From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
A group of professionals in the Federal Department of fisheries yesterday called on President Jonathan and the National Assembly to investigate the 1.5 billion spent by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) for fish farmers in Nigeria.
The group in a petition signed by Bolunde Akinfemi and Umar Sanusi alleged that only five fish farmers from the 10 states of the federation, were given 500 fingerlings and five bags of fish feed each by the.
The group noted that each of the fish farmers paid N12, 500 for the kits, “12,500 which is 50 per cent of the cost of each bag of fish feed. At the cost of N20 only and with 250,000 fingerlings distributed, we have a total of N500, 000. The total cost of fish feeds given is approximately N312, 500.00.
“The Sum of N300 million was paid for the nets reportedly supplied by Ring back Nigeria Limited, the ownership of which company should be investigated for any likely fair advantage,” the petitioners demand. The group also raised the alarm over an alleged intense regulation of the fishery industry in the country, describing it as illegal and an abuse of power by the department.
“Many anomalies are ongoing, under the current acting Director of Fisheries, Ms. Foluke Areola, and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adeshina, high handed and illegal steps are being perpetrated under the guise of intensive regulation of the industry,” the group argued
The petition also queried why the Minister of Agriculture and the acting Director of Fisheries, “without any laid down and distinct formula, allocate fish import quota or rights to any company in the country, through the Fisheries Department issuance of letter of clearance for foreign exchange purposes.”
The petition pointed out that there were several instances of violation in the Department and that some of these included the very recent case of a letter written by Ms. Foluke Areola, indicating that fishing trawlers that had been fishing in the Nigerian waters for over eight years (with duly issued fishing licenses till December 2013) were illegal foreign trawlers.
“Vessel owners applied for renewal of Licences in December 2013, and their applications were confirmed.
“Rather than communicate to the owners of the vessel not to go to sea until the licences were issued, Areola invited the Navy to arrest the vessels as being illegal even though she knew that the licences expired in December 2013 of each year and that companies always had three months of grace in the new year to operate before the eventual issuance of new licences,” the group laments.