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High cost of diesel killing our businesses, Obasanjo laments

By Olusegun Olanrewaju
A former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday lamented the hard times businesses are facing on account of the high cost of diesel.

 

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He said the development has been crippling businesses, adding that it is taking a toll on his fishing farm.

 

The former president blamed the issue on the current leadership in the country.

 

Obasanjo said this in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at a congress of South-West farmers held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).

 

He said the rise in the cost of diesel, coupled with the constant increase in prices of fish feeds, might eventually drive fish farmers out of business.

According to him, it is only by fish farmers coming together, particularly to ensure sustainable prices, that can they stay afloat in business.

 

Obasanjo noted that farmers can longer be producing at the mercy of the buyers, “who would come around for whatever amount that suited them, without taking into account the effect of the current economic effect on the production of such fishes.”

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He also stressed that, with the current price of diesel at over N800 per litre, the production of a kilogramme of fish is now N1, 400.

Obasanjo added that to make a very marginal profit, the farmer can’t afford to sell less than N1, 500 to prevent ‘outright loss’.

The ex-president lamented the hard times facing the industry, saying, “The price of diesel has gone high because the management of this country is not what it should be. And it is as simple as that.

 

“Then, what will happen is that particularly those of us who have to use a bit of diesel in producing fish, we will completely go bankrupt, and when that happens, Nigerians will still have to eat fish.

 

“Fish production will be out of reach, and then, people will be producing fish outside Nigeria and dumping it here. And you will go jobless, poor, and indigent. So, what do we have to do? To come together…we want to sustain fish production, and we must be able to take care of those who are going to eat, and those of us who are producing.”

 

Sounding rhetorical, Obasanjo asked farmers at the venue, “How many of you are using diesel in your production? Because I use diesel, and I’m already sweating. I’m already sweating.”

 

Obasanjo submitted, “This is the essence of this gathering. We find out that we have to take our destiny into our hands. We can’t continue to produce and be at the mercy of the buyers. We felt we needed to come around and do something for ourselves. We are starting with the South-West, and in a matter of time, it will be all over the country.”

 

In his response, the President of South-West Fish Farmers Price Sustainability Group, Amo Tunbosun Amo, said the country currently consumes around 3.6 million metric tonnes of fish annually, but only produces 1.12 million tonnes, leaving a balance of 2.6 million tonnes to be imported.

 

Alluding to the current hard times cited by Obasanjo, Amo explained that one of the major challenges confronting the fish farmers was the continued increase in the prices of inputs in the production of fish, as well as majorly the feed, and the refusal of the buyers to buy the fish at a commensurate price.

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