Reactions has continued pour in as regards this policy. The Chairman, Agric sector of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Managing Director of Bama Farm Food, Prince Wale Oyekoya, said the Federal Government's intention would not make any meaningful impact on the lives of the farmers.
"Imagine our Federal Government wants to give rural farmers N60b cell phone, is this what our poor farmers need now with the high interest rate of 28 per cent. This is part of corruption we are talking about; it is a way of laundering our money by the federal government. Farmers need working capital and not cell phone, who will be recharging the phones for them? Is it still the federal government that will do that?" he said.
According to him, the Nigerian farmers need a single digit interest rate on agric loans, input research and development, tractors, working capital and other amenities to excel in agriculture, adding that, Nigeria is one nation that is endowed with goodness of nature , wonderful weather, excellent soil texture and great business environment.
He urged the federal government to provide basic infrastructure that would make agricultural business venture progress and less stressful, adding that the government should invest more in farmers with a single digit interest rate on agric loans instead of giving out cell phones.
Minster of Agriculture, Dr. Adeshina Akinwunmi though denied that the FG was spending N60 billion to purchase the mobile phones, he however strongly defended the policy. Adesina said the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, was totally misquoted on the issue as there "is no N60 Billion for phones anywhere.
The Minister said agriculture today is more knowledge-intensive and they are willing to modernize the sector, and get younger (graduate) entrepreneurs into the sector, "and we will arm them with modern information systems.
How can such a highly placed officer in the ministry misquote such amount of money. And you're still trying to explain why farmers need phones? Who is fooling who? Instead of cell phones, why not distribute fertilizers or improved genetically engineered seeds? You want to give someone a phone in a place with no network coverage? Where will he get the money for airtime? Or is the phones toll free too?
It's high time our leaders started investing into project that will affect the lives of Nigerian and lead to sustainable development and stop looking for short cut projects from which they can enrich themselves.