Farm owners in Aso-Ayegunle in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday staged a protest against the 4,000 hectares of land earmarked for the building of the proposed Ekiti Airport by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The farmers, who berated the state government for destroying their crops, also accused the state government of not compensating them since initiating the project.
They described the destruction of their cocoa trees and other valuable crops by government without prior notice ‘as “wicked and callous.”
Asking the government to relocate the airport project to the state forest reserve, they alleged that some of their members had died from shock because of the government’s insensitivity to their plight.
But the Commissioner for Information, Lanre Ogunsuyi, said the government had no plan to relocate the airport, saying all land in the state belong to government.
He said, “The project was conceived a long time ago. That land belongs to the state government. Some people are just willing to throw spanner in the wheel of progress, but we would ensure the project is a success.
“The aggrieved people have avenues for channelling their grievances. We don’t have to hold a meeting and turn anyone into a thin god in the process. If anybody wants to speak with government, there are 14 ministries they can go to.
“We have a tradition of paying compensation and we would do that. But there is no way government would surrender its power to some people. The land belongs to the government.”
The spokesman for the farmers, Mr. Ojo Awe, called on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, to speak with all relevant authorities to stop the airport project.
Faulting the state government over its action, Awe argued that the Land Decree of 1976 empowering the government to appropriate land for overriding public interest still mandates that there should be a dialogue with owners before implementation.