…My farm will bounce back
The former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has disclosed that the world should not judge Benue by action of those he described as few miscreants, who burnt his farm last month in Gwer East Local Government area of Benue State.
Obasanjo declared that the burning of the 17000 mango tree plantation would not deter his investment in the state, as he would bounce back and increase the direct workforce from meagre 150 to 1000 plus.
In a release by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said the January, 29,2022 incident, were the handiwork of few miscreants, an action contrary to the true reflection of the people of Benue State.
“This action by this few misdierected miscreants should not be judged by the world. It is not the true reflection of the people of Benue. The action should not scare away investors, because Benue people are very accommodating and friendly.”
The former president stated this, while playing host to the delegation from the Benue State and the community, where the farm, is located, at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The delegation, led by the Chairman of the Gwer East Traditional Council, Dr Dominc Akpe, was accompanied by the House of Assembly member representing Gwer East Constituriency, Hon Geoffrey Agbatse, Chairman Gwer East Local Government, Hon Ortserga Emmanuel, among others, emphatised with the former president, on the burning of his mango plantation in the state.
Obasanjo, who lamented that the dastardly act, had only delayed the vision he had for the project, said what had happened, was not the best for the state and the community.
He said, “The land was acquired long ago and payment made for the lease of the land. If the government has not paid any compensation to any family or that they have not been adequately compensated, burning of the farm, was not the best to do.
“You have said it yourself that the farm employed about 150 workers before it was burnt. Our plan was for the project to provide at least 1,000 persons directly, both on the farm and when the processing factory takes off.
“What has happened, was not a loss to we investors alone but to the 150 that were working on the farm before it was burnt and the people that we intend to engage in the processing factory, that had been delayed now even with the level of unemployment in the country.
“The governor did everything to make the project a reality. What they have burnt, was a pilot project for what we have in mind if things work well.
“The governor , the Tor Tiv, the Bishop and other notable leaders and stakeholders, had emphatised with us, they had ntervened and had assured us that justice would be served.
“What has happened is not in the character of the people of Benue and particularly, the community, where the farm is located.
“You have said that you need Investment in the state either from within or outside the state. Therefore, the world should not judge Benue by this act of few disgruntled element that perpetrated this act.
“Let me assure you that we are not going to leave the area. We are looking at what we can do when the rain starts. The project, will only be delayed but we shall improve on what we have on ground.
“The government had promised us the possibility of giving us more land and this will give us opportunity for bigger plantation.”
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation, Akpe, had emphatised with Obasanjo on the incident regretting that the incident happened at all.
The traditional ruler, disclosed that some of those that perpetrated the act, had been arrested, stating that others would be apprehended.
Akpe said, “We have come to appeal to you not to lose hope despite the arson. During the several meetings and discussions after the incident, it was obvious that we initially regarded the farm as yours and did not own it. We have now discovered it’s importance to us and have resolved to own it by providing security, regularly monitoring it, and at holding regular meetings with the gist community to ensure that what happened in the 29th January 22, never ever repeat itself.
“Moving forward, we have identified other parcel if land and when we are able to strike an agreement with the host communities, request you to expand the farm to other parts of the local government “.