The Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, VON, Mr. Osita Okechukwu has urged the people of Enugu State to embrace the FG’s ongoing Integrated Farm Estate Project.
The FG had announced recently that it would establish Integrated Farm Estates across the 109 Senatorial districts of Nigeria.
However, the Government’s plan has been faced with mixed feelings, as some feel it was an indirect way of reintroducing the controversial RUGA project.
Speaking to journalists on Sunday in Enugu, Mr. Okechukwu appealed to Enugu communities to participate fully in the project. As the farm projects will be managed by the communities themselves not Fulanis, it is community based.
He said that the FG’s programme, meant for the 109 Senatorial districts, was a presidential mandate to close bandits’ market, provide employment and food security.
Mr Okechukwu explained that he was making the passionate appeal “because our people are embarrassingly missing billions of Naira budget from the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), unlike other geopolitical zones, in one of the key projects in the Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution value chain.”
He said he was subscribing to back to land project, stressing that, “it is community based, and aimed at generating mass employment, as creation of employment is the best way to close banditry, kidnappings and terrorism in our land. For an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
Okechukwu said that it was regrettable that some people’s preoccupation had become stock-pilling hatred against the central government as if President Buhari was going to preside over Nigeria for life.
“We should not gloss over the truism that the central government remains the only common shelter, which shelters us all. In no distant future Nigeria will take her destined status as giant of Africa. Therefore, it is not pragmatic to cut our nose to spite Buhari’s face.
“Accordingly, we should not reject humanitarian projects which ignite employment, close bandits’ markets, reduce poverty and provide food security, because of sentiments,” he advised.
Okechukwu further said that he was happy that the Executive Secretary of National Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, had clarified the concept of the programme thus:
“The true position is that the integrated farm estate is designed to accommodate the youths from that community in order to engage them in the entire agricultural value chain.
“And it depends on what the community is interested in going into, some states are getting into poultry like in the north, in the south like Abia they’re doing fishery and rabbit rearing. In Oyo we already have rabbit rearing and crop farming; in Ekiti crop farming. …..it is not another or anything that has to do with Rural Grazing Area (RUGA); what we have is poultry, fishery, piggery and any farming model of the choice of the community,” he quoted Ikonne as saying