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Agricultural Field Enumerators Accuse FG Of Enslavement

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The over 30,000 graduates engaged by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development as field enumerators to capture the bio-data, farming information, bank and contact details of farmers across the country, have cried out over the nonpayment of their entitlements.

The enumerators, who were engaged in June 2020, said they had only been paid half of the money for the work they had done, adding that all entreaties to the Ministry of Agriculture and the special assistant to the president on agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari, who was in charge of the project, failed to yield any positive result.

The spokesman of the enumerators, Suleiman Abdullahi, told Daily Trust on Sunday that they that worked across the 36 states of the federation and were also saddled with the responsibility of working with some agriculture stakeholders and banks to provide information from farmers relating to the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), especially those without bank accounts.

The AFJP was introduced by the federal government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as palliative programmes to avert the negative socio-economic effects of the disease on Nigerians.

Some of the enumerators also said they were part of the disengaged N-Power beneficiaries, adding that they had diligently done their jobs.

They further said the federal government promised to train and employ them as extension workers and soil sample collectors after the initial field work, but nothing was heard since their engagement in June, 2020.

Suleiman said in spite of the fact that they were yet to be paid, they were asked to continue working, adding, “As it stands, we have been underpaid. They haven’t been paid 50 per cent for six months survey. June to July 50 per cent is not yet paid. August to December enumeration remaining 50 per cent is still not paid, among many others.”

He said that in the midst of insecurity, “These young and promising youths risk their lives and continue to work to ensure that the project is executed, but their spirits have been dampened due to the nonpayment and lack of formal commitment from the ministry to formalise their engagement.

“As we speak, there is no spelt-out contract of engagement that include the duration of work, well defined wages plan, either monthly or weekly.

“The enumerators are really unhappy over the unpatriotic acts that depict modern day slavery to graduates, courtesy of their unemployed status. This has led to the non-execution of the mandate of the AFJP target for over a year since it was launched.”

He also said no farmer had received “any palliative, seed crop and capital or farm inputs. There has been media cacophony about farmers’ empowerment, but in reality, over five million farm data generated by the enumerators for onward empowerment by the federal government has not been utilised.”

This was even as he said many people were bitten by snakes and went through various difficulties in the course of the work.

When contacted, the information officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Theodore Ogeaziechi, confirmed the existence of enumerators, but however, referred our reporter to the special assistant to the president on agriculture.

Dr Andrew neither picked his calls nor responded to WhatsApp messages sent to him up till the time of filing this report

Source:- Daily Trust

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