agricultural Mechanization Revolution for Food Security Emergency.

He said,” We have no reason to be poor. To this end, we have made significant investments in agricultural machinery and technology as the way to go and as part of our efforts to advance your aspiration towards food security in Nigeria.”

According to the governor, the state government is attracting partnerships in support of its laudable programmes, adding,” For example, we just secured a 16-million-dollar intervention.”

He added that the funds would be used for the planting of 19 million trees in our march towards one billion tresses to be planted in Niger for the much-needed environmental restoration carbon credit sequestrate.

Bago said,” Mr. President, your presence here today underscores the importance of this occasion for our state and Nigeria as a whole, as we gather to celebrate a good example demonstrated in our modest contribution to infrastructure and agricultural development as encapsulated in our New Niger Agenda.

”For us, agriculture is key to our commitment to addressing the challenges in critical sectors of our economy and we shall seize every opportunity for the attainment of growth and engender prosperity for the people of our beloved state and by extension our dear country, Nigeria.

“Mr. President, upon assuming office, we met the infrastructure of the state in comatose – rural and urban roads, housing and water, electricity transportation, etc.

“Mr. President, Niger is the largest state with over 76,300 square kilometres accounting for about 10% of the total land size of Nigeria and hosts the longest distance of federal roads, which is about 8% of the entire national federal road network.

“Despite the strategic roles the state plays in the nation’s economy as a crucial transit corridor connecting the North and South parts of Nigeria, the current state of dilapidation of this infrastructure is terrible.”

According to Bago, to address these challenges and establish efficient road infrastructure and cost-effective and secure movement of goods and services, the state government embarked on ambitious initiatives to rehabilitate and expand some federal roads that have implications for the evacuation of agricultural products.

Bago said, ”For example, the 90km Kontagora to Rijau road, and another 90km Agwara to Rofia, 50km Kakaki to Beji among others.

”This is part of our contributions to Mr. President’s developmental strides thereby enhancing socio-economic activities in the State and the nation at large.

“Mr. President, in the aviation sector, the Minna Airport was once in a state of comatose with failed runway, dilapidated terminal building, absence of fire and safety equipment and runway lighting system, etc.

“The domestic terminal, which had been under construction for over a decade was abandoned. As a government, we couldn’t fold our arms and allow the ugly picture it creates in the minds of visitors to subsist.

” Hence, in recognition of the importance of this critical infrastructure, the State Government took responsibility for its completion.
‘Bago said he was proud to announce that the Minna International Airport is completed and renamed as Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport, which he graciously inaugurated on Monday.

He added that the state government has concluded plans to commence the construction of the long-abandoned Hajj Terminal within the Minna International Airport.

According to Bago, the crucial project is expected to be completed within the next three months before the commencement of the 2024 Hajj operations.

The governor thanked the president for approving the airport as a special Agro-processing Free Zone, saying, “In this free zone, we have 3000 hectares of land.

“Where 1000 hectares is dedicated for greenhouses; 1000 for dairy and meat processing, and the other 1000 hectares for Agro-processing storage, aggregation, and other value chain development components.

“Mr. President, we want to thank FAAN for quality guidance at every stage of our intervention and rehabilitation of the airport that is now of global standard.
“All these efforts are driven by our vision to position the new Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport Minna as a viable alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.”
In his remarks, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State lauded Bago for giving priority attention to agriculture, saying that such will boost food security.

Describing food security as next to nothing, Sanwo-Olu said that no attention was placed on agriculture was too much.

He assured that the governors would emulate Bago in their states to fast-track agriculture, hence ensuring food security.

The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Chairman, Niger Council of Traditional Rulers, who spoke on behalf of other traditional rulers commended Tinubu for coming to Minna physically because of the priority he attaches to agriculture and food security.

The Etsu Nupe assured the president and Bago that traditional rulers would continue to ensure that fervent prayers for sustainable development for the nation were offered.

NAN reports that the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Kwara Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaqq, Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue and Gov. Ahmed Usman-Ododo of Kogi were among other dignitaries that graced the occasion. (NAN)

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