By Johnson Eze (Abuja)
Ahmed Idris, Accountant General of the Federation
Agriculture is one of the most strategic sectors in the economy of any nation. Aside its unique role of enhancing food security for the population, it is indispensable in the sustenance of industries as it produces cash crops that constitute raw materials for manufacturing activities. Almost everybody in Nigeria, Africa and in fact most developing countries of the world is exposed to Agricultural activity as it is naturally a culture, occupation and vocation of many. Essentially, the sector is the most labor-intensive and generates highest number of employment for the people – accounting for over 34.66% of jobs in Nigeria for 2020 alone.
It is in recognition of this over-riding importance, that Nigerian government liberalized the sector as an area of business public servants are permitted to engage in while still occupying office. In that sense, proceeds can go a long way in augmenting salaries and supporting national economy.
For Agro-enterprise to be profitable, impactful, and contribute meaningfully in the GDP and food security program of the nation deservedly, participants have to do it with innovation, intelligence and acumen needed to compete favourably in modern days business realities that often have global outlook for sustainability. An obvious example is Gazewa Commodity Market and Exchange GCMX, an agricultural investment initiative of the accountant general of the federation, Mr Ahmed Idris that has been receiving accolades in the ways and manner it is reinventing and catalysing economic activities especially in agricultural sector.
In fact, the exchange is an economic wonder of the generation. A delegation of Kano Concerned Citizens Initiative led by Alhaji Bashir Tofa who visited the place described the facility as “a 250hectres business hub for farmers, Commodity traders, Manufacturers and Commodity Exchange”. It will also accommodate haulage service providers and all stakeholders in Agro and Export value chain. It is a Nigerian registered company operating from Gezawa, a suburb of Kano (about 24 kilometres from Kano city), hoping to actualize the National goal of self-reliance, diversification and economic development in both short and long term, in tandem with the Buhari administration’s policy of promoting agriculture and its value chains.
The Accountant General with his expertise, foresight and deep knowledge of wealth creation has conceived of it in the best interest of the agro-economy which holds a lot of potential for the nation. The company has no similarity and remains innovative in design and operation.
Source close to the exchange said, “The Company was conceived and prepared to provide a global market platform where maximum efficiencies provide answers to modern day business in our local agricultural commodities and value chains”. According to the promoters, “It was envisaged that the project would give employment to more than 2,800 people and another 3,000 indirect ones as a multiplier effects with full commencement of phase I of the exchange. About a hundred businesses abound in the exchange with the capacity for 500 trailers and 1000 car parking facilities, warehousing, luxury shops/offices, trading floor, fire and fuel stations and an independent water sources were all in place. In fact it deserves its name as the largest commercial one-stop hub. One needs to have an on-the-spot inspection to fully appreciate this country-in-a-country facility. The facility was well paved with hard concrete lanes and carriers; one can easily forget his immediate environment once inside”.
Reminiscent of the era of the regional government when Northern Region Marketing Board was assisting farmers sell their agricultural produce at good prices and at the same time in export some overseas for revenue generation, GCMX is a modern day business hub that provides limitless opportunities for millions of famers with much more services in the agriculture value chain . It is indeed an establishment that has come to touch lives not just in Kano state, northern Nigeria but across the country.
Consequently when some online media organization had published some negative article about it they attracted the resentment of opinion leaders who described the publication as desperate effort to tarnish the image of the accountant general of the federation, Mr Ahmed Idris as according to them, it is an act that paints legitimate action as illegal one and goes further to tag it corruption just to smear the name of one of the finest civil servants Nigeria has produced. Specifically, the story was titled, EXCLUSIVE: Accountant-General Of Federation, Ahmed Idris, Corruptly Acquires Multi-billion Naira Properties In Kano.
Interestingly, with the publication having stirred the hornets’ nest, civil society activist and media personalities have been taking turns to react on the issues raised in that publication as they are weighty and the person involved non a mean personality that occupies the head of the treasury of our great nation. While many exonerated Mr Idris many insisting that Nigerian government clearly gave approval for public servants to engage in agricultural businesses others focused on querying the sensibility of the media organization in such attack the AGF for investment in Agriculture and seeking to know what is new in the case.
One Mr Adegbenro Olufemi, a civil right activist described the publication as lacking in content and advised those behind it to stay clear of any public servant that has not committed any infraction pointing out that Mr Idris has contributed enormously in fighting corruption in our public spending and has also increased transparency and accountability with the open treasury system he introduced. “Let us give commendation to those that deserve it”. He added.
In a similar vein, the National Secretary of a CSO, Media Network Against Corruption, Comrade Michael Etim condemned those propagating negative publication against Mr Idris asking them to present substantive proof of evidence of corruption or forever keep quiet. “It because Gazewa Commodity Market and Exchange GCMX is now a success story that you they are raising eye brow. The success is because the owner is competent and groomed it to this enviable status. Success has many parents, failure is an orphan. Let us learn to support those that are great in our society. Mr Idris is one”, Mr Etim stated.
With so much positive news coming from the GCMX, the projected expectations in terms of economic and employment benefits and clear antagonistic reaction people accorded any perceived criticism, there is no doubt that it is a good initiative cherished by all.