An Abia lawmaker, Chief Philip Igwe, and his elder brother, Chris, have donated palliatives worth millions of naira to traditional rulers and clergymen in Umunneochi State Constituency to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown in the state.
In a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria , in Umuahia on Monday, the legislator listed the items to include 160 bags of 100Kg rice, 2,100 liquid hand sanitisers and 300 bags of 50kg fertiliser.
Other items were two cartons of personal protective equipment donated by members of Harvard University Alumni Association, who were Chris’ classmates to be distributed to health workers.
Dr Ken Madubuike, who handed over the items to the beneficiaries at Umunneochi Local Government headquarters on behalf of the donors, described the gesture as exemplary since the state government introduced the lockdown.
Madubuike said that the beneficiaries also included members of the Chrisnak Friends Club (CFC), a non-governmental organisation, founded by Chris, a Lagos-based business mogul and philanthropist.
He said that Umunneochi Agricultural Revolution (UAR), an initiative of the lawmaker to encourage agriculture, otherwise called “Operation 10,000 farmers”, got 300 bags of fertiliser.
He said that the monarchs got 30 bags of rice and N100,000; clergymen, 25 bags of rice, while CFC members got 105 bags of rice plus N130,000.
Speaking further on behalf of the donors he said that the palliatives were meant to support Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s efforts to cushion the economic impact of the lockdown on the people.
According to the donors, there is an urgent need to take proactive steps to explore the huge agricultural potential in view of the anticipated post-Covid-19 uncertainties.
Quoting the lawmaker, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Madubuike said: “Due to the debilitating effect of Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, it has become highly imperative for our people to return to agriculture.
“Having initiated constituency farming as solution to the economic downturn, I hereby renew my call on all Umunneochi households to get back to land this farming season ahead of the post-COVID-19 economic uncertainties.”
He urged the leadership of UAR to ensure that only genuine farmers, “who are determined to ensure the success of the back-to-land agricultural project”, benefitted from the fertiliser.
In their separate responses, the beneficiaries thanked the Igwes for their magnanimity and concern for the wellbeing of their people during the challenging period.
The Chairman of Umunneochi Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Jonathan Obasi, said the monarchs were grateful for the gesture and thanked the donors for remembering the monarchs.
Also, the Project Coordinator of UAR, Mr Chuks Madu, said the group would make effective use of the fertiliser to ensure post-COVID-19 food security in the area.
Madu said: “We have fertile, arable land in Umunneochi. What we need is encouragement and incentives and we shall make Umunneochi the food basket of Abia.
“The fertiliser will go a long way to help us to achive this noble mission,” he said. .