The Ekiti State Government on Thursday solicited the cooperation of five towns in Ikole Local Government Area for the successful launch of a five-million-dollar (N2.5 billion) agriculture project in the area.
The communities are Ipao, Oke Ako, Irele, Ijowa and Itapaji
The project is being executed by a private investor, in partnership with Odu’a Investment Company Ltd., a conglomerate belonging to states in the South West geopolitical zone.
The Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi, said at a meeting with traditional rulers and chiefs of the affected communities in Ado-Ekiti that the project would generate about 400 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs, adding that the indigenes of the communities would benefit the most.
“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 lands. 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 that 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,’’ he said.
The project is an integrated venture, covering cassava, cashew, maize and soya beans cultivation, processing and packaging as well as production of starch, poultry feeds and poultry farming.
Government officials and the investors also met with other stakeholders such as the youths and elders in the communities to enlighten them and seek their support for the project.
Egbeyemi appealed to indigenes of the communities to cooperate with the government in efforts to survey the 10,000 hectares of land allocated to Odu’a Investments in the 1950s, ahead of commencement of work.
The deputy governor described the project as a very rare opportunity and urged the communities to regard it as a catalyst for development, growth and economic and social emancipation.
He also admonished youths of the towns to give peace a chance and refrain from any act of violence or 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 things,’’ he added.
Egbeyemi gave the assurance that the modalities for compensation for economic trees that would be affected by the project would be worked out by the state government, in line with the extant laws guiding acquisition of land.
He said also 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 allayed fears of residents of the communities on the menace of bandits, saying that strategic measures were being evolved to protect the people from 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 Ejisun of Irele, Chief Adegbenro Eleoramo, were present at the meeting.
They all expressed their readiness to cooperate with government and the investor for the implementation of the project.
Oba Adebanjo, who spoke on behalf of the communities, lauded the state government for wading into the issue, which could have led to a crisis between the investor and the indigenes who were now better educated that they would benefit from the investment.
Speaking on behalf of the youths, Mr Dare Faleke and Dare Ojo sought government’s intervention in addressing incessant attacks on their farmlands.
They thanked the state government for considering their land for the project, which they believed would open up the area to investors and improve the socio-economic development of the neighbourhood.
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.