By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Minister of Agriculture, and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has dismissed claims that the federal government has sealed a N25 billion egg production contract with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited.
A civil Society Organisation, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), had reportedly sued the minister at the Federal High Court, Abuja, praying the court to compel the minister to furnish it with details of the said contract.
However, speaking through his Special Adviser (Media), Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye, in Abuja, at the weekend, the minister said, CSJ acted on “mere imagination and insinuation, without any fact-check.”
Chief Ogbe said further, “The group has insinuated that the said contract was supposedly aimed at facilitating egg production in the country on a project tagged National Egg Production Scheme, NEGPRO. It is asking for a copy of the signed agreement, the contact address of the company, the newspaper where the procurement contract was advertised and the criteria for selecting Tuns Farms for the project.”
He explained, “no contract was awarded to any company or business organisation for the purpose of egg production. Rather, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
worth N25 billion on National Egg Production (NEGPRO) scheme, with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited.
“NEGPRO scheme involves many farmers who are in the business of egg production. The selection of Tuns Farms to lead the group of farmers was based on certain criteria, essentially anchored on the track records of performance. Under the terms of the deal, Tuns Farms will recommend eligible entrepreneurs to access the N25 billion facility as well as, endorse their loan requirements and application, and monitor their activities within the scheme.
“The Bank of Industry has a role in providing finance for the takeoff of the scheme, an initiative aimed at increasing egg production in the country to about 50 million table eggs daily by 2018. The scheme, which would be funded by BoI, would create one million jobs at full capacity.
“In addition, under this private sector-led initiative, the company will recommend standard specifications and costing for the scheme, monitor activities of entrepreneurs involved in the scheme, support Boi through the National Technical Committee in the selection process of commercial banks to disburse and recoup the N25 billion anchor-borrower facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as well as, select entrepreneurs and stakeholders across the country for recommendation to the Technical Committee for final ratification and appointment to participate in the scheme.
“It is therefore surprising that a group, having no knowledge of the NEGPRO scheme, would concoct allegations and choose to sue the minister on pages of newspaper and on social media to gain attention. It needs to be emphasised that the said civil rights group is not working in the interest of social justice but on a self-serving mission for some disgruntled interest groups, hiding behind a facade of civil rights activism.”
The minister urged the public to ignore the claims and allegation, which he said “contained no truth whatsoever” and dubbed the action as “a mechanism for distraction to bring discontent against the laudable, private sector-led initiative aimed at solving the problem of egg production in the country.”