By Anayo Okoli/Eric Ugbor UMUAIA—
THE Federal Government yesterday apologized to the people of South East over the destructive activities of herdsmen in the area and assured that permanent solution was being worked out to stop them from destroying crops and farmland. The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh who made the apology on behalf of the Federal Government also said that he has been a victim as the herdsmen had invaded and destroyed crops in his farm.
According to him, the Federal Government was seriously working out modalities to end the menace of the herdsmen, who he said have no right to carry about AK 47, with which they harass farmers.
Ogbeh who was reacting to issues and questions on herdsmen attacks raised at the a Federal Government organized Town Hall meeting in Umuahia, said “I sincerely apologized to those whose crops were destroyed by the herdsmen; I was a victim, they have invaded my farm and destroyed crops; but please nobody is happy about their activities. “We are working hard to stop them, they have no right to carry AK 47, the army or police cannot follow the herdsmen around, but the Government is doing everything to find a lasting solution an may be in a few months you will see the result”.
Earlier in his contribution to the meeting, the Minister expressed disappointed that Abia State Government, both the past ones allowed the legacy late Dr. Michael Okpara, former Premiere of Eastern Nigeria built in the area of agriculture, particularly palm produce. He lamented that 17, 000 hectares of palm established by the late Okpara has been abandoned while Nigerian suffer under the yoke of high cost of palm oil.
Other ministers who spoke at the Town Hall meeting anchored by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, include Labour and Productivity Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige; Investment Minister, Okechukwu Enelama, and Minister of State, Solid Minerals, Alhaji Abubakar Buhari Bawa. Ngige in his contribution said that the Buhari administration has not abandoned the zone and named many dilapidated Federal roads where intensive work is going on even as he urged Governor Ikpeazu to do Federal roads in his State and tender bills for refund, insisting that the Federal would refund such money if the job was well done. In his speech, Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed assured Nigerians that the recovered funds from corrupt Nigerians were well kept and would be used to fund infrastructural deficit and complement the social investment programmes of the Federal Government.
The minister blamed corruption for all the multi faceted problems confronting the country. Alhaji Mohammed also told the people that there was no cause for alarm over president Buhari’s health as he is neither critically ill nor in the hospital, insisting that there was nothing to worry about the health of the president.
He said “no economy in the world can survive the quantum of looting that happened in the country in the past 16 years and it is because of such massive corruption that the country is suffering her present woes including high cost in the prices of goods and other living conditions of Nigerians. “Money that was meant to fix infrastructure was looted by few Nigerians to the extent that the economy was crippled.
We would first fight corruption and at the same time face the challenges of fixing our infrastructures and better the lives of Nigerians”. The minister stressed that the “Programme Change Begins with Me” was targeted at achieving attitudinal change in the way Nigerians do things, saying that the town hall meeting would provide opportunity for the government to interact with the people and feel their impulse on the activities of government.
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