By Abayomi Fidelis
With allocation of N14.6 billion to agriculture in the 2017 budget, Sokoto State has allocated more funds to the sector than all states in the federation, an analysis of this year’s budget estimates from across the country has shown.
Sokoto’s 2017 allocation followed a pattern from last year when Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal allocated over N14 billion to the sector.
Being the mainstay of the state’s economy, experts have commended the government for its consistency and practical efforts to develop the sector, which employs more persons than any other sector in the state.
Available data indicate that over 85% of the state’s estimated five million inhabitants engage in one form of agricultural activity or another.
Analysis published Monday by Daily Trust newspaper indicated that after Sokoto, only Ogun State allocated two-digit figure to agriculture in the 2017 budget estimates. For this year, Ogun allocated N11.6 billion, while it voted the sum of N10.2 billion to the sector in 2016.
Kebbi State, which voted N12.5 billion for the sector last year, hasn’t yet presented its 2017 budget.
The report added: “States with above N5 billion budgets for agric are Kogi (N8 billion), Katsina (N8 billion), Akwa Ibom (N7.4 billion), Borno (N7 billion), Bauchi (N6.7 billion), Kano (N6.6 billion), Jigawa (N6.1 billion), Yobe (N5.7 billion), Anambra (N5.4billion) and Plateau (N5.1 billion).”
In a section it termed “unfriendly agric states,” the report said states with the least budgets for agric include Enugu (N465 million), Bayelsa (N535million), Edo (N1.1 billion), Kwara (N1.13 billion), Nasarawa (N3 billion), Imo (N3.2 billion), Zamfara (N3.5 billion), Bayelsa (N4 billion), Taraba (N4.4 billion), Kaduna (N4.6 billion), Oyo (N4.6 billion) and Lagos (N4.7 billion).
Presenting this year’s budget of N204.3 to the state assembly recently, Tambuwal said the policy thrust of the budget was to ensure sustainable economic development through substantial investment in critical sectors.
They include: education, agriculture, healthcare delivery, exploration of mineral resources, investment in renewable energy and infrastructure, he said.
“We will prioritise effective resources management and seek intervention in areas with high potentialities to create job opportunities, generate income and improve revenue generation,” the governor said.
Tambuwal added that though the financial state of affairs in the country was facing huge challenges, the state’s 2017 budget would address key policy issues.
These will include the promotion of peaceful coexistence and protection of lives and properties.
“We will work to strengthen capacity building of scheduled ministries to ensure they perform better in their tasks.
“Of great importance to us will be the promotion of partnership with the private sector in areas of strategic importance to our development objective.
“We will promote value chain through agro-processing and diversification by way of giving incentives to farmers and producers.
“We will also create backward and forward linkages between and among institutions, partners and other stakeholders to accelerate economic growth,” he said.