The Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has defended the position of the Supervising Minister for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, on the Ogoni banana plantation, describing the state government’s project as a huge disservice to the people.
Lashing at the critics of the minister for his uncomplimentary remarks about the plantation, the party, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the state party Chairman, Jerry Needam, said those stunned by the minster’s hard knocks on the exponents of the banana plantation were feeding fat from the plantation which had allegedly impoverished the landowners the more.
The PDP regretted that up till now, the commissioner for agriculture had refused to make public the consultants to the project, and billions of naira involved in paying those ‘ghost consultants’, alleging that the real beneficiaries and management staff of the agricultural project were Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s political friends and acquaintances from outside the shores of Rivers State and Nigeria.
“Is it not wicked and inhuman that several years after its forceful acquisition, Governor Amaechi and his agriculture commissioner are yet to pay the necessary compensation to the real land owners or attend to the bereaved families whose relations lost their lives and property worth millions of naira as a result of the communal crisis generated by the land acquisition?” the party queried.
Faulting the employment of Ogoni youths in the plantation, the party noted that none of the Ogoni youths were permanent staff on the payroll of the Rivers State Government, and challenged the commissioner for agriculture and the minister’s critics to be bold enough to advance the reasons for the shortchange of the landowners or mention in practical terms how government’s forceful acquisition of Ogoni land for the plantation with no consideration to their plight does not amount to gross injustice and exploitation.
The party urged the Rivers State Government to make public names of Ogoni people employed so far, if they had employed any for the project.