I’ll return as Governor in 2019, says Okowa, warns that herdsmen/farmers’ clash is threat to food security

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his Deputy, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro at the Media briefing.

“I know I am returning in 2019, I am coming back with my deputy, by God’s grace,” a confident and prayerful Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa declared Wednesday morning inside the Press Centre, Government House, Asaba, where he hosted journalists at the quarterly media briefing.

Answering questions from journalists during the question and answer session of the briefing, the governor said he was optimistic and confident of completing the on-going projects embarked upon by his administration, particularly the gigantic State secretariat project being handled by a Chinese firm.

The journalist had asked that with the elections fast coming and given the many projects on-going, especially the State secretariat project, if he was sure that the projects would be completed during his tenure, or does he anticipated that in case he does not return as governor, whether the new administration would complete it.

Okowa adjusting his sitting position, retorted: “I know that in 2019, I am coming back with my deputy, by God’s grace.” And making a gesture, pointing to his his deputy, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, who sat to his right, the Governor continued: “The secretariat project will be completed in 2019. I am hoping that they can complete it before I begin my second tenure.”
The governor said he does not have any interest in the Chinese firm handling the project an he is not a Chinese himself, explaining that among the bidders for the contract the firm was found successful, and that approval was given to it to undertake the project after thorough scrutiny was given to the reputation of the construction company.
Earlier, Governor Okowa described the numerous clash between herdsmen and farmers in the country as a great threat to sustainable food production.
He decried the threat posed by herdsmen to food production across the country. “If we are going to encourage agriculture in this country, we must address the loss of farm produce from these security challenges posed by the herdsmen/farmers clash all over the country,” he warned.
While disclosing that his administration took proactive steps, including setting up interventionist committees to ensure that the clashes does not escalate as being  witnessed in some states of the federation, Governor Okowa expressed confidence that the Presidential Committee set up on the issue will proffer solutions for the Federal Government to give policy trust for Nigerians to follow.
He also stated that the issue of herdsmen taking over Uwheru community in Ughelli North local government area was being taken care of by security operatives, asserting that his administration will always employ diplomacy to avoid loss of life as a result of the activities of herdsmen.

On the issue of tractors being hired to farmers at exorbitant cost, the Governor expressed joy that most Deltans were into farming, noting that farmers’ co-operative societies took charge of the hiring of tractors, but promised that more would be procured to cater for those who could not access tractors being run by the co-operative societies.
Answering another question on the taking over of land belonging to Umutu community by the Edo State government, Governor Okowa stated that the Attorney-General and Commissioner forJustice has been directed to liaise with Umutu community because, the issue was before the court.

On the issue of security generally in the state, Governor Okowa thanked Deltans for their peaceful dispositions which has ensured effective take-off the multi-billion naira Premium Steel Rolling Mill, formerly, Delta Steel Company, Aladja. He attributed the performance of the ground-breaking ceremony for the take-off of companies in the state and the flooding of the state by investors to the peaceful atmosphere in the state.
He observed that the state is peaceful, adding that his administration also holds regular Security Council meetings to nip security challenges in the bud.

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