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Obasanjo, governors highlight gains of Zero Hunger initiative

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Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed satisfaction  with the impact the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum (NZHF) was making especially in promoting healthy competition among states with a view to achieving food security.

The former President made this conclusion on 7 November at the NZHF meeting in Ebonyi state. The Ebonyi meeting was the second NZHF assembly after Benue hosted a similar one in June.

“I see a healthy competition between states which is good, ” the former President said as participating governors recounted progress made towards food security in their respective domains.

The governors said that in less than a year the Zero Hunger initiative was already having a positive impact on the food security of their states.

According to them, the initiative through its peer advisory/review mechanism has brought a new vigor and zeal to the agricultural sector with more commitments by participating states. They also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his strong support to the states’ agricultural programs.

For Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, there is now a realization of untapped agricultural opportunities that the state can explore to benefit its people, thanks to the NZHF.

Describing the Zero Hunger Forum as a great initiative, Governor Ortom said the state keyed into the initiative with the conviction that it would help the state to maintain its pride as the food basket of the country.

“We have keyed into this program and believe that through NZHF, Nigeria will be helped,” he added.

The governor explained that the recently passed anti-grazing bill was aimed at promoting peace between herdsmen and crop farmers with a view to achieving zero hunger by 2030. He further announced that the state would also facilitate peace between the people of Agila in Benue and Ngbo in Ebonyi to end the border crises and bring peace in that area, so farmers can go back to farming.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state said the benefits of the Nigeria Zero Hunger initiative were priceless as participating states were learning from each other.

“When we went to Benue, we learnt from them and today, Benue and other states are here to also learn from us,” he said.

 The Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Usman Mamman Durkwa, expressed gratitude to the NZHF for the support given to the state early this year to cushion the effects of insurgency. Particularly mentioned were the “seeds of renaissance” from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), AfricaRice, and ICRISAT, and the rice from Ebonyi to feed the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Borno State.  

The Zero Hunger meeting in Ebonyi was attended by more than 500 persons including policymakers and development partners.

The meeting discussed the progress made by Ebonyi state towards the attainment of zero hunger.

The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akin Adesina who was represented by the Director (Agriculture), Dr Chiji Ojukwu, commended the implementation of the initiative and reiterated the Bank’s support to feeding Africa. He reminded stakeholders that Africa must take agriculture seriously and implement policies and programs that would engender inclusive growth.

The Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, pledged the Institute’s commitment to supporting and working with states to achieve their food security goals.

Participants at the meeting included the host, Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State, Governor Ortom of Benue State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi, Deputy Governor Alhaji Usman of Borno State, and a representative of the Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu.

Participants from the donor and international community included Dr. Sanginga, Director General of IITA; Dr. Ojukwu, Director (Agriculture) of AfDB; Dr. Abiodun Oladipo, World Food Program; Dr. Abraham Shaibu, AfricaRice; Dr. Tawanda Muzhingi, International Potato Center (CIP); members of Ebonyi State Executive Council, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, academia, the private sector, farmer groups, traditional rulers, and members of the press.

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National Issues

Rice Revolution And Rising Revolution In Nigeria | By Ajibola Esuola

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Rice is surely one of the staple foods in Nigeria and Africa. Children and kids are particularly covenanted to eating rice as a daily food; it takes you being defined as an irresponsible parent not to have rice for your family. Across Nigeria, from time immemorial, rice has formed huge portion of the consumption patter and budget of this massive country. Africa’s largest economy so blessed with expansive border less population with stream of people. Consequently and annually, millions of dollars are shipped offshore out of Nigeria in exchange of bags of rice shipped,  trollied and ferried back to Nigeria. Few merchants, registered and unregistered, known and coded had benefitted selfishly from both legal and illegal importation of rice in and out of Nigeria. Inside this cartel, arguably, had been the custom officials and other members of Nigeria’s security and paramilitary agencies.

The twisted giant of Africa was bleeding, while pockets of a few were bursting with dollars and nairas. Hardworking local rice growers did not have their own locals willing to consume their own products from their own soils. Their toils were soiled, a seeming cruse became a curse. Spelled by unknown curses, black people with rice from their own backyards prefer to enrich other nationals from contemporary less developed countries and continents of the world. It is pestilential and pitiable when a giant relies on dwarfs to feed.

