Why Ayade cancelled recent cocoa allocation exercise
Gov Ben Ayade’s cancelation of the recent allocation exercise of cocoa plantations to stakeholders and farmers by the Cocoa Allocation Committee is not unconnected with an alleged one-sidedness in the allocation, our reporter gathered.
Recall that a press release, signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Christian Ita, last week had stated that the Governor ordered immediate cancelation of allocation. The release did not state reasons for such abrupt action after the Governor had inaugurated and empowered the Committee to start work just few weeks ago.
However, our reporter learnt that stakeholders had accused the committee of allocating the cocoa plantations to cronies and some government officials who have no knowledge on how cocoa business is managed.
Unconfirmed reports say Ayade bowed to pressure after series of petitions, which accused the Allocation Committee of favouritism and partiality, were made available to him.
A staff in the Ministry of Agriculture who did not want his name in print told our reporter that there were glaring cases where cocoa farms were allocated to politicians who collect the farms and resell them to others for quick money. This could not be independently verified.
His words: “The Cocoa Allocation Committee is not carrying everybody along. They are allocating the farms to politicians who know nothing about running cocoa business. To those of us whose fathers and communities donated lands to government for this purpose, it is unacceptable.
“That is why violence has been erupting every now and then, and I tell you, those youths who are oppressed going by the way the farms are allocated may not want to close their eyes and watch this type of out-right impunity on their inheritances.”
Describing those he accused of short-changing government as usurpers, our source commended Gov Ayade for cancelling the allocation but urged him to monitor closely activities of his aides who he said were undermining efforts of the Governor in streamlining the business.
This is not the first time that the Allocation Committee was accused of sabotaging Ayade’s government. In November 2018, the Governor also dissolved the Allocation Committee over what residents believed was due to allocation of cocoa farms to “themselves and their girlfriends.”
Investigations also indicated that the Governor may have also heeded an appeal by Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria to reschedule the allocation of the cocoa estate till 2020 to enable them recoup their investment.
In a letter to this effect, addressed to the Governor, the association had stated that over ten thousand of its members have rented out portions of their farms to peasant farmers, and therefore the need to extend the allocation to help them recover money invested before being ejected.
It could not be ascertained what government would do about those who had already committed funds into the transaction by paying for cocoa farms allocated to them by the committee.