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‘Non-Payment Of Counterpart Funds Hampers IFAD Programmes’

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The non-payment of counterpart funds for the implementation of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRMP) has hampered its implementation in Akwa Ibom, the state Programme Officer, Mrs Essien Uwe-Bassey said.

Reports say that the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is financing the implementation of the programme with counterpart funding from the Federal Government.

Our source also reports that the participating state governments, as well as the benefitting communities will also pay their counterpart funds.

The NDDC is also providing financial support for the implementation of the programme in the nine Niger Delta states.

Currently, a joint IFAD/FGN supervision mission is visiting the participating states to assess the implementation of the programme, with a view to identifying the challenges and proffer solutions.

The supervision team is led by Dr Adeoye Adeniyi, an Agricultural Production Specialist and IFAD Consultant.

Uwe-Bassey told the team that the Akwa Ibom Government and the three benefitting local government areas of Ibesikpo/Asutan, Okobo and Oruk-Anam owed a total of N247 million in counterpart fund since 2008.

She, however, said that the benefitting communities had paid their 10 per cent counterpart contribution.

She also lamented that staff of the programme had not received their allowances for the past 20 months and that some activities had been distorted by rainfall.

“The delay in the release of funds for implementation brought about apathy in some communities.

“Also, the difficulty in the transportation of materials due to the terrain of some communities and none buy-in of local government councils has affected the progress of the programme,” Uwe-Bassey said.

The programme officer noted that 31 persons had been trained in various skills in the past seven months, besides those trained when the programme started in 2006.

“The areas of training include record keeping, pegging and planting techniques in plantain and oil palm, snail, fish and vegetable farming, as well as goat keeping, piggery and compost manure making.

“In terms of crop enterprise, a total of 5.7 hectares were cultivated between January and July 2011, as against 47 hectares targeted, representing a 21 per cent achievement.

“Out of 18 targeted livestock enterprises, a total of 15 units representing 83 per cent has been achieved,” Uwe-Bassey said.

She added that 42 targeted operational groups out of 90 were able to define their priorities under the community driven development (CDD) approach of the programme.

The Tide source reports that the programme is meant to improve the quality of life of about 44,444 poor rural Akwa Ibom people out of the estimated  400,000 rural poor people in the Niger Delta.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum, Mr Okon Ibok, the Vice-Chairman of Okobo, one of the benefitting local governments, blamed the state programme officer for not always reminding the council authorities of the funding commitment.

Ibok also requested the state programme office to always involve the local government authorities in the choice of the projects meant for each community.

Responding, Adeniyi, the team leader, explained that the choice of projects was always based on needs assessment and not on political consideration.

Adeniyi said that the essence of the interaction with the direct beneficiaries of the programme was to have first hand information on the challenges in implementation and also proffer solutions to them.

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Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town

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The move by the Federal Government to restore Festac Town in Lagos to its original status has sparked up protest among traders occupying Agboju Amuwo Planks and Building Materials Market.
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration. 
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.  
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.

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Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun

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No fewer than five persons were on Wednesday burnt to death, while two others sustained first degree of injury in a fuel tanker explosion at Ajilete, along Owode-Idiroko road, in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday. 
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.

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Travellers To Access $4,000  As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies

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Nigerians travelling abroad can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 foreign exchange from banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement to increase forex supplies.
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.

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