Stakeholders in the agriculture and financial sectors have called on the Federal Government to increase yearly budgetary allocation to agriculture to fast track the nation’s development and achieve the desired food security.They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Friday, while commenting on the 2022 Budget proposal recently presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
NAN recalls that the president had on Oct. 7 presented the 2022 Appropriation Bill for an aggregate expenditure of N16.39 trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly (NASS).
The president had described the 2022 Appropriation, which was earlier approved for presentation to NASS by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Oct. 6, as “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability”.Commenting, Dr Bukola Salawu, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Agribusiness Management, Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology (FCAHPT), Ibadan, said the standard budgetary allocation to agriculture should be 10 per cent.Salawu said that there was need for the country to hasten its economy diversification, especially through agriculture, to reduce the nation’s over dependence on borrowings to fund budget to the bearest minimum.She said that the promotion of different agricultural value chains was one of the major strengths of the 2022 budget.“Although, the budget allocation to agriculture in 2022 is much higher than 2021, however, the country’s budgetary allocation is still less than 10 per cent agricultural budget standard as specified in the Maputo and Malabo Declaration of 2003 and 2014 respectively.“The effect of non-compliance with the budget standard remains the persistence increase in food prices, food insecurity and malnutrition in the face of pandemic.“Also, not much seriousness has been shown on the issue of diversification of the economy.“Allocating less than five per cent of the total budget to agriculture cannot speed up our diversification process from oil sector to non-oil sector like agriculture.“Besides food production and availability, hastening the diversification process will reduce the menace of youths unemployment and inequalities, especially among the vulnerable groups,” she said.Also, Dr Johnson Olupona, an Animal Scientist at FCAHPT, said a lion share of the budget should have been allocated to the agriculture because of its
importance.Olupona said that agriculture, through its different value chains, could transform the nation’s economy and improve the Gross Domestic Products(GDP), if well developed.He said that the implementation of the budget was important since most of the critical areas were going to be funded on loan.“Government must give urgent and proper attention to the development of agriculture; there must be a way for us to improve on food production, so as to reduce the cost of food items.“This will also translate to reduction in inflation.“If the budget for Defence and Security is properly managed, there will be no need to increase it again next year. I hope this year’s budget will bring economic recovery,” he said.In his reactions, Mr David Ogundele, the Secretary, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Oyo State, advised the Federal Government to ensure full implementation of the budget, especially in the area of agriculture.“The two chambers of the National Assembly should not only approve the budget, but also see to its full implementation so that it will be easier for common people to live.“
Sincerely, all our leaders, both past and present, had paid lip service to the diversification of our economy from crude oil to agriculture; before the discovery of crude oil, life was far better than what we are facing now.“If our leaders should focus their attention more on agriculture, farming and farmers, there will be total eradication of poverty, unemployment and shortage of raw material to industries, and as well end food insecurity in Nigeria,” he said.Ogundele then urged the government to always put round peg in a round hole in dealings with the farmers, so that their efforts on agriculture would be manifested and fruitful.“The real farmers that registered under AFAN should be given full support so that what is meant for the farmers to promote and boost agriculture in Nigeria will not go to the wrong hands,” he said.In his reactions, a Security Consultant, Chief Williams Fadoju, said that budget implementation was the main challenges currently confronting Nigeria and not its timely presentation.Fadoju said: “
My opinion on the budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari is that budget presentation has never been an issue in this country since the advent of Democracy, but the issue has to do with its implementation.“Do we actually spend all the money we proposed to spend, and are the money justifiably spent?“The budget, as far as I am concern, does not give me hope, because the main issue has to do with budget implementation,” he said.On the plan to borrow to finance the budget, he expressed worry over judicious utilisation of the fund.Fadoju said that he has no issue with the planned borrowing as long as it was used for the purpose it was meant for and brings development to the country.“As far as am concerned, I have no issue with borrowing as long as the money is utilised for the purpose of generating income.“You cannot borrow money for recurrent expenditure, or pay some National Assembly members.“It will be okay, if we borrow to upgrade our infrastructures like railway, electricity and other infrastructure that will definitely generate income and create employment for lots of Nigerians.“If we have functioning railway network, upgrade our electricity and other infrastructure in every nook and cranny of the country, people will be gainfully employed and increase our Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.Fadoju called on Nigeria leaders to ensure judicious utilisation of the planned borrowing in order to impact positively on the citizens
.Commenting, Dr John Filani, the Managing Director of Jalis Associates, advised the Federal Government to prioritise the implementation of projects to enhance improved revenue generation and create job opportunities in 2022.Filani, a Financial Consultant, said: “What characterised the previous annual budgets was failure in the implementation of some of the capital projects which could have enhanced improved revenue generation.“The effect of these failures has been responsible for the poor economic growth and development the country is witnessing.“That is the reason we are running a deficit budgeting, borrowing upon borrowing to finance yearly budgets.“What the Federal Government need to do now is to identify projects across all sectors that can enhance the nation’s revenue generation, and at the same time, provide job opportunities for Nigerians, especially youths,” he said.Filani lauded Federal Government for given priority to the Defence and Security, Infrastructure and Education sectors in the 2022 budget proposal, which he said was a good development.He said that the 15 per cent, 8.9 per cent and 7.9 per cent of the total budget, allocating to Security, Infrastructure and Education respectively, were in order, but called for proper and total implementation, if finally approved by the National Assembly.
On his part, an Economist, Mr Remi Olajide, urged Federal Government to do more in the area of infrastructure development, saying that paying attention to address infrastructure deficits would indirectly boost the nation’s economy.Olajide, also an Economic analyst, called for political will on the part of those in leadership positions to ensure that all projects in the budget were executed for the benefits of Nigerians.
He charged the leadership of the National Assembly to put politics apart and work on the budget proposal to identify areas that are critical for the nation’s development.In his reactions, Chief Olatunde Adeeyo, a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), called on the Federal Government to look inward and find ways to improve the nation’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to finance its annual budget, instead of relying on foreign loans.Adeeyo, a Chartered Accountant, advised the Federal Government to focus on priority projects it could finance instead of borrowing for less impactful projects. (NAN)