On Monday, a group of farmers, whose lands have been affected by the ongoing Ekiti Airport Project, staged a protest at the Governor’s office premises in Ado Ekiti, the capital of the state.
The farmers were from various towns and villages including Igbemo, Orun, Afao, Ijan, Igbogun, Bolorunduro, Iwajo, Aso, and Ago Aduloju, which fall under the local governments of Ado, Irepodun/Ifelodun, and Gbonyin.
Recall that the former governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi alongside the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika known for the “Nigerian Air” scam had on October 15, 2022, hurriedly inaugurated the agro-allied airport located along Ado-Ijan-Ekiti road amidst pomp and commendations.
The elderly farmers gathered at the Governor’s office around 9:00 am, carrying placards with messages such as “Fayemi Lied to Us,” “Oyebanji, Please Save Our Lives,” and “The Airport Project Took Our Livelihood,” to express their pleas.
They were seeking the assistance of Governor Abayomi Oyebanji and urging him to fulfill the compensation promised to them by the government.
High Chief Awe Ojo, the Edemo of Igbemo land, spoke on behalf of the distressed farmers and expressed his disappointment with former Governor Kayode Fayemi while accusing him of being insensitive and of depriving a majority of the affected farmers of their rightful compensation.
” Fayemi during the inauguration even confirmed that the majority of us have not been paid our entitlements, very few of us received the money promised after the meeting and since then the rest of us have been totally neglected. Fayemi promised to pay the remaining money but unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to it before he left office”
Chief Edemo further asserted that the number of affected farmers surpasses those present today; however, most of them are elderly and unable to undertake the arduous journey to Ado Ekiti.
” We are also here on behalf of those old men and women who could not join us today due to their failing health. It is not until they die that they should receive what is rightfully theirs, we know Governor Abayomi Oyebanji to be a man with a kind heart and a listening and that is why we are here today to appeal to him to please come to our aid.”
Other members from the impacted communities voiced their optimism, believing that the Governor would undoubtedly address their grievances.
They leveled accusations against AVM Ojuawo and Awotiku, claiming that these individuals had deceived them and obstructed their attempts to meet with the Governor. Speaking in Yoruba, the Edemo expressed deep sorrow, highlighting that certain individuals had engaged in fraudulent activities while acting as intermediaries between the government and the farmers.
” Ojuawo and Awotiku were not sincere in their dealings with us, they inserted some unknown names and certified them to collect some money we want the general public to know that we don’t know such persons none of us answers PO, AZ, or ZT in our midst. It was a fraudulent act perpetrated by those who served as intermediaries between us and the government” the Edemo concluded.
Addressing the protesters, Mr. Adedayo Olajide, the Chief Executive Secretary for Land and Housing, sought to calm the farmers and assure them that Governor Mr. Oyebanji was fully aware of their predicament and prepared to address their needs. He also reassured the farmers that the state government was committed to promptly paying their entitlements.
In response to the farmers’ allegations of fraudulent involvement by individuals with names like AZ, PO, and ZT during the initial payment, it has been revealed that those unauthorized names have been identified and removed from the process. Consequently, no one received payment under such names.
It is worth recalling that the farmers had previously staged protests at the airport site, during which former Governor of Ekiti State, John Kayode Fayemi, promised to investigate the cases of those who had not yet received their entitled payments.
The farmers, visibly distraught and shedding tears, passionately implored the state government to urgently address their demands, as some affected individuals had already passed away.