The business of Agriculture – a personal narrative

The business of Agriculture – a personal narrative

My first foray into agriculture, in the 1980s, ended in failure. I bought a large expanse of land on the Yola-Numan highway, and started farming maize. It didn’t work out as well as I thought; the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the mid to late 1980s didn’t help. Today the land is still there, used by many smallholder farmers for their own cultivation. My wife also runs a farm on some of the land, breeding chickens, quail birds and ostriches.

Someday soon we hope to go back to large-scale cultivation of crops, because my belief in agriculture is iron clad. That belief was so strong that to acquire land for my first major agricultural investment, I sold my house to fund the venture.

In the mean time we are trying our hands at something new. There are currently no automated animal feed mills in Northern Nigeria; all of the production that happens is manual and small-scale. Considering that most of Nigeria’s cattle production takes place in Northern Nigeria, you can see that there is plenty of opportunity for a feed mill business.


For that reason we are now building, in partnership with a Portuguese company, a modern and automated animal feed mill (poultry and cattle) just outside Yola. When it is completed we hope to serve the entire Northern Nigeria with high quality animal feed. Because it will be fully automated it will create only a few direct jobs, but the number of indirect and support jobs – in sales and distribution – and the economic opportunity will be significant.




Whenever I talk about my involvement in business, one question I always get asked is this: what did you do when you were in government? It is a question I am always happy to answer.

I do not believe that is the business of the government to set up industries. Businesses should be created and run by the private sector, by individuals and institutions who have seen a need and would like to fill it.

What the government exists to do is create a conducive and enabling environment for businesses to operate and thrive. So if, as Vice President, I had somehow ordered the establishment of a government feed mill in Northern Nigeria, we might have been able to organise a big commissioning ceremony, but there would be nothing to guarantee that the mill would still be in operation today. We have seen how government has run businesses in Nigeria in the past.


What we did when we were in government was what we should have done: focus on the fundamental structural reforms required to create a favourable business environment in Nigeria. Which is why the government faced the foreign debt issue head on, as well as policy reforms in oil and gas, power, banking, telecoms and pensions. It is also why we focused on the success of the privatisation programme.

Today, all around the country you can see success stories. Every time I inspect the feed mill under construction I am reminded that not very far from Yola is the Savannah Sugar Company, which was acquired by Alhaji Aliko Dangote in 2003 as part of the privatization programme. Until its acquisition by Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) it was a struggling business. In the decade since it was acquired DIL has pumped billions of Naira into it, and it is today cultivating 18,000 hectares of land, with a vision to expand to 100,000 over the next few years, and providing employment for thousands of people.

I’m happy to play my own part. My plunge into business happened upon my retirement from public service. Today our businesses employ thousands of people across Nigeria, and provide economic opportunity for even more. When I joined the government in 1999, I surrendered them all to a trust. Now that I am again a private citizen I will continue to do business, to invest in opportunities where I see them. The fact that I might get criticised, because I once held political office, or that failure is always a possibility, will never stop me from actively pursuing business opportunities where I see them.


This post was written by

42 Comments on "The business of Agriculture – a personal narrative"

  • Seye says

    Please ride on Sir. We all need to do our part in defusing this fast ticking unemployment time bomb.


    Could you tap into Isreali farm technology since they have mastered the art and science of farming in dry rocky lands. Give it a try. I’ve been dreaming of owning one big farm in my state to use the available lands left unattended to but no resources yet and my small research show good result from Isreali farm technology

  • adamsbulama says


  • Never back down on value driven projects… Let your instinct guide you.

  • mayowa says

    Well, thats a good innovation and vision. keep it up sir.

  • Mohammed sani says

    You are now talking true…

  • Sparking Turawa AMADOU LABARANG says

    I am a right follower of Turaki, although I am from Cameroon (Ngaoundere – Adamawa Area). I met him first in the Lamido of Ngaoundere’s palace. After his sojourn, he granted the Islamic Health Center founded by the Lamido a support of 10 millions CFA Francs. I enjoyed the opportunity of having been received at one of his Yola residences with the delegation of my hometown during the celebration of the bicentennial of the creation of the Adamawa Kingdom.
    As from those times, I became a follower of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar through media, praises sang by Hausa singers, etc.
    In the field of business and charity, he is my master… His path is blessed, I am full of hope, I can achieve a good level me too, inches Allah!
    I wish him the brightest succes in whatever he undertakes, good health and long life.

