Benue Govt Owes over N22b Gratuity – Ortom
The Benue state governemnt is owing over N22billion in gratuity to its retired staff, the Governor, Samuel Ortom has said.
Ortom stated this on Monday, during the inauguration of the Chairman and members of the State Pension Commission in Makurdi.
He disclosed that he inherited N18 billion gratuity liability in 2015, and that because of paucity of funds to upset the debt coupled with additional number of retired workers overtime, the debt had risen to N22 billion.
He further disclosed that the monthly pension bill of the state was now N800 million as against the N400 million bill he inherited in 2015.
The governor said the state needed to urgently commence full domestication of the National Contributory Pensions Scheme Act 2004 to mitigate the sufferings of retirees.
He specially commended the 8th State Assembly for passing the PENCOM bill and expressed optimism that in no distant time retirees would have cause to smile home after retirement.
“The members are all victims of non payment of gratuities and pensions; so, they understand the pains of not being paid.
“Benue pensioners have been very patient with me and that has given me a lot of burden on my shoulder to ensure that something is done about it urgently,” he said.
Ortom warned the commission members to be wary of people who may want to sabotage their efforts with the aim of enriching themselves to the detriment of the pensioners.
He urged them to bring their experience to bear on the job and block all leakages in the pension sector.
Speaking on behalf of the inaugurated commission members, the Chairman, State Pension Commission, Mr Terna Ahua, pledged to provide a permanent solution to the problem of retirees.
Ahua, a former Head of Service of the State, commended the governor for his political will to address pension and gratuities issues in the state.
Other members to serve as commissioners on the commission include: Mrs Ruth Ijir, Administration and Technical Services, Mr Joseph Venda, Technology and Pension administration and Pius Idoko, Finance and Investments. (NAN)
Africa Has Technology, Potential to Eradicate Hunger- Adesina says
African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, says Africa has the necessary partnerships and technologies to eradicate hunger.
In a statement issued on the banks website, Adesina said what Africa needed was action, including robust financing to achieve this.
He spoke during the opening session of the 8th Africa Agribusiness and Science Week (AASW), in Durban, South Africa, on Monday.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), organised the event in collaboration with the South African government, the African Union Commission (AUC), AfDB and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Other partners included the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), as well as the European Commission.
Adesina said: “We must pull together the best of science, technology, and innovations to drive a more productive, efficient, and more competitive agricultural system.”
According to him, Africa’s food systems have the potential to unleash 1 trillion dollars in value, over the next seven years.
“For that to be achieved, we must strengthen and support the CGIAR with a lot more resources, ensure that it works in and delivers for Africa based on our priorities.
“And support regional research and development institutions, such as FARA, and the sub-regional agricultural research organisations,” he said.
He said one of the bank’s initiatives targeted at boosting African food security was the Feed Africa Summit, held in January in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
According to him, this brought together 34 heads of states and governments.
“Working with development partners from around the world and the AUC, the private sector companies, and global and national agricultural research centers, we developed Food and Agricultural Delivery Compacts for 41 countries.
“The summit partners have built on its success, mobilising 72 billion dollars so far, to support the national compacts.”
Adesina thereafter, presented the 2023 FARA Leadership Prizes for Advancing Agricultural Science, Technology, and Innovation in Africa to some personalities.
“They include, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organisation; AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Amb. Josefa Sacko and FARA’s Executive Director Dr Yemi Akinbamijo.
“Others are Senegal’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure, Papa Abdoulaye Seck, and Afreximbank President, Prof. Benedict Oramah.”
The AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, said the event could not have come at a better time.
Sacko said this was because the world was in the midst of a hunger pandemic caused by cascading factors, including COVID-19 and Climate Change.
She said: “Africa needs to leverage on its potential, including science, and be proactive rather than reactive to shocks.
‘“Let us continue to take advantage of the continent’s youthful population and immense natural capital.
“And let us unlock the potential we have. We should feed Africans and we should feed the world,” Sacko added.
The FARA Chairperson Alioune Fall, spoke about the interlocking relationship between climate change and agricultural production.
“Climate change and its effect on the continent require new ways of doing things in almost all facets of our society.
“Africa’s young farmers will not adopt nature-based approaches unless they are well packaged, affordable and technology-serviced, Fall said” Adesina won the award in 2016.
The 8th AASW, is the main continental platform for stakeholders of agriculture and agribusiness research and innovation in Africa.
It brings together 1,500 stakeholders every three years, to take stock of progress on research and innovation, share information, create business alliances, and map out priorities for joint action.
The 7the AASW was held in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2016. (NAN)
FG Restates Commitment to Deepen Trade Relations with China
The Federal Government has stated its committed to further strengthen its trade and economic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and investment, Dr Evelyn Ngige said this when Mr Zhang Guanbin, Deputy Director-General, Department of Trade, Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China visited her in Abuja.
She emphasised that boosting the trade ties would improve trade volume between Nigeria and China which stood at over 12.03 billion US dollars in 2021.
Ngige noted the ministry’s pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic development, through the promotion of the non- oil sector which has strengthened economic diversification, domestic and international relations and a significant bilateral trade between Nigeria and China, as well.
Earlier, the Deputy Director-General, Department of Trade, Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and leader of the delegation, Mr Zhang Guanbin commended the Federal Government for the trade cooperation between the two countries.
He said that a working group between Nigeria and China would help achieve greater results.
According to him, Chinese investors in Nigeria believe in Nigeria’s business environment and seek to enlarge their business investment in the country.
He said that China is working on the implementation of agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries.
Guanbin extended an invitation to Nigerian Government for participation at the International Co-operation Forum in China scheduled to hold in October 2023.
On his part, the Director of Trade in the Ministry, Mr Suleiman Audu said that the ministry had put in place processes of re-invigorating the working group in trade. (NAN)
Nigeria Records N927.2bn Trade Surplus in Q1 2023- NBS
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Nigeria recorded N927.16 billion trade surplus between January and March, 2023.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which stated this in its report on foreign trade for the first quarter of 2023, also disclosed that Nigeria’s total exports stood at N6.49 trillion, and imports at N5. 56 trillion.
The NBS report shows that in the quarter under review, the nation’s total trade stood at N12.05 trillion. This is higher than the value (N7.86 trillion) recorded in the corresponding period (Q1) of 2021.
It is also more than the figure recorded in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022 when Nigeria’s trade stood at N11.72 trillion.
“Total exports increased in the first quarter by 2 percent but declined by 8.66 percent when compared to the amount recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 (N6, 359.61 billion) and the corresponding quarter in 2022 (N7, 102.11 billion) respectively,” the report reads.
“In the same vein, total imports increased by 3.67 percent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the value recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 (N5,362.83 billion) but then again declined by 25.83 percent when compared to the value recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2022 (N7,495.67 billion).”
Further examination of the report shows that the majority of imported goods in Q1 2022 originated from China, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, and the United States of America.
NBS said the value of imports from the aforementioned countries amounted to N3.1 trillion, representing a share of 55.78 percent of the total value of imports.
The bureau said the commodities with the largest values of imported products were “motor spirit ordinary, gas oil, and durum wheat”.
Meanwhile, goods worth about N837.65 billion (the most) were exported to the Netherlands.
Other countries where goods were exported to are the United States of America (N579.35 billion), Spain (N488.17 billion), France (N487.34 billion), and India (N456.69 billion).
A trade surplus is an economic indicator of a positive trade balance in which a nation’s exports outweigh its imports.
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