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If FG fails to secure farmers, food prices‘ll remain high – FACAN

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GOVERNORS of the thirty- six states, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, have said they were on top of the situation to address issues of food crisis, economic hardship and hunger in the country, introducing different strategies and measures.

The governors said they had taken several proactive steps to counter the present food crisis as well as the inherent economic hardships.

In a report signed by the Acting Head of Media, NGF, Halimah Salihu Ahmed, in Abuja yesterday, NGF said governors were committed to ending the pain and suffering of citizens in the land.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu had met with the state governors at the Council Chambers of Aso Rock Villa, Abuja in February, where issues of hike in food prices, economic hardship and others were discussed, with a view to proferring solutions.

According to the report of the NGF, Kwara State governor and chairman of the NGF, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in collaboration with Governors Agbu Kefas of Taraba State; Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State; and Ahmed Ododo of Kogi State, pushed for increased crop production through the federal ministry of agriculture to address food shortages.

The report read: “In Akwa Ibom State, the government is planning to establish an agency which will buy food items in bulk and then sell them at cheaper prices to the residents.

“Towards this end, the Akwa Ibom State governor, Umo Eno, has forwarded to the House of Assembly a bill for the establishment of the agency.”

Quoting the spokesman of Akwa Ibom State governor, Ekerete Udoh, the report said Governor Eno appealed to residents to be patient, while promising to sign the bill into law when passed by the assembly.

Purchasing food items in bulk
It read further: “We will buy the food items in bulk and ensure that they are made available to our people at relatively lower prices. The process will be transparent. I want to thank the House of Assembly for the expeditious manner this bill is being treated.

“In Niger State, Governor Mohammed Umar Bago announced a ban on the mass purchase of foodstuffs from local markets. He ordered security forces to confiscate trucks carrying products in bulk and “share the food to the people”.

“In Enugu State, Governor Peter Mbah said his administration will eradicate hunger and poverty in the state and unlock the rural economy through investment in agriculture and agro-industrialisation.

‘’Mbah, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Chidiebere Onyia, said this during the celebration of the 2023 World Food Day in Enugu.

“The governor said the state government was intensifying efforts to grow the economy of the state from $4.4 billion to $30 billion through massive investment in agriculture by attracting investors, empowering the farmers and opening the rural economy of the state.

‘’As governors firmly respond to the multiple consequences of a food crisis,for the masses, it may just be morning yet on creation day.

“Also, the Ekiti State government said it has committed the sum of N1 billion to improve food production, especially to embark on land preparation, driven by the ministry of agriculture and food security’s tractorization subsidy scheme, and an input supply programme to support small scale farmers.

“Similarly, the government said it is also committing a whopping N1.2 billion it recently got as first tranche of the World Bank-financed Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support ( L-PRES) Project to transform the livestock subsector.

Ekiti gov commits N1bn on food production
“According to the NGF report, in Ekiti State, the money would be spent on empowering livestock farmers, boosting livestock productivity as well as creating a conducive environment for youths and private sector involvement in livestock businesses.

“This, the NGF report said, will include revamping all veterinary clinics across the local government areas and the state veterinary hospital; development of poultry sector across the value chain from production to processing; Feed formulation and artificial insemination (Al) training and support, among others.

“In Zamfara State, last week, Governor Dauda Lawal hosted the Swedish Ambassador, Annika Hahn-Englund, on partnership on how to grow the state economy and address the current hardships
“The report said the meeting aimed to create collaboration and partnership in critical areas of the economy, build long-term relationships, and implement transformative projects to benefit Zamfara State and its people.

“At the meeting, Governor Lawal assured the Swedish ambassador of his administration’s readiness to promote collaboration and sustainable development across various sectors.

“Sweden has expressed interest in partnering with Zamfara State to build long-term relationships and implement transformative projects for the state’s people in Nigeria.”

“Furthermore, the Ambassador pledged to offer Zamfara technical expertise in responsible mining practices, modern agricultural techniques, renewable energy infrastructure, and support in improving education and healthcare services.

States set to meet FG
“According to the report from the NGF secretariat, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, who is also chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, in collaboration with the Governors Agbu Kefas of Taraba State; Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State; and Ahmed Ododo of Kogi State with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, FMAFS, to interface with the federal government and push for increased crop production to tackle food inflation and food shortages in Nigeria.

“The report said Governor Abdulrazaq explained that the Anchor Borrowers Programme that was previously implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria did not achieve much.

“He called on the agriculture minister to work hard to meet the food targets of government, as this was vital for the Nigerian masses, adding that state governors would work with the ministry.

“According to the chairman of the governors forum, ‘we could not achieve much with the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme; it was very challenging. The issue of food security is a one-stop-shop and we need to concentrate on what we are doing. We need to concentrate on what we are doing for the dry season farming.

