Ado Ekiti Nigeria

The Ekiti State Government has sought the cooperation of five towns in Ikole Local Government for the take-off of the first phase of a $5 million (N2.5 billion) integrated agriculture project by an investor in partnership with Odu’a Investment Company Limited.

The Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, who spoke during a meeting with the traditional rulers and chiefs of the affected communities disclosed that the investment would generate 400 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs.

According to a statement on Thursday by the Special Assistant (Media) to the Deputy Governor, Odunayo Ogunmola, the communities affected are Ipao, Oke Ako, Irele, Ijowa and Itapaji whose indigenes would be given priorities for employment when the project is completed.

The investment is a Joint Venture arrangement with a core investor to develop an integrated project including a commercial farm for cassava, cashew, maize and soya beans.

The project also incorporates processing plants for starch, nuts, poultry feed, and a poultry farm raising day old chicks to broilers.

Apart from the initial meeting held at the Deputy Governor’s office in Ado Ekiti, an expanded follow-up meeting was held with other stakeholders like the youths and elders in their communities to further enlighten them and seek their support for the project.

Egbeyemi appealed to indigenes of the communities to cooperate with the government to carry out survey on the 10,000 hectares of land allocated to Odu’a Investment in the 50s ahead of commencement of work for investment purpose.

Describing the project as a very rare opportunity, the Deputy Governor urged the communities involved to see it as a catalyst for development, growth and moving forward economically and socially.

He said: “This is a very rare opportunity for our people in these five communities because they stand to gain a lot from the investment on their land. It will open up the towns to more development and will attract people from outside.

“Besides, your children who are qualified will be given priorities in terms of jobs it will generate. The investment will create 400 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs and indigenes of the affected towns will be considered first.

“Government will speak with Odu’a Group and they will take care of you. There will be compensation for owners of farms where we have economic trees.”

Egbeyemi admonished the youths of the towns to give peace a chance and refrain from any act of violence, attack on officials and any act that could frustrate the project and discourage investment on their land.

“I want to appeal to our youths to give peace a chance. When things of development are coming to our area, we should not oppose it because we stand to benefit a lot from such,” he added.

He assured that modalities for compensation on economic trees to be affected by the project would be worked out by the state government in line with the extant laws guiding acquisition of land.

He further revealed that the state government would complete work on the bridge linking Itapaji with Iyemero to bring relief to commuters, farmers, traders and other residents.

The Deputy Governor also allayed the fears of the residents of the communities on the menace of herders saying strategic measures are being evolved to protect the people from herders’ attacks.

The Olu of Itapaji, Oba Kareem Adebanjo; the Alajowa of Ijowa, Oba Emmanuel Omopariola; the Regent of Oke Ako, Princess Tinuade Ogunbiyi; the Alabusoye of Ipao, Chief Ajayi Andero and the Ejisun of Irele, Chief Adegbenro Eleoramo, expressed their readiness to cooperate with the government and the investor for the take-off of the project.

Oba Adebanjo thanked the state government for wading into the issue which could have led to crisis between the investor and the indigenes who are now better educated that they would benefit from the investment.

Speaking on behalf of the youths, Messrs Dare Faleke and Dare Ojo sought government intervention in addressing incessant attacks of their farmlands.

They thanked the state government for considering their land for the agric project which they believe would open up the axis for business investors with a view to improving the socio-economic development of the benefiting communities.

The interactive forum on the field was attended by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sola Ogunmiluyi; the Surveyor General of the state, Mr. Olaniyi Ibidunmoye and officials of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development

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