By Chukwuemeka Opara
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi has advised the people not to abandon their farm work and other agricultural ventures because of the general elections.
Umahi gave the advice on Thursday in Abakiliki, at the launch of the 2019 farming season in the state.
The event was attended by rice and cassava farmers, traditional rulers and beneficiaries of government’s empowerment schemes, among other stakeholders.
He said that government had enough funds to assist farmers during the farming season.
He said: “We have funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Government so farmers should register with the state ministry of agriculture and natural resources to be able to access the loans.
“You only need to tell us how much fund, fertilizer and herbicides you want and how you intend to pay back because we will not profile farmers this farming season.”
He said that government would only verify the farmlands to be used for cultivation but will not provide rice seedlings to farmers this year.
“Our own people, including workers and government officials, dealt with us last farming season and when we are eating our future, we do not know.
“You pay high amount of money for rice seedlings and they (officials) would get the seedlings through the farmers and supply them to us.
“We are therefore not procuring rice seedlings for anybody again,” the governor said, adding that farmers should produce their own seedling or go to Benue to buy.
“My father was a farmer all through his life, trained all his children to the university level but never sought for government’s rice seedlings,” he said.
He further advised civil servants, who had yet to access the N4 billion agricultural loan for farmers, to register.
He, however, warned that the facility would not be treated like the issue of gratuity.
“The records of the gratuities paid by the past administrations in the state were burnt. “Otherwise, the 40 per cent payment we made could have been used to pay all the civil servants,” Umahi said.
The governor, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, appealed to the traditional rulers to persuade their subjects to vote for him on March 9.
He said that voting massively for him in the election would demonstrate the people’s appreciation of all that God had used him to do for the state.
“The turnout of voters on February 23 was poor. You should persuade our people to vote for us instead of voting on the basis of clanishness,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, Eze Charles Mkpuma, the Chairman of the state Traditional Rulers Council, admitted that votes were cast on clanish consideration.
“We shall, however, guard against such attitude on March 9. We shall use the election to reward you for the rapid transformation witnessed in the state under your watch,” Mkpuma said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the farmers and town unions and beneficiaries of the governor’s empowerment schemes took turn to assure him of their unflinching support. (NAN)