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Anambra lawmaker under fire over cassava stem palliative

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By Onyinye Ekwealor

The lawmaker representing Anambra West constituency in the State House of Assembly Hon, Patrick Obalim Udoba has come under fire for distributing high yield cassava stem as palliatives to farmers in his constituency to kick start new farming season.

Orient Weekend learnt that the lawmaker came under attack from a cross section of farmers and people in the area for they thought he ignored the basic needs of his constituents who happen to still be recovering from flood crisis, in preference for cassava stems.

According to a source, many were angered by the federal and state government insensitivity to the plights of residents of Anambra West during the recent flood crisis. 

A farmer who identified himself as Okonkwo disclosed that casava stems were the least of what they expected from the government after the flood disaster. “The assistance we expected from the government was massive but our hopes were dashed. We were expecting some financial assistance to help us rebuild our homes, our lives and get needed farming tools for the new planting season.

Mike Anaekwe, a youth from the riverine community agrees that the cassava stems were the least of the people’s problem. “Even if the cassava stems provided by the lawmaker was to be top of their needs now, the quantity he provided were not enough for the people it was intended for. More so, those that benefited from the scheme still cried out saying it was insufficient”, he said.

Madam Stella Ejike, also from the area, told this paper that the palliative looked more like a publicity stunt because most farmers in the area, especially those living in the camps, were not aware of it and did not benefit. She added that she was one of those that missed out on the scheme.

Emmanuel Anekwe, one of the beneficiaries, however complained that what he received was very little. “We expected enough quantity of cassava stems, other farming tools and money but, even the cassava stems we got was not enough and did not reach everyone that needed it”, he said.

Mrs Christiana Okoye, another beneficiary, seized the opportunity to beg the state government to assist them in rebuilding their lives. “We virtually lost everything and now that planting season has commenced, many farmers in the area will go borrowing at heavy interest rates to sustain their families and plant new crops. This is the only time we will ever need government help”, she said.

The cassava stem initiative also drew mixed reactions on the social media with many commentators berating the lawmaker for playing to the gallery rather than assisting his constituents. Okey Agu reacted: “Just cassava stem? And he will later include it in his project. And I ask, ‘do they sell cassava stem in the market?’ That is the most affordable seedlings in Nigeria.

Another respondent, Henry Selchang wrote: “Yesterday was donkeys distributed by Gov Ganduje’s aide as empowerment to youths in Kano state; today is cassava stems in Anambra. What a cursed nation with cursed leaders!!

However, another commentator identified as CC John, defended the lawmaker’s choice of cassava stems. “I was in Anambra state for two months recently that cassava stem is very scarce in some areas, mostly the flood-prone areas and they are looking for money to start new farming season. You won’t understand until you get down to the remote villages mostly those that are dependent on subsistence farming. Some of the beneficiaries will actually appreciate this gift. Travel to the villages of Nigeria then you’ll really understand why some politicians do this”, he adds.

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