The federal government on Friday denied that the 109 Integrated Farm Estates approved for the National Land Development Authority (NALDA) for implementation are not Ruga and ranches.
This followed the position expressed by the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, who said in a statement by its spokesman, Jare Ajayi, that the federal government was attempting to bring back the rejected cattle colony and Ruga through the establishment of the farm estates.
NALDA’s Executive Secretary, Paul Ikonne, gave the government’s position in a chat with correspondents Friday, affirming that the establishment of the estates has nothing to do with Ruga or ranches.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed NALDA to establish integrated farm estates in all the 109 senatorial districts to boost food production across the country.
Responding to Afenifere’s claim, the NALDA boss, explained: ”Well, is unfortunate, it’s 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.
“After commissioning that of Daura, meaning he saw the productive nature, the impact that project will make.
“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, is for the people.
“The insinuation is meant to mislead people as a result of lack understanding so to say.
”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 the 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 the immediate community, that is what the integrated farming estate stands for.”
Ikonne also spoke on President Buhari’s Thursday’s official visit to Imo state, saying that it was a demonstration of his passion and love for the people of the South-East zone of the country.
He added: “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. On 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 the 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.”