By Osa Okhomina
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has commended the Federal Government for permitting TankoBos Integrated Farms owned by Mr. Paul Eris, ex-militant leader popularly known as ‘General Ogunboss’, to use a section of the 2500-hectare Peremabiri Rice Farm in Bayelsa State for rice farming.
Mr. Pereotubo Oweilaemi, president of the IYC, made the commendation at the TankoBos Integrated Farms on Tuesday when he led a delegation of the council to visit Eris at his country home in Peremabiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
He said the rice farm holds a lot of potential to create wealth and job opportunities for youths from various Ijaw communities and also help in solving youth restiveness in the Niger Delta.
“I want to commend the Federal Government for deeming it necessary to do something tangible through our brother to ensure that the people are meaningfully engaged.
“Of course, I have said it at various fora that when the Niger Delta youths are meaningfully engaged, it will curb youth restiveness in the region and this (rice farm) is one key project that can sort out the crisis situation in the region”,Oweilaemi said.
The Ijaw youth leader, however, appealed to the government to do more by establishing more agricultural projects that would absorb more youths, adding that the swampy nature of the region’s terrain enhances rice growing.
Oweilaemi assured Eris that the IYC would stand by him in the rice farm project as he (former militant leader) had proven to be a true Ijaw son who had shown sufficient interest in the progress of the Ijaw nation.
In his remarks, Eris said the 53.5-hectare farm currently has two rice milling machines with over 100 workers, having previously secured 320 bags of paddies through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in the first quarter of 2017.
He also informed that the government had also awarded him a 10-tonnage rice mill to boost production and highlighted lack of access road to Peremabiri as the greatest challenge affecting businesses in the area.