“The minister has come up with a programme on cassava, rice and maize and we want to’ engage in that programme and urgently make sure we improve on our yield and deliver to the Nigerian population.

“We want to get to a stage where we export our food. What we have now is that, because of the devaluation of our naira, Nigeria’s food is being exported to West Africa and is the cheapest in the region today.”

“He explained that the governors had “come to the realisation that we have a new Ministry of Agriculture, because over the last four years, before this administration, the engagement was not too productive.

“This was because the CBN took over most of what the agriculture ministry use to do. Our trips to the ministry at that time were not fruitful. But now we have seen strong engagement and sense from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and that is why we are here today.”, the chairman of the governors forum stressed.

“Governor Abdulrazaq also said the governors had also noted that food in Nigeria was the cheapest in West Africa, adding that Nigeria’s neighbours were using its food to trade.

“As a result the NGF chairman said, “They are taking our soya and other stuff to make foreign exchange for themselves. That is not a bad thing. What we need to do is to ramp up production and increase our yields per hectare so that we can feed West Africa, feed ourselves 100 per cent and export food. That is the goal we must achieve…. whatever subsidy that is coming from the federal government will be improved upon by the states.”

Govs visit, endorsement of FG, states’ collaboration
“According to the report, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator . Abubakar Kyari, described the four governors’ visit as a huge endorsement for the progressive drive towards the much-needed collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and state governments.

“It is to create an agricultural sector fit for a nation as endowed as Nigeria with massive arable fertile land, abundant water resources and agricultural labour force. This visit is, in my view, beyond a courtesy call. The bigger picture we seek to create now is to vastly increase agricultural production all year round.

“This is with the cardinal objective of driving down food inflation, creating employment, reducing poverty, engendering economic growth and development, as well as promoting inclusivity.

“Ahead of the second phase of the dry season food production programme under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-Pocket, I sent out expression of interests to the governors of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to which responses have been encouraging.
“Indeed, a number of your brother governors have paid visits to our corporate headquarters here. These include the governors of Jigawa, Katsina, Ekiti, Niger, Kebbi, and Sokoto states in furtherance of the collaboration we are seeking for the success of the dry season food production programme.”

“It could also be recalled that mid-February, President Bola Tinubu met with all 36 state governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Council Chamber of the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“The meeting trails the recent hike in food prices and hardship, key themes of the meeting.

“The report from the NGF secretariat, the meeting was attended by Vice President Kashim Shettima, Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume; the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun; the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu and the President’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Governors who attended were those of Kwara, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; Imo, Hope Uzodinma; Borno, Prof. Babagana Zulum, Edo, Godwin Obaseki; Rivers, Sim Fubara; Ekiti, Biodun Oyebanji, Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule and Anambra Prof. Charles Soludo.

“Also present were the governors of Plateau, Caleb Mutfwang; Kaduna, Uba Sani; Adamawa, Ahmadu Fintiri; Jigawa, Umar Namadi; Kogi, Ahmed Ododo; Yobe, Mai Mala Buni; Niger, Mohammed Bago; Abia, Alex Otti; Enugu, Peter Mbah; Benue, Hyacinth Alia and Babajide Sandi-Olu of Lagos.

“The governors of Delta, Bauchi, Oyo, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kano were represented by their deputies. Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike; Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari; and Information, Mohammed Idris, also attended.

“The report said that twenty-four hours after President Tinubu met with state governors, where Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State unveiled his government’s food security plan as he advocated national unity to resolve the current national economic crisis.

“Governor Adeleke visited the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security during which he opened up on the extensive agenda of the state government on food security and expanded food production.

“These are emergency eras in the economic life of this nation. We, therefore, have a duty to look and act beyond partisan politics and ensure collective efforts towards restoration of normalcy. A federation works best when component units join hands for common good.

“It is in that line that I am here today. The first reason is to brief you on what the Osun State government is doing on the issue of food security and ongoing economic challenges facing the nation.

Tinubu briefs state govs on steps towards addressing the food crisis

“Mr. President briefed the state governors on the state of the nation. He outlined several steps state governors should take to stem the crisis of food security and inflation.

“I am happy to report that Osun government has been very proactive. First, we are setting up a State Security Trust Fund to mobilise financing for security agencies. This is going to be private sector-driven.

“Secondly, I have convened a food security meeting to brainstorm on how to further secure our farmlands. I will be meeting representatives of the hunters association and the Amotekun commanders, alongside the civil defence and police services. The goal is to strengthen farm security.

“Our administration is also working on small farmers’ equipment lending service. This is to ease the access of small-scale farmers to tractors and other needed machinery. We are meeting this week to finalise the plan ahead of the onset of the rainy planting season.

