THE Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said it spent N2.5 billion to clear bush and not N18 billion as alleged by the House Representatives Committee on Public Account.
In a statement refuting the allegation, the ministry said N2.5 billion was spent on land preparation on 3,200 hectares in 8 states.
Signed by the Director, Information, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Joel Oruche, the statement reads, “The Attention of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has been drawn to a publication in the media on the report by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Account which stated that the sum of N18.9B was used for Bush Clearing during the Covid- 19 Lockdown.
“The Ministry wishes to state that if the statement emanated from the House Public Account Committee, the Committee must have been quoted out of context.
“To put the record straight however, the Ministry at no time received any audit query to warrant summon by the Committee.”It is also important to state that the Ministry did not spend N18.9B in bush clearing as reported.”However, the statement pointed that bush clearing, land preparation done on 3,200 hectares in 8 states at N2.5 billion.
“The Ministry only carried out Bush Clearing and Land Preparation of 3,200 hectares in 8 states of Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Cross River, Kaduna, Kwara, Plateau and Ogun States as allocated by respective State Governments at a total cost of 2.5 Billion Naira.
“In addition, other projects executed by the Ministry during the Covid – 19 period that sums up to the total sum quoted included the following:”Construction of rural roads in the Six Geo- Political Zones of the Country ,Soil Sampling and Mapping, Farmers Registration as well as Rehabilitation and the Equipping of four National Soil Laboratories in Umudike ,Ibadan ,Kaduna and FCT Abuja.
“All these projects were successfully executed and verified by relevant Government Agencies and were part of stimulus package under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme of the Federal Government to generate employment and grow the economy to mitigate the effect of Covid -19 Pandemic in 2020.”