By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – IN a bid to boost rice production in the country, the Ebonyi State government has purchased five rice milling machines to be installed in five local government areas of the State.
This is as the state governor, Chief Dave Umahi has declared that there is no formidable opposition to threaten his re-election in 2019 election.
Speaking in an interview in Abuja, the governor also explained that the N4 billion agricultural loan he recently approved for workers in the state was to boost agricultural production and also improve the financial status of the workers, adding that the state has a comparative advantage in agriculture.
Explaining on the reason for making the state a food center, Umahi who is the Chairman of South East Governors Forum said, “It is well known that Ebony state has a comparative advantage in agriculture and it is also a fact the that what we met as our poverty index was so low in 2015 and a number of factors contributed to the level of our poverty index.
“Don’t forget that Ebonyi state is the creation of people that returned from the old Anambra state that returned to Enugu and then to Ebonyi, the other one is from the old Imo State, Abia and then to Ebonyi state.
“We have what we can call criminal neglect over a number of years our people were in those states. And of course our state was known as the dust of the nation.
“So, there was no infrastructure to support development in Ebonyi state and when you talk about agriculture you also have to know that if you need to produce anything at the rural areas, you need the roads and bridges to bring them to where you can sell them. And so it made a nonsense of our comparative advantage in agriculture.”
To change the narrative, the governor said he had to embark on aggressive development of the state by embarking on infrastructural development and agricultural revolution.
He said, “We have done data documentation regarding the farmers we are giving the loans and so this the yield you are seeing in the area of rice production. We also purchased about five milling machines which we are installing in five local government areas. We are also into starch production right now and flower production. I can tell you that our poultry farm is revived and we doing that.
“There is no amount of salary increase that will lift our civil servants from poverty level but there is also a fact to reckon with that there are so many redundancy in in civil service because when there is no money for workers to work upon which what will they use to work.
“So we decided to put about N4 billion so that civil servants can access soft loan depending on the number of years of your service remaining and how much is your salary and so we gave them this loan at five percent to do agricultural activities.”
On the 2019 elections, he said that people will be assessed based on their track records, enthusing that with what he has done so far, there was no strong opposition to stop his re-election.
He said, “God prepared me to His glory for this work. We have lifted our poverty index. I can technically say I don’t have opposition.”
He also said that his administration despite the lean resources was not owing any contractor although he said that contractors don’t like him.