Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the immediate past permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, has promised to make agriculture the crude oil of Edo State’s economy if given the mandate to govern the state during the September 21, 2024 governorship election.
Umakhihe, a frontline aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) opined that with his experience and achievements while at the helm of the ministry, his priority is to revolutionize the agriculture sector to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state.
The APC governorship hopeful, who will on January 6, 2024 officially declare his intention to contest the number one position in the state in Afuze, the administrative headquarters of Owan East Local Government Area, also promised to harness the solid minerals that abound in the state for the growth and development of the state.
He made the promises at a reception dinner to mark his retirement from the Federal Public Service after 35 years of meritorious service by friends and well-wishers in Benin City.
According to him, my major priority if given the APC ticket and subsequently elected governor of the state will be agriculture to grow and improve the state’s economy.
“I believe that agriculture holds the key to unlocking the State’s economic potential. This will put an end to our over dependence on revenue from the oil and gas sector.
“I will make agriculture the crude oil of Edo State. I have made this point several times that the state has a lot of arable land and all we need to do is to farm all year round.
“When you do that, you will have an increase in the production of staple and tree crops and you can use that as a pivot to develop the state and grow the economy”, he said.
Umakhihe, who said reward for hard work is more work, appealed to the APC leadership and members to give him more work by nominating him as the party candidate for the governorship election.
“I am a retired permanent secretary, my people are saying that I have tried. I have done a lot of work. My next question is, I want to work more, please give me more work. And I think, that more work is on a higher pedestal that is, governing the State or doing something greater than that”, he added
While assuring the people of good governance if given the opportunity to govern the state, he however, commended the organizers of the reception for appreciating him for his humble contribution to the development and growth of agriculture in the country especially in Edo State by ensuring that the state is self-sufficient in food production.
Earlier in his speech, Solomon Arase, chairman of the Nigeria Police Service Commission, described the technocrat as an embodiment of wisdom and a versatile professional.
He opined that the immediate past Federal Permanent Secretary collaboration and partnership with local and international stakeholders in strengthening and enhancing food safety and agricultural systems aligned with global best practices.
Arase also commended Umakhihe’s leadership style, which he said was one of collaboration, with a rare ability to inspire confidence and camaraderie within teams.
The occasion was graced by several eminent personalities and groups, including members of the Otuo Exclusive Club, Forum of Retired Civil Servants, Staff of NIFOR, Forum of Retired Heads of Service, members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria ICAN, and many others.