Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday advised Nigerians and the government at all levels to promote agricultural production in order to fast-track social and economic development.
This, he said, was because the crude oil that was Nigeria’s economic mainstay “is gone forever.”
The former President said this shortly after he performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the School for Children with Special Needs, a project of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, at Igbor, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.
Obasanjo said, “The fact of the matter is that any state in Nigeria, whether an oil producing state or an agricultural producing state, we all need food.
“The oil that you take from the ground today is gone and gone forever but the land where you produce food is a renewable resources.
“And I believe that one of the things that we must be emphasizing in all states of the federation is that there is no alternative to agriculture for our development and economic progress.
“It is on that basis that I must commend the church for this laudable project that is intended to cater for the needs of the forgotten ones in our society.”
The ex-President, however, warned that Nigeria would not attain the desired level of socio-economic development until issues of spirituality and morality were accorded equal attention as governance.
According to him, it is imperative for the church and state governments to always collaborate on issues of socio-economic development in order to grow the economy of the states.
He said in a situation where those who needed special attention were always neglected just because they did not form associations would not augur well for the nation.
Obasanjo said this group should be empowered so they could become useful to themselves in particular, and to the nation in general.
The former President added, “We have a situation in this country today, to put it simply and symbolically and significantly, where we are is not where we should be. And we will not be able to be where we should be unless we take spirituality and morality along with governance.
“I must say that I feel encouraged with the statement of Governor Samuel Ortom that here in Benue State, the church and the state are working together and that the Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, Rev. Wilfred Anagbe, is also a farmer.”
Earlier, Ortom had commended Anagbe for initiating the project and working together with the government to develop the state.
Also, Anagbe had said the project “is intended to give meaning to the lives of those who are neglected and regarded as not useful to us.”
He assured the people that the project would be completed in record time to serve the purpose for which it was being constructed for.