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Regional News of Thursday, 27 May 2021


Regional Report: Tono farmers call for the removal of ICOUR director

Farmers and water users under the Tono Irrigation scheme in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality Farmers and water users under the Tono Irrigation scheme in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality

Correspondence from Upper East:

• Farmers and water users under the Tono Irrigation scheme are unhappy with how the ICOUR director runs their scheme

•They have therefore called for the removal of the current MD Dr. Benedict Bonaventure Aligebam

•The farmers allege that the MD is noted for seizing pumping machines belonging to them

Farmers and water users under the Tono Irrigation scheme in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality have called on the government to remove Dr. Benedict Bonaventure Aligebam as managing director of the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR) with immediate effect.

The farmers, whose association is known as Tono Irrigation Co-operative Farmers Union (TICFU), joined the Water Users Association- Tono, to make the demand, stating that the director lacks the requisite managerial skills, operational knowledge of the scheme and the experience to head the company.

The farmers stated that worse of all is the director’s “disrespect” for stakeholders such as farmer leaders, stressing that he has sidelined all major stakeholders on very critical issues which have to do with the wellbeing of the company and project.

Members of the association who have accused the director of resorting to vendetta to settle scores stated that the continuous stay of the director in office was detrimental to the progress of the company- particularly the project.

Speaking to the media when members of the association converged at PRECAS to express their dissatisfaction with the manner in which the director is handling affairs of the company, Nazarius Adiyie, acting secretary of the TICFU, intimated that the actions of Dr. Aligebam was making ICOUR unpopular and farming in the area unattractive to the youth.

He said the director has allowed his personal interests to override the general good of the company and the farmers whose interests he works for. He continued that anybody who appears to be a stumbling block is targeted, intimidated or harassed by the director.

Mr. Adiyie said the behaviour of the director was very strange and does not argue well for the company and project. He, therefore, appealed to the government to replace him with someone who has the skills, knowledge, improved human relations and experience, and bears the growth of the company, project and farmers in his heart.

“Since Dr. Benedict Bonaventure Aligebam assumed office, we have been relegated to the background. The potential benefits to be derived from the active participation of the farmers in the rehabilitation process has been neglected with impunity by the MD”.

“the MD is noted for going around with a security man to seize pumping machines belonging to farmers and cutting their water hoses into pieces without due process. This is excessive use or abuse of power. It compounds the poverty situation in our communities considering the difficulty in acquiring these logistics, especially where the same objective was achievable with no negative effects on farmers”.

“Tono farmers are tired of the MD for his arbitrary actions, unilateral decisions, farmer -leader-targeting, blocked information flow, tormenting hardworking farmers etc. Act now before anything happens to the MD. Act now to avoid the collapse of the project. Let Aligebam go now. Dr. Aligebam must leave office in two weeks, else we shall advise ourselves accordingly”.

While they called for his immediate removal, the farmers begged to bring to the attention of authorities the illegalities perpetuated by Dr. Aligebam with the government’s subsidized Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) fertilizers. They accused Dr. Aligebam of selling the subsidized fertilizers to them at open market prices. They said for example that PFJ Urea fertilizer was sold to farmers at Ghc 105 instead of the Ghc 80 price approved by the government across the country.

The farmers also accused the director of illegally taking over farmlands belonging to farmers. They said the director, in a Rambo style, invaded farmlands at Zone B which belonged to communities such as Bonia, Wuru and Yigwania. They maintained that the actions of the director went against established protocol of consultation and dialogue.

They urged authorities to conduct full investigations into the matters raised.

A similar call for the MD’s dismissal.

The call by the farmers for the director’s removal adds to a similar demand made recently. Last month, workers of the company went loose at its premises, chanting songs of dissatisfaction and calling for the managing director to be sacked.

Just like the farmers, the workers also raised same concerns of inexperience, the lack of requisite skills and knowledge as reason for calling for his dismissal. The workers also named misappropriation of company resource, the collapse of company audit units and the lack of safety under his supervision as other motives for wanting him axed from the office. They said the director put their lives at risk with his constant gun threats both at the office and on the field.

But the director denied all the allegation the workers levelled against him. He described them as untrue and assured to sit with them to hear their concerns for amends.

Concerning the current concerns lined up against him by the farmers and water users associations, efforts to speak to the managing director, Dr. Benedict Bonaventure Aligebam, were unsuccessful.