Saturday, January 20, 2018 12:24 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
On 21 December 2017, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, launched a local brand of Ofada rice tagged MITROS (Mission To Rebuild Ogun State) Ofada Rice. At the occasion in Abeokuta, he said: “Our past efforts at tackling poverty in all ramifications will amount to nothing if concerted efforts are not taken to ensure food security to people at all income levels. This is why today is a significant day, not just for Ogun State, but for Nigeria as well.”
It is one of the efforts of state governments to achieve local production of rice to put a stop to importation of the commodity. In that regard, Lagos and Kebbi states, last year introduced LAKE rice, an acronym formed from the first two letters of each of the two states. Then Ogun followed suit with, hopefully, other states boarding the same train soon.
However good the intention of the Ogun government is, critics went to town to criticise MITROS rice launching, calling it padded pyramid. This is because the pyramid was ‘built’ around wooden scaffolding, compared to the Kano groundnut pyramids of those days.
Tunde Akogun, a critic, wondered why Nigeria transmogrified from budget padding to rice pudding! Salihu Olayinka Gegele asked: “Was the groundnut pyramids of kano (of old) also built on wooden pads like this?” Yomi Ibiwoye also asked: “Why can’t Amosun just put a wooden plank on ground and arrange the rice as would be. Must there be a pyramid?”
Another critic, Ihria ‘Ehi Enakimio, put it this way: “Deception is also when you give the false impression that the quantity is more than it is! Is it possible to load the bags with sand and claim rice? Of course! If you can lie about quantity, why should I believe you won’t lie about content? The famous, now historical groundnut pyramids, were NOT stacked on wooden frames!”
There were howover those who were ready to swear by their grandfather’s beard that Amosun meant well and that the wooden scaffolding was put to make the bags of form a pyramidal shape. That is why Gabriel Ojo argued: “Don’t you think a pyramid of this nature needs a wooden support?” Jesugbemi Ola Adeniran also supported the governor: “Please does the under part have rice or not? Please is it possible that the only way to get it into a pyramid shape is to have a frame around which it’s built?”
Generally, Adebiyi Gabriel Olajide-Mackson argued: “If we keep criticising ourselves without offering any useful solution to ameliorate our suffering, too bad. If the previous administrations had done a little like this, probably, we would be at par with Taiwan or Thailand. Let’s makes our own contributions to the development of this nation rather than finding faults. Thailand is complaining about drop on rice exportation to Nigeria, yet we still don’t appreciate the little efforts of this administration.”
To Abdulhakeem Abiodun Saka Owolarafe, as the sale of MITROS rice to the public at designated centres continues after it was launched, buyers have continued to commend the State government for making the product available at reasonable price.
Abduljabar Ayelaagbe added his own homily, saying wrong insinuations bothering around MITROS RICE has dominated social media space for some days but one wonders the need for it.
“In all honesty, one finds it somehow hard to come to terms as to what the initiator of those negative campaigns tends to gain. First it was that the rice didn’t exist at all that the rice that formed Pyramid were bought and re-bagged and now that there was no rice but its sand that were being stuffed into the bags and presented to the people as rice.
“I was surprised seeing some people sharing or commending people that put those falsified information up without taken their time to find out whether there was rice or not. This is very disturbing in a state that is as educationally advanced as Ogun State, its expected that we, at least, seek for right information instead of joining people to spread wrong ones.
“I am one of the young farmer that planted rice at Igbogila. I planted two hectares of land. Some other people planted at Eegua while others planted at Sawonjo. There are 5 to 10 people in each of the groups/cooperative we formed depending on the capacities of members to deliver. Government did well by allocating land to us, ploughed it, gave us rice seedlings, assisted us with fertilizer and so many other things, all at highly subsidized rate to encourage us. It may interest you to know that Government also bought the rice from us.
“The only cost on us was those people we brought on board to assist us in planting and do monitoring when we are not on the farm because of birds and some other miscellaneous expenses.
“It need be said that When I first got the information, I had even thought, I got the opportunity given the privileged position I occupied as the Ogun State Secretary of the National Youth Council of Nigeria but later find out it was thrown open to all, with little condition that you take it in group/ cooperative to serve as means to charge us to get the work done on time. I shared the information widely on many platforms but unfortunately not so many people turned up, only for them to later realized that the project was real and the government really meant well.
“Its important our people seek for information instead of unnecessarily ditching out wrong ones thereby misleading the public.
“As a Stakeholder in Ogun State project from the youth sector, I think the Ogun State government under the leadership of Senator Amosun need to be commended for the initiative rather than all this one day one lie we read all around.
“The reallocation of the land (second session), I was told by our Coordinator, will soon start, if you’re interested in being a rice farmer, contact the people incharge instead of unnecessarily disturbing the public peace. Abduljabar Ayelaagbe is my name, a proud son of Ilaro Yewa.”