No contract awarded on egg production —Agric ministry

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has  urged Nigerians to disregard the report allegeding that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, was involvement in an alleged N25 billion egg production contract scandal, in which a group had dragged him to court over.

It will be recalled that group, Centre for Social Justice, had reportedly sued the minister at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the contract in which it said the minister had awarded to to it.

The group had alleged that the said contract was aimed at facilitating egg production in the country on a project tagged National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO).

The mininstry, in a statement issued by Dr Olukayode Oyeleye, Special Assistant to the minister on media, said the group is acting on mere “imagination and insinuation, without any fact check.”

The ministry, which said there was no contract was awarded to any company or business organisation for the purpose of egg production, explained that “rather, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth N25 billion on National Egg Production (NEGPRO) scheme, with Tuns Farms Nigeria Limited.”

According to the ministry, the NEGPRO scheme involves many farmers who are in the business of egg production and the selection of Tuns Farms to lead to lead the group of farmers was based on certain criteria, “essentially anchored on the track records of performance.

“Under the terms of the deal, Tuns Farms will recommend eligible entrepreneurs to access the N25 billion facility as well as endorse their loan requirements and application, and monitor their activities within the scheme.”

Explaining that the Bank of Industry (BoI) has a role in providing finance for the takeoff of the scheme an initiative aimed at increasing egg production in the country to about 50 million table eggs daily by 2018, the ministry said the  scheme, which would be funded by BoI, would create one million jobs at full capacity.

The ministry said given that Centre for Social Justice had nothing to do with agriculture, it was, therefore surprising that it would “concoct allegations and choose to sue the honourable minister on pages of newspaper and on social media to gain attention and sympathy.

“It needs to be emphasised that the said civil rights group is not working in the interest of social justice but on a self-serving mission for some disgruntled interest groups, hiding behind a facade of civil rights activism.

“Accordingly, the public is hereby urged to discountenance the agitators, their allegations and false claims as their accusations contain no truth whatsoever. Rather, they are a mechanism for distraction to bring discontent against the laudable initiative of the Honourable Minister who understands the problems of the poultry sector and has come up with a private sector-led solution to increasing egg production in Nigeria.”