Ibadan — Stakeholders including members of the National Assembly have berated President Goodluck Jonathan over his inability to assent into law till date the agricultural biotechnology bill which was passed by the 6th National Assembly since June 2011.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market, Senator Ayo Adeseun and the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Abiodun Akinlade were among the stakeholders who met at the June Edition of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OPAB) in Ibadan.
The legislators expressed their displeasure over the inability of the President to ascent to the bill one year after it was passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
The forum which drew agricultural professionals from different parts of the country including chief executives of the various research institutions had the theme "Biotechnology for improved Cocoa Production in Nigeria."
In an address, the governor of Oyo State, Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, noted that "the domestication of biotechnology in Nigeria is a welcome development in view of the vital role it can play in the socio-economic development of the nation, including environment and agriculture, as evidenced from development in other climes the world over."
The governor was represented by his Deputy, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo.
Senator Adeseun, in his contribution, lamented that President Goodluck Jonathan was yet to sign into law several bills passed by the National Assembly, notably the agricultural biotechnology bill, emphasizing that this has been impacting negatively on the envisaged success of the much publicized agricultural transformation agenda of the present administration.
"Nigeria, despite its rich agricultural endowment has been importing an equivalent of one billion naira worth of rice per day, apart from other similar food importations," Adeseun said.
He was optimistic the the massive importation trend would change through the adoption of biotechnology.
He said: "In any case, if he (President Jonathan) fails to assent the Agricultural Biotechnology Bill, it is a matter of time we in the National Assembly will now assume that he has veto the bill and we will bring it back and we will override his veto."
"Nigeria should be feeding the rest of Africa but we have been lagging behind due to non adoption of the latest in technologies. If we imbibe the agricultural biotechnology as a way of life, one farmer will be able to feed at least 30 to 40 people as against the present practice where majority of our farmers can only feed their nuclear families alone. The urgent challenge before the nation is that we should imbibe biotechnology," Adeseun said.
Akinlade insisted that the National Assembly will re-introduce the bill for the President's assent "since we see biotechnology as the best thing for the country's agricultural revolution. Unless we have the biotechnology law, the issue of genetically modified crops will be an illusion in the country."
The Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, Professor Bamidele Ogbe Solomon used the forum to canvassed for Nigeria to join in the biotechnology revolution saying that both Ghana and Colombia which are currently leading cocoa exporters, have already embraced the application of biotechnology to improve their production.