INVESTIGATION: In Kwara, multimillion-naira milk processing plant is abandoned, converted to a chicken outlet - Ripples Nigeria
Connect with us


INVESTIGATION: In Kwara, multimillion-naira milk processing plant is abandoned, converted to a chicken outlet



After the government spent millions of naira to establish a milk processing plant in Kwara State that would provided jobs and dairy products to Nigerians, it rented the facility out to a poultry farmer, who has also shut down business. Peace Oladipo reports

Excitement swept through Omu-Aran upon the establishment of a milk-processing factory in what is the third-largest town in Kwara State. In a town filled with low-paying teaching jobs, the factory raised hopes of diverse employment opportunities and development.

But the optimism was only short-lived. After years of neglect, the milk factory, situated along a row of administrative offices, has become a derelict chicken shop, weather-beaten and overgrown with weeds.

Bade Segun, a car wash attendant who has lived in the town for a decade, remembers how the project held so much promise in the beginning, pointing at the construction signpost of the building.

The plant’s signpost

“People were very happy, and a relative of mine even wanted to apply for a job. After completion, we learned that the community would need to take over the purchase of equipment for the process, but nothing has happened for the past 5 years,” Segun recalled.

Oyekanmi Grace, who works at the Ministry of Works, a few metres away from the abandoned milk factory, reminisced that “the project started in 2019 when the king visited the area to look for land for the facility. After obtaining the land, people from Abuja arrived and rushed the project. Within a month, the building was ready. However, since then, the project hasn’t been commissioned.”

During the construction, Grace’s office served as residence for many of the site’s engineers and workers. “I was, like many residents of the town, thrilled when the project commenced. Of course, it implied availability of more milk-related products,” she said.

The Milk Processing Plant

Findings on Govspend.NG, an analytical website tracking the Nigerian government’s daily spending, confirmed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development first initiated the project in 2018.

The abandoned Milk Processing plant
Photo: Peace Oladipo

After the contract for establishing the milk-processing plant was awarded to Degan Construction, a construction company based in Abuja, a sum of twenty-seven million, one hundred thirteen thousand, and four hundred ninety-seven naira (₦27,113,497) was disbursed to the contractors. The project began in 2019 and was soon completed within a month, residents say.

However, when this reporter visited the location of the milk processing factory in January 2024, she found an abandoned poultry in its stead. The once-promising infrastructure intended for dairy production now lays idle, its machinery left to neglect and rot.

The conversion into a poultry outlet

Dare Sunday, a worker at the Nigeria Fire Service, made more shocking revelations about the facility: The Federal Ministry in charge did not commission or hand over the project to the Omu-Aran community, like many government projects initiated during the same season in the state. “However, the milk processing factory is one of the few that have not been vandalized by hoodlums,” Segun remarked.

A year after the building was completed and equipped with a Mikano generator, officials from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ilorin visited the site, calling on individuals interested in leasing the milk factory’s building.

“Before it was rented out, through the neighborhood’s bush burning, a nearby palm tree caught fire that spread to the facility, causing a part of the building to burn. The intervention of the fire service saved the whole building that particular day,” Sunday told this reporter.

The reported fire incident prompted the intervention of the ministry’s officials in the state capital to get the factory working, three years after completion.

In a telephone conversation, Oye Olaide, the manager of the poultry processing business, corroborated Sunday’s claims about the fire incident, noting that because of concerns about the factory’s neglect, the federal ministry called on people interested in the property.

Following the announcement to lease the facility to agro-businesses, Olaide applied, “since poultry is related to milk,” which aligned with the government’s agricultural plans for the structure.

“In 2022 when we arrived, there was no equipment inside. We deal with poultry processing and have built our cold room outside the space. We bring live birds, blast them, and sell the processed products for more than a year.

“However, high inflation forced us to shut down the business towards the end of 2023,” Olaide added.

READ ALSO:INVESTIGATION: Multi-million naira Ekiti resort center remains uncompleted a decade after

Owing to rampant inflation, more than 50 per cent of poultry farms including Olaide’s business across Nigeria shut down in 2023, causing the sector to lose over N3 trillion, according to the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN).

No comment from the Royalty

This reporter visited the Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba Abdulraheem Oladele Adeoti, to inquire about actions being taken to revive the factory.

The King’s Palace

“I was in my palace when the staff from the federal ministry involved came to meet me, and with delight, the town provided a location for the project to be erected on,” he said, waving his hand with an air of finality.

He, however, declined to comment on the matter of the abandoned facility, repeatedly saying, “A kìí gbó búburú lénu aborè,” a Yoruba phrase that roughly translates as “no one hears bad/evil from the chief priest of a grove.” This remark means that the head priest of a sacred place should not be questioned or accused of wrongdoing, as they are held in high regard.

Contractors Keep Mute

A review on Manpower Nigeria, and NG Check, platforms used to discover businesses, revealed no contact information of Degan Constructions, the contracted company. Similar searches on the Corporate Affairs Commission portal indicated that the company is currently inactive and hasn’t submitted updated annual returns as required by law.

A screenshot of the company on the CAC portal

Upon visiting the displayed address of the company online, No. 42, Durban Street, Off Ademola Adetokunbo, Wuse II, Abuja, on March 12, 2024, the officials refused to confirm the existence of the company in the building. The official, who declined to divulge his name and position, reiterated, “So many people usually ask for the company here, but it is here and not here too.” He insisted on not releasing any information about the company. A mail with a request for information about the project was sent to the provided official’s email address. Regardless, the mail was left unanswered despite being read minutes after it was sent.

Degan Construction’s Office in Abuja

Ministry Violates Freedom of Information Act

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was sent to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on March 5, 2024, seeking details about the project, including the money spent, the level of the project completion, and reasons for its conversion into a poultry shop.

At the time of filing this report, the ministry had yet to respond to the request, weeks after its submission. This contravenes the FOI Act 2011, which mandates a seven-day response period for FOI requests. Repeated calls to an official at the ministry in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara, weren’t answered.

A downtrend in the nation’s food production

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, the national president of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN) Baba Ngelzarma, maintained that the country spends around $1.7 billion yearly on importing milk into the country.

These indices suggest a significant demand for dairy products that the factory could manufacture, highlighting the existing gap in food processing in Nigeria, which contributes to food scarcity and poverty.

“Agriculture needs to be driven through industrialization,” Aderagbemi Fasakin, the founder of Advic Farms, opined. “That dairy factory can help produce locally made milk and even end up exporting some. The abandonment has a significant effect on the economy of the community and even the nation at large.”

Speaking further about the country’s manufacturing and processing, he added, “How unfortunate we are in a country where we produce what we don’t consume and we consume what we don’t produce.”

He charged the government to establish factories and implement machinery to process food, thereby encouraging the exportation of finished products.

Nigerians, according to him, have developed a preference for purchasing foreign foods and goods, perpetuating the cycle of dependence on imported products and hindering the growth of domestic industries. He compared the abandoned dairy factory to Nigeria’s cocoa export and chocolate importation, stating, “When functioning, the dairy factory could serve as an extension of agricultural industrialization, potentially giving rise to local industries and employment opportunities.”

This report is produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), under the CMEDIA Project

Join the conversation


Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism

Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.

As a media platform, we hold leadership accountable and will not trade the right to press freedom and free speech for a piece of cake.

If you like what we do, and are ready to uphold solutions journalism, kindly donate to the Ripples Nigeria cause.

Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.

Donate Now

Exit mobile version