The government of Ekiti State will be spending N355.7 million to clear land for investors in the agricultural sector of the state.
The amount is part of the N1.8 billion earmarked for the state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the year 2020.
This is contained in the approved budget of the state for the ongoing fiscal year as published on the state government’s website, www.ekitistate.gov.ng.
The land clearing figure far exceeds what the state budgeted for job creation, which is N12.8 million.
It also about seven times the amount the state budgeted for the development of farm settlements and assistance to peasant farmers, which received N51.3 million.
The land clearing subhead is also far higher than the total funding of the Ekiti Micro-Finance and Enterprises Development for the 2020 fiscal year, which is N221.4million
The state had spent about N96.4 million on the same land clearing project last year. Officials said the project ensured the takeover of Ikun Dairy Farm by a private company.
The Kayode Fayemi-led government has N124.7 billion as its 2020 budget, N5.2 billion less than the previous year’s budget.
Also, N15 million was earmarked for corporate gifts under the Government House and Protocol, while another N20 million will be used to fund the governor’s kitchen and central laundry for the same period.
Even though the state government had spent N416.4 million in 2019 for construction and renovation within the Government House, another N525million was earmarked for the same work within the government house in 2020.
This is besides the N200 million earmarked for the renovation of the two chalets within the Government House.
Justifying the budgetary provisions, the Commissioner for Information, Muyiwa Olumilua, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in an interview, said the land would be cleared in hectares.
According to him, when investors come for land, and the forest is not cleared, it would be discouraging, noting that the clearing of the land encourages the investors to accept the place.
“What we do is that we clear the land for them, we clear in hectares and then we allocate to intending investors in agriculture,” he said.
“We did that last year and we are still doing it this year. Out of the land clearing for this year, we did for Promasidor, the company taking over the Ikun Dairy farm.
“We are not clearing a small parcel of land, we are clearing large, large expanse of land.
“Our farmers too can be involved in the project, because like the Ikun Dairy Farm project, we have a special type of grass that will be planted for the consumption of the cows. So, our farmers in Ekiti will be given the opportunity to partake in that.
“They grew the grass, harvested and sold to Ikun Dairy Farms, so everybody has a part to play.”
On the corporate gifts of N15 million, he said the amount was justifiable, arguing that the government needed to present branded gifts for its visitors on a regular basis.
“That one is normal, our budget is like 1/50th of the budget of some other states in that regards,” said Mr Olumilua.
“Every government does that, when we get visitors such as ambassadors, or other governors, we give them branded gifts.”
On the renovation of chalets in the government house, he explained that the fact that budgets were made for the projects last year did not mean that the monies were spent.
When informed that the government had spent over N400 million renovating the Government House last year, Mr Olumilua said the facility is large with different chalets, noting that the ones renovated last year would be different from the ones to be renovated this year.