I am looking for someone to replicate what Alhassan Dantata did with the groundnut trade in Kano. During World War Two, allied troops were supplied with Nigerian peanuts in their packs

Ayo Akinfe

[1] One of the hallmarks of a visionary leadership is its ability to multi-task. When it comes to running your economy, this means diversification, whereby you expand into several sectors at the same time as China and India are currently doing so successfully

[2] Nigeria’s biggest failure as a nation has been her over-reliance on crude oil for survival. It is now apparent that this is unsustainable so the government desperately needs to generate about $50bn from alternative sources to replace crude export earnings. Between them, the animal husbandry and edible nut industries alone should be able to fill this vacuum if we expand production and process all we produce locally, exporting finished products

[3] Many Nigerians have forgotten that during World War Two, their country was the world’s largest groundnut producer. Thanks to Alhaji Dantata, it was Nigerian peanuts that helped sustain allied troops during the conflict

[4] When British, American and Canadian troops hit the Normandy beaches in June 1940, they had Nigerian-grown groundnuts in their packs as part of their rations. The British Foreign Office even produced a poster acknowledging our contribution to the allied victory. How we did not expand on that is totally beyond me. If we did, Nigeria would have carved out an unassailable niche in the global edible nuts market, kind of like how Malaysia and Indonesia have sewn up the palm oil market today

[5] Unfortunately, Nigeria’s groundnut industry went into a steep decline following the death of Alhassan Dantata in 1955. This is a man who did not get one penny of government assistance. He bought groundnuts from farmers, stored them in pyramids and sold to end users. Do you know that in 1940, the British refused him an export licence to sell directly on the international market, forcing all sales to go through the colonial authorities?

[6] Today, Nigeria is the world’s third largest groundnut producer behind China and India. We have an annual crop of about 3m tonnes but alas, the revenue we generate from it is still minuscule because we still sell raw nuts rather than process them and export finished products

[7] Today, the global edible nuts market is worth about $1.3trn. Nigeria is fortunate to be able to grow every single nut on earth including coconuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, shea nuts, groundnuts, pistachio nuts, etc. I am surprised that no state governor has taken the initiative to not only expand production dramatically but also woo processors to open crushing and processing plants

[8] One of the beauties of edible nuts is that they have a variety of end products, offering multiple revenue streams. Take groundnuts for instance, you can produce groundnut oil, groundnut meal for animal feed, table peanuts, nuts for use in chocolate products, etc. You can also use the husk of the nut as a base for manufactured products

[9] Again, this is another area where it is the states that have to take charge. There is absolutely nothing the federal government can do here. I am looking for an agriculture commissioner in one state across northern Nigeria who will stand up and pledge to produce 2m tonnes of groundnuts during his watch. He should then vow to woo processors to produce finished goods with a pledge to match crude oil earnings before the end of his tenure

[10] Also, we still have to ask the question- Where is Nigeria’s private sector? I keep making the point that it is the religious faith houses in Nigeria that have the capital today and the pots of gold they are sitting on needs to be desperately invested in productive endeavours but alas, my pleas are falling on deaf ears. Just imagine how many factories the $40m spent on a Gulfstream private jet can build