By Tony Adibe
The Enugu State governorship standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Dr. Peter Mbah, has assured the people of the state, investors and members of the business community that, if elected into office, his government will transform the State from subsistence agriculture to a hub of technology-driven agro-allied industrialisation.
Dr Mbah disclosed this during his ongoing town hall meetings held in Aninri East and Aninri South Development Centres of the state while interacting with different sections of the communities to ascertain their needs and further integrate them in his programmes for the people.
NewsBits learnt that the town hall meetings, are being organised to avail members of the communities, including different professional bodies, the opportunity to interact with the business mogul-turned politician, and make demands from his anticipated government in 2023.
It was also learnt that, so far,the meetings have attracted thousands of community leaders, religious leaders, traders, market women, farmers, and other trade union bodies who took out time to express their concerns about the future of the state and what they expected from Mbah’s administration.
In their separate speeches at the two development centres, the member representing Aninri State Constituency at the House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedu Okwu and the Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Hon. Uchenna Ogbonna bemoaned the recurring flood menace in the area during rainy season which they blamed for the low productivity in their farming produce.
The duo urged Mbah to complete the abandoned water dam commenced by the federal government in the area, stressing that the guber candidate has the intellectual grits, competence and proven capacity to make a huge difference in the lives of the people.
Bemoaning further the frequent clashes between the people of the area and some parts of Ebonyi State over land disputes, Okwu and Ogbonna accused the government of Ebonyi State of “trespass, bellicosity and land grabbing”, saying the intervention of Mbah will bring a lasting solution to the feud.
They further called on Mbah to look into the state of their decaying road to enable them to move their farm produce to markets, while also observing that the area is in dire need of fire station to avert fire outbreak that has been notorious in the area during dry season.
Also, the Presidents General of Okpanku and other neighbouring communities led by Obiora Obasi, Chief Engr. Jonathan Achara, retired Justice Okeke, among others, called for the establishment of new hospitals and upgrade of the existing ones, adding that youth empowerment in the area was a key concern to them.
Responding to the issues raised by members of the communities, Mbah noted that the town hall meetings were showing positive results as the main purposes for the engagements were being achieved.
Mbah said: “We came here for serious business and to interface with you on how to implement our manifesto by giving you the opportunity to speak to us directly. We came to ascertain your needs and we have heard you clearly. I want to tell you we are documenting all the issues you have raised, and we are tackling them.”
Emphasising that agriculture is the crude oil in the state, the oil and gas investor said there can not be meaningful development without quality infrastructures in the state.
Mbah assured that his administration will be sparking integrated development industrialisation which will transform agriculture from the present sub-optimal and low production to agro-allied industrialisation, with the state targeting not only to be the food basket of the nation but to also go into net exporting of agriculture produce.
He also explained how he intended to achieve the ambitious project, stressing that the revolution in the agriculture sector will be driven by technology through mechanisation and new infrastructures.
Mbah said: “We have many programmes which are productivity based that will move our economy from its present $4.4 billion to $30 billion. Aninri will be a key part towards achieving the project. As you know, agriculture contributes 40% of the gross domestic product of our economy. So, our own crude oil here in Aninri is agriculture because we have arable land here. We are going to guard our land jealously and address all cases of trespass on our land.
“It is part of our programme to establish special agro-allied processing zones across the state. We will provide all that our farmers need to scale up production. Our agriculture will migrate from manual to mechanized farming through the deployment of technology. We have a deliberate strategy to grow exponentially in order to move our economy seven-fold.
“To achieve this, we are going to provide seed funding that will revolve among our farmers through angel investors. Our farmers will be trained in ICT if we must deploy technology and mechanisation in the agriculture sector.
“Our administration will provide access road, complete the ongoing dam, tackle the issue of flood by converting it to reservoir or even canalise it for irrigation. So, our storage facility to provide you with water will be provided. We have said we are going to construct 10,000 kilometers road across the state. This is deliberate. It will enable easy movements of goods and our farm produce to market. Massive warehouse, equipment for processing, logistics and packages will be made available. We are going to generate economic agents that will patronize our farm produce.”
Mbah, who also spoke on health, promised that the healthcare system in the area will be overhauled, upgrading existing ones and building new ones that will function 24-hours with adequate staff, including resident doctors.
He also assured the people of his programme to drive tourism in the area, which will generate additional revenue, adding that portable water, quality education, extension of rural electrification, and youth’s empowerment will constitute parts of his key agenda.