Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Sunday, said political leaders and not farmers should be blamed for the failure of Nigeria and Africa to take advantage of advancement in science and technology for the development of the agricultural sector.

Obasanjo said politicians caused the inability of the country to attain self-sufficiency in food production.

The former president stated this at a lecture organised to mark his 86th birthday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Obasanjo said Nigerians must blame the country leaders for lacking the political will to turn Nigeria into the food basket of Africa.

He stressed that Nigeria was not created by God to be poor, but the leaders of the country have Nigerians with poor policies.

Obasanjo said, “I believe that God has not created Nigeria as a basket case. God has created Nigeria for a great purpose. At independence, the world did not refer to Nigeria as a giant in Africa, no, they referred to Nigeria as a giant in the sun, Nigeria was more than a giant in Africa, it was a giant in the sun. But, not only have we not been giants in the sun, we have not even been giants in Africa. Some people called us giants with clay feet.

“So, that is not what God has created Nigeria to be, that is what we Nigerians have inadvertently or advertently made Nigeria to be.

“But, will Nigeria continue to be so, I believe no. So, we must continue to hold ourselves together, pray and understand all the factors and the elements that are making us not the giant, but the dwarf of Africa and how we can get out of it and I believe and pray that we will get out of it.

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“Food security is very important and as long as we are not reasonably self-sufficient in food and nutrition security in Africa, we are of course not doing the right thing for ourselves.

“Until the Ukraine war, I really did not realise how much we in Africa, almost all of us in Africa depend on the Russians and the Ukrainians for wheat. Wheat which is used to make bread is only carbohydrate, are there no carbohydrate foodstuffs that can be produced in Africa that we can be self-sufficient in? I know some of our countries cannot produce wheat and this is the sort of thing that IITA has been doing.

“Science and technology have given us all that we need for food and nutrition security in Africa what is left is political will and political action.

“And if we fail not to have food and nutrition security we cannot blame our scientists, we blame our politicians and our farmers, but more of politicians than farmers because I have been at the two helms and I can tell you that the farmers are ready if they are given all the incentives and the encouragement that should be given by the politicians.”

Earlier in his lecture, titled: “The Complex Dynamics in Achieving Food and Nutrition Security in Africa”, the former Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Dr Nteranya Sanginga lamented that African countries despite being blessed with fertile land still spend billions of dollars importing food.

Sanginga disclosed that Nigeria spends N11 billion annually to import food into the country, saying the country is improving other countries’ Internally Generated Revenue at her own detriment.

The former Director-General, IITA, insisted that the country must move from a consumption country to a producing nation, stressing that the action would help improve the goal of food and job security.

He said for Africa to ensure food security, its governments must show more political will and determination.