I love Ilorin! I like Kwara State. It is indeed the State of Harmony. When I and my team got to the residence of Alhaji Danbaba Musa, owner of Dan-Musa African Gold Rice, shouts of halleluyahs thundered from the back of his compound, occupied by a thriving church. Later, Alhaji Danbaba would have us know that his christian wife runs the church! He also sighted Obasanjo’s CSO, Bukola Saraki as prominent locals whose marital life is an epitome of the harmonious coexistence in Kwara State. However, there are some radicals in the predominantly muslim state. During my three day stay in Kwara, I noticed a number of vehicles parked with their side windows wound down; a blunder you cannot try in Mushin, Lagos. The state is primarily a civil service state with a lot of subsistent farmers and traditional life. Thus, the residents are very conservative and communial. A Kwara billionaire, prefers to live in a simple duplex amongst his people than in a mansion in Maitama. Reminds me of my interview with the Kwara State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Mohammed Babakpan Isah. A small framed man probably in his sixties whose appearance was like that of Burea de Change mallams. He answered the questions fielded to him intelligently and fluently; my camera man was surprised. I enlightened him, “here, they are very conservative. You will not know how educated or wealthy they are.”
Expectedly, there is a sharp contrast between the older generation and the young crop of Kwararains (lol). The younger generation ditto elsewhere, want the urban lifestyle – high income, glamour and fun. There is nothing wrong with this desire but the obsession of it has led to the neglect and gradual eradication of the identity and potentials of the natives. Youth who are fluent in their mother tongue are faking accents for acceptance and those who can’t pronounce a syllable in their mother tongue are not in the slightest way ashamed. Cakes have taken the place of Akara and farming is perceived an occupation for the aged and broke. I was surprised when the former presidential candidate Alhaji Danbaba Musa, lamented that many unemployed youth have gone into farming made loads of cash only to dump agriculture and migrate to the city in search of a white collar job. Unbelievably, I had just read a few hours earlier, of a Ghanian professor who narrated to agriculture stakeholders in Washington DC, how he met a young tomato farmer who had made tangible profit in his first season and even bought a new bike. He visited the young man’s farm another time, only to be told he had dumped his farm in search of a white collar job in the city!
Leaders of tomorrow, agriculture is dignifying and profitable. It is the means whereby the 7 billion people on earth are fed! Yea, man shall not live by bread alone… but bread is part of it! Man must wack! Everyday! It’s a global market out there for agriculture. Nigerian youth must begin to see and harness the potential within agriculture. America, Russia, Britain et al cannot farm as much as we can. We have more arable land, perfect ecological condition and a lot more farmers. This is what we have got as a nation, as peoples. Let’s not be blind to it! I was on a remote 250 hectare farm in Oke Oye, Kwara State, muddy, dirty and all. A chinese man was there with us, trotting on the same land! I asked myself how he located this agricultural gold mine all the way from his country. Foreigners see our resources and they are making it there’s. Mr Woune (spelt with pronunciation) showed me the picture of his company’s industrial farm in Kebbi and I was startled! I thank God for a few like Cynthia Mosunmola who started farming from their backyard but now own hectares of land and a name.
Adegoke Oyeniyi, Business Writer.