The Hon. Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development – Chief Audu Ogbeh OFR was on Sunday honoured with the Public Service Outstanding Award along with 9 other notable Nigerians by the Public Research and Analysis Center – the body that institutionalised the Zik Leadership Award to recognize, appreciate and encourage distinguished Nigerians who have made significant contributions to the development of the nation.
The momentous event which is part of the Zik Prize in Leadership, took place at the Civic Centre, Uzoh Mbadiwe street, Victoria Island .
In the citation read at a colourful event attended by a la cream of Nigeria’s VIP’s from different works of life, Chief Ogbeh was described as the farmers’ farmer noted for his unimpeachable integrity, whose appointment was largely hailed as representing the most square- pegged appointment in recent times.
The Minister was also credited with the feat of upturning the country’s craze for rice importation, stimulates unprecedented Nigeria’s local rice revolution; thus making the country the largest producer of rice in West Africa. He also got commendation for ensuring availability and accessibility of agro-inputs like seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals to farmers at the right time and reasonable cost.
Other forward looking policies of the Minister that have not escaped the attention of the organizers include the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Programme (LIFE) and the procurement and distribution of agricultural processing equipment to rural households, farmers, processors and cooperative societies across the country as well as the introduction of Agro-Rangers security guards to protect large scale farmers and ward off criminals attacking farmers.
Chief Ogbeh also received kudos for being the brain behind the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative which saw Nigeria’s partnership with the Government of Morocco for the supply of phosphates – a development that has resulted in the revitalization of eleven fertilizer blending plants and introduction of a robust quality seeds assurance scheme.
The Award Plaque to the Minister was jointly presented by Chairman of the All Progressive Congress APC – Chief John Oyegun and Nigeria’s former Senate President Senator Ken Nnamani.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and his Katsina State counterpart also bagged the Good Governance Award while an APC chieftain and former Governor of Osun State – Chief Adebisi Akande was honoured with Political Leadership Award.
Others that were honoured include Mr Ernest Ebi – Chairman Fidelity Bank and Dr Makanti Kacalla Baru, Group Managing Director NNPC, honoured with (Professional Leadership) and Dr Adedeji Adeleke (Business Leadership). Wives of two State Governors – Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano and Hajia Hadiza Abubakar of Anambra and Bauchi States also got Awards for Humanitarian Services for their poverty alleviation initiatives through the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative CAFE and Bauchi Sustainable Women Economic Empowerment & Peace Initiative (B-SWEEP) respectively.