Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun
By Yinka Kolawole
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has said his rural transformation agenda cannot be compared with the moribund Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI), which was set up by the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida, during the military era.
Speaking during a meeting with officials of the World Bank and representatives
of the National Planning Commission (NPC) at the Government House, Aregbesola cautioned the officials never to use DFFRI as a basis to examine his administration’s development plan for the rural areas.
Aregbesola’s clarification came on the heels of a remark by the leader of the team, Mr. Nicholas Peters, while also commending Aregbesola’s commitment to the development of agriculture.
He said DFFRI in conception and execution, was a scam that had no interest of the people at heart.
DFRRI was established by Babangida ostensibly to fast-track development in the rural areas by opening up roads to rural areas as a way of helping farmers and other dwellers.
However, the governor told the Joint World Bank
French Development Agency Mission on Rural Access and Mobility Project that because his administration was poised to use agriculture as a catalyst for rapid transformation of the state’s economy, DFRRI could not be used as a yardstick to compare both policies.
He said: “Don’t use DFFRI as a standard for my rural development plan. DFFRI was ill-conceived and badly implemented. It was an avenue to rip off our people. It was a scam; a disaster which left people poorer than it met them. You cannot then use such a scam to measure our own rural development plan in Osun.”
The governor also explained that it was for this determination that his government had embarked on opening up of roads that lead to vast areas of farmlands in the state, adding that with such projects, farmers would not be able to transport their farm produce to ready markets in urban areas of the state.
He listed some of the farm settlements where his administration had acquired about 30,000 hectares of lands for agricultural purposes as Mokore, Patara, Oyere-Aborisade, Oke Osun, Esa –Oke and Iwo farm settlements.
The governor assured farmers that roads leading to all these rural farm settlements would be completed to accelerate the process of transporting foods items.
“This is the only way for us to banish hunger. This is the only way to banish poverty. Importation of food items to us is unacceptable and if God has blessed us with fertile lands, why cann’t we use agriculture to catalyse development here?” the governor asked.