Today, June 6, is the 80th anniversary of D-Day when allied troops landed on the Normandy beaches with Nigerian groundnuts in their packs. Sadly, President Tinubu is not among the world leaders in France receiving acclamation for our role in the victory

Ayo Akinfe

[1] I have been following these D-Day celebrations religiously and am moved to tears by the history being made here. There are only 23 British D-Day veterans left alive and the sad reality is that this will be the last such parade for them as the youngest among them is 98

[2] As the leaders of France, Canada, the UK, US and Ukraine gather in Normandy today to shake hands with these veterans and relive that unprecedented feat of 1944, I am saddened that Nigeria’s contribution to the allied victory is being airbrushed out of history

[3] These soldiers had to keep on the move, so there was no time to stop for proper meals. Thanks to Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, whenever the troops got hungry, all they had to do was reach into their packs and munch on their Nigerian peanuts (as onyibos call it). At the time many people thought it was the beginning of Nigeria’s integration into the global economy

[4] Nigeria’s biggest failure as a nation has been her over-reliance on crude oil for survival. Had we built on the success of 1944, who knows where our groundnut industry would be today. Maybe the sector would be generating $20bn in foreign exchange earnings, exporting table nuts, groundnut oil, groundnut meal, processing equipment, etc to the rest of the world

[5] I am pleased that in 1944, the British Foreign Office produced this poster acknowledging our contribution to the allied victory. I would have loved to see President Tinubu talk about it today in Normandy

[6] 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 in 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?

[7] Nigeria is the world’s third largest groundnut producer behind China and India today. 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

[8] 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

[9] One of the beauties of edible nuts is that they have a variety of end products, offering multiple revenue streams. You can for instance use the husk of groundnuts as a base for manufactured products

[10] 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