The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has alleged fears over insinuations that his Eke community land in Enugu state is been ceded to federal government for non indegens to operate farm settlement.
Okechukwu who explained that his vision for the farm settlement is strictly for the development of his community,, adding that the farm is a community farm, which will also be owned and managed by the community.
He added that the Community would also make choice of what they would want to do with the farm.
“Whether they want to do piggery, palm tree plantation or cassava or any other crop. It is not going to be manned by any outsider but the community. It is community base.”
“All l am saying is that if the federal government has a programme, we should be a beneficiary to the programme. In my many decades on earth, am a witness to my projects abandoned out of the spur of emotions which later turned out to be the edifice or solid pillar of economic development. Methinks this is one of such projects in a declining oil economy.”
“This integrated farm Estate, it is agreed that it should be one per Senatorial zone and we should make sure that we have one in each Senatorial zone in the South East manned by our communities and the community people would decide what would be planted in the farm. The whole idea is for them to benefit from the federal government because at the end of the day, whichever money that is being used is a collective money.
Whether it is borrowed or funds generated. If it is funds generated that should be our own share, if it is the one borrowed whether we rescue ourselves or we participate when the time of payment comes we are going to be part of those that they would deduct money from because they are not going to do it by taxation, they are going to deduct from source and when they deduct from source, the money they deduct from is everybody’s money.
“So, we should benefit because the farming would provide not only food on the table but it would also generate employment and that is why l support the programme. Federal government has spent over a trillion on anchor borrowers programme and l don’t know how many states in the South East that got up to N10 billion, which l know some other states got more than that. That we should not rescue ourselves from germane federal government projects or programmes.”
The VON DG was accused of ceding lands to non indigenes in a letter he wrote to the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA).
The VON DG has in a letter dated September 13, and addressed to the NALDA Executive Secretary with the titled: Ogui Agu Eke, Enugu State offers Land for integrated Farm Estate, inform the Executive Secretary that his community, Ogui Agu Eke, Enugu West Senatorial District; after a meeting of community stakeholders resolved to offer swathe hectares of land for the establishment of integrated Farm Estate in own town.
The letter read, “We have carefully not only observed your uncommon commitment in discharging your duties; but highly appreciate President Muhammaadu Buhari transformation in agriculture; hence the Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution, which started with Anchor Borrowers Programme, Prime Anchor and now integrated Farm Estate.
“Sir, it may interest you to note that we did not benefit from the Anchor Borrowers Programme, albeit would wish you oblige us the golden opportunity to be a beneficiary of integrated Farm Estate.
“Our community and by extension our neighbors are fertile in cassava, palm oil, maize, cotton plantations and our people are engaged in fish farming, piggery, chicken poultry, etc.
“Accordingly, we request to be included in Mr. President’s initiative to produce what they eat and provide employment directly and indirectly to hundreds of youths and women.”
However, the letter has been misconstrued, especially by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who have accused the VON DG of ceding South east lands to non indigenes, especially the Fulani to be used for farm settlement