Ukraine’s Wheat Aid To Nigeria: Wake Up Call For Tinubu, Governors To Boost Agric

The government of Ukraine recently announced that it would send 25,000 tons of wheat to Nigeria as assistance to the country in the fight against hunger.

The announcement from no other country but war-torn Ukraine that has been enmeshed in a war with Russia in the last two years, was received with mixed feelings across Nigeria.

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Gregory Obi who though appreciated the Ukrainian government for the kind gesture, has , expressed concern that the gesture spoke volumes about the extent the country’s leadership has failed to address the  germane issues like agriculture and food security.

Obi observed that the development underscores vigorously the importance of sound political leadership as the first concrete requirement for any nation desiring to develop and enhance the standard of living of its citizenry.

The former Anambra State governor could not have been less correct. How can Nigeria with a larger landmass than Ukraine, not be able to feed her teeming population? Ukraine has a landmass that is 600,000 square kilometers plus. Nigeria on the other hand, boasts of more than 900,000 square kilometers. Yet Ukraine ranks among the global powers in wheat production. Despite the bitter war with its neighbour, Russia, Ukraine  has been able to feed her citizens and reportedly export agricultural produce to the tune of $25 billion; an amount that is comparable to Nigeria’s crude oil earnings.

Like Mr Obi said, the present hunger situation in the country would not have been there but for seeming leadership failure.

Governments’ apparent inability to prioritise agriculture has begun to replicate its self in the form of food insecurity and  prevailing hunger staring Nigerians in face presently.

In essence, Ukraine gesture should therefore, be seen as a wake up  call for the Federal and State governments. It is not  yet late to start investing massively in agriculture.

Where possible, there should be a national policy on agriculture, which should mandate states and the federal government to dedicate a reasonable percentage of their budget to agriculture. Moreover, policies that encourage private sector participation in the sector, should be enunciated by all levels of government.

It is disheartening that our once economically confident nation, blessed with vast arable land and abundant natural resources, now relies on a war-torn Ukraine for food assistance.

This national disgrace stems from years of leadership failure, necessitating urgent reflection and a reordering of our national priorities and resource management and allocation. Instructively, Ukraine, with a population of 43 million on 603,728 km2, outshines Northern Nigeria, covering 744,249 km2 with a young, energetic population exceeding 100 million.

In 2015, Ukraine’s GDP per capita was $2125, compared to Nigeria’s $2680. By 2022, despite being at war, Ukraine’s GDP per capita exceeded $4000, while Nigeria’s regressed to $2184. Ukraine cultivates over 60% of its arable land, whereas Nigeria has over 60% uncultivated arable land.

Despite the conflict, Ukraine feeds itself, and exports agricultural products worth over $ 25 billion which is about the same value as our crude oil export earnings, and it serves as a strategic global food supplier, even providing aid to a peaceful yet unproductive Nigeria.

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