  • Balarabe Alkassim says

    I am always moved by the change in your approach to the challenges facing Nigerians especially in the North,whose people are being viewed as lazy.It is high time other people like you who have enough to eat to be setting up industries in the region for others to get where they can have what to eat.

    • sirOscie says

      Atiku, has a lot of investments in his home state that has provided employment for lots of people living in that part of the country. He has Adama beverages,AUN, TV and Radio Gotel, Abti international and a host of others in Adamawa alone, so I believe is time others borrow a leave from him in getting our youths in the North out of the street. He should be applauded and encouraged to do more.

  • sirOscie says

    You are doing very well sir. I pray for the large scale of land to be put to use very soon because I believe it will help create more jobs for our youths.
    The sky will not be your limit Turaki, keep up the good job. KUDOS to you sir.

  • Akin says

    Turaki, you are doing your best sir. This is what you are going to be question about today and tomorrow by the people and your Creator. I believe others with intellect and who are truthful to themselves will learn from this. I have equally gain from this and my focus now is to think of how am going to make my contribution. May Allah help me. Aamin.

    • Ameh O says

      Sir, are you his creator? Why judging him, mind you, face your own, and be praying more understanding, if you think your work or good work will save you. Do you have faith

  • Bala Sani Yusuf, (Asst Director, Administration, Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe) says

    I am indeed delighted whenever i read your posts sir. I am highly inspired and therefore wanting to engage in agricultural activities. I saw your poultry unit. Is is simply splendid. It has been my dream from secondary school to engage in poultry production. That instinct is still with me. These developments you are bringing to our region really have woken me up from slumber. Continue doing good things sir.

  • Danmasanin Hadejia says

    Well done Sir! If all the so – called northern elders will invest in their localities like you, no stupid person in this country will ever call us parasites. The common Hausa adage; “DAN KUKA” mai jawowa uwarsa jifa. These so called elders, who know nobody other than their wives and children, cause the north in this situation. Ride on Turaki, Allah is your support. Muna rokonSa Ya baka Shugaban Nigeria 2015.

  • Segun says

    My Dear Sir,
    I’ll be a friendly critic. First, I agree that the primary role of government is to provide an enabling environment for private businesses to thrive. But to say that has been achieved more or less in a nation without stable electricity, efficient transport system, and security is a convenient illusion.

    But Sir, the more pertinent question for me is why Nigerian billionaires like yourself, aware of the gross incompetence of government and the ethno-religious centric fractured psyche of the populace, do not “band together” within your own circles to move this nation forward.

    The best that’ll happen to your Mill is wealth transfer to your children. We need a United Upper Class if we are going to significantly transform this nation beyond a few thousand jobs here and there.
    May posterity remember us aright.


  • prince says

    Very good piece

  • Deji says

    I wish other Political Holders can learn from you, This will reduce unemployment which will reduce crime and the country will be better to govern, Welldone sir

  • Shitu says

    you really trying,just go on with your good job of creating jobs to jobless.

  • Ibrahim says

    Mr. President. I know someone might be wondering why I called you with such a title. Speaking deeply from beneath my heart, you earn the title as you’re doing to Nigerians more than what the president is doing. It might be obvious to those who truly understand that the problems Nigeria is facing “are heavily shouldered on the lack of economic innovations that can provide what to eat for all.” I followed closely and understood well who and “WHAT ATIKU’s IDEOLOGIES ARE FOR NIGERIA.” If this country will be blessed with a president like Atiku, that positive changes Nigerians have been dreaming for decades will be felt and be seen in every corner of our beloved nation. Empowering private sector through creation of gov’t-private partnership will be the only way to accommodate the teaming employed youth in the nation’s workforce. Everyone reading this post should do a little math about Nigeria’s situation. Nigeria graduates about a million students every year, and only less than 300,000 of the graduated students get employed–simply because the country solely relied on the government as the 90+% employer of labor. The 10% or less private employers are people like YOU, ATIKU. So, this simply math tells you that economically aggravated social chaos might continue to rise each passing day in the country, killing the possible future prosperity Nigerians have. As we are all seeing it happening now. UNLESS WE’VE A PRESIDENT THAT KNOWS THE VALUE OF “ECONOMY,” BUT NIGERIA’S PROBLEM MAY CONTINUE TO BE ON THE RISE. The reason I called ATIKU President; HE PERFECTLY MATCH MY DREAM OF WHO NIGERIA DESERVES TO HAVE AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA FOR THAT POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION TO BE VISUALIZED.



