The Benue State government yesterday explained that former President Olusegun Obasanjo paid a token to communities in Howe, Gwer Local Government Area, where his mango plantation that was gutted by fire is located. The token, the government said, was paid to various stakeholders including youths, women groups and traditional rulers, among others, to enable the former president to utilise the land for 25 years before handing it over to the host community. Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kester Ikyenge, gave the clarification while speaking with journalists in his office in Makurdi.
Ikyenge, who spoke through the Director of Agricultural Services in the Ministry, Mr. Thomas Unongo, said representatives of the former president in collaboration with the state government, had after reaching a truce, dropped the token to the community for the over 2,420 hectares of farm land. He said the land is one of the 150 government sites developed in the early 80’s by the then Aper Aku administration and replicated in almost all the local government areas of the state. “The state government sat with the community and the representatives of the Obasanjo farms and some token that the land will be leased out to Obasanjo farms for 25 years was paid.”