…..grateful for recognition
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has expressed gratitude to the organisers of the Zik Prize for Leadership, an event that took place in Lagos on Sunday night. He spoke a day after the award. “Personally, let me say that I appreciate and I am really grateful to Zik Prize Committee because it is an encouragement. It’s a fitting reward for one who has come into a certain line of public service with a great deal of personal action,” Ogbeh said.
Reflecting further on why he appreciated the prize, he added that: “I have been in agriculture for virtually all my life even in the days when I was in and out of government. But I am very grateful to Nigerians because, in spite of the many difficulties Nigerians are facing today, they have responded well to the call by government to return to agriculture.”
He saw reasons to be happy with the state of agriculture as “farmers are beginning to make money for the first time in their lives and they are happy. Young people are returning to agriculture in droves, only waiting for government’s support which we have to provide them.”
“We are now working towards reducing the interest rate on agriculture to five per cent, especially for the small borrowers,” the Minister disclosed. “For us, the major achievement if we succeed in bringing interest rate to five per cent is, we believe in the next two to three years, this country will become a major force in agriculture worldwide. So I am grateful to Nigerians, the media, young and old, to the President for the opportunity given, but most grateful to a society that is passing through trials but is still good enough to say we recognise what you are doing.”
He encouraged the younger generation to be dedicated to agriculture. “I am of an advanced age,” he said of himself, “and you have the energy and the willingness. Don’t give up. Do what you must.” He expressed appreciation for the honour and pledged to “continue to do my best until we round off what we are doing hoping then that agriculture will take off and climb to heights that it has never achieved in this country.”