The candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Sept. 19 Edo Governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has promised to revive rice production in Ekpoma, Esan West Local Government Council of Edo State, to boost food production and availability and raise the earnings of farmers.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu, who made the promise at a rally on Wednesday, said Ekpoma’s repute as a hub of local rice production in the state was destroyed by the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki following his administration’s poor investment in agriculture and insincerity with support funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He accused Governor Obaseki of mismanaging the billions his administration received under the CBN credit scheme for farmers.
“The present administration collected a lot of billions under the Central Bank of Nigeria credit scheme for farmers but could not invest the money wisely.
“Many farmers in this local government council applied for the loan scheme but they did not benefit from the scheme.
“But my administration, if voted for, would revive the agricultural potentials in this community especially rice production.
“Growing up as a child, Ekpoma rice was a delicacy in almost every household in the state and a major source of income for farmers in Ekpoma.”
Indeed, Edo farmers, under the aegis of Edo State Concerned Farmers Association (ESCFA), staged a protest in Abuja last month demanding a probe of the N144 billion loan disbursed to the Obaseki-led Edo State Government by the Central Bank of Nigeria for onward distribution to farmers as loans.
Addressing newsmen after the protest, the Deputy Coordinator of the farmers, Comrade Abdul Muhammad Oshiobugie, said the government defaulted in its mandated payment for their farm produce since the harvest seasons of 2017 and 2019.
He also said the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, rebuffed all demands for accountability, prompting them to alert the CBN and demand a probe by the anti-graft agencies.
Meanwhile, Ize-Iyamu’s campaign also visited Owan West Local Government where the APC candidate assured residents, who gathered in record numbers, of his commitment to fulfill plans in his SIMPLE agenda manifesto to develop the LG and empower the people.