The Akwa Ibom State Government has denied that it distributed substandard boats to fish farmers following public outcry that the boats were unfit for use.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Offiong Offor wondered why people would describe the boats as unfit when the fish farmers who benefitted from the gift did not complain about the condition of the boats.
Speaking on Monday in Uyo, Offor said the boats were part of the items supplied by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), for the 2020 flood disaster and have since been distributed to the affected farmers.
She said the state government even provided logistics for the lifting of the boats and other components for the farmers, explaining that the same size and quality of boats were also supplied by NEMA to other states as part of the intervention without complaints from those states.
She mentioned that 200 fish farmers benefitted from the donation even as NEMA also supplied other components like collapsable ponds, floats, fingerlings and feeds to ameliorate the flooding.
The commissioner said, “It is not true that the boats are substandard. They are not substandard. If they are good in Rivers and Bayelsa, they will also be good in Akwa Ibom.
“What they gave to Rivers and Bayelsa which have more Riverine areas was the same thing they gave to Akwa Ibom and if the farmers in those other states are using them then they shouldn’t have shortchanged us.
Dr Offor continued, “And the fact is that the beneficiaries did not complain about the boats or its other components too. The state government even provided logistics for them to transport the components back to their different locations.
“So when people complain that the boats were substandard, it is not true. NEMA will not give anything that it’s substandard. Governor Udom Emmanuel is a man of excellence and even if they have given substandard things, the Governor will not allow us to share them. The things were also certified by our different directorates to be good.
She added, “Then the boats were in different sizes, some for small waters and others for larger bodies of water and they have started using them.
“But the interventions are in degrees and batches and the farmers that the size of boats supplied were useful for benefitted from them while others will be addressed and attended to in subsequent interventions.”
The Commissioner further revealed that the state government has also included fish farmers in the ministry’s programmes and policies, adding that other farmers were also entitled to loan facilities from the agric bank owned by the state government.
She called for understanding and constructive criticism from indigenes and residents of the state on government programmes and policies.