Ekiti State Government on Monday paid financial compensation to the tune of N500 million to 700 land owners whose lands were acquired for the state’s Agro-allied Cargo Airport project.
The affected land owners, mainly farmers, were presented with checks of varying sums by the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi at the Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Ado-Ekiti.
The event coincided with the formal handing over of the project site to the main contractor to commence the construction of the 3.2 kilometres runway.
Dr Fayemi said a total 4,017 hectares of land was acquired for the airport project, adding that his administration’s infrastructure and industrial development agenda was aimed at connecting the state’s agribusiness industry to global market through an Agro-allied Cargo Airport.
The Governor thanked traditional rulers in the affected areas for resolving, amicably, communal conflicts that would have arisen from the initial challenges encountered during the enumeration of crops on the acquired land.
While commending the affected land owners and communities for their support and cooperation with government officials during the enumeration exercise, Dr Fayemi further solicited for their continued support and cooperation to ensure that the project, which is capable of generating thousands of jobs for teeming unemployed youth , is completed on time and without hindrance.
According to him, “The next fifteen months will be crucial for this project and as we all know, it is only in an atmosphere of peace and harmony that meaningful development can take place. It is imperative therefore that you shun any act capable of disturbing the prevailing atmosphere of peace and harmony in the project site and the State as a whole.
The Governor urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the fund purposefully by using it to expand their farms saying Ekiti was an agrarian state with farming as the mainstay of the economy.
He noted that the state has not been able to maximize the potentials of its comparative advantage on agriculture due the absence of the required infrastructure.
He said the desire to address some of these infrastructural deficiencies informed the decision of his government to make agribusiness a cardinal program with the hope that the ongoing construction of rural access roads would facilitate easy movement of farm produce to end users.
“It is pertinent to restate here that the State Government embarked on the construction of the Agro-Allied Cargo Airport to market the State’s potential and abilities in agribusiness, and to also improve the attractiveness of Ekiti as an investment destination.
The Airport, when completed will positively transform the economy of the State, attract investment and create more job opportunities for our people. Agricultural products such as cassava, oil palm, cocoa, cashew, timber, rice, plantain and banana and others will be better marketed locally and internationally when the Airport becomes operational.
“I urge our people to see the project as their personal project and protect it. I advise individuals engaging in the destruction of pillars and other infrastructure at the project site to desist from the dastardly act. There is legislation against wilful damage of government property, therefore, anybody caught in the act of vandalism will be made to face the wrath of the law.” The Governor said.
Earlier, the Director General/Special Adviser to the Governor on Land Matters, Mrs. Olufunke Falodun had commended Governor Fayemi for providing leadership that has enhanced accelerated development in the state and for approving compensation to landowners.
Mrs Falodun highlighted the benefits of the airport to include boosting the untapped tourism potentials of the state as well as accelerating the growth of the emerging health tourism and promote the movement of agricultural produce and products in and out of the state.