Farmers in Ogun have appealed to the federal government not to allow eight settlements inherited by Ogun State government from the old Western Region go into extinction.
The farmers, during a press conference yesterday at Coker Farm Settlement in Ifo local government area of the state yesterday said activities of land grabbers and sand diggers have taken over larger part of the 7, 000 hectares of the settlement.
According to them, the same is the situation with other seven settlements across the State.
While addressing the press, the Secretary of the settlement and the State Secretary of Farm Settlers Association, Adediran Kazeem and Oba Afolabi Kufo respectively blamed the activities on connivance with government officials.
The duo explained that the land grabbers have destroyed invaluable cash crops including rubber, cocoa, oil palm, etc plantations.
The State Secretary explained that the purposes for the establishment of the settlements which were to provide foods for the populace and raw materials for the industry are being defeated by the alleged non-challant attitude of the state government.
Kufo explained that the lands were acquired by Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1958 and that adequate compensation were paid to the land owners.
He said the encroachment started during the regime of Chief Olusegun Osoba but was worsened when former Governor Gbenga Daniel was misguided to release part of the land to land owners.
According to Kufo, the farm settlements accounted for 50% of food produce in the markets and 50% of raw materials available for agro based industries in the old western region.
The settlers however blamed Governor Ibikunle Amosun for paying lip services to the agitations of the settlers since he came on board.
Adediran said the settlements presented their position during the sitting of a panel of inquiry on land matters set up my the state government in 2012 but that Amosun failed to implement the white paper released on the committee’s report.
A copy of the white paper distributed at the conference indicated that the government accepted the recommendations of the commission on Coker Farm settlement.
The Chairman of the settlers association, Major Adeola Olubakin however alleged that the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ronke Sokefun had been hobnobbing with the speculators.
Olubakin further alleged that the Commissioner was recently bribed with N2 million Naira by the speculators.
They however appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene alleging that Ogun State government is only after the collection of rents and not the existence of the farm.
Efforts to speak with the Commissioner was unsuccessful as calls put across to her mobile line did not deliver.
The information officer of the ministry, Rotimi Oduniyi who wad later contacted said the Commissioner was not available and that he would get across today ‘if the Permanent Secretary would be able to speak on the matter’