By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday visited the Nigerian Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) farm centre located in Gaa’te village, Kokona Local Government Area, Nasarawa State.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, said in a statement in Abuja, that the vice president was accompanied by Gov. Abdullahi Sule on the visit.
Osinbajo commended the communities in Hadari Emirate district in Kokona LGA for coming together to form a farm settlement for the production of livestock and crop products under the auspices of the NFGCS.
He described the NFGCS farm as a true Nigerian story of honesty, hard work and cooperation regardless of ethnic differences and social background.
The NFGCS farm, coordinated by an ex-Niger Delta agitator, Mr Reston Tedheke, started with three hectares and N1.5 million in 2017, the statement said
At present, it occupies 3,000 hectares of land and was worth about a N1 billion with over 300 people employed
“Just going around today, I have seen a lot of hope that indeed this country can work and work very well again.
“If the people of this community can do all of what we are seeing here today, growing rice, other grains and also selling the products, I am very sure they will soon start exporting it; I think this is how it should really be.
“Tedheke is inspired by the Buhari administration’s focus on Agricultural diversification of the Nigerian economy; the components of the farm include a ranch, crop farm, poultry and a rice mill, among others.
“You can see that Tedheke left Delta State with his family to live here, and they can feel safe here and enjoy everything that the indigenes of this State enjoy.
“In fact, he tells me he is now officially an indigene of the State; this is the story of a great nation,” he said.
Osinbajo said that what the youths in Kokona LGA were doing was the real revolution that Nigeria required.
He said what was happening was the revolution that had been talked about.
“The real revolution of ideas, the revolution of technology, the revolution of young Nigerians who are determined to ensure that in this country, they make money (legitimately); and they can produce what they eat. This is the story of great nations.
“Every nation that has been great, nations that have been economically successful, have done so on the back of their young men and women who are determined to make an honest living, who are determined to become entrepreneurs.”
Osinbajo urged other youth groups to emulate NFGCS doggedness to succeed even under what sometimes could be difficult conditions.
“I was also quite fascinated by the way that they have been able to get credit.
Just like he (Tedheke) pointed out, the banks had not been too willing to lend to farming start-ups.
“Small agricultural enterprises don’t necessarily attract the best credits from our banks.
” But I have been told that “Kiakia”, a FinTech company, also a mobile payment company that also gives credit to farming communities, has supported this project,” he said.
On his part, Gov. Sule commended the efforts of Tedheke for the courage to invest in a community different from his own.
He said the investment in the agricultural project was not by accident.
Sule added that the state government under his watch was putting in place policies that would attract investments to the state, especially in areas where it had comparative advantage.
The governor also commended the traditional council of Kokona LGA for its support and efforts in ensuring peaceful co-existence among the different ethnic groups in the area.
Earlier in his remarks, Tedheke thanked the vice president for personally visiting the farm, and the Nasarawa State Governor, for the support in actualising the dream of building the farm.
He, however, appealed for more support from the state and Federal Governments in the areas of infrastructure, especially road and power.
The NFGCS is an organisation established in 2017 under a partnership with farming communities in Hadari Emirate District in the Kokona LGA, especially in Gaa’te, Marke, Mante, and Sabon Gida villages.