Obasanjo urges DR Congo to invest in agriculture to help Africa cut $50billion food import bill - Mega Icon Magazine
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Obasanjo urges DR Congo to invest in agriculture to help Africa cut $50billion food import bill

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Chief Obasanjo

Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to invest in agriculture and particularly cassava, soybean, cowpea and plantain to help Africa cut down annual food imports that is estimated at $50billion.

Obasanjo spoke on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, during the official inauguration of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Kalambo research station in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the country’s President, Felix Tshisekedi. The research station is named “The President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Station”, in honor of the ex-President who is also the IITA Goodwill Ambassador.

Giving a shoplist of crops the gover“The first crop to take is cassava… The second crop is soybean because it is very important for human nutrition and livestock. The next is cowpea and lastly plantain. If we invest in these crops, we will be able to reduce the $50bn that Africa is spending annually on importing food,” Chief Obasanjo said.

The former president underlined the importance of research to agricultural transformation, citing the Nigerian example where his administration was able to raise cassava production by 20 million tons during his eight year-tenure.

He commended Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General for his leadership, and the institute (IITA) for its excellent research in addressing the problems facing Africa.

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The IITA ambassador congratulated President Tshisekedi for providing the enabling environment and support to IITA to establish the centre, stating that he felt deeply honored to be part of it.

At the inauguration were Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB); Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde; and the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, among others.

Dr Sanginga  said the research station was in dedication to IITA and its partners’ mission of fighting hunger and poverty in Africa and would contribute towards boosting agricultural productivity in DR Congo and the region.

“The station is a symbol of our dedication and commitment to building the research and development capacity in DR Congo and the Great Lakes,” he said.

He reiterated the importance of research to agricultural transformation and cited the progress made by Nigeria in cassava to the role of research innovations developed by IITA and its partners.

The IITA Director for the Central African Region, Dr Bernard Vanlauwe added that the lab building was built in record time using modern methods and materials.

“Indeed, the first stone was placed in October 2017 and the building completed in 18 months. This speed and efficiency symbolize the nature of the activities taking place in the lab, namely the rapid and large-scale production of healthy planting materials of crops of key importance to the DRC as well as the production of bio-fertilizers to ensure the growth and quality of these crops,” he explained.

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For many years, the station in Kalambo operated in project mode but in 2011, the IITA Board of Trustees decided to elevate it to become the focal point of the Institute’s regional hub for natural resource management in the Great Lakes. It now also features a first-class tissue culture lab for the vegetative multiplication of cassava, banana, coffee, yam, and potato.

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In Borno, Air Force Bombs Boko Haram Meeting Venue

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 Boko Haram terrorists’ location being used as a meeting venue at Boboshe area on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State has been  destroyed,  according to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF)

NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, made this known in a statement on Monday.

He disclosed further that the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted the attack on Sunday, following successive days of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, coupled with human intelligence reports.

Daramola also explained that the reports established that a building within the settlement was being used as a rendezvous by the insurgents, where their commanders assemble to take instructions before launching attacks against military troops and innocent civilians.

“Accordingly, the ATF detailed its fighter aircraft to attack the hideout, scoring accurate hits within the designated area leading to the decimation of the target structure.

“Several BHTs were also killed as a result of the strikes,” the statement said.

NAF , thereafter vowed to sustain its efforts while working with surface forces to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the north-east region of the country.

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Nigeria customs save N1.4bn, arrest over 460 smugglers, migrants

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The Nigeria Customs Service on Monday said Nigeria has saved N1.4 billion naira since the partial closure of the nation’s borders.

Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), the Comptroller General of Customs announced this while addressing a news conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He said a total of 317 suspected smugglers and 146 illegal migrants were  arrested during the period.

The Customs chief noted that the partial border closure was yielding the desired results as the nation’s consumption of petroleum products has dropped by 10.2 million litres.

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Oyo: Get ready for unprecedented development, Makinde raises hope

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Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde said at the weekend that the people of Oyo State should get prepared for unprecedented development with him at the helm of affairs in the state.

