Bayelsa Govt warns 500 Agric trainees over planned protest in Benin Republic

By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa State government Monday warned the 500 youths under the sponsorship of the state for the agricultural training programme at the Songhai International Farms, Port Novo in the Benin Republic over planned protest against poor welfare and allowances.

The youths, who are beneficiaries of the state empowerment and training programme reportedly issued a warning to the state government asking to be  treated as ex-militants in the Federal Government’s ongoing amnesty programme with a monthly take home pay of between N30,000 and N50,000 monthly.

Some of the youths,Vanguard findings reveal have vowed return to Yenagoa insisting that the N10,000 monthly stipends given to them was not enough.

Those who spoke to Vanguard on phone from their base in Benin Republic described the N10,000 as meagre noting that the amount which is mere CFA 30,000 on conversion leaves them with little or nothing to remit to their families back home in Yenagoa after buying their toiletries and other essentials.

“We have packed our things and are ready  to return to Yenagoa. We have families back home to cater for. It is a pathetic situation here. The money we get after converting it to the local currency here is CFA30,000 and there is nothing left to remit to our families after buying our toiletries and other essentials,” said one of them who pleaded anonymity.

But the state government yesterday through the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Thomas Commander, flayed the demand of the youths as “uncalled for” and a show of ingratitude to the state government for the empowerment programme for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.

According to the Commissioner,” the state government had approved the training of 500 youths in agriculture at the Songhai International Farms in Port Novo, Republic of Benin but the beneficiaries, according to security reports, rather than reciprocating the gesture of government are demanding for N50,000 monthly allowances.”

“‘Bayelsa State government is paying each beneficiary of the scheme N10,000 monthly, aside tuition, feeding and other payments but they are saying the money is not enough and they need between N30,000 and N50,000 as a compulsory condition for government to bear.

“Our Governor being a man that is out to restore and bring sanity to the system and ensure that things are put right, has said that he will not do that. He wants the committed ones to undergo the training while those who are not ready should come back home. We are now bent on implementing his position.”

“Those that are causing the problem will be fished out and sanctioned and every effort will be put in place to ensure that the programme succeeds.Blaming some disgruntled politicians of attempting to scuttle the developmental programmes of the present administration, the Commissioner disclosed that the recalcitrant ones among the beneficiaries are being sponsored for political reasons.”

“We have every reason to believe that they are being sponsored because the way they are going about the matter is unusual. Initially, they were all very appreciative.

“The governor addressed them and they gave him the commitment that they will do well, when they get there. However, just within a twinkle of an eye, their attitude and everything about them is changing. We, therefore, suspect that a foreign element has infiltrated them to discredit or create problem for the success of this government.”

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