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Ex- INEC Commissioner Urges FG To Increase Investments In Infrastructure, Agriculture

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Ganiyu Obaaro, Lagos

The Federal Government of Nigeria has been charged to prioritise it’s budgetary spending by placing greater premium on the provisions of infrastructure, such as education, roads and health to enhance meaningful development across the country.

Speaking as the guest lecturer at the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos Traffic Radio Chapel, Ikeja, Lagos State on recently, a University lecturer and Professor of Sociology, University of Lagos, Yaba, Professor Lai Olurode described as unsustainable, the huge funds spent on the nation’s legislators, including Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari should use his second term in office to right past wrongs and address security challenges, unemployment and deplorable state of infrastructure in the country.

The theme of the programme, which also marked the chapel’s inaugural  media week and awards to distinguished personalities, including business mogul, Sir (Dr) Adebutu Kessington;  Group Managing Director, Odua Investments Limited; Mr Adewale Raji; General Manager,  Corporate Affairs, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu and  Secretary, Transportation, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Kayode Opeifa, was: “Democracy and Sustainable Development: Reinventing Media Agenda for Good Governance.”

According to Olurode, who spoke on the topic, entitled: “Democracy and Sustainable Development,” “the rate of poverty and unemployment, especially of able-bodied youths in the country, was worrisome”, warning  however that it did not augur for the development of the nation.

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He said even though democracy has come to stay in the country, the process of democratisation is an ongoing thing and must be allowed to mature.

Olurode, who was a former commissioner in the Professor Attahiru Jega -led National Electoral Commission (INEC) between 2011- 2015, said democracy was better than military rule.

He described the media as critical to democracy, rule of law and development, adding that although the industry was muzzled under the military, the sector has done well in sustaining the current democratisation process, in spite of it’s diverse ownership, structure and challenges.

He urged the media to continue to help nurture democracy, be sensitive to public yearnings and remain resolute in the discharge of its Constitutional duties as the Fourh Estate of the realm.

He criticised the last general elections under the chairmanship of Professor Mamud Yakubu, saying, “It was characterised by violence; while several cases of election petitions are currently in various courts.”

Also speaking at the event, the Group Managing Director of Odua Investments Limited, Mr. Afebsyo Raji called for transparency and accountability in governance. 

He said this is one area of bringing democracy dividends to the people and ensuring national development.

Raji also harped on training as critical to development, pointing out that himself capital development was critical to taking greater heights, reducing dearth of quality personnel in all spheres of the nation’s enterprises.

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Meanwhile, the General Manager of the radio station, Mr. Tayo Akanle commended the chapel for being steadfast in its activities, while the chairman of the chapel, Mr Akin Kola Akinlade spoke of the the essence of the programme as enlightening journalists on their societal responsibilities and, especially, the need to help sustain democracy in Nigeria

Agriculture

Chocolate firm pays N26m to cocoa farmers to improve livelihood

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A cocoa company, Barry Callebaut Nigeria, has unveiled a reward initiative to celebrate farmers with high level of commitment in promoting sustainable cocoa farming in the country.

The Managing Director of the company, Mr Adriaan Verbeke, said this in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.

Newsmen report that Barry Callebaut Nigeria is world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products.

Verbeke said that the company would be offering a premium to cocoa farmers under its Cocoa Horizons programme to improve their livelihood.

He said that the company would pay an additional premium totaling N26 million under the programme for deliveries of sustainable cocoa beans in Ondo and Cross River states during the 2021/2022 season.

Verbeke added that the programme would be extended to other regions of the country.

“This significant initiative is in line with the objectives of our cocoa horizons programme aimed at improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities.

“This is through the promotion of sustainable, entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity, and community development.

“Through the cocoa horizon, Barry Callebaut will continue to work closely with local farmers on how to improve their yields, shun cocoa farming activities in protected areas and support “zero child labour” programmes,” he said.

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Verbeke said that over 1,000 farmers in Akure and Ikom recently participated in awareness-raising training courses which addressed critical child labour. (NAN)

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Agriculture

Ondo Govt begins Verification of Forest Allottees

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Ondo State Government has begun the  verification of allotees operating in forests in the state, as part of efforts to stop conflict of interest between government and allotees.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Olayato Aribo, at the inauguration of the committee on Tuesday in Akure, appreciated the members of the committee for accepting to serve.

Newsmen report that the committee has as its Chairman, Mr Anjola Samuel, who retired as Director of Forestry in the ministry.

