Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has commended the Director-General of International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, for his dedication to agriculture, food and nutrition security in Africa.
Obasanjo gave the commendation during the chieftaincy conferment on Sanginga and his wife, Mrs Charlotte Sanginga, by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, at his palace in Ile-Ife on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sanginga, a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national and his wife were honoured with Aare and Yeye Aare Afurugbin-Ola of the Source respectively.
The former president, who said that the chieftaincy conferment was in recognition of the director-general’s passion for the development of agriculture in Africa, urged Sanginga to see the honour as a challenge to do more for the continent.
Obasanjo, who is the IITA Ambassador, commended Oba Ogunwusi for the choice of Sanginga and his wife for the chieftaincy titles, saying that they were both worthy of the honour.
“I commend Your Imperial Majesty for the bold step taken to honour this distinguished African who has dedicated his life to agriculture, food security and nutrition in Africa.
“I want to assure you these new chiefs will not disappoint you; that they will not disappoint Ife indigenes and the entire Yoruba race.
“I know and I am sure that they will live up to the honour that you have bestowed on them,” he said.
Obasanjo, however, advised Oba Ogunwusi to strike a balance between his role as a royal father and politics in Yoruba land.
“All the sons and daughters of Yoruba land, no matter where they are or their standpoint, will come to meet you. This is expected because you are the father of all.
“Any one of them who says that he is interested in politics, just pray for him and let them go. Anyone who approaches you and says that he wants to be president or governor, just pray for such a person and let him go.
“Don’t direct Yoruba people to support any aspirant, as we don’t all go to in the same direction, which is part of our strength in Yoruba land,” he said.
He reminded Ooni that as far as politics was concerned, even in the pre-independence era, the Yoruba usually had two strong sides, adding: “Please, don’t let politicians add to your burden.
Speaking at the occasion, Oba Ogunwusi appreciated the IITA director-general’s passion for agricultural development in Africa.
According to him, in spite of the balkanisation of Africa by the Europeans, Africans will continue to remain one and indivisible.
“I’m impressed with your modest achievements as a true son of Africa. You have been doing all within your capacity to ensure food sufficiency in the continent.
“All through the years, you have developed passion for agriculture and the results are feasible everywhere,” the traditional ruler said.
In his acceptance speech, Sanginga applauded Ooni for the fatherly role he had been playing, not only in Yoruba land, but all over the country.
He also commended Oba Ogunwusi for counting his and his wife worthy of the honour, pledging that his would continue to support him in all ways.
NAN reports that the dignitaries present at the occasion included the Deputy Governor of Osun, Mr Benedict Alabi, former Gov. Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State and Secretary to Osun Government, , Prince Wole Oyebamiji.
Others were the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess Toyin Kolade, members of staff of IITA and a host of other prominent individuals.