Akwa Ibom people have been greeted with a beam of hope as the state Government gears up efforts for hitch free Xmas celebration and wades into the recent hike in the prices of staple food in the state.
The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong, disclosed this while briefing Government House Correspondents on decisions reached at the State Executive Council meeting presided over by the state Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at Government House, Uyo.
Comrade Ememobong said that the state government is particularly concerned with the recent hike in the prices of staple foods particularly garri, rice, onions and has taken steps to redressed the trend so as to avert the consequences of such food crisis on the populace as the yuletide approaches.
He stated that the Council has directed the Commissioner for Agriculture to establish agriculture depots in the three senatorial districts and to take strategic steps to cause the prices of garri and rice to be reduced drastically, for the interest of the generality of the citizens and in preparation for the Yuletide.
Ememobong disclosed that the Council further directed the ministry of Agriculture to immediately commence large scale commercial onion production, drawing from their experience during the experimental onion cultivation already executed.
“EXCO has directed the State Commissioner for Agriculture and the entire agriculture apparatus of government to ensure that the prices of garri, rice and other food items are crashed to a reasonable amount in preparation for the yuletide.
“Also, EXCO has noted the high cost of Onions and has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to take practical steps to ensure the availablity of onions in the state.
“We do not want to be challenged by the things we can surmount, hence the desire of Government to produce at least 80 percent of consumables here in the state”, Ememobong explained.
The Commissioner told the Press that the Council particularly frowned at the alleged involvement of market unions in the recent hike in the prices of food items, explaining that high cost of the commodities in the state cannot be attributed to none availability of the farm products but sharp practices on the part of the traders unions.
He maintained that it is the responsibility of government to protect lives and properties, provide amenities and means of livelihood to its people, emphasising that government will not fold it arms and watch few people agonising others by creating artificial scarcity of the staple foods under the guise of unionism.
Affirming the Councils decision towards ensuring a zero-crime yuletide in the state, the Information Commissioner said that the Council has directed security agencies to handle all security infractions in the state with diligence in preparation for the season.
“2020 has been difficult enough, criminals and vandals must not make it worse and the council is committed to ensuring that everyone have a fun-filled yuletide and prepare for next year”, the Commissioner noted.
The Information Boss added that the Council also deliberated on the proposed Environmental and Petroleum Management Law by the State Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources and has forwarded recommendations to the Ministry of Justice for in-depth analysis.
Ememobong announced that the council also granted approval for advertisement for the post of a General Manager for Akwa Ibom Water Company Limited which has become vacant over time to enable interested and qualified members of the public to apply.
The state spokesperson added that the Council decided that the COVID-19 Task Force should continue to maintain strict surveillance on COVID -19 spread in the light of its global resurgence.