Ebonyi establishes zonal rice mills — Governor’s aide


Dr Ngozi Obichukwu, the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor of Ebonyi on Sustainable Development Goals, says the state government has created more opportunities for the mass milling of rice in the state.
Obichukwu said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar on Thursday that the initiative was part of efforts aimed at making Ebonyi the largest producer of rice in Nigeria.
She said the government established mills in each senatorial district to enable farmers to process their produce in their areas instead of travelling to Abakiliki to do so.
She said: “Initially, all the mills were concentrated in Abakiliki town but today each of the three senatorial zones has a gigantic milling plant where rice is processed to international standards.
“We also improved our packaging so that we can sell our rice outside Nigeria.’’
She said it was a policy for every government appointee in Ebonyi to own two hectares of land for crop cultivation, adding that this was aimed at making everyone go back to the farm.
She stated that in the rural areas, farmers are provided tractors and improved seedlings to make farming less tasking, boost harvest and make agriculture more profitable in the state.
She said the government had intensified campaigns for indigenes of Ebonyi engaged in menial activities, such as street hawking in different cities, to return and engage in productive and profitable ventures.
According to her, Governor David Umahi has visited Lagos to encourage such persons to be involved in serious economic activities.
She said the government had created a Ministry of Economic Empowerment and Job Creation to train such returnees on skills after which they would be given N250 grant each to start businesses.
She said: “It is important to state here that Governor David Umahi has promised to double the capital of any beneficiary who comes back with a profit equivalent to the initial grant he received after six months or a year.”
In the area of gender discrimination, Obichukwu said the Family Succour and Upliftment Programme, introduced by the wife of the governor, Rachael Umahi, in collaboration with UNFPA was fighting harmful cultural practices among the people.
She listed some of the practices as widowhood practices and female genital mutilation.
She said: “Today, it is criminal to mutilate any girl in Ebonyi because the state is a signatory to the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act.’’
Obichukwu called on Nigerians to use 2019 elections to rewrite whatever wrong that existed in the country.
She said: “2019 is another opportunity to rewrite whatever has been written wrongly in the country but this cannot be done using violence, the only weapon we all should carry is our Permanent Voter Cards.
“Politicians must also come to the realisation that only one person will win a particular election and if you lose you should take it like a sportsman.”