Governor Makinde, who stated this while addressing a mammoth crowd that gathered for a civic reception in his honour at his ancestral village, Ajia, in Ona Ara Local Government Area of the state, said that he was already in talks with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for an upgrade of Ibadan Airport to facilitate Cargo operations and international flights.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the Governor as saying that agro-allied services would benefit heavily from the impending upgrade of the Airport.

“As I stand in front of you, I promise that I will not disappoint the people of the State. I am telling you here today, prepare yourself for the unprecedented development of the state,” the Governor said, adding that he will reward the people who trusted him with votes with unprecedented development across the state.

The statement also indicated that Governor Makinde restated his commitment towards fulfilling all his campaign promises to the people of the state, noting that his Government has begun different efforts to see to the development of infrastructure, education, agriculture and health sectors in the state.

Governor Makinde, at the event organised by the Ajia and Its Environs Descendant Union, declared that he would not disappoint the people of the state or break the trust that the people reposed in him by delivering good governance to the state and developing its nooks and crannies.

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He admonished the youths in Ajia and across the state to take their education seriously by making judicious use of the free education policy of his administration so as to become useful and productive to themselves and the society.

The governor further said: “It has been said that a prophet is without honour in his own town. But today, the people of Ajia, my kinsmen, have honoured me and you have not made selfish demands from us, you have asked us to govern with integrity and the fear of God; you have warned us to be wary of sycophants and to continue to pay attention to the welfare of the people as we have been doing. I assure you that we will do all these and many more in fulfillment of our promises,” the Governor said.

He maintained that as parts of efforts to develop the state, he had begun discussion with the Federal Airport Authority on how to upgrade the Alakia Airport, Ibadan to an international airport to boost the economy the State.

He further said: “I have begun discussion with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and they have given us certain conditions on the upgrade of our airport so that it can accommodate bigger aircrafts. When that is done, those travelling from Osun, Ekiti and Ondo will not need to get to Lagos before boarding flights and what that tells you is that Ajia and other rural communities around the airport as well as the economy of Oyo State, will soon witness a new dawn.”

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Governor Makinde told a jubilant crowd of Ajia residents that he would soon begin the reconstruction of the Ajia Road.

He said that as a private citizen, he had offered to construct Ajia Road but that the previous administration in the state turned down the offer.

Makinde also stated that he had equally faced similar hostility from the previous administration in the state whose agents destroyed the borehole and the equipment deployed by his contractor when he was trying to build a borehole for Alesinloye Market in the state capital.

He declared that in a matter of weeks the State Government would review the Iyana-Agbala Road Project and make it a priority, noting that his administration would pay full attention to the development of rural settlements across the State.

Earlier, a foremost Head of Service in the State, Pa. Theophilus Akinyele, expressed joy that Ajia Village could produce the Governor of Oyo State after producing about three Heads of Service in the State.

He urged Governor Makinde to continue to place premium on the welfare of people as he had been doing as a private citizen.

Akinyele called on Makinde to make Ajia a model village as it obtains in South Africa and some other places.

Also in his address to welcome dignitaries to the event, chairman, Ajia and Its Environs Descendants Union, Engr. Amos Fakayode, commended Makinde for making Ajia and Oyo State proud through his achievements within the first 100 days in the office.

He noted that the community was neither disappointed nor surprised at the giant strides of Governor Makinde, adding that as a private citizen, the Governor had singlehandedly provided electricity to the community.

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He said: “We welcome Governor Seyi Makinde to Ajia, his ancestral root. We are grateful to God and proud of you. As you have started well, may you end well. We have been hearing of you, many states are making you the reference point. We, your kinsmen, are proud of your achievements in 100 days. We believe you can do more and we want you to do more, because we want to remain proud of you after you might have left office.”

He appealed to the Governor to provide good road networks into and out of Ajia; pay attention to the employment and empowerment of its youths and above all, make it a model village with model primary, secondary and tertiary institutions, among others.

He noted that Ajia community would remain solidly behind the Governor and continue to pray for his successful tenure in the office.

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