Aribo said that the exercise would pave way for proper monitoring and evaluation of the forest reserves in the state.

The commissioner said that the exercise would rid the forest of illegal allottees, adding that any allottee who failed to show up for the exercise would be considered as no more interested in his allocation.

Aribo urged the committee to ensure that all allottees were screened, stressing that no genuine allottee should be left out.

The commissioner charged the committee to do a good job that would stand the test of integrity anytime, explaining that he sought to put the records straight as regards logging activities in the state.

“All allottees that do not appear for verification of their forest allocations will be regarded as no longer interested in participating in logging activities in the state and deemed to have forfeited such allocation.

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” You must ascertain the number of genuine forest allottees with valid documents and approvals to operate in each forest.

“Also, you must  ascertain the payment made by each allottee to date and  recommend as appropriate the payment of any indebtedness to the state government.

“Come up with a list of all eligible forest allottees in each of the forest reserves and  ascertain the numbers of various hammer holder and their indebtedness,” he said.

He promised the state government’s total support for the committee to achieve the desired goals.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, its chairman, Mr Anjola  Samuel, thanked the Ministry; especially the commissioner, for counting them worthy by extending his  hands of fellowship to them to carry out the assignment.

He told the commissioner that the committee had invited all allottees and the exercise would be successful, saying competent hands were selected  to  serve  on the committee.

He assured  thd state that the committee would deliver on its  terms of reference and that  its reports would be submitted  to the state government in due time.

Newsmen report that the committee was inaugurated by the Administrative Secretary, Mr David Adesina, on Monday.

It was mandated, among other things, to ascertain the number of genuine forest allottees in the state based on each of the forest reserves.

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The Committee was given two weeks to submit its report. (NAN)

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Agriculture

Kogi VCDP Distributes Tricycles Worth Millions Of Naira To Farmers

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From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja

The Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Kogi under the FGN/IFAD assisted project, has distributed tricycles worth millions of naira to VCDP farmers to boost their farming activities in the state.

The distribution ceremony was  witnessed by Hon. Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development  Hon.

David Apeh, at the Kogi VCDP office in Lokoja.

The Commissioner was visibly happy with the happenings in VCDP and how farmers were being supported in the state.

Presenting the tricycle to one of the farmers Hajia Rabi Abubakar from Ajaokuta LGA, Apeh lauded the government of Alhaji Yahaya Bello for always standing by the programme in the State.

He advised beneficiaries to be good ambassadors of the project and the State as they continue to work hard to earn a good living.

The Commissioner also commended the efforts of the state Programme Coordinator to keep the flag of success flying always as she pilot the affairs of VCDP in the State.

Also speaking, Mrs  Vera Onyilor, the National Knowledge Management and Communications Advisor IFAD/VCDP, who monitored the distribution, commended the managerial acumen of the State Programme Coordinator.

She said that  there was every assurance that the lives of the beneficiaries would change for better courtesy of VCDP, while urging the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the machine.

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Earlier, the State Programme  Coordinator, Dr Stella Adejoh, said the tricycles were distributed to help the farmers in transporting their farm produce as well as using them for transportation business to generate income.

She explained that the beneficiaries were some of the farmers already captured on their data base in the five benefiting local government areas in the state.

She urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the items for the benefit of their families, the state and the nation in general.

She noted that the tricycles were not totally free that the beneficiaries had paid their matching grants, which was to enable them show commitment and take ownership of the items given to them.

She disclosed that several of such tricycles had been distributed in batches to beneficiaries in the past, saying the feedback from them had been success stories with positive results.

She reiterated that the development objective of VCDP “is to ensure food security, empower the rural farmers to lift them out of poverty and enhance the economy on sustainable basis.

She expressed her delight on the distribution and the impacts the VCDP had made in achieving its goals and objectives in the state.

Dr Adejoh thanked His Excellency Gov. Yahaya Bello for his commitment towards the VCDP project, noting that the governor was always interested in improving and better the wellbeing of the citizens of the state.

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On his part, Engr. Gabriel Salihu who is in charge of the Sub Component, encouraged the beneficiaries to always maintain the tricycles so that the machines will make them better, stressing that the life span of every equipment is dependent on the level of maintenance.

One of the beneficiaries, who is Physically Challenged, Mr Armstrong Shuaibu, thanked the State Government and Kogi VCDP for the gesture to alleviating their  suffering.

He opined that the opportunity will not be miss used.

He promised that the tricycle would be used for the intended purpose to enhance their his productivity and support his family and indeed render services to the entire community.

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