By Sulaimon Olanrewaju
In its characteristic disdain for the truth, Oyo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) irked the sensibilities of the good people of the state with a tissue of lies in a statement issued on Thursday, June 20, 2024, on Fasola Industrial Hub, food security in the state and the Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER).
Ordinarily, we would not have dignified the statement with any response because Oyo State residents are not only wary of the APC, they are also weary of its lies. So, the average Oyo State citizen discountenances every statement from the APC’s falsehood foundry, knowing that nothing wholesome can emanate thence. But for the sake of a few who may be beguiled by APC’s stock-in-trade, we wish to set the record straight.
To start with, Governor Seyi Makinde, being a genuine democrat, has never attempted to gag or breathe down the neck of the opposition parties or their members. The Governor, who is the father of the state, acts the part perfectly by giving everyone ample room to operate and ventilate their views without any fear. As it concerns state matters, the Governor is not partisan because of his belief that the state belongs to all, and everyone is needed to contribute their quotas for the state to attain its envisioned height. But this fact is apparently lost on members of the APC. Perhaps they need some tutoring.
The function of an opposition party is not to fabricate lies to win sympathy, neither is it to run down government functionaries to whip up sentiments. Rather, it is to consistently proffer solutions to societal challenges and offer superior arguments on pertinent issues. By so doing, it puts the ruling party on its toes and wins the respect of the populace. This positions it as a preferred alternative and brightens its chances for a possible takeover of the reins of power at the next opportunity. But in this respect, the APC in Oyo State has failed abysmally. Instead of proffering solutions and offering suggestions that can improve the fortunes of the state, it goes about like a kid, who having lost his lunch pack, insults and assaults everyone in sight. In 2024, that’s a shame.
APC, in the un-stately statement, claims that “A large chunk of the facility (Fasola Industrial Hub) has been converted into Housing Estate with most of the plots shared out among the governor and his cronies.”
That is a web of lies.
Here is the truth.
Governor Makinde inherited a dilapidated Fasola Farm Estate. But his desire to transform the state from subsistence farming into an industrialised agricultural centre primarily to boost food production, grow revenue and create employment opportunities drove him into turning Fasola into an industrial hub. The efforts are already paying off as the hub is fully built and currently there are eight multinationals operating therein. Contrary to the fabrication of the APC, Fasola is emerging as a business cluster and not a housing estate.
One of the companies operating at Fasola is FrieslandCampina WAMCO. This company sits on 200 hectares of land, where it runs its dairy activities. There is also Milkin Barn Agro Services Ltd, which occupies 150 hectares for maize cultivation and dairy production. Another company is the E4 Farms with 40 hectares for crop and dairy production. There is also the Brownhill Farms with 30 hectares for crop production and greenhouses and Zigma Ltd with 37 hectares for cashew production. The IITA-owned Generative and GOSEED Vegetative Ltd is running a cassava value chain outfit on 100 hectares of land.
Pray, with all these where is the space for a housing estate?
What the APC does not know or chooses to ignore is that Fasola Industrial Hub has become a national reference point. Early in the year, the National Project Coordinator, Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES), Sanusi Abubakar, led a team from 16 states of the federation on a field trip to Fasola. After touring the hub, the team submitted thus: “When we talk of livestock center, you cannot find this kind of arrangement that we have in Fasola Industrial Hub in any other place.”
That comment, coming from a national agency, is a badge of honour.
A few weeks back, Vice President Kashim Shettima, while commissioning the 76.67km Alao-Akala Memorial Highway constructed by the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde, had nothing but praises for the Oyo State helmsman for his exemplary leadership and commitment to the wellbeing of the people. The Vice President lauded Makinde’s agribusiness phenomenon and assured the whole state that the Federal Government would support the programme. Now, who should the people believe between the nation’s Vice President and Oyo APC?
APC also stated in its release that: “In the last five years of the PDP administration, the state government cannot bring out a single visible achievement which has a direct effect on food security or promotion of agriculture.”
This is a deliberate and malicious misrepresentation of the situation.
Here is the truth.
Under Omituntun 1.0, the government embarked on several intervention programmes for smallholder farmers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government supported 10,000 smallholder farmers with farm inputs and under the Oyo N-CARES project, the government distributed various types of inputs to smallholder farmers across the state, no fewer than 1,500 farmers benefitted from this gesture.
In Omituntun 2.0 under the Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery, the government gave 50kg bags of maize to about 2,600 poultry farmers. Similar gesture was extended to 1,000 fish farmers, cattle breeders and piggery farmers. The government also supported about 10,000 small-holder farmers with seeds and seedlings.
To bring down the cost of food items, Governor Seyi Makinde, during a meeting with farmers and traders in March 2024, announced a 50 per cent reduction in the cost of clearing farmlands. He also announced immediate suspension of revenue collection on farm produce marketed within the state for six months. All of these have significantly improved food security in the state.
Another claim by the APC is that “The Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER) was another conduit designed to hoodwink the people of the state.”
This is a blatant lie.
Here is the truth.
The Sustainable Actions for Economic Recovery (SAfER) is a proof of Governor Makinde’s original thinking. At a time when state governments were doling out N10,000 to citizens and giving some cups of grains to the people purportedly to cushion the effect of the twin policy of subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and the floating of the naira exchange rate, Oyo State Government came up with a well-thought out programme to empower the people and energise the economy. Makinde did not toe the path of palliative, instead he devised a programme that would result in economic growth.
Through the SAfER intervention, the government provided food items to needy households. It also offered subsidised transportation to students and the aged. In the same vein, free health insurance was provided for retirees, pregnant women and students. Similarly, farmers were offered support, while micro and small entrepreneurs got loans to grow their businesses.
Definitely, the 200,000 needy households that got food support as a result of the SAfER intervention would not agree with the APC that the scheme “was a conduit designed to hoodwink the people of the state.” Neither would the over 1,000,000 people across the state that benefitted from the subsidised transportation nor the over 250,000 that got enrolled free of charge on the health insurance scheme. Without a doubt, the 3,525 smallholder farmers who got low interest loans totalling N1billion and the 2,085 micro and small business owners who got a total of N500million as loans would waste no time in tagging the APC’s claim a lie.
Dear APC members, now that your lies have crumbled like a pack of cards can we have positive engagements that would foster the development of our dear state?
Olanrewaju is the Chief Press Secretary to Oyo State Governor.