Imo Community Worries Over Abandoned Silo Project | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Metro, Ndigbo, Region

Imo Community Worries Over Abandoned Silo Project

Posted: Jul 4, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ben Duru Umuahia

What is happening to the Federal Government of Nigeria constructed silos situated at the Ezinachi area of Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State? This is the question that has been agitating the minds of many Nigerians conversant with the establishment of the multi million naira project commenced by the administration of former President Umaru Yar Adua. As at today, the project had not been completed owing to perceived lack of interest by the immediate past administration.

The abandoned Silo Projects.

The abandoned Silo Projects.

The project located on a vast expanse of land along the Enugu/Port Harcourt highway was cited in Imo State by the then President Yar’Adua government as part of the effort of the Federal Government to show its presence in the state.

The ground breaking ceremony was attended by the high and mighty even as the Federal Government had said that the project would be done quickly so as to cater for the Strategic Grains Reserve programme of the administration.

It would be recalled that upon assuming power in 2007, the Yar Adua administration had made agriculture one of its major thrust with a promise that Nigerians would have no need to indulge in importation of food items such as rice, beans among other important food items needed by the populace.

This necessitated the ban placed on the importation of foreign rice and others into the country with the directive that state governments were urged to utilise their comparative advantage in areas to produce food items in quantum.

The construction of the silos was expected to cater for the excess grains from the South East geo political zone so as to ensure availability of grains all year round.

Several questions posed to Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina, former Minister of Agriculture and now head of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), as to why the project, the vicinity of which had been overrun by weeds, was abandoned midway to its completion did not yield direct answers.

However with few months to the conduct of the 2015 Presidential poll, there appeared to be a frenzy of activities as the federal government had started work on the project again and said it would be inaugurated after the poll.

Today, the project site has been overgrown with weeds and Nigerians are worried that the millions of naira put into the construction of the project had been left to go down the drain, even when it was clear that agriculture still remained the major thrust of the government.

They also wondered why the governors of the South East States have consistently failed to draw attention of the dilapidating state of the facility, which has turned into an abode of armed bandits as a getaway route after operating on the expressway.

But more worried are indigenes of Ezinachi community in Okigwe Local Government who said they gave up the land that used to serve as their farming centre without the payment of compensation as part of their own contribution to the development of the nation.

They explained that throughout the project they had not made any demand from the government since the understanding was that apart from forming the base of the workers at the site, its completion and inauguration would also bring in economic empowerment to the people.

“At the time the project was commenced in the community, we were all very happy that of all the communities in the state and the South East, we have been singled out to host it. As you can see, it is a gigantic project by the federal government and we believed that it would pave the way for our people to be gainfully employed and also bring economic development to the community. When the project commenced initially, it was with the speed of light and we warned the youths not to do anything that would disrupt the realisation of the project because we saw it as a well intended project both for the nation and our community. We were doing everything to ensure that nothing emanates from our own side of the bargain to disrupt the job,” said Joshua Mgbemena, a Youth Leader.

He added that “somewhere along the line we discovered that work was slowing down as the contractors handling the project would only come to site three times in a week and later twice and then once a week. When we asked them what the matter was, they refused to tell us anything, but we sensed that something had gone wrong. After a long stretch of time, the contractors stopped coming and suddenly weeds started growing inside the place. We became devastated because our young men who made a living working in the place and our women that supply them food and drinks lost their means of livelihood and we became disillusioned. When nothing happened after several months we knew that our hope of having a share of federal presence was dashed.

“Since the election was concluded, work stopped at the site and weeds are gradually over running the area. So we are appealing to the federal government to return and complete the project they started. Since they told us that agriculture would play a very important role in the life of this administration, we are appealing to President Muhammdu Buhari to investigate why the work at the silo stopped and ensure that the job is completed.”

It is hoped that the federal government will realise the importance of the project and do something to revamp it, If for no other reason, at least to give the people of Ezinachi a sense of belonging for donating their land without asking for immediate compensation and holding back their youths from causing disruption of the work by the contractors.