Then, a revolutionary policy came up. Nigeria would close its borders to prevent importation of rice from other countries, among other aims. To the worst critic of this government decision, in a time like this, the decision albeit even temporary is yet revolutionary and out-of- the box from colonial dependency and undue attachment to foreign dogmatic taste for even the most basic needs. The beauties and attractions in banning imported rice cannot be ignored. Encouragement being given to local producers of rice cannot be quantified. The step will give these neglected farmers more impetus to produce the commodity, backed by ready buyers. Unemployment will be mopped up. Many hitherto unemployed and underemployed persons will embrace rice farming realizing the new prosperities and potentials embedded in Nigeria’s revolutionized rice project.

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Savings of foreign currencies being used to import this product will go into conservations and savings. Huge amounts are already being saved in millions of dollars from partial closure of borders against rice smuggling. As at last count, close to 200 rice mills of various sizes had sprung up in many parts of Nigeria. The consciousness among nation – states  that each must produce what her citizens eat is gradually dawning of Nigeria and Nigerians. Spiral and massive engagement of human resources and ideals will come into play through the establishment of these rice mills. For many states, the revolution on the task of increasing their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is right on course. Money missing roads into the pockets of politicians are being channeled towards productive activities in rice plantation, harvesting and sales. Interestingly, since the closure of Nigeria boarders against rice importation, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and other forms of criminal activities had reduced along the axis of Nigeria’s borders. The Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN), Godwin Emefiele had correctly predicted the reduction of these criminal activities if the borders are closed, and these predictions are coming to pass.

It is not only about the rice revolution, but the clear pointers to a rising revolution in Nigeria. The socio – political atmosphere is scheduled to pick up revolutionary trends, if the Buhari administration can step up on any success being achieved in the rice revolution. Some emerging reforms on – going as regards corruption, judiciary, politics and in many areas cannot be swept under the carpet. Except the Buhari cabals are not keen to enshrine their names in the annals of good leadership, the best option for them is to ensure a sustained and better leadership, which will not draw the nation backwards. Going forward, the need is for good leadership which will close more borders; borders of underdevelopment, borders of nepotism, borders of inadequate infrastructural development, borders of hate, borders of insecurity, kidnapping and terrorism. Politics are not as being played in the 60s and 70s in Nigeria. The stakes are higher now, participants are more educated, enlightened and sophisticated, germane issues are now being raised, even if not totally addressed.

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In the political rising revolution, more questions will be asked. For example, in Nigeria during the closing months in year 2019, both the EFCC and ICPC (anti – corruption agencies) are to participate in electoral fraud monitoring henceforth. This is to close border of vote buying. Or why should there be vote buying? Rising Revolution is not the Sowore model. Such are laden with errors and not strengthened by crafted strategies and deep reasonings. What revolution, at the onset of a fresh tenure of a government that has just won an election where you the zealous ‘revolutionary’ contested and lost. What revolution? If revolutions had been so easy, Nzeogu, Awolowo, Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, Ojukwu and others would have done so even more successfully in Nigeria with their highly cerebral brains and constituents. The rising revolution in Nigeria will succeed , as it is going to be engineered by scions, kiths and kind of renowned cabals in Nigeria, past and existing. It will be soon, it won’t be long.

So, it is not only about closing borders in a rice revolution. If thoroughly searchlight is beamed , fellow countrymen and women, it is a rising revolution.

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National Issues

June 12 : Atiku renews call for electoral reforms

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Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Thursday called for the immediate reform of the nation’s electoral process.

Alhaji Atiku, who  was also the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, in his Democracy Day message, emphasized on the need to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

The PDP chieftain asked authorities to ensure that the votes of the people were not only counted but should count.

The message read, “As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonize the memories of our heroes of democracy by expanding the application of democracy as a mechanism of good governance by making sure that ballots cast during an election are sacrosanct in order for leaders who represent the true aspirations of the people to emerge.

“However, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, that votes are not only counted, but that they do count, there is an urgent need to accelerate needed electoral reforms that will address the lapses in previous elections”.

