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Cross River State to train 600 under World Bank grant


Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade

Cross River State Government will soon commence the training of 600 farmers under the $30 million World Bank Commercial Agriculture Development project (CADP) grant.

Already, rumours are making the rounds in the social media that the state is “to Lose $30m World Bank CADP investment…as a result of the Governor (Senator Ben Ayade’s) refusal to sign the CADP list of successful candidates.

According to the rumours, accent for the training of the last set of farmers in the current agreement is being withheld because all of Ayade’s supposed candidates, who are predominantly his family members, allegedly failed to make it at the interview stage.

But the State Project Coordinator of the Commercial Agriculture Development Project, Mr. Ducham Amah, denied the allegations, saying, they are not true as the CADP got $26.5million World Bank Agriculture grant, and much of the money had been spent, while the Governor had approved $1.7billion, which is the sum total of all outstanding for the training and empowerment programme.

He explained that each of the beneficiaries gets between N2million and N2.4million, saying: “late last year, we started the recruitment of another batch. What is happening here is happening in the other four states. Each state was to add additional youths and women so we advertised in two national newspapers and in the State Tender Journal in December. So the youths and women came for interview (written and oral). A total of 2,800 of them came for the interview at the centres in Calabar, Ikom and Ogoja.

“Even after that those who could not attend were given the opportunity to attend in Calabar. At the end of the exercise, 1,570 were successful in the interview out of which the World Bank said we should select 600 from there to be trained and if funds are left we can take care of the other 970.

“The process that we used in selecting the 600 from the 1,570 is what we called the random sampling method and was supervised by the Commissioner for Agriculture and some of the legislators. We forwarded the list of 600 to the World Bank and to His Excellency, and two months ago he (Ayade) approved that list. He not only approved the list, but also approved the sum of N85 million being the budget for the training of this 600 in Songhai Farm, and they are to commence their training this month.

“Not only that, we have also sent a proposal to him for the empowerment of this 600 and he has approved the sum of N1.5 billion to be spent on the empowerment and the beneficiaries have even sent a message to His Excellency congratulating him for being so generous to the youths and women. The National Youth Council is also happy with the programme in the state and wishing that same programme could be extended to other states. In addition, the governor is making arrangement to ensure the release of the state contribution which is the counterpart fund is released to the project so that we can take more youths. The project was supposed to end November 2016, but the World Bank had granted another extension so that we can train and empower this set of youths and women.”

Amah, who advised the media and members of the public to always cross check facts before going public, explained that five states were chosen by the World Bank for the programme and “the whole five states have the sum of $150 million and each state has $26.34 million while the national office has the remaining balance. So it is not correct to say the amount is $30 million per state. Recall that we have done seven years after the first five years, two years extension was given and we have utilised much of the funds and if we implement what His Excellency has approved, we would have exhausted the funds so there is no story of saying some money will be left for the World Bank to take back.

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