Edo farmers’ group distances self from Tinubu’s endorsement
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), an umbrella body for farmers, has dissociated itself from supporting Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Joel Usiagwu, factional chairman of AFAN, Edo State chapter, refuted the endorsement on the back of an earlier adoption made by Bako Dogwo, a rival chairman of the association, that farmers in Edo State will throw their weight behind Tinubu’s presidential bid.
Usiagwu, while speaking with journalists in Benin City, said Dogwo was purportedly suspended and thus, lacks the right to speak on behalf of farmers in the state.
“Recently, he granted a press interview endorsing Tinubu as the preferred presidential candidate by all the farmers in Edo State. I do not have any problem with people endorsing who they want; you can endorse Peter Obi, Rabiu Kwankwaso or Omoyele Sowore, but Bako has no locus standi or right to speak for farmers in Edo State.
Usiagwu said that he was duly elected in line with the association’s constitution and urged members to stop associating themselves with the Bako-led faction.
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“We are here to denounce him; he is not a member of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) because his suspension is still pending. A committee invited him but he refused to honor their invite and they then placed him on suspension.
“We, the Edo State AFAN, have dissociated ourselves from him. I am the authentic chairman for AFAN, Edo State chapter. I was sworn in by the chief judge of Edo State. We didn’t do our swearing in ceremony in isolation,” he said.
Responding, Bako Dogwo said the only person that can say “I am not the authentic chairman is the national body in Abuja. AFAN is not a product of Edo State government. It is an NGO recognised by government which is the umbrella body of farmers.
“Government does not interfere in the day-to-day running. If any political party comes to me I have the right to welcome any party and pray for them which I did for APC. As a traditional ruler, I have the right to do; as a Nigerian, I have the right to do so; and as the chairman of all farmers, I also have the right to do, I do not do it alone, I do it with my executive. If PDP comes to me, I will do the same. If the least party comes to me, I will do same.”
Continuing, the Usiagwu -led faction said, contrary to the statement made by Bako that the Edo State government has not done anything for farmers in the state, the Obaseki-led government has supported 1,376 small holders’ farmers with inputs under the Independent Farmers Initiative.
“The government is one of our biggest patrons; they help us have access to lands, finance. The association of poultry farmers are benefiting from Edo State government largesse.
Edo State government put a marching fund of N1bn against Bank of Industry (BoI) N1bn and poultry farmers are enjoying. We are about to make a case for fish, cassava, pig, maize farmers to also key into the programme.
When somebody says Edo State government has not done anything, that means it is tantamount to slapping your benefactor in the face,” Usiagwu added.