He added that celebrating Democracy Day is an affirmation of the nation’s collective struggles towards a system of participatory government.

While urging Nigerians to use the occasion of the Democracy Day to remember the nation’s fallen heroes of democratic rule, as well as the anonymous ones whom he said lost their lives as a result of bad governance, the former vice president, however, regretted that many compatriots paid the ultimate price along the line in the struggle which spanned decades.

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“Just like the late Bashorun MKO Abiola continues to be the symbol of the June 12 struggle, there are many others like the late Chief Alfred Rewane; my mentor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and many more too numerous to mention who lost their lives in order for us to have a democracy.

“Yet, there are so many other heroes who remain unsung. They are Nigerians who have fallen victims of bad governance.

“While we may have a day dedicated to celebrating democracy, it remains saddening that we have not delivered enough dividends to our people to be happy over.

“Between 1999 to the present time, our democracy has thrown up all shades of characters at the leadership levels. Many, if not all of them have tried their best to deliver good governance to the country. But the results of their efforts, judging by what we have at hand today, clearly shows that our best has not been good enough thus far.

“It is clear that the problem of leadership is at the epicenter of governance issues that has afflicted Nigeria since the restoration of this democratic dispensation. To get at this problem would require the voting citizens of the country to undertake a more critical evaluation of national leadership recruitment – a rare gift which democracy guarantees through the instrumentality of periodic elections.

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“It is when we do that, that democracy can pass as a self-correcting mechanism and when it is denied, we are left with a pseudo-democracy which is counterproductive to the notion of participatory democracy”, the message concluded.

 

 

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National Issues

Abacha loot: Mai Gaskiya, can you see your world in the open? |  By Festus Adedayo

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late General Sani Abacha

Profound apologies that I chose to do a literal translation of Yoruba into English in the above headline. Can you see your world in the open is a direct translation of the Yoruba se o r’aye e l’ode? It’s deployed at a moment of extreme let-down, incomparable frustration, an intersection where a misdemeanor has absolutely ridiculed and discredited the person in question.

The heist of the late General Sani Abacha, stashed away in different countries of the world, that are coming in droves back to the country, is my subject.

This was a heist which the self-same Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, had persistently denied as non-existent, literally beatifying his late benefactor, Sani Abacha, as above board.

Excluding tranches of the loot recently returned to Nigeria, the countryside’s has, in the past 18 years, recovered $4.6 billion (1.4trn) of her treasury looted by Abacha. While the United States Embassy in Nigeria recently announced the sum of $319m (N121bn) loot repatriated from the United Kingdom and France and handed back to Nigeria, this repatriated fund was different from one of about a week ago where the sum of $311 million Abacha loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey were also funneled back into the country.

In a statement last week, the embassy said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.”

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At every point of the looted funds’ repatriation to Nigeria, these countries where the looted funds were earlier domiciled diplomatically but unambiguously made it known that they do not trust Nigerian leaders not to re-loot the looted funds. In fact, their trenchant shouts while returning the funds are revelatory of their disposition.

The one of February, 2020 even came with the caveat and a tripartite agreement signed by Nigeria with the US government and the Bailiwick of Jersey that upon the return of the money, it would be spent on specific infrastructure projects, to wit the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.

 At another point, there were frenetic moves by the US and United Kingdom governments against the plan of the Nigerian government to gift Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor, who was alleged to be an enabler and accomplice of the laundered money, the sum of $110 million out of the recovered funds.

Recently too, a warning came from the United States Justice Department that, should Nigeria fail to spend the repatriated funds on the agreed public projects, she would refund the money.

I don’t know if you know that these veiled threats didn’t come without an underlining perception or intelligence reports about our government’s disposition to public funds in its care. Nigerian governments, the so-called Mai Gaskiya’s inclusive, are known to the globe to be rapaciously corrupt, adding to this corruption medal another medallion of shamelessness. The way the globe polices monies that are Nigeria’s but stolen by a Nigerian despot of incomparable filching mentality, is embarrassingly unprecedented. Can Mai Gaskiya see his world in the open is the most fitting epithet to describe this shamelessness

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