Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has warned that there can be no sustainable development in the oil and gas state. He was speaking during the inauguration of the National Executive Committee of Maintain Peace Movement (MPM), a political campaign platform which was held in Uyo, the state capital.
While Udom was harping on the need for sustainable peace which he said the movement will achieve, EL-Kanis, a technology firm, was launching an electronic platform to disseminate information to farmers to boost food production in the state.
MPM has been launched in all the 31 local government areas of the state with pledges about peaceful co-existence in the state and the need for it to be sustainable as experienced in the last six years.
Earlier, its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Enoidem, gave an insight into the reason behind the formation of the group saying it will help ensure the legacy of peace in Akwa Ibom, pointing out, “this historic endeavour is intended to make the legal of peace in the state enduring and sustainable by ingraining it in the minds and hearts of our people.
Speaking about the genesis of the campaign which began in Ikono and Ini Federal Constituency of the state, Enoidem who is said to be eyeing the Ikot Ekpene senatorial seat and currently the National Legal Adviser of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the gains of the peace seen in the state needed to be kept on course.
“On that day, we took the message of peace, the gargantuan gains our state has enjoyed on account of the legal of peace that the present administration has laid to the good people of Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas of the state.’’
But speaking about his succession, the governor who has constantly said that it is God that will reveal his successor to him called for a peaceful transition while hoping the that politics of succession would not divide the state.
Cracks have been noticed in the campaign towards 2023 general elections as the governorship primaries draw nearer with hosts of aspirants across the state indicating interest which seems to suggest that it would be anything but a walk in the park.
Though there is an understanding that the next governor would likely come from Uyo senatorial district since Eket, Ikot Ekpene had turned their turns, one contentious issue has been that of micro-zoning, whether the governorship position should be further zoned to Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency which according to analysts has yet to produce the governor of the state.
Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, who represents Uyo senatorial district in the National Assembly who hails from Itu/Ibiono Federal Constituency, is believed to be nursing a governorship ambition and he is the major contender on the platform of the PDP.
This has been opposed by the stakeholders including Enoidem who has said that the agreement was for the governorship position to rotate between senatorial districts and not federal constituencies.
With the proposal in the Electoral Bill for direct primaries in which those seeking elective positions are to be elected directly by the people and not be delegates, the popular aspirant may likely emerge as the flagbearer of the party, a development that has further split the party.
The launch of the movement was witnessed by a large crowd of people mostly members of PDP and though it was seen as a non-partisan platform, members of the major opposition party in the state were absent.
In the meantime, the electronic platform for farmers known as El-kanis Vernacular Interactive Voice Response (EIVR) was launched at a ceremony in Uyo, attended by farmers, tech companies and youths.
Managing Director of the firm, Ekan Ukpe, said EIVR was developed to help “farmers in the rural areas have access to market and other essential services,” adding that from available data, over “50 million smallholder farmers who are basically in the rural areas lack access to improved agricultural services and have no access to markets”
Ukpe also added that few farmers in the rural areas have access to loan facilities. According to him, with the launch of the platform, it will be possible to gain innovative ideas and skills to boost food production.
“The purpose of this stakeholders interaction is to create awareness about this new platform we are unveiling to the general public and how it works. El-kanis Vernacular Interactive Voice Response (EIVR) is a mobile marketplace platform for food and Agriculture supply Chain development.
“Our target market consists of farmers, input suppliers, Agro service providers, financial service providers and supply chain actors who are passionate to grow and succeed in their Agriculture and food business, but don’t have platform to connect with rural farmers and value chain network.
“What this platform do is to support rural farmers with Agro-services, connect Agro-producers to processors, and enable market access to farmers with the local dialect. With 200 million people who are currently facing looming food crisis if you don’t strengthen those that are actually helping us to produce the food there is possibility of the country moving into food crisis”
Ukpe who is a member Institute of Agribusiness Management, listed EIVR advantages to include flexible access to required services for rural farmers, increase of agribusiness and rural farmers productivity accelerating adoption with a flexible request tool that matches requestor to service provider.
He added that EIVR has the potentials to de-risk rural Agricultural value chains, tackle food pre and post harvest losses in the rural areas, enhance healthy food security and also build Africa’s next agriculture entrepreneurs among others.
He expressed worries over reports which revealed that Nigeria imports food worth $10billion annually, stressing, “Import dependency is hurting Nigerian farmers, displacing rural food production and creating rising unemployment.”
In a demonstration, he said drone technology can be deployed to show crop yield, soil composition and reasons for crop failure to farmers.
In his brief remarks the Executive Director of the organization, Mr. Moses Akpan, explained why the company was diversifying into E-Agriculture describing it as a strategy that would encourage youths particularly in Akwa Ibom to develop interest in agriculture.
During an interaction, participants lauded the vision behind the launch of the platform saying it would significantly boost food production and ensure food sufficiency.