Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has declared that the burning of his 17,000 mango trees plantation in Benue state will not deter his investment in the state.
Obasanjo boasted that despite the incident, he would bounce back and increase the direct workforce from meagre 150 to over 1,000.
The former president stated this on Friday while playing host to the delegation from the Benue State and the community where the farm is located, at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The140-hectare farm located in Howe, Gwer Local Government Area of Benue State, was set ablaze January 31, 2022 by arsonists.
The incident occurred following probable disagreement with the locals over compensation for the piece of land that originally belonged to the state government.
The delegation led by the Chairman of the Gwer East Traditional Council, Dr Dominic Akpe was accompanied by the House of Assembly member representing Gwer East Constituriency, Geoffrey Agbatse, Chairman Gwer East Local Government, Ortserga Emmanuel, among others, empathised with the former president, on the burning of his mango plantation in the state.
Obasanjo, who lamented the dastardly act, said the arsonists had only delayed the vision he had for the project, adding that what had happened was not the best for the state and the community.
The former president in a statement signed by his Media assistant, Kehinde Akinyemi, said the world should not judge Benue by the action of those he described as few miscreants, who burnt his farm.
Obasanjo said the attack was the handiwork of few miscreants, an action contrary to the true reflection of the people of Benue State.
He said, “You have said it yourself that the farm employed about 150 workers before it was burnt. Our plan was for the project to provide at least 1,000 persons directly, both on the farm and when the processing factory takes off.
“What has happened was not a loss to we investors alone but to the 150 that were working on the farm before it was burnt and the people that we intend to engage in the processing factory, that had been delayed now even with the level of unemployment in the country.
“The governor did everything to make the project a reality. What they have burnt, was a pilot project for what we have in mind if things work well.
“The governor, the Tor Tiv, the bishop and other notable leaders and stakeholders, had empathised with us; they had intervened and had assured us that justice would be served.
“What has happened is not in the character of the people of Benue and particularly, the community, where the farm is located.
“Let me assure you that we are not going to leave the area. We are looking at what we can do when the rain starts. The project will only be delayed but we shall improve on what we have on the ground.
“The government had promised us the possibility of giving us more land and this will give us opportunity for bigger plantation.”
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation, Akpe, had empathised with Obasanjo on the incident.