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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.

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. 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

NCP Approves Repositioning of Agriculture Bank

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has given its nod to the recommendations aimed at repositioning the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) to ensure food security for Nigerians.

Chaired by the Vice President, Sen. Kashim Shettima, the NCP approved the recommendations from the committee on BOA during its second meeting of 2024 held on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at the Presidential Villa Abuja.

In his address at the meeting, the Vice President emphasized the importance of optimizing BOA as part of the administration’s agenda to provide food security for the nation.

He urged the committee to engage professionals with integrity to manage the process effectively.

Presenting the committee’s report, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, who is also the Vice-chairman of the NCP, highlighted the decision to reposition BOA for efficiency and effectiveness. He expressed confidence that the recommendations would guide the Council in revitalizing the Bank of Agriculture and positioning it globally.

One of the Key recommendations includes upgrading the Bank’s ICT infrastructure to automate processes and ensure accountability.

Recall that in 2023, an 8-member inter-ministerial team was set up by the NCP to review the state of affairs at BOA, given its critical role in agriculture and the administration’s commitment to food security. 

Additionally, in 2016, the NCP approved collaboration between the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, along with the Federal Ministry of Finance, to restructure and recapitalize BOA.

According to a statement by BPE Head of Public Communications, Amina Tukur Othman on Friday, the BOA, formerly known as Nigeria Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank, waa established in 1992. 

It is owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), with the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) holding 60% and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) holding 40%. The Bank is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS).

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Agriculture

Mrs Soludo Launches Organic Garden Competition in Anambra Secondary Schools

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Wife of the Anambra State Governor, Dr Nonye Soludo, on Saturday launched the organic garden competition in secondary schools in Anambra to encourage children to learn more about food and farming.

Soludo, while addressing Healthy Living Teacher Ambassadors in Awka, said the organic garden competition would help teach children the importance of food and farming and its impact on their lives.

She described organic farming as a process that involved the use of natural food sources and nutrients for farming practices without fertiliser or other chemicals.

“This competition is part of the Healthy Living with Nonye Soludo Campaign to achieve a culture of health consciousness, drive organic agriculture with emphasis on food safety and sustainable living.

“It will help our students learn valuable lessons about where their food comes from, the benefits of eating fresh and healthy foods, and how to care for the environment.

“Vegetable seeds will be distributed to schools and at the end of every term, schools with the three best gardens will be rewarded.

“Our children at a tender age will start to appreciate agriculture as an essential way of life and the need to be part of building solutions that foster healthy foods in the society,” she said.

Also speaking, Dr Afam Obidike, the state’s Commissioner for Health, said the schools garden competition would increase student’s knowledge about the nutritional value of foods.

In her remarks, Prof. Nkechi Ikediugwu, Chairperson, Post Primary Schools Service Commission, said schools in the state would offer Health Living lecture every Wednesday after break to help students learn how to be healthy and grow into healthy adults.

Reports says that the programme featured distribution of okro, carrot, pepper, tomatoes, watermelon and cucumber seeds to the school teachers to begin the process of their school gardens.(NAN)

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Agriculture

Food Inflation: Agric Ministry Receives 2.15m Bags of Fertilisers from CBN

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has received 2.15 million bags of assorted fertilisers from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Reports says that the assorted fertilisers would be distributed to farmers to curb food inflation in the country as well as boost food production and food security.

Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, who spoke at the event on Wednesday in Abuja, expressed gratitude to the President Bola Tinubu and CBN for the gesture.

Kyari assured the CBN Governor,  Mr Olayemi Cardoso, that the inputs would be judiciously used and delivered to the intended farmers.

“Thank you very much; this is more than goodies; 2.

15 million bags of assorted fertilisers; we want to express our profound appreciation on behalf of the Nigerian farmers and President Tinubu.

“Also, we appreciate you, our dear brother, the CBN governor and your team for giving us this wonderful gift.

“I want to assure you that it will be judiciously used and it will be delivered to the last man and intended farmers where they can reap the benefits of this huge gesture.

“They (farmers) can in turn cultivate and produce more that would stem the galloping food inflation that is affecting our country.’’

He said that challenges such as food prices, food cultivation, flooding and climate change among others had impacted on agricultural production in the country, adding that insecurity was on decline.

“l am happy to say that those things I mentioned are on the decline; insecurity is on the decline and we are mitigating against climate change.

“We are sensitising farmers to go into dry season agriculture.’’

Kyari said that there was need to need to boost and repair irrigation infrastructure so as to have all year round farming.

“Which (irrigation) is even more secured than that of the wet season farming,” he said.

Earlier, Cardoso expressed enthusiasm for the visit and presentation which was to address the issue of escalating cost of food in the country.

According to him, food prices are crucial components of inflation.

He said that the CBN aimed to enhance its partnership with the ministry to improve food production.

“This is precisely why we convene today to strengthen our collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture to mitigate the surge in food prices.

“The gesture is in alignment with our strategic shift towards focusing on our fundamental mandate.

“The CBN has veered away from direct quasi-fiscal interventions and transitioned towards leveraging conventional monetary policy tools for executing monetary policies effectively.

“In this light, we aim to extend our support and foster closer ties with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) with the mandate and expertise to undertake these critical initiatives.

“Consequently, we aim to enhance our partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, bolstering your endeavours to enhance food productivity and security, ultimately curbing food inflation and fortifying our pursuit of price stability.

“In pursuit of these shared goals, we are delighted to announce the allocation of 2.15 million bags of fertilisers valued at over N100 billion which we humbly hand over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

“This contribution from CBN aims to amplify food production capabilities and foster price stabilisation within the agricultural sector,” he said.(NAN)

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