“To expand food production, we are also pushing to implement a City-to-Farm programme. This was designed to encourage young small-scale farmers. This will expand production and also engage our youth.

“This is alongside our plans for regional farmers’ markets where off-takers can meet farmers for exchange and market relationships. We need your technical support to implement many of the listed areas.

“On a more general level, our administration recently unveiled a Cocoa Revival plan for the state. It involves several activities which focus on moving Osun from 3rd to 1st cocoa producer in Nigeria. We seek a partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on this.

“Our government is also interested in the livestock development programme. We have submitted our expression of interest. Kindly help to facilitate early approval.

“The state is also interested in the Agro-processing zones project being implemented under the African Development Bank. I hosted a delegation of the AFDB in Osun two weeks ago. Your ministry’s support on this is also solicited.

“Meanwhile, the NGF secretariat said in Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu expressed his government’s willingness to expand its relationship with the Netherlands in different sectors, especially the agricultural sector, to ensure food security in the state.

“The governor expressed this position while recently receiving the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Geoffrey Leeuwen, and his contemporary in Migration, Eric Burg, at his official residence in Ikoyi.

‘’Deputy Governor, Kadri Hamzat, on behalf of the governor, stated that the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the Netherlands had existed for over 400 years.

“Sanwo-Olu said his administration was ready to strengthen the existing relationship with the Netherlands in different sectors, especially agriculture.

“We are willing to implement some of the lessons we have learnt from the Netherlands, particularly to enhance food production, storage, amongst others.

“As part of its drive for food security, Lagos State government last month said it was activating plan for the state red meat Initiative with the establishment of a feedlot system, a butchers’ academy and a meat shop in the state.

“On his part, Leeuwen said the Netherlands government was committed to working on transitions that were crucial to the economy and business opportunities in both Netherlands and Nigeria, with specific interest in Lagos.’’

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Keyamo inaugurates, Anosike, others as members of National Executive Safety Council (NESC)

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The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation sector stakeholders, were on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2024, in compliance with ICAO annex 19, inaugurated as members of the National Executive Safety Council (NESC), by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo.

Performing the inauguration, the Minister informed the members of their terms of reference. According to the Minister, the National Executive Safety Council (NESC) shall meet once every quarter or as emergencies require and its activities shall ensure the SSP remains relevant and appropriate to Nigeria.

The Terms of Reference of the NESC are; Endorse the priorities and ensure that appropriate resources are allocated to drive the desired improvements in safety performance, based on risk assessment, and give strategic direction to the Safety Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). Ensure the development, periodic review and decision and policy making pertaining to SP activities, such as safety policy, safety indicators, enforcement policy, safety data protection and sharing, SMS regulatory requirements, and internal SSP review and findings, are carried out in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Monitor safety performance against the Nigeria’s safety policies and objectives. Assess and accept the picture of the aggregate risk within the aviation industry. Identify new and emerging strategic safety risks. Direct and monitor the effectiveness of the SIAC.

Ensure the effectiveness of the safety oversight of regulated organisations and personnel. Review and sign off major policies, rules and interpretation changes. Handle escalated issues identified by the SIAC. Approve Terms of Reference as recommended by the SIAC for projects, new entities and other safety activities as determined by the SIAC. Ensure the effectiveness of the organisation’s safety management processes.

The NESC comprises key aviation sector stakeholders, including the Director of Air Safety Administration, NSIB Director General, and heads of FAAN, NAMA, NiMET, NCAT, NCAA, representative of Nigeria Air Force (NAF), and technical advisers. The SSP Coordinator will serve as the National Executive Safety Committee Secretary.

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Record-breaker Tunde Onakoya returns to heroic welcome

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Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya is leveraging his skills to raise $1 million for Chess in Slums Africa (CISA), an initiative he

Chess-in-Slums Founder, Tunde Onakoya, was on Wednesday warmly welcomed back to Nigeria after breaking the record for the longest-ever chess marathon with a time of 60 hours.

He was greeted with a heartwarming reception, singing and dancing at the airport.

Onakoya broke the record of Norwegian players, Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, who played for 56-hour, 9-minute in 2018.

The Nigerian Chess Master on April 17 began his attempt to set a 58-hour chess marathon record at Times Square in New York, United States.

The new record holder said he attempted to raise funds and awareness for providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across Africa.

 

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Buhari’s minister, Sirika to be arraigned for alleged N8 billion fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money laundering, contract fraud in the ministry and Nigeria Air debacle.

The EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, disclosed this on Wednesday in a phone conversation with Nairametrics.

When asked if the anti-graft plans prosecuting the former minister, he responded in the affirmative.

“He (Sirika) is going to be charged to court, but it may not be able to be either now or…but definitely, he is going to be sued. He may be arraigned very very soon. That is the information I’ve got,” he said.

