Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, might have placed his finger firmly on why several agricultural and job creation schemes by government in the past failed to yield the desired results as most of the people who applied for inclusion in the state’s agricultural programme were found to be “fake farmers”.
Okowa revealed that over 70 percent of the applicants in the multinational agricultural empowerment scheme who claimed to be farmers were found not to be farmers during a verification exercise carried out by his government.
Specifically, the governor said that when verification was done to authenticate the list of thousands of farmers from across the state applying for the state’s agricultural loans, “only 25 percent of the first list prepared and submitted were real farmers.”
The governor made the startling revelation as the special guest of honour at the 2015 Media Week organised by the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) held in Asaba on Wednesday.
The theme of the Media Week is “Reporting Okowa’s S.M.A.R.T Agenda: What Benefits To Deltans.”
Okowa, who took the opportunity to reel out some of the programmes, activities and achievements of his administration so far, however, expressed happiness that past beneficiaries of the state’s microcredit schemes had begun to pay back the soft loans they received following recent enlightenment and encouragement by the government.
The governor stressed the importance of the press in the development of a peaceful, progressive and egalitarian society where meaningful development was possible, while noting that this task placed a “huge moral burden on the media practitioner” he must ensure fairness and balance while remaining objective and truthful
Okowa said, “As far as I am concerned, if a reporter publishes the truth, it is for the good of the society, as long as the principles of fairness, equity, observance of professional ethics and balance are followed.
“What is unacceptable is to embark on creative writing and invention of sensational stories to discredit government or persons; you cannot build on falsehood and expect it to stand, because, sooner or later, it will surely crumble.”
“It is important for government to allow the journalists to carry out their watchdog role in the society if any positive impact is to be made in socio-economic and political development of the society.