That the novel coronavirus pandemic has devastated the global community is not in question. The compelling lockdown of human activities around the world, in the bid to mitigate the spread of the virus has brought so much disorder, shocks and disruption to economies, wrecking unquantifiable havocs in many ramifications.
With the continuous plummeting of economic activities, great danger lies in wait, as there are projections of even more disruptions if there are no pragmatic measures to manage post COVID-19 calamities.
Long after the COVID-19 pandemic may have been subdued, countries around the world would have to be at their bests to restore normalcy in their domains, and chief among the major concerns would be economic revival.
Today, the novel coronavirus has increased the rate of unemployment and compounded the challenge of hunger and poverty among peoples around the world. The scenario in Nigeria, is even more complicated, as the national revenue has nose-dived, in response to the sharp drop in the prices of crude oil in the international market. Thus, reducing hunger among citizens through aggressive investment in agriculture would be the most plausible point to begin the economic revival strategies of political leaders. Food is the most important basic need, which people need and will always need.
In addition to employing agriculture to fighting hunger in post COVID-19 era, the sector may also become the beautiful bride in shoring up domestic economies. Agribusiness may be the way to go, as part of measures to bridge the revenue gap occasioned by dwindling prices of crude oil.
While many states and even nations may not have kick-started their post COVID-19 economic agenda, Akwa Ibom State is already making strides that would stand her out as a leading economy in post COVID-19 era. Since the inception of his administration in 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel he has continued to emphasize his commitment to ensuring that 80% of local food consumption comes from within the state. And, to underscore his determination in this regard, he inaugurated a Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency.
With about 3,240 hactres of cassava plantation across the state, cultivation of over 1,200 hectares of rice, revitalised cocoa plantation, the establishment of a fertilizer blending plant, empowerment of farmers through various loans and grants, among other laudable initiatives, the Governor has raised the bar in subsistence and commercial agriculture. Today, Akwa Ibom is on the verge of agricultural revolution that will further boost her economy.
The capability of the Akwa Ibom government to provide basic food items as palliatives for the citizens during the recent total lockdown of the state was a clear testimony to the purposeful leadership and foresightedness of Governor Emmanuel. Tons of garri, rice, flour and beans were distributed in about 3,000 villages across the state. It is imperative to note that garri, rice and flour were all produced in Akwa Ibom state. One can only imagine what could have happened if state was not capable of meeting her own basic food needs.
Although the coronavirus pandemic is still raging, Governor Emmanuel, in his forward thinking characteristics, apart from ensuring that immediate challenges are adequately catered for, has gone ahead to inaugurate a post-COVID-19 Economic Reconstruction Committee, comprising members who have proven their mettle in different spheres of economic endeavours. The import of this initiative is that Akwa Ibom would not come out of the COVID-19 era blank and empty, in search of what to do or how to begin.
A major agenda for the Committee is the development of workable templates for the diversification of a mono economy dependent on petrodollar, to a more sustainable economic expansion programme anchored on the rich agricultural resources of the state and the allied agro based industrialization initiatives.
There is no doubt that with the foresight, ingenuity, humongous investment and the enabling environment that Governor Udom Emmanuel has brought to bear in his agribusiness vision for the state, Akwa Ibom people can now look ahead for a better and more secured economic future, in spite of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, and the attendant economic crises the world is currently witnessing.