…launches free food voucher programme

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, has launched the free food voucher programme for the vulnerable and the neediest at the popular Itam Market, located in Itu Local Government Area.

Flanked by the Deputy Governor, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, the two senators representing Akwa Ibom North East and South, respectively, Senator Aniekan Bassey and Senator Ekong Sampson, the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Enobong Uwah and other top government officials, Governor Eno spoke of his government’s bottom-up approach, where the poor and the vulnerable would be assisted to Arise and Shine.

The free food voucher for the vulnerable is a key element of the Bulk Agency Bill that was signed into law a week ago, and the Board, equally inaugurated by the governor, last week.

The key responsibility of the Agency is to provide free staple food items: Garri, rice and beans to the most vulnerable through the Social Register.

At the launch of this programme, the governor was hailed as a leader with compassion, and the joy and happiness on the part of the recipients was palpable. They prayed for the governor and promised to stand by him, support him and continue to pray for the success of his administration.

“This is an incredible people-oriented programme. This Governor is truly a Pastor. Look at the Christ-like humility he has shown here. He is standing right there, supervising the distribution of the food items; he greeted and touched the recipients.

“This is rare to see in people occupying such an exalted office,” Honourable Anietie Eka, a political chieftain from Uyo Local Government Area, had observed.

Governor Uno Eno’s humanitarian acts are what have defined him. In his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, he had clearly signalled the direction of his government: The need to bring governance closer to the people and have them be invested and take ownership in governance. “To those who may not be able to put food on your table, I will be your advocate and champion.”

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Today, at Itam Market, he took bold steps to do exactly that, stating, “When leaders are faced with daunting social problems, they usually think outside the box and that’s what motivated me to set up the Bulk Purchase Agency and the free food voucher drive initiative.

“We had reviewed all of the options, and this for us, remains the best. We are partnering with the market leaders and I want to thank them for the cooperation we have so far received from them.

“Let me repeat here that this is purely an interventionist act; the solution to our food security remains the need for us to go back to the farm. Yesterday, I paid an unannounced visit to a farm run by one of your young men and I was so impressed with what the young man is doing and we pledge to support him. I will continue to pay visits to farms run by both people in government and others,” he said.

The highlight of the day’s event was the announcement by the governor of a N1.5-billion interest free-loan to Akwa Ibom traders to be managed by the Ibom Fadama Micro Finance Bank.

“I have heard of how some of you go to some places to get loans with very high interest rates and that has made the cost of food go up, and before you finish paying the loans, you cannot meet up with your market or trading obligations anymore.

“I have come to tell you not to take such loans anymore. Consequently, we are releasing N500 million interest-free loans to each of the three senatorial districts (N1.5bn in total) to help your business.”

The governor also promised to construct a car park, provide solar panel light, and modern toilet facilities, all of which were the prayers of the leadership of the Itam Market.

The governor directed the Transition Chairmen of the remaining 29 councils (Itu and Uyo Local Government Councils, having been covered by today’s launch) to ensure they launch the free voucher food programme by next Tuesday.