Some southern state governments and farmers have dismissed the blockade by northern food suppliers, saying it is an opportunity for the South to boost its food production capacity.
Officials of the states including Lagos, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Enugu and Ondo in separate interviews with The PUNCH, on Monday explained their actions to ensure self-sufficiency in food and animal production.
But Ondo and Cross Rivers states went further to take a swipe at the northern food suppliers, saying they would not beg the traders to end their blockade, which entered the fourth day on Monday.
Recall that cattle and foodstuff dealers under the aegis of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuffs and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria on Thursday stopped supplies to the South.
Their action followed the Federal Government’s failure to meet their demands, which include payment of N475m compensation for destruction of lives and property during the #EndSARS protest and last month’s crisis in Shasha, Oyo State.
To enforce the strike, the union’s task force prevented the members from transporting livestock and food from the north to the southern part of the country.
Many trucks, which disobeyed its directives, were stopped along the Jebba-Kaduna road last Friday, prompting the military to intervene.
But the union, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday accused the military of harassing its members. It added that it had not called off the strike.
We won’t appeal to northern traders, herders should stop destroying our farms – Ondo
Commenting on the strike, Mr Akin Olotu, the Senior Special Assistant to the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Agriculture and Agric Business, in an interview with one of our correspondents, described the blockade as a good development.
He said it was an eye-opener to utilise opportunities the South had in agriculture.
Olotu said the state government was not perturbed by the development as he said it would make the people of the South-West involve more in agriculture.
He said, “We won’t appeal to them to bring the food to the South. If they want to bring it, let them bring it. If they don’t want to bring, let them take it away, but nobody will beg them. It is a welcome development, it would spur our people to embrace agriculture the more, particularly at the family level.
“It would also encourage promotion of food security at the family level. That is why the government has been advocating food security at the family level. You can plant in your compound. You can raise animals in your compound, so that you will reduce the money you spend on food
“We are not relenting here. It is a matter of months, our tomatoes and pepper would start coming out for harvest. We are working on onions too . Very soon, we will begin to grow our own onions. The only appeal we can make to them is for them to leave our forests and stop destroying our farms.”
Not good for Nigeria’s unity – Delta
The Delta State Government argued that the blockade did not represent the unity of the Nigeria.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Julius Egbedi, who stated this on Monday in Asaba, said, “I don’t have the full details now, but as a state, we have been intensifying all we are doing in food production. We will continue to do that to encourage more production.
“We are one Nigeria for now. I believe that northern governors will not allow it because their people are here also.”
It won’t last long – C’River
Also, the Cross River State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Asu Okang, told The PUNCH that there was no use appealing to those blocking food coming from the north to the south as the blockade would not last long.
He stated, “They can’t block foodstuffs from coming to the South for too long because if you say you are protesting and you won’t go to the market with your food, who suffers?