Group Wants Okpobiri Removed as Minister

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BAYELSA Integrated Farmers Union, BIFU, a socio-political organisation, has accused the Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of State for Agriculture, over alleged lack of support for farmers in the state.

The group was reacting to a comment credited to Lokpobiri at the weekend when he called on Bayelsans to take to farming as a means of fighting hunger in view of the prevailing economic situation in the country.

Tarila Beralati, president of BIFU, in a statement issued on Monday, September 12, in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa Sate, on behalf of the group, described the minister as a “monumental failure” and saying that his comments on farming was “uncharitable”.

The statement alleged that since Lokpobiri became minister, he had failed to come to the aid of farmers in the state either through loan or any other incentives to support agriculture in the state.

It compared the minister with his counterparts in other states and averred that Lokpobiri lacked the moral sanctity to tell Bayelsans to take to farming since he could not use his position to promote agriculture in the state.

“It is a shame that since the minister’s appointment close to two years ago, he has not deemed it fit to attract federal government agric loans to farmers in the state as his counterpart has done to farmers in his home state of Benue. So why such hypocrisy on farming when he came home at the weekend when as a minister he cannot assist his own people on the same matter? The group queried.

The BIFU further lashed out at the minister for “failing woefully” to attend to the needs of the farmers in the state who, it claimed, had written to him on many occasions to support their efforts at getting fertilizer at subsidized rate like their counterparts in the north but to no avail.

The group, while calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Lokpobiri and replace him with a more competent person from the state, argued that even in his own Ekeremor Local Government, the minister could not support farmers to engage in any meaningful agriculture practice.

“If the minister is serious, he would have collaborated with the state government on a number of key initiatives and investments in agriculture that will ensure food security and add great value to the national economy. Instead he is busy playing politics with his office by teaming up with questionable characters like Lionel Jonathan, who is a serial defaulter of federal government agric loans running into hundreds of millions. It is a shame that for a government that is well known for its anti-corruption campaign, it has not deemed it necessary to prosecute the likes of Lionel Jonathan for misappropriating federal government loans in the guise of agric projects,” it stated.

— Sep 12, 2016 @ 17:30 GMT

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