The Executive Secretary of National Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, says the establishment of 109 Integrated Farm Estate by his agency is not an attempt to reintroduce the controversial ‘Ruga’ farm settlements.
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed NALDA to establish integrated farm estates in all the 109 senatorial districts to boost food production across the country.
But the pan-yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, had in a statement by its spokesman, Mr Jare Ajayi, accused the federal government of attempting to bring back the rejected cattle colony, referred to as RUGA, through the establishment of the farm estates.
However, the NALDA boss, who spoke to journalists in Owerri, Imo State, said this was far from the truth.
According to Ikonne: ”It is not another type or anything that has to do with Ruga. The Integrated Farm Estate, the president mandated us to put it in all the 109 Senatorial Districts.
”The project is meant for the community, to develop the community. What we have inside is poultry, fishery and for those who are doing piggery – piggery. So, it is for the people.
”The insinuation is meant to mislead people as a result of lack understanding.
”But the true position is that the integrated farm estate is designed to accommodate the youths from that community in order to engage them into entire agricultural value chain.
”And it depends on what the community is known for and what the community is interested in going into. Some states are getting poultry, cow – like in the North; in the South like Abia they are doing fishery and rabbit rearing.
”In Oyo we already have rabbit rearing and crop farming; in Ekiti State as well we have crop farming.
”So it depends on the environment, and it has nothing to do with Ruga at all. It’s purely for development, and to engage the youths and for the benefit of immediate community, that is what the integrated farming estate stands for.”
On President Buhari’s official visit to Imo on September 9, Ikonne said the visit clearly showed the president’s passion and love for the people of the South East zone of the country.
”This visit is very significant and shows the love of the president and it shows he is the president of Nigeria and he has jurisdiction in all the States.
”It also shows his passion, and that he always loved and still loves the Southeast. His first outing to contest, he used an Igbo man as his Vice-President.
”In his second outing he did the same too. In 2015, the president gave Igbo people four solid ministries, with substantive ministers, and the chain of other ministries.
”Now look at the Aba-Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway that has been abandoned for years, today the road is not only motorable but standard that you can travel from Aba to Enugu without potholes.
”Look at the second Niger Bridge which was also abandoned for years, today that project is nearing completion. This is just to mention but a few.
”The President’s coming shows that he loves the Igbo and he will keep doing more for the Igbo people.”