From Maurice Okafor,Enugu.
The proposed federal government agricultural policy of establishing an Integrated farm estate in each of the 109 senatorial district across the country, has set the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON DG) Mr Osita Okechukwu, at dagger drawn with a section of his community. Eke in Udi local government area of Enugu state.
The AUTHORITY South East checks revealed that the VON DG Mr Okechukwu, used his influence to ensure that the slot for Enugu West senatorial district is sited in Eke. his community based on the economy of scales of the project in creating direct and indirect job opportunities for Youths of the area, as well as the possibility of attracting other subsidiaries investments that will ginger development of Eke town and beyond. But based on clannishness,myiopic and local politics,some indigenes of Eke community are kicking against the siting of the farm estate in Eke, alleging that they were not consulted and that Mr OSITA Okechukwu is not a native of Ogui – Agu Eke, where the farm will be located.
The AUTHORITY South East further checks observed that those against the project has gone further to seek the services of lawyers to halt the project.
A letter dated September 17, to the effect to the executive secretary of NALDA written by an Enugu based legal outfit on behalf of one Mr Nwabuisi Hillary Onyeka,the chairman of Ogui Agu Eke community, described Mr OSITA Okechukwu as a disclaimer and cautioned that the community have no land for such project.
The lawyers on behalf of their client urged NALDA to discountenance Mr Osita Okechukwu letter of September 13 to the agency,stating he and other stakeholders are offering NALDA “swathe hectares” of land at Ogui-agu Eke.
The lawyers vowed to use all judicious process embedded in the Nigerian constitution to defend the right of it’s client, if NALDA ventures into the swathe hectares of the land. Earlier n a press statement made available to The AUTHORITY, the VON DG lamented that his good initiatives for his community and Enugu West senatorial district at large is being misinterpreted due to local politics. He decried the insinuations by the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) that his target is to cede some parts of Igbo land to Fulani herdsmen. Hr disclosed that the initiative of the Federal government is that the host communities will own the Integrated Farm estates.
The letter of application to NALDA through it’s executive secretary by the VON DG,Mr Osita Okevhukwu , requesting for citing of Integrated farm in Eke community,Udi local government area of Enugu state, dated September read in parts “
“May l humbly inform Hon. Executive Secretary that my 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 our town.
“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.
“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 Indiginous People of Biafra (IPOB) as ceding the South East lands to the Fulanis or non indigenes.
The explanation came at the heels of accusation that he was engineering the Senatorial zone to cede lands to non indigenes in the community.
Mr Okechukwu stated further “My position is that the farm is a community farm, to be owned by the community, managed by the community and the Community would make choice of what they would want to do with it. 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.”
The VON DG emphasized that if the federal government has a programme, we should be a beneficiary to the programme despite the emotions it is one of such projects in a declining oil economy that can pave a new way for economic growth and stability across the country.
His words. “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.”