Former cultivation apprentices treat Lagos, bemoan the shattered hope, neglect

Some beneficiaries of the Organized Agricultural Entrepreneurship Program for Unemployed Youth in Lagos State lamented that they were abandoned by the Ministry of Agriculture after the training.

While they accused the ministry of enslaving them during training, they claimed that promises of grants and soft loans to them were not kept.

Metro Punch She collected the scheme, the Lagos Agricultural Entrepreneurship Program, designed by the state’s governor, Babajide Sanu Olu, to create jobs, alleviate poverty, and ensure food security by training and empowering women and youth in modern agricultural practices.

It was learned that at least 186 residents statewide were selected in October 2021 for the month-long training.

The findings of our correspondent revealed that the participants set up a camp at the Agricultural Training Institute in the Araga region, in the Ibi region of the state.

Participants were trained in the areas of poultry, swine, aquaculture, plant value chains, e-farming, and agribusiness.

According to a post on the Lagos State Government website, www.lapapplication.infoAfter camping for a period of one month at the Institute, participants are expected to undergo a training period of at least three months and mentorship in the value chains of their choice.

The government also promised to issue certificates of participation and to link successful participants with sources of funding to consider obtaining a loan.

But the program participants accused the government of abandoning them after camping.

They claimed that the government only used them to run the institute, adding that they work daily on the farm from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. without being paid.

The youth explained that the government promised them to give them a training period where their salaries would be paid after completing the training.

However, they regretted that all the promises made to them, including the participation certificate and training, were never kept.

The former trainees said that the government started another campaign for the same program despite not keeping promises to the last beneficiaries.

One of them, Femi Ilotingo, 37, said the state failed to empower the top 10 candidates who were promised certain benefits during the program.

He said, “When they called me that I had been selected, my hope was high and I thought that after the programme, I would have a job.

“They also promised to send us to a company where we would train and pay N40,000 per month. I figured out how I would use it to create a business. But my hope was dashed.”

Another participant, Olwason Davies, said he lost his job because of the program and remained unemployed because the government did not contact them.

Another young man, Alao Olawale, claimed that the Lagos State Government only gave them N5,000 as transportation fare despite working full time for a month.

Olwali said, “We can’t count a single thing they did for us. Apart from feeding us, we worked on their farm from 7 am to 5 pm. We only had less than two hours off.

“We worked in raising poultry and pigs. We went to the farm to clean the bush and grow vegetables. We went to the pig farm and bathed them and cleaned their houses. In the poultry house we feed the chickens, etc. It was a full-time job.

“Despite all of this, the government only gave us N5,000 when we were leaving. They told us they would enable us, so most of us did the work at full capacity. It’s been over a year now, and we haven’t heard anything from them.”

The program director, Adeyinka Omirin, said the government has fulfilled all the promises it made to the participants.

Amirin explained that the ministry responsible for placing the participants in the training has funding problems that have been sorted out.

He said, “There was a certain group associated with a graduate training program where they said they would pay them N40,000. This program is not under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture; the program is run by the Ministry of Wealth Creation. Some of them were put into the program, but at the end of the first or second month, Funding for this program ran out, and they needed to reapply to the governors for other money so they could pay it in. That took a while, and I think I’m talking to you now, they’re back to complete the remaining six months.

“The loan we are talking about, we just have to tie them up to the financial institution, which is Nersal. We tied them up. It is an individual responsibility, and no one can do it for them.”

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