By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The immediate past Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and one of the leading 2023 governorship aspirants in the state, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke has said that part of his social contract with the people is to bring back agriculture as the mainstay of the state’s economy.
Luke, who is currently, a member of the House of Representatives representing, Etinan Federal Constituency of the state, stated this when he formally declared his ambition to contest the 2023 governorship elections in Akwa Ibom on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) on Wednesday in Uyo, the state capital.
He said that if elected the Governor in 2023, his administration would ensure easy access to land for agricultural purposes, and facilitate the cultivation of essential cash crops to create value chain for the establishment of agro-based industries as well as export to earn foreign exchange for the state.
The governorship hopeful who acknowledged the massive importance of agriculture in food sufficiency and wealth creation, attributed poverty and hunger in the state to lack of real political will to the development of agriculture.
“Extreme poverty and hunger are predominately rural, with small holder farmers and their families making up a very significant proportion of the poor and hunger – hence eradicating poverty and hunger are integrally linked to boosting food production, agricultural productivity and rural generated revenue, and this is premise on which food sufficiency and agricultural development policy rests upon,” he stated.
Luke, in a hope to reverse agriculture in the state if he becomes the next Governor, also promised among other factors to, “Sensitize the youth to see agriculture as a means for achieving self-sustenance, job creation and wealth creation.
“Collaborate and partner with agricultural development and research agencies/institutes to support viable agricultural policies in the state and provide necessary training to small scale farmers to optimise their farming methods.
“Partner with private and other stakeholders to boost cash crop production, fish farming, livestock farming and improve the capacity of our farmers with knowledge of the modern agriculture technology.
“Strengthen and upscale funding of facilities of agriculture in our tertiary institutions to encourage research and development.
“Establish a proper supply chain to ensure that agricultural products have a clear path to both local and international markets while ensuring global quality control mea and institutionalizing produce grading system as we as introduction government policies that are designed to attract foreign direct investment in agricultural processing,” he listed.
Onofiok who is the House of Representatives Chairman on Judiciary Committee, and whose campaign slogan is “Building Together growing together” also proposed other economic blueprint for the transformation of Akwa Ibom to include, education, healthcare, technology development, entrepreneurial and industrial development, tourism and sports entertainment, youth, women and social inclusion as well as security, infrastructure and good governance.
The Governorship aspirant, who also used the occasion of his formal declaration to celebrate his 44th birthday, further assured the people of the state of his capacity in knowledge and health to deliver lead and bring prosperity to the state in view of its abundance untapped natural resources.
He said, “While our vision is on short and iong term perspectives on the progressive development of our state, all our policies have elements that we can begin to implement immediately upon taking the reins of government.
“Depending on the conditions and characteristics of the various sectors of government that will become clearer to us when we have an insider view as the newly elected administration, the pace of implementation of our policy prescriptions will be pursued with greater precision. One certainty, however, is that we have the political will, the skills and the commitment to implement all our stated policies rapidly,” Luke assured.