By Latrishka Thomas
The antagonism between former Minister of Agriculture, Dean Jonas – who was relieved of the position a day ago — and Senior Extension Officer in the Extension Division of the Ministry, Owolabi Elabanjo, became even more pronounced yesterday when Elabanjo disclosed that he will be taking legal action against Jonas for a statement he made purporting that Elabanjo used a government vehicle for personal use.
“To be sincere with you, I never expected that this would drag in this format and that the Minister will put it in this way for the public,” Elabanjo said on OBSERVER AM yesterday. “I am a positive person. I have been in the service for over 20 years or more now and I know my role, I know the way I play my role and my staff will tell you the kind of support I receive from them and they receive from me.
“The Minister listens too much to gossip and rumour, that is [his mode] of operation. You must go to him with news for him to act and that is what has been happening since he became the Minister of Agriculture. I am going to challenge the Minister in court and I am going to go to my lawyer this morning [Monday] for him to prove that I used government tractor on my farm,” the Senior Extension Officer stated.
But Jonas was adamant that his statements were factual.
Both Elabanjo and Jonas were interviewed on the OBSERVER Radio programme to discuss matters relating to last week’s sit-in at the Ministry’s headquarters by approximately 35 field and in-office workers attached to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Division, over what they termed were unanswered grievances.
Jonas, the Parliamentary Representative for the St George Constituency, also spoke further on his relationship with Elabanjo, saying that he is not pleased, on a professional level, with the Senior Extension Officer’s reporting performance.
“My problem with him is on a professional level; his propensity to always want to jump on a plane to travel, travel, travel and not producing meaningful reports that the Ministry requires in order to take decisions about the importation about certain crops,” Jonas stated.
But Elabanjo refuted that statement by saying that not only has Jonas refused to sign any of his travel documents, “I travel mostly when I get international invitation, not on my own, not even the Ministry. Any travel I made is from organisations outside Antigua who believe in me and believe I have things to deliver in the area of my activities and operation and they send me invitation with ticket and everything.”
Elabanjo claims that the “cold war” between him and the former minister has been ongoing for more than two years.
I am glad that people are not only realizing, but standing up against slandering individuals in high places. However, since you mentioned yesterday in your interview with Mr. Mathew-Ward (paraphrasing) that it’s you who caused some Chinese who was dealing with Mr. Jonas not to take their business elsewhere. Therefore, can we then blame you for any overrun of our agricultural sector by Chinese?