The continued rejection of Nigeria’s food exports to foreign countries shows that Nigerian government workers are simply not doing their work. Those who are supposed to supervise governance and ensure that government policies are efficiently implemented are also not doing their work.
Way back in October 2017, former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, had publicly lamented the rejection of Nigerian yams exported to the United States of America.
We were in the middle of an economic recession, and the Muhammadu Buhari government was anxious to diversify the economy to reduce oil dependency. Shipments of yams were sent to America, the United Kingdom, and China, and many of them were rejected because of poor quality.
Ogbeh had undertaken to investigate why this could happen even though the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA; the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS; the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN; the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC; the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON; the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC; the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services, NAQS; and the National Agricultural Seed Council, NASC; were involved in ensuring the quality of our agricultural exports.
Four years later, the NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, appeared on Channels Television to lament that 76 percent of our agricultural commodities are rejected by the European Union.
If public officers charged with the mandate to carry out crucial economic regulatory functions come out to lament to us, who should we hold responsible for their failure to do their work? Does Prof. Adeyeye not realize she was confessing the once vibrant NAFDAC’s incompetence under her?
She blamed the problem on food exporters who cut corners to avoid the attention of regulators, thus risking the rejection of their exports to foreign destinations. She also blamed the lack of standard storage facilities which means that most of our products develop molds before arriving at their final destinations.
These are jobs that these eight redundant federal parastatals were set up for, but which they woefully failed to do. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, failure is never sanctioned. It is rewarded and reinforced.
Many officials are not suitably qualified or committed to their jobs, yet they are kept in the service due to nepotism and corrupt public service culture.
These poor-quality agricultural commodities being rejected not only bring shame to our national image but also negate the objectives of the economic diversification agenda.
The huge Nigerian Diaspora depends a lot on food exports from Nigeria. These rejections mean that the commodities are scarcer and more expensive for our people over there.
The ball is squarely in the court of NAFDAC to drive the program of ensuring that only good quality agricultural commodities are allowed to leave the shores of the country.