* Speaker Luke (m)
Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Barr Onofiok Luke, has encouraged members of the state chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (ALFAN) to support and vote for Governor Udom in 2019 as he will, during his second term, do more in the agricultural sector, build more industries and and advance other sectors that are critical to the development of the state.
The Speaker who gave the charge on Friday during a courtesy call on him by the farmers, was reacting to the farmer’s appeal for specific laws to be enacted to protect farmers in the state and for more interest free loans by the state government.
Speaker Luke said the governor, since assumption of office, has been driving a holistic development through his industrialization and agriculture development policy.
He told the farmers that the Udom Emmanuel-led administration is committed to investing in significant areas and he is developing a modern state that would engender sustainable economic growth.
“If for 30 years, no industry was built and God has given us a man with wisdom and the latitude to be able to create an enabling environment to attract investors who have built factories and strengthen the manufacturing industry like the syringe and metering solutions factories, the coconut factory, the flour mill and others that are coming up, if those could be done in three and half years, you can imagine him having another four years as Governor.
“The syringe industry, for example, employs between 400 and 500 and something persons directly and indirectly. Imagine those 400 persons who finished school and did not have jobs, the the labour market would have still been populated.
“Whether it is 10, or 20, or 40, or 100, or 1000 persons that are being employed by those industries, that means the labour market has been depopulated to a degree. It means there’s progress.
“So if we have four industries employing about 500 persons, that’s 2000. And the is not stopping at that. He is equally opening employment opportunities in the public service in order to curb the challenges of unemployment.”
Earlier in his address, Abasi-Ama Inyang, chairman of ALFAN, and Etop Udofia, the secretary, who led the delegation, said farmers are very much aware of the many intervention programmes Governor Udom Emmanuel has embarked in the state to boost agriculture.
He said farmers are enjoying free maize given to them by the government to cultivate, the gesture which has put a stop to the former practice where framers would import maize and fresh corn seeds from other state at exorbitant rates.
Inyang said, “The governor has also given us free plantain suckers through the technical committee on agriculture and food sufficiency and that has given us a boost in that area.
“He has also launched a very formidable programme for cocoa production in Akwa Ibom State. That too is very expedient.
“We know what he has done in the area of tomato cultivation and rice farming. He has built a rice mill. We’re only waiting for NAFDAC and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to give us permission to produce.”
The speaker requested the farmers to continue to build a healthy partnership with the Udom Emmanuel administration so the gains of the last three and a half years would have been more solidly consolidated upon by 2023 when the administration’s second term ends.