From Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Prince Clement Agba, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is very much concerned about the downtrodden and livelihood of Nigerians, especially rural dwellers.
The minister made the remark while addressing the people during his on-the-spot assessment of Nsukka-Lejja-Aku 7.5km road which is under construction courtesy of federal government COVID-19 Rural Road Intervention Project at Lejja Community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu.
According to him, ‘for the common people who voted him in power, that is you, he is very concerned about you, and the livelihoods of all Nigerians and he has said that Nigeria must produce what they eat, and we must eat what we produce and agriculture has to be the mainstream of our economy.
‘Our country in the past depended on agriculture before the discovery of oil, we were well-nourished, but today we have all abounded agriculture and focused on oil and the result is not good for our people.
‘That is why the Mr President said he must remember those who produce the food we eat from the rural areas, and he is aware that about 50 per cent of what you produce does not get to market because of the poor access road,’ he said.
The minister said that when covid-19 started early last year which could snowball into an economic crisis that food became a problem, the situation made the president ensure that he encourages the farmers by approving the sum of 34 billion naira to be spent on the construction of rural roads across the country to boost agriculture.
‘What the president is trying to do is to be able to connect the rural communities to the urban areas so that whatever you produce will easily get to the market.
‘Secondary, when those access roads are created, it will encourage investors to come to you, you may not even need to go to market, people will now come and aggregate what you produce and that will save you the cost of transporting them to the urban market,’ he said.
He enjoyed the people of the community and South-East to support President Buhari’s transformational agenda for the betterment of the country adding that the present administration has done a lot of infrastructural work than any other government in this South-East zone since the return of democracy in the country.
The minister and his entourage were received at the Community Secondary School Lejja after he inspected the progress and level of work done on the road. The community in an address signed by HRM Ugwoke Nwani said:
‘This is the first time this ancient community of more than 2000 B.C is seeing a tarred road in the town, it is the first time our peace-loving people are working, riding and driving on a tarred road in our town and it is the first time we have ever gathered together to celebrate such a phenomenon in this town not minding the fact that the tarring has not covered all of Lejja.
‘We thank you Mr Honourable Minister for the history you and the Federal Government have made in Lejja. 19th February 2001 is a day Lejja will ever continue to remember. On this day, you have written your name on the marble in our town.
‘You have seen for yourself the rough, dusty and on an untarred portion of our road, a maximum of five kilometres, we hereby flee to your patronage and that of your Ministry and Federal Government under President Mohammed Buhari to kindly help to complete the tarring of the remaining portion of the road,’ he said.
The students, staff and management of Federal Government Girls’ College Lejja who trooped out in their numbers to join their host community in receiving the minister in an address presented by Miss Dim Paschaline the Head Girl of the College.
She said: ‘The award and construction of the Nsukka-Lejja-Aku road by president Buhari’s administration and Enugu state government has brought huge relief to staff, students and parents who have suffered untold hardship for over twenty-five years since the establishment of this college.
‘The principal, staff and students of FGGC Lejja appreciate with immense gratitude the construction work, as we pray that approval and fund be released to complete the last stretch of four kilometres from Nsukka to our school gate,’ he said.
In a remark, the Coordinator of the Lejja/Aku Communities Hosting Committee, Mr Victor Amorha, the benefiting communities lauded the President for the good gesture shown them by his government.
The communities equally appreciated the Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, for ceding to get full Executive Council endorsement to get the project rolling, adding that the projects, when completed, would put back the benefiting communities on the world map.
The communities equally lauded Agba, for the harmonious working relationship between him and their son, Samuel Ekwueme, serving in his office as a Special Assistant (SA), adding that the road would reduce post-harvest losses of agricultural produces to at least 85% in the benefiting communities.