The Ondo State Government has reassured the more than 50,000 farmers residing in the Ondo West council area that those among them occupying designated free zones will not face displacement.
Recent events saw farmers in Ilua village, situated within the Ondo West council area, taking to the streets in protest against alleged sales of their cocoa plantations and other farmland by the state government to private companies owned by individuals of Indian and Chinese origin.
Guided by the leadership of Oba Olalani Ibidapo, the traditional ruler of Ilua, the demonstrators prominently displayed placards bearing diverse messages. They voiced concerns that the state government had served them eviction notices across all 20 villages within the region, coupled with threats of compulsory removal if they did not relocate before the year’s end.
In a prompt response, the state government expressed its stance that farmers residing in established free zones would not undergo displacement. Pastor Akin Olotu, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture and Agricultural Business, emphasized that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s administration aimed not to penalize any party, but rather to effect improvements.
Olotu highlighted, “No responsible government would displace individuals in areas designated as free zones. We intend to closely examine the situation. I will extend an invitation to their representatives, and together, we will engage in constructive dialogue to find mutually beneficial solutions that accommodate their interests within our ongoing initiatives.”
He underlined the principle that governance is founded on serving the people, asserting, “Upon assessing the specifics of the situation, our course of action will become clear. Initial findings indicate that their current location is distinct from where individuals have been allocated to work.”
Olotu speculated that the current actions might be pre-emptive and indicated that government surveyors would be dispatched to verify the precise geographical details. “Should anyone be impacted,” he stated, “we will scrutinize the matter whether it involves government reserves. It is essential that parties approach our office to initiate communication and understanding.”
He further stated, “If their presence aligns with free zones, we are prepared to address the matter appropriately. Our commitment is to protect everyone’s interests; that remains paramount. The Governor’s objective is not punitive but progressive. Our intention is to achieve an equitable resolution.”
In conclusion, Olotu reiterated the government’s dedication to ensuring a harmonious outcome for all parties involved.