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FG Shrugs Off Food Crisis Report

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The Minister of Agriculture, Prof. Sheikh Abdullah, said on Wednesday in Abuja that the Federal Government would not panic over a report indicating that Nigeria was vulnerable to food crisis.

The report by the FAO, the United Nations’ food agency, stated that Nigeria, Morocco and Bangladesh, among others, were vulnerable to food crisis.

Reacting to the report in an interview with newsmen, Abdullah criticised the authors of the report for not seeking his opinion as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture.

“Nobody sought my opinion; neither did anybody speak with me or the Minister of State for Agriculture or any of the stakeholders in the agricultural sector before coming out with the report,’’ he said.

According to him, such reports are often based on assumptions and insufficient analyses.

However, he said the current administration was aware of the global food crisis and that efforts were ongoing to reposition the nation’s agricultural value chain for sustainable development.

He noted that post harvest loss was one of the factors militating against the attainment of food security and sufficiency in Nigeria.

To this end, the minister said the government was already implementing several programmes aimed at promoting best practices in agricultural development.

The programmes, he said, were entrenched in the National Programme for Agriculture and Food Security, which serves as a road map for implementing all agricultural programmes.

He identified the programmes to include as the Commercial Agriculture Development Programme, FADAMA III, NERICA Rice Project and IFAD-assisted Rural Finance Institutions, Building Programme and two community-based programmes.

The minister expressed the hope that the nation’s food storage capacity would be increased from its present 300,000 tonnes to three million tonnes when the ongoing silos projects were completed.

Apart from the silos projects, the minister said that the Federal Government had also established 17 integrated large-scale rice processing mills in 12 states.

UBA reduces interest on Osun’s N18.3bn loan

The United Bank for Africa Plc has reduced the interest rate on the N18.3bn loan it granted Osun State Government from 13 per cent to 10.7 per cent.

The reduction came on the heels of a visit to Governor Rauf Aregbesola by the Group Managing Director, UBA, Mr. Phillips Oduoza, in Osogbo, on Tuesday.

The Assistant Director, Osun State Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Fayemiwo, said in a statement that the reduction was in the interest of the people of the state.

Oduoza, who led a group of UBA directors to a 40-minute meeting with Aregbesola at the Oranmiyan House, Osogbo, said the bank would partner with the 20-year-old state in the areas of agriculture and infrastructural development.

The GMD revealed that the tenor of the loan had also been increased from three years to five years.

He said, “We are going to convert the loan into a bond. Due process was followed in awarding the loan and project supervision is on course.”

“The N18.3bn loan was meant to assist the government. We looked at the areas the loan was going to be utilised. A little over N10bn has been drawn from the loan to execute so many projects.”

Commending the bank for reducing the interest rate of the loan and its tenor, Aregbesola said a new vista has been opened for the state in areas of finance.

The governor urged the bank to cooperate with his administration in moving Osun rejuvenating and rebuilding Osun State.

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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