  • Tunde Akinola says

    Good story or narrative but not a lot of substance. True, it is not the job of government to set up industries but to provide a conducive atmosphere for companies to operate. The economic atmosphere in Nigeria is a far cry from what it should be compared to so many countries with abundance of resources. Let me point out just the basics: Power (Electricity) – As long power still remains an issue, no viable industry would set up in Nigeria because industry would not operate efficiently and profitably without constant supply of power. Why?, because the money you would spend on buying Diesel or gasoline to run your generators to keep power constant would put a huge dent on the profitability that it will not be feasible for expansion or to make any profit.
    Secondly, Transportation – this is the earth of commerce. The state of the roads in Nigeria is just beyond imagination. How can you transport and distribute goods efficiently, when there are no major roads? There are also no network of railroad system in Nigeria. Mr.Atiku, please take a moment to study how most industrialized nations (U.S, Britain, japan, Germany)became successful. Transportation and infrastructures are the key. These countries built an efficient network of rail system even before the discovery of asphalt.
    Thirdly, as long as there are safety and security concerns in Nigeria, then our industrial potential will be limited. This is a main issue and it is a big factor why foreign investors are shying away from Nigeria. it is just a shame. We need a lot of FDI (foreign Direct Investment) to boost and jumpstart our economy. This is exactly what Singapore did and it worked. UAE too did the same thing and look at UAE now. I am so tired of long narratives about the fabricated successes of politicians when they were in the government. Mr Atiku, what were your contributions to any of these factors when you had the chance to make an impact?. What major role did you play in ensuring we have stable power supply and good transportation infrastructures?. What structural changes did you initiate to enable the safety and security of the Nigerian people?.

    • Aniji Henry says

      if our leaders have this type of vision i don’t think Nigeria will remain like this. Turaki Adamawa please remember unemployed graduate in Nigeria.

  • I like your sincerity Sir.

  • prince uchenna nnaji says

    You are not only my hero you are my face lifter thanks for the encouragements..

  • Bello says

    Small and medium scale enterprises have always been the one’s that create the great majority of jobs. Provide infastructure, good education, healthcare, affordable housing and sit back and see miracles. Government policies have only favoured creation of corporations which are not traditional job creators. Anyway, poor people like us are more concerned with being able to pay school fees, pay our rent and surviving harassment by every gov’t worker both those that wear uniform and those that work in offices and praying not to get killed by boko haram as we struggle for our daily bread

  • Adama says

    That’s very good. He is really doing the good job, how do I get to apply for a job there and also get it?

  • Sir I can see truly u are a lover of ur country.I need a job sir .we are six in my family and only one person is working sir .help me sir

  • Well done sir we are proud of sir

  • Giant striker, elegant Politian may God continue to give more wisdom!

  • I appreciate the write up. So wonderfully written. Kudos to Admin. More to add, I applaud you Turaki(A model worthy of emulation). Well done.

  • I pray this master piece work out well in shaa Allah and I have a supply chain plan to the UAE starting with Dubai.

  • Simeon says

    I have gone through all the comments and to my amusement, every other people said good things about this wonderful project, except two individuals from one section of this country, then i m wondering, and two questions are coming to my mind, dose it mean they have the know it all, or is it that they just don’t appreciate good policies? Or they do but chooses not to be on the side of any thing, any one from another part of this country to be good? We are becoming a generation that find it very difficult to believe in ourselves, we turn out to be cynical abt every one, especially those that passed through public offices, these are human beings and they will continue to live with us, so the sooner we see good in them and appreciate them, the better, when the need arise, to encourage those taking such opportunities abroad to have a rethink, instead of making them to shy away from baseless show of understanding how is done else where than here, God’s willing we will get there some day.

  • aminu rabiu moh'd says

    May Almighty Allah guide , protect u nd give u d streanght to contuneau with ur good work , how I wish , our leaders nd the reach will emulate u.

  • Abdul-Azeez says

    It is a laudable initiative Sir, a giant stride to closing d infrastructural gap, creating employment and provision of food to d northern community n Nigerian @ large. May Allah continue to bless u n reward u abundantly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>