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Monday, March 4, 2024

Crises Rock Agric Ministry, Trouble Over Appointments, FG Grant To Farmers



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The department of fisheries of the federal ministry of agriculture is
currently enmeshed in crises that could render the hope for the
nation’s self-sufficiency in fish production into a mere pipe dream,
if not handled with dispatch.

The crises according to sources, alleged that trouble started when a
new Acting Director, one Deaconess Foluke Areola was arbitrarily
appointed for the Fisheries department, over and above a list of about
four substantive Deputy Directors. The neglected Deputy Directors
include A.N Atanda, A. O Cheke, A.O Abioye, and M. Muazu who are all
at least two years her senior on the job and in hierarchy.

Ministry sources who spoke to journalists during a two-day workshop in
Awka, Anambra state claimed that as soon as the acting director moved
in from the Quarantines Department took over the reins of power in the
Fisheries department, she allegedly invested all manner of tactics to
frustrate, intimidate, embarrass and disgrace all the four senior
principal officers into submission or be shown the way out.
Apparently, our sources revealed were with a view to frustrating them
out of service and the way since it was alleged she enjoys a very
chummy relationship with the Minister, Dr Akinwunmi Adeshina.

It was also suspected the Minister may not know about all the
undercurrent moves and effects of Areola’s actions.

One such unilateral act of hers was denying them the opportunity of
going for an oral promotion interview after successfully undergoing
the written examinations for the substantive position of the director
in the department.

It was alleged that because the Deaconess was not as experienced as
any of the senior Directors she now regularly employ the use of
intimidation, questionable suspension orders from the Human Resources
department, and some Commissioners(names withheld)in the Civil Service
commission to perpetrate her agenda of dealing with the officers or
any other person so that she would continue run a one- man- show
affair in the department like her private estate. All these which
according to internal sources have negatively impacted on the
production of fish in the country contrary to the President Goodluck
Jonathan’s reformation agenda on fish production/sufficiency and
export to the outside world.

A stakeholder in fish production and National President of the Fish
Farm Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Chief Maurice Ebo while
reacting to the development described it as unfortunate and
demoralizing, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to set up a panel
of enquiry to look into the activities of the newly appointed director
who has impaired the initial high hopes fish development in the
country .

He alleged that the a whole confusion has given room for the
unilateral frustration and disbursement of the about Nine hundred
million naira (N900m)funds from the tripartite contract agreement
signed by the Fish Farm Estate Developers Association, Fidelity Bank
Plc and the (FG) Fisheries Department . He pointed out that the whole
money has been withdrawn to almost zero level with the Acting director
signing out money to un known beneficiaries who were never part of the
arrangement. That she achieved this through manipulating the
stipulations of the tripartite agreement and the relevant signatories
to the account. The banks were also required to explain what has been
going on.

Chief Maurice Ebo disclosed that the first tranche of N600m which was
released under the era of the late President Musa Shehu Yar’Adua saw
the disappearance of about N160 m. And since then, more funds have
gone down the drain without any accountability since the new
inexperienced Acting Director could not account for those she has been
disbursing the funds to. he bemoaned the situation where none of the
registered fish farmers has received any loan subvention from the fund
since Areola took over. He therefore want the acting director to tell
the world what she has done with the money meant to boost fish
production in the country .” This recklessness in disbursement of
funds must stop, she has used everything at her disposal to keep our
association in disarray , there is no transparency in her policy
implementation”, Chief Ebo emphasized.

He accused the acting Director suffusing the Minister of Agriculture
with lies that the project has failed so that she can do whatever she
likes with the resources.

Every effort so far made by the Fish Farm Estate Developers
Association to have audience with the minister since he assumed office
has always been frustrated . He pointed out that the minister could
not keep the six different written appointments he had fixed with the
group which he noted gives an indication that the minister is acting
out the scripts written by Deaconess Areola who has been shielding him
away from stakeholders in the ministry.

He however called on the minister of agriculture to look into the
department of fisheries and see how he can restore normalcy into the
system to justify the huge investment of the President Jonathan’s
administration in the sector .

Chief Ebo also urged the senate committee on agriculture to beam their
search light on the department as part of their over sight function to
ensure accountability as the present development in the federal
fishery department if not checked on time may snowball into monumental
national disgrace .

He said that only about only 60 of his members had benefitted form the
special funds, long before the coming of Areola and Adeshina. And that
his group may be forced to consider court action for redress if the
acting director continue to waste fully disburse the fund she knew
nothing about as she was not in the department when the deal was


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