By Sunday Ani
Nigerian Guild of Editor has identified government’s over-reliance on oil and gas as the revenue base of the country as major reason for the economic problem currently facing the country.
It stated that there was an urgent need for government to diversify the economy, specifically, in the area of agriculture, which it noted, would create employment for the army of unemployed youths, and usher in prosperity for the country and its peoples.
This was contained in a 13-point-communique issued yesterday at the end of the 12th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference, (ANEC) 2016, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The four-day conference, with the theme, ‘Economic diversification: Agriculture as option for a prosperous Nigeria,’ was chaired by the former governor of Ogun State, Akinrogun Olusegun Osoba and declared open by the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The Guild stated that agriculture had suffered serious neglect as a result of negative mindset, reliance on outdated methods and gross underfunding, adding that government must urgently evolve or strengthen policies that would protect local farmers against the influx of foreign agricultural products and encourage local production for food sufficiency and processing of raw materials for export.
It also stressed that the formation of more Farmers’ Co-operative societies should be encouraged while those already in existence should be strengthened to improve on their productivity.
While stressing that the skills needed for agricultural production and processing should be placed above mere certification for the sake of it, the Guild tasked government to quickly recapitalize and make more functional, the Bank of Agriculture and other institutions relevant to the agricultural programmes of the country.
It also advised state governments to collaborate in the areas of agricultural production and processing, concentrating on the areas where they have comparative advantage.
While noting that the media has a major role to play in efforts to redirect the consciousness of Nigerians, especially the youth towards embracing modern, technology-driven agriculture, it lamented the decline in the quality of journalism practice and non-adherence to the ethics of the profession and called on editors to make efforts to redress the situation in their different organisations.
The Guild also ratified Mrs Funke Egbemode as its new president following a motion moved by Malam Sani Adamu, a member of the Standing Committee and seconded by Angela Agoawike, Fellow of the Guild of Editors.
The Guild equally commended the government and people of Rivers state for the level of security and infrastructural development, steps taken to promote agriculture in the state as well as their hospitality.