Sirika served under former president Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Aviation.

Another source familiar with developments within the commission but chose not to be named also told Nairametrics that the anti-graft agency’s ongoing probe would lead to prosecution.

“The EFCC is planning to prosecute him, but I don’t know the details except that he was arrested,” the source said.
Several media outlets claim the ex-minister is being interrogated over alleged contract scam under his purview and knowledge.

A reliable source said the arrest is also linked to the botched Nigeria Air. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had cancelled the Nigeria Air deal on August 31, 2023. He had revealed on January 31, 2024, that “the whole composition and totality of the deal is merely Ethiopian Air flying the Nigerian flag.” He also admitted that the EFCC was investigating the whole deal.

Backstory
Three months ago, the EFCC said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation in the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC is empowered by law to track financial crimes.

Every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

Sirika served as Aviation Minister from 22 August 2019 to 29 May 2023.

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Tinubu approves 20% palliative for traditional, religious institutions

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Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through religious and traditional institutions.

Mr Shettima made this known while delivering the keynote address at a High-Level Dialogue of Faith Leaders on Nutrition in Nigeria, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

“The Imam of Bayero University (BUK) mentioned about the exclusion of the traditional and religious leaders in the distribution of palliatives.

”The President has approved that 20 per cent of the palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through our religious organisations and the traditional institutions.

“The Tsangaya schools, the mission schools will be specially targeted for such intervention,” Mr Shettima said.

The Vice-President said that government was working out logistics through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure smooth implementation of the intervention programme.

“This intervention will be anchored in the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, and he is going to anchor the programme.

“We are going to provide the overall supervision towards the implementation of the programme.

“Also 20 per cent of the funds for the School Feeding Programme is going to be channeled through the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning to the religious bodies.”

Mr Shettima stated that government had already commenced engagement and working out modalities for the intervention to ensure a very transparent disbursement, taken into cognisance of all tendencies in our system.

He added that the intervention would include Tsangaya and Mission schools.

NAN

 

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 Chinese supermarket where Nigerians are not allowed to shop sealed

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has sealed the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket located within the China General

On Monday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) sealed a Chinese supermarket located within the China General Chamber of Commerce in Abuja, following allegations of discriminatory practices against Nigerians.

The FCCPC officials interrogated Nigerian workers at the supermarket before sealing up the premises.

According to facilities workers at the store, the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled the premises with her family on Monday at 8:26 am, as captured on Closed-Circuit Television camera footage.

The workers, who are mostly Nigerians, disclosed this information to the FCCPC officials when they stormed the supermarket. As a result, the commission shut down the supermarket in question.

According to The PUNCH, the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms, as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

But visiting the premises on Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission is in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Speaking at the end of the enforcement exercise, Adeyinka affirmed that the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound will remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed, if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises they must see the summon because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

She added that if the Chinese owner fails to attend to the summon which is a lawful inquiry, the mandate of the commission under its powers will seal the premises until she comes to the commission, meaning that the place will remain locked until she appears before the commission.

The FCCPC officials subsequently sealed the supermarket.

 

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‘We have found him’- Kenyan police arrest Binance executive who escaped from Nigeria

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The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves

The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves to extradite him to Nigeria within the week.

Government sources familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday night.

One of the sources said, “Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has been arrested by the Kenya Police Service, and he would be extradited to Nigeria this week by INTERPOL.”

Another source noted, “As we had said before that Anjarwalla would be extradited, he has been arrested in Kenya, and he’ll be extradited to Nigeria this week.”

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the Federal Government had traced Anjarwalla to Kenya, following his escape from lawful custody in Nigeria.

Following the development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

In the earlier report, Saturday PUNCH reported that Anjarwalla, whose cover has now been blown, went into hiding immediately after he landed in Kenya.

“We have found him. We know where he is; he is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria.

“All hands are on the deck, the government and all the security agencies are working hard in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities and INTERPOL, to ensure his return to Nigeria to face the charges brought against him,” the report had quoted a source as saying.

Meanwhile, the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, had in the March edition of its bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” onfirmed that the commission was working in conjunction with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya to extradite Anjarwalla.

Olukoyed said, “The takeover of the prosecution of Binance chiefs by the commission is no less a strong message in the direction of EFCC’s resolve to hedge in distortions and disruptions in the country’s forex market.

“Tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000 and are at the foundation of the Commission’s five counts against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s chief executives.

“While Gambaryan is currently in the Commission’s net, the process of extraditing the fleeing Anjarwalla is revving in full swing. Involved in partnership with the EFCC to nick Anjarwalla in flight are the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya as the clock winds down to his arraignment in absentia alongside the company and Gambaryan.”

 

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