▪︎Laud Agba, Oshiomhole, for protecting their livelihood
With less than 24 hours to the conduct of the State House of Assembly election in Edo State, representatives of sixteen agrarian local government areas, out of the original eighteen constituting the state, resolved to vote out all candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling political platform, led by the state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
The resolutions were by the various local communities, in a joint press conference held in Benin City, the state capital, and organized by the Okpamakhin Community Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the Edo State Coalition Against Landgrabbing & Deforestation (CALD).
The statement, made by Comrade Tony Erha, spokesperson of the communities, said that reasons why the communities vowed to vote out the governor’s men, were that the governor ceded out their forest reserved land and communal land to plantation company, who they described as business associates, consequent to which the communities’ environment and livelihood had been disrupted.
While commending Prince Clem Ikanade Agba and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the groups said that both men, as a former overseer of forest reserves and governor of the state, respectively, in 2015 revoked and returned to the communities over 15,000 hectares of land within the Okomu Forest Reserve and Owan Forest reserve, from individuals and plantation companies, who had grabbed them.
The communities also accused Governor Obaseki of double-standard, as they further alleged that he later handed back the revoked land to those who earlier grabbed it, despite that he, the governor, was an integral part of the state’s executive council of the former Oshiomhole’s government that revoked it.
Hon John J. Owa, Comrade Curtis Ogbebor and Mrs Margaret Arorie, leaders from the communities, added their voices to the communities’ other claims, that the governor also gave out vast areas of forest reserve land in Owan West, Owan East, Uhunmwode, Ovia South West, Ovia North East, Orhiomwon, Etsako East and others, to plantation companies, without a recourse to local communities, who are owners of the land.