Agric Ministry Clears Air On N18.9bn Bush Clearing Contract

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…Says House of Reps ‘quoted out of context’

Dr Mohammad Abubakar
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has cleared the air on the alleged query on the N18.9bn bush-clearing contract it got from the House of Representatives Committee on Public Account.

Making this clarification via a statement “Re: Reps Query Agric Ministry Over N18.9b Contract on Bush Clearing” signed by the ministry’s director, information, Dr. Joel Oruche the ministry denied getting a query on the subject from the committee.

The statement disclaimed the publication of the purported query as false and insisted that the committee “must have been quoted out of context”, as the ministry never spent such amount on bush clearing.

“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 [a] summons by the committee.”

The statement restated that the ministry did not spend N18.9 billion in bush-clearing as reported. It said, instead, that 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 N2.5 billion.

“In addition, other projects executed by the ministry during the COVID-19 period that sums up to the total sum quoted included 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 Abuja.

“All these projects were successfully executed, verified by relevant government agencies and were part of the 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.” 

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