Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has advised government and people of Benue State to re-invest in the state, despite the recent burning of over 2,000 hectares of mango plantation in January this year.
Obasanjo gave the advise in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while hosting delegation from Gwer East local government area of Benue State in Abeokuta to render unreserved apology to him over his burnt mango farm located in Howe, Gwer East local government area of the state.
The over 2,000 hectares of mango plantation was burnt by some unidentified people in Benue state .
The former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Thursday declared that his burnt mango plantation in Gwer East Local Government area of Benue State, would not deter his investment in the State.
He said the incident which involved the destruction of 17, 000 mango trees on January 29, 2022, would rather propel him to expand the project, going by the assurance of the State Government and other stakeholders in the state.
Obasanjo described the dastardly act, as only delaying the vision he had for the project, that what had happened, was not the best for the state and the community.
He said, “The land was acquired long ago by government and payment made for the lease of the land.
If the government has not paid any compensation for 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 it to employ 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 the investors but to the 150 that were working presently on the farm 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 empathized, intervened and had assured us that justice would be served.
“What has happened is not in the character of the people of Benue and 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 the act of few disgruntled element who 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 in ground.
“The government had promised us the possibility of giving us more lands and this will give us opportunity for bigger plantation.
The delegation from Benue State and the community, empathised with Chief Obasanjo.
The delegation was led by the Chairman of the Gwer East Traditional Council, Dr Dominc Akpe, and accompanied by the House of Assembly member representing Gwer East Constituriency, Honourable Geoffrey Agbatse, Chairman Gwer East Local Government, Hon Ortserga Emmanuel among others.
The leader of the delegation, Dr.
Akpe had empathised with chief Obasanjo on the incident, regretting that the incident happened.
The traditional ruler, disclosed that some of the perpetrators of the act had been arrested, while the rest of them would be apprehended.
“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 its importance to us and have resolved to own it by providing security, regularly monitoring it, and holding regular meetings with the host community to ensure that what happened on 29th January 22, never ever repeat itself.
Moving forward, we have identified other parcel of lands and when we are able to strike an agreement with the communities.
We request you to expand the farm to other parts of the local government “, Akpe said.
Ex President urges Benue Govt to reinvest in farming