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Farmers at Tono demands dismissal of ICOUR Director

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Farmers at the Tono Irrigation Scheme have expressed dissatisfaction with the management of the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR), calling for the exit of the Managing Director, Dr. Benedict Bonaventure Alegibam.

The farmers noted that their relationship with ICOUR had been positive for many years until the appointment of Dr. Alegibam.

Since his tenure began, the farmers say they have observed a shift from collaborative management to an autocratic style, which they claim has excluded stakeholders and farmer leaders from critical decision-making processes.

“He sidelined all stakeholders and farmer leaders on every issue concerning farmers and project wellbeing, and he presides over everything in the scheme,” Robert Atijona, Organiser of the Federation of Tono Water Users Association, said during a press conference.

A farmer, Francis Ayaga, criticized Dr. Alegibam for his lack of understanding of the operational skills necessary for the scheme, particularly the cropping calendar.

“His refusal to release water on time for nursery establishment has affected crop growth and yields. So, we are asking him to go so that a competent person will take over.”

Dr. Alegibam was also accused of unlawfully seizing farmland in Zone B/O, displacing some communities. The farmers urged authorities to intervene and reverse these actions to maintain peace within the project. Dr. Alegibam, who was due for retirement on December 7, 2023, wrote to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, requesting a two-year post-retirement contract.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Bryan Acheampong, on February 2, 2024, wrote to the Board Chairman of ICOUR not to extend the stay of the embattled ICOUR Managing Director. The minister, however, granted him a three-month contract.

ICOUR 4 Channel1 News Farmers at Tono demands dismissal of ICOUR Director

Former Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, who was the Board Chairman of ICOUR, in March 2024, wrote to Dr. Alegibam, directing him to “hand over his duties to the next Senior Management Officer while steps are being taken for a replacement.”

It is against this backdrop that the farmers argue Dr. Alegibam’s continued presence is detrimental to the scheme’s success and call for immediate action to remove him from office.

“Tono farmers are tired of the MD and his style of leadership, and this is the time for him to be in retirement, but he still wants to hold on to the office with his poor performance. We plead with concerned authorities to expedite actions by removing him from office to save the scheme from total collapse,” Robert Atijona, Organiser of the Federation of Tono Water Users Association, said during a press conference at the scheme.

ICOUR 2 Channel1 News Farmers at Tono demands dismissal of ICOUR Director

Chairman of the association, Robert Kwame Aboko, said farmers have paid annual levies to ICOUR management and have also redeemed some outstanding debts totaling GHC905,921.63, yet the road network and the canals are in a deplorable state, which affects farming.

Efforts to get his response proved futile, as Dr. Alegibam was not in the office when the media visited the ICOUR office for his response.

Again, when he was contacted on the phone by this reporter, he declined to speak but said he would respond to the allegations only after he got approval from the ICOUR board to speak to the media.

ICOUR 1 Channel1 News Farmers at Tono demands dismissal of ICOUR Director

Upper East Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, who is the Board Chairman of ICOUR, said petitions have been submitted to his office regarding the embattled ICOUR MD, stating, “but I don’t rush to do things, I always want to take my time, and when I am cracking the whip, I hit my target.”

The minister, who made this remark during a media engagement, gave the assurance that “not under my watch shall we allow anybody to toy with the lives of anybody or drag any agency activity to a halt.”

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