Okon Bassey in Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Umo Eno, has called for increased participation in agricultural ventures as a permanent solution to the fuel subsidy removal.
The governor urged residents of the state to embrace the agricultural revolution championed by the A.R.I.S.E Agenda blueprint of his administration by returning to the farms, saying the measure is a panacea to the prevailing hardship occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal.
Governor Eno stated this during the September edition of the monthly Covenant Service held at the weekend at the Banquet Hall in the Government House, Uyo.
The governor said he was not leading a communist state where citizens depend on handouts from the government for survival and encouraged the people of the state to resort to agriculture at various scales to increase the availability of food for all.
He explained that his administration has taken steps to reduce the cost of governance by cutting on excesses and plowing back the proceeds into society to address the enormous intervention needs it is facing.
Eno said in addition to the 7,200 bags of rice and N2 billion received from the federal government, the state government has acquired 100,000 more bags of rice at a unit cost of N40,000.
He said each of the 2, 772 villages in the state would get 40 bags, and that the state government has also released N2 billion for the settlement of gratuities of retired local and state governments’ employees.
The governor said primary and secondary school students would get free exercise books; students of state origin in tertiary institutions are to be paid a N10,000 bursary, civil servants would receive N10,000 non-taxable allowances for three months while operators of informal sectors like transporters and traders would operate ticket-free on all Fridays within the next three months.
Governor Eno stressed that such palliative interventions can only proffer temporary solutions, as it cannot be sustained for a long time, and encouraged young people to channel their energies into the agricultural ventures promoted by the state government and shun restiveness and public disturbances.
According to him, “Times are hard, but the question is how long will we continue on palliatives? The answer is how we can help ourselves.
“We have green land everywhere and we have good weather. The best answer is for us to go back to work. Let’s go back to agriculture. This is not a communist country where you wake up and there’s milk in front of your house.
“Agric-business is a serious business. Our young people have to get involved. That is what will help us. All these interventions cannot really help us for too long.
“If you collect rice today, you’ll finish it. Will you keep coming back and wait on the government for another? Truth be told, we cannot continue like that.”
In the new agriculture drive, the governor said local governments are expected to donate 50 to 100 hectares of land for the state government to engage people, and provide seedlings and other input with readiness to take off the proceeds.