The Northeast in the  Federal Ministry of Agriculture By Salisu Na’inna Dambatta

As freshly-harvested foodstuff  arrive the markets and  lowered  the widely-acknowledged high food prices, it will be historically appropriate  to make public  the unique contribution of  the Northeast geo-political zone to the  development of  agricultural sector in Nigeria.  The zone produced nine Ministers of Agriculture from 1966 when the Ministry was created to date.

It is intriguing that the former North Eastern state, which is now broken into Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi states has produced the largest number of Ministers for the Agricultural sector in Nigeria from 1966 to date.  The lofty  purpose of the Ministry was  to optimize agriculture and intergrate rural development for the transformation of the Nigerian economy, with a view to attaining food security and making  Nigeria  a  food exporter.

Dr. Bukar Shuaib, who was from Geidam now in Yobe state, was the first  Vertirinary Doctor in Nigeria. He was  the first Nigerian from the North East to be Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources. He was appointed  in 1984.  Another illustrious son of Yobe state, this time from Potiskum, Malam Adamu Ciroma,  served the country as Minister of Agriculture twice, in the administration of President Shehu Usman AliyuShagari and that of General Sani Abacha respectively.

Alhaji Abubakar Habu Hashidu from Gombe state was Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources during the military Presidency of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.  Malam Adamu Bello, the financial expert from Numan in Adamawa state had a long tenure as Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Dr. Shattima Mustafa, who taught  agriculture in the University and from Borno state,  had a shot at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources when Malam Umaru Musa ‘Yar’Aduwawas the President.  In the era of President Goodluck EbeleJonathan, Bukar Tijani, an accomplished agriculturist from Borno state, who often proudly says he started his career in the sector as a village extension officer, was the Minister of State for Agriculture.  

I will say a little more on Bukar Tijani because I was privileged to work closely with him in the Ministry. After his stint in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, he moved to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in the Role of Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.  In November 2018 he took office as AssistntDirector-General in charge of Agriculture and Consumer Protection at the  organisation’s headquarters in Rome, Italy. He  had an unbroken  career in the agricultural sector at the domestic and internacional levels for about four decades until his recent appointment as the Secretary to the Borno State Government by the Borno state Governor, Professor BabaganaUmara Zulum. Professor B U. Zulum himself is a specialist in agricultural engineering.

Bukar Tijani  assidiously worked along with Minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina  in successfully  implementing   the  Flood Recovery Programme conceived in the aftermarth of the devastating flooding that had adverse effect on agricultural production in the country in 2011. He was also the co-pilot of the Agriculural Transformation Agenda (ATA) which gave prominence to the development of the value chains of different commodities. There were other initiatives that really made Nigerians to see and engage in various agricultural activities as businesses through which to exit poverty.

President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mustapha Baba Shehuri from Borno state as Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.  He served from 2019 to 2023.  

The appointment of  Senator Abubakar Kyari from Borno state as Minister for Agriculture and Food Security by President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu, completes the record number of nine citizens from the Northestern geo-political zone appointed to play a leading role in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. And with the appointment of Lawan Kolo Geidam from Yobe state as Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory, it is indeed intriguing.

Salisu Na’inna Dambatta was a Federal Director of Information

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