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18
August
2022

Agriculture Ministry denies spending N18.9 billion on bush clearing contracts during COVID-19 lockdown

Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has rejected claims it spent N18.9 billion on a bush clearing contract during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Ministry disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday through its Director of Information in the ministry, Dr Joel Oruche, in Abuja, according to NAN.

It stated that it only carried out bush clearing and land preparation of 3,200 hectares in eight states of the federation

The ministry said it only carried out bush clearing and land preparation of 3,200 hectares in eight states of the federation, including Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Cross River, Kaduna, Kwara, Plateau and Ogun, at a total cost of N2.5 billion.

The ministry added that other projects executed during the COVID–19 period that summed up to the total sum quoted included the construction of rural roads in the six geo-political zones of the country. It also includes soil sampling and mapping, farmers registration and rehabilitation, and equipping of four national soil laboratories in Umudike, Ibadan, Kaduna and Abuja.

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 summon by the committee,” Oruche said

He added that the various projects were part of a stimulus package under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme of the Federal Government to generate employment and grow the economy in order to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

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