Vanguard (Lagos)

19 January 2013

Nigeria: N60 Million Cell Phone Project - Activist Calls for Sack of Agric Minister, Others

Human right activist, Alhaji Joseph Atseyinku, has lent weight to growing criticisms against the plan by the Federal Government to purchase cell phones for ten million rural farmers across Nigeria. The project which is expected to gulp a total sum of N60m has generated ripples in different parts.

Atseyinku is calling for the immediate sack of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Ayo Adesina, the minister of state for agriculture, Alhaji Bukar Tijani, the Director General, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Jose Manuel Silva and a Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Pastor Steven Enamamu.

The activist accused them yesterday in Sapele, Delta State of, "lack understanding of the true picture of the ailing economy of this nation, how to find lasting solutions to the major challenges facing rural farmers, and how to improve food production, particularly in this post flood era in most parts of the country."

Alhaji Atseyinku said rather than planning to procure cell phones for rural farmers, the federal government would have planned for a special low cost package for information dissemination among farmers with a view to reducing the cost of making calls for the farmers.

He questioned why the federal government was in a hurry to procure cell phones for the farmers, when nearly all the farmers in Nigeria and in West Africa at large already have cell phones but are grapping with the high cost of making calls.

Alhaji Atseyinku linked the move of federal government to, doing what is less important at a huge cost only to enrich some highly placed persons and said those who are sponsoring the plan have hidden agenda to further convert the funds of this nation into their private pockets.

The activist said in the last ten years, the federal government has spent so much money on the WB rural telephone project, meant for farmers, without any remarkable success and wonder why it has further gone ahead to plan to purchase phones for farmers when over 110 million cell phones are already in use in Nigeria alone, and called on the federal government to desist from such policy which he said misplaces priority and encourages wasteful spending, particularly as the government intends to borrow money to finance development project in the country.

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