The Senator representing Ondo Central, Ayo Akinyelure, has raised an alarm that some aides of the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, are taking advantage of his ill health to sell some state assets.
Akinyelure made disclosed this to journalists in Abuja, stating that it was important for him to stop such adventure with his position as a lawmaker that was democratically elected to represent the people of Ondo State.
The senator alleged that the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Pastor Akinola Olotu, is conniving with some people to illegally sell the Ondo State chocolate factory worth between N9 billion and N15 billion at a give-away price of N10 million.
“The Ondo State Government under the immediate past administration of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, established the Coca Processing Factory as part of his state-wide industrialisation drive, by taking over the moribund Federal Government Asset and entering into a partnership with an American chocolate industrialist, Eric Reid of Spangvola Chocolatier United States of America to convert dried Cocoa bean from the state to chocolate and cocoa butter, thereby adding value to Nigeria cocoa produce before export
“The machinery for the smooth take-off of this very important Industry in Idanre was imported, installed and equipped for commencement of production in partnership with Mr Eric of Spangvola Chocolatiers, USA, while the first batch of Chocolate production was made after the commissioning of this multi-billion naira project by the state government at the twilight of the Governor Olusegun Mimiko Administration in 2015.
“To guarantee a constant supply of cocoa beans to the factory, the Oda Cocoa Plantation, which is over 1,744 Hectares, was resuscitated and made functional with over 250 Cocoa farmers’ up-scaling daily production from the farm to feed the factory,”he said.
Akinyelure added that the masterminds planned to sell off the industry under the guise that the asset was non-operational, not minding the huge investment of over N9 billion the state government had committed to the project and the time of the governor’s ill-health was the time for them to carry out their “evil plan.”
“Some cronies of the Government of Ondo State including the Senior Special Assistant on Agriculture had concluded arrangement to sell the same factory at the give-away price at the detriment of people of Ondo State and Idanre Local Government in particular without following due process in line with provisions of the Public Enterprise (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act, 1999, which has generated public outcry to stop the Government from selling the property of Ondo State meant to generate employment for the good people of the state now and in future.
“These people are taking advantage of the ill health of the governor to sell state-owned properties to themselves. By God’s grace, the governor will get better,” the senator added.
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture,Olotu, has denied the allegations, saying due diligence was followed in the selling of the chocolate factory.
“What does Akinyelure know about the chocolate factory? Does he know the current situation of the place?
“The factory was set up before the coming of this administration but it was not functioning. Mr Governor looked at it to make sure one or two things are put in place to make sure that the place works. After that, the consultant that was managing the place was invited. He is a Caribbean based in America. In our interactions with him, when he got back, he was furious due to bad management.
“Eventually, we were able to work out something, and the place was declared open. Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck and he couldn’t come to Nigeria after the first visit. Then the Nigerians were trained, were managing the place, till their leader died,” he said.
Olotu noted that the government could not run the factory, adding that, “Akinyelure was just playing to the gallery.”
He further stated that the sale of the factory was announced nationwide for bidders to apply, but he is surprised to hear that he was accused of secretly trying to sell a government asset.
Olotu insisted that due process was followed in the process of selling the chocolate factory.
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