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Shonga Farms: KWSG Is Deliberately Peddling Falsehood -Otunba Anu Ibiwoye

Information dissemination is very important, particularly from Govt to the people, but it is worrisome to have a government that is not only putting out misleading information but more distressing is to have a government peddling perfidious falsehood. 

One of my first assignments as a Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture and Rural Water was to visit SHONGA Farms to have a first hand assessment of the status of the farm as most of the information hitherto available about farm as put out there by the opposition to the previous People's Democratic Party, PDP, government (of which I was a part at the time) was one that the Shonga farm project was a massive fraud and that the farm was in fact “moribund”. 

So having joined the government of HE Abdulfatah Ahmed as Special Adviser on Agriculture it was clear I could not avoid questions on SHONGA farms, so I went there to see what was on ground for myself firsthand . 

The issues at the time were as follows:

1. That Shonga farm was a fraud and moribund.

Everything I saw at Shonga Farm at the time of my visit could not we confirm the above. What I saw was quite impressive and there are pictures to support that Shonga was working well. 

2. That Shonga farms was not working as the people of Kwara have nothing to show for the State government’s huge investment in the Venture. 

3. It was alleged That HE Dr. Bukola Saraki was the owner of the farm. 

4. That the people of Kwara were not benefiting from Shonga and could not see the products of the farm anywhere. 

What I saw on ground was contrary to all of the above in all ramifications. 

The first thing I did was to check the definition of “Moribund “ and that word suggests something that does not exist or is not functioning. What I saw is a sharp contrast to that allusion. I was not only surprised with what I saw on ground but I was very impressed with the amount of investments that was going on there, particularly in both the Poultry and Dairy Business Syndicates I visited. 

At that time in 2015 the Shonga Poultry syndicate was arguably the biggest poultry set up in west Africa producing 35,000 broilers birds a week and by 2017 they had increased the production capacity to 70,000 broiler birds a week , and had also set up a hatchery and expanded the production capacity employing over 1000 Kwarans working in Shonga. 

In 2018, HE Dr. Abubakar Saraki visited Shonga Farms in company of the CBN Governor Mr. Godwin Emiefele who was not only elated by what he saw on ground that day but also offered Shonga Farms a CBN Expansion Facility to the tune of N2 Billion. 

Based on the agitation from the press and interested Kwara Citizens, I initated a press tour of Shonga farms and some interested individuals who didn’t have the right perspective of Shonga farms to go and have first hand experience of the farm. This act of opening up the Shonga farm which hitherto seemed to be shrouded in mystery and secrecy helped to dispel some of the lies, rumors and misconceptions about the Shonga Farms. 

We went a step further to invite on the Idofian radio station the General Manger of Shonga Holdings at the time Mr Bayo Shongobiyi at the instance of Elder Oyin Zubair to explain the ownership structure of the Shonga Farms for public enlightenment. 

The GM of Shonga on radio that explained the owner of Shonga Holdings as follows: 

KWSG holds 25% while 5 Banks hold jointly 75%( GTB 15%, Acess Bank (Former Intercontinental Bank 15% , Unity Bank 15%FBN and FCMB 15%). 

From the Above it is established that neither HE Dr Bukola Saraki nor HE Abdulfatah Ahmed nor any Kwara or individual for that matter has any shares in Shonga Farms either directly or by proxy outside of the 6 entities ( KWSG & the 5 Banks).

Also we got the management of Shonga Farms Holding at that time to open up two outlets in ilorin where it’s products could be easily accessed by KWARA citizens and this done by opening one outlet at Asa dam road and the other at Yoruba Road. 

A documentary on Shonga Farms available on YouTube (Shonga Farms: 17,000 hectares of Green Gold) puts information about the farm and its potentials at the disposal of kwarans and this has further helped to dispell previous runouts misconceptions and lies about the Shonga farm project. 

With all these information made available in public space from 2016, you will observe the agitations to get information on Shonga abated as the people had some information to questions and issues agitating their minds prior to that time. 

For clarity and with every sense of responsibility based on information available to my office as Special Adviser on Agriculture from 2015-2019 I make the following assertions. 

1. This is the Shareholding Structure of Shonga Holding from inception to date. 

Of the 100% shareholding, KWSG holds 25% while 5 Banks hold jointly 75%( GTB 15%, Acess Bank (Former Intercontinental Bank 15% , Unity Bank 15%FBN and FCMB 15%). 
From the above it is clear that No individual has any shares in Shonga Holdings limited. 

2. Also the Kwara State Government has an additional 10% stake in the Shonga Poultry syndicate which today is worth about N5billion and from which the State government receives annual dividends. 

3. Shonga Farms currently employs thousands of Kwarans and is currently contributing to food security in Nigeria and boosting the Economy of Kwara State and I expect that the State Government would understand that it has the responsibility to do everything possible to save that institution collapse rather than playing politics with such strategic State investment. 

4. From the information available to my office as SA Agriculture and as a Banker, it is not possible for a State Government to pledge physical State Government assets to secure a bank loan or facility. Conventional practice is that State Government borrowing from Banks usually sign an Irevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) which empowers the banks to deduct monies owed by the State Govt directly from the state government account at source from its FAAC allocation. 

Today HE Abdulrahman Abdulrazak is Governor of Kwara State, He needs to rise above primordial sentiments to understand that he was elected by Kwarans and also remember that he has taken an oath of office to among other things protect the assets from the state.  

It will therefore be tragic and inexcusable to allow AMCON seize assets of the state that is contributing to economic development, creating employment for thousands of Kwara Citizens regardless of the prevailing circumstances. 

Secondly, Shonga Holdings Limited is a going concern. out of it’s outstanding debt of about about N2.7 billion, The shareholders and directors have been able to pay N1 Billion leaving about N1.7 billion left. This implies that about less than N200million is required to be paid by each of 6 directors or N 350million amongst the 5 bank Shareholders. 

So the question is that is it reasonable to loose a state investment of such magnitude playing politics of bitterness or because of N350million?

The answer is a resounding NO!!!

The truth is always Sancrosant and no
Matter how long and how far lies go, the truth will always overtake it and prevail. 

We are all stakeholders in Project Kwara and as responsible citizens we must uphold the truth and project the truth at all times.

Otunba Anu Ibiwoye.
Former Special Adviser (Agriculture & Rural Water Supply) to Former Kwara State Governor.

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