The Ebonyi Government says the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has used the 14 market stalls it constructed to reconcile two disputing communities in the state.
The Okposi-Okwu and Onicha Igboeze communities of Ohaozara and Onicha Local Government Areas (LGAs) respectively were in dispute over the ownership of a market situated on the land the stalls were constructed.
Chief Itapa Azuobu, Gov. David Umahi’s Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Rice Production, told the people during the handover ceremony on Saturday that Umahi had directed both communities to jointly use the facility.
“The governor hails from this area and has sent me to this occasion with one paramount message: peace and only peace to exist between both communities.
“He also directed me to inform both communities that the market has been renamed: ‘Ahia Nkwo-Udo na Oganihu (Market of Peace and Progress).
“This is the new name for the market henceforth as we thank IFAD-VCDP tremendously for using the facility to restore peace between both communities,” he said.
Azuobu urged the traditional rulers and other stakeholders of the communities to liaise and remove all the existing shanties which had served as market stalls.
“New structures should be erected because our governor is not identified with shanties or poor structures.
“The market should be attractive to make motorists who ply this major road and people from several parts of the state to patronise the agricultural and other products sold inside it,” he said.
He also urged the people to embrace dry season farming, especially in the production of rice and other agricultural produce.
“I am the governor’s SSA on rice production and had harvested the 11.1 hectares of rice farm which I cultivated at Umunaga, the governor’s hometown.
“I have commenced a fresh cultivation of the produce. When I told the governor of my intention to introduce dry season farming in his area, he encouraged me.
“Those who tried it before failed but the governor’s encouragement made my venture a success story,” he said
Mr Sunday Ituma, the IFAD-VCDP State Coordinator in Ebonyi, said that the organisation consulted extensively with stakeholders of both communities to ensure harmonious use of the facility.
“We will continue to monitor the usage through the operation and maintenance committee set up to ensure its adequate maintenance.
“IFAD-VCDP has zero tolerance for erecting projects in dispute-ridden areas but the concerted efforts of chairmen and development centre coordinators in both councils, ensured the amicable resolve to jointly use the market,” he said.
He noted that membership of the operation and maintenance committee of the market was equitably shared among both communities in consonance with their wishes.
Dr Ameh Onoja, IFAD-VCDP Nation,al Programme Coordinator (NPC), urged the communities to assist the committee to ensure that the facilities were adequately maintained.
Ameh, who was represented by the organisation’s Irrigation Specialist, Mr Frank Njah, said the committee members would not be paid but required the encouragement of the people to succeed in their duties.
Chief Moses Nome, Ebonyi Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, prayed that the peace facilitated by the handover of the facilities be maintained for the good of both communities.
“I also urge the people to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) to ensure that credible leaders such as the governor were re-elected to continue their good works,” he said.
Chief Ajah Okike, a member of the Okposi-Okwu Traditional Ruler’s cabinet, said that they had resolved he dispute to ensure that their subjects harmoniously utilise the market.