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EU Not Deterred By Terror Attacks

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The European Union (EU) has said it would not be deterred by the spate of bombings in Nigeria and pledged more support to the fight against terrorism in the country.

Ambassador David MacRae, Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, stated this at a media luncheon in Abuja yesterday.

MacRae, who condemned the recent attacks on media organisations in Abuja and Kaduna, noted that terrorism was a global issue and urged Nigerians not to be intimidated but rise up to the fight against terrorism.

“What we witnessed last week was a total abomination; we condemn these attacks and the way they targeted these newspaper offices and obviously our sympathy and condolences go to the families of all the victims.

“We wish that those who are responsible for these crimes are arrested and brought to justice.

“Everybody living in the country today has to be careful and vigilant but at the same time we should as far as possible strive to continue to go back to our business and not allow these acts of terror to defeat us and that includes, as far as the European Union is concerned, not shying away.’’

He assured that the EU had begun discussions with the government on partnership in the area of security.

“We have decided to put in place a dialogue process to discuss security; we will bring to Nigeria the benefits of what we have and we are there to give support to the government to help tackle this scourge.

“There is a need for improvement in the justice system and need to create a secure environment for people to live in.’’

The ambassador also said the EU was extending its support in the areas of water and sanitation sector in Kano, Jigawa and Yobe States.

MacRae listed other areas of partnership between the EU and Nigeria to include security, governance and human rights as well as trade and regional integration.

On trade, the EU ambassador said that the EU had imported more than 50 per cent of West Africa’s non-oil export in 2010.

“Stocks of EU investments in Nigeria alone amounted to no less than 30 billion euros in 2010.’’

He urged Nigeria to embrace the benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as an opportunity to attract investment to the non-oil sector, and enable improved access to the EU market and economic governance.

“Let me affirm that the EPA provides for a number of protections aimed at reducing its potential negative impact to the very minimum while opening huge opportunity for development and economic growth (including the creation of jobs) from which Nigeria, being the biggest player in the region, stands to gain more than any other ECOWAS country.’’

He commended the role the ECOWAS played in moving the process of the EPA forward and expressed the hope that fresh opportunities would be presented for more West African countries to be involved in the agreement.

According to MacRae, the EU is also engaging Nigeria in the area of improving legal migration and development.

On the World Press Day, the EU ambassador said: “The EU commends the courageous work of journalists, who in often highly precarious conditions, continue to provide independent information.

‘’The EU is firmly opposed to any unjustified, disproportional restrictions and access to or use of these media.’’

He called on all states to guarantee the safety of journalists and allow them carry out their “vital role of reporting and commenting on events in an independent manner without fear of violence and recrimination”.

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Sanwo-Olu Assures On Reduction Of Food Prices

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has assured residents of the state that the various interventions by his administration in the agriculture sector would soon put an end to the astronomic rise in food prices in the market.
The governor gave the assurance on Friday at the flag-off of distribution of agricultural productive assets and inputs under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, with over 3000 agripreneurs empowered.
Sanwo-Olu said that breaking the shackle of dependency on foreign countries and states for food supplies was in line with his administration’s THEMES agenda for job and wealth creation as well as food sufficiency.
He stated that the empowerment scheme was a demonstration to the development, expansion and growth of agriculture in Lagos by providing tools, deploying innovation and creativity that would make it easier for all farmers to grow high quality crops, thereby raising their inputs to feed Lagosians and Nigerians.
The governor said that his administration was putting in place various interventions which included wholesale agriculture hub, urging farmers, youths and beneficiaries to work hard to nurture their businesses to maturity by building a sustainable wealth.
“We have emerged wiser and more determined to succeed in creating and nurturing a viable agribusiness sector in Lagos State. We may be Nigeria’s smallest state by land mass, lacking the large tracts of land available to others, but we will not allow that to stand in the way of our vision.
“We will maximise the little we have, while also deploying the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit we are known for, to create new opportunities to feed ourselves and feed Nigeria, and create economic growth and prosperity through agriculture”, he said.
 The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, said that 70 per cent of the beneficiaries of the programme were youths and women chosen from the Lagos Agripreneurship programme (LAP), Agric YES programme, and value chain associations.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Monorail Project, A Waste Of Rivers Resources – GDI

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The Monorail Project that was abandoned by the Chibuike Amaechi-led administration in Rivers State has been described as a complete waste of state resources.
President-General of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), worldwide, Bright Amehule, in an interaction with journalists at the weekend, alleged that the former state governor used the monorail project to squander Rivers money.
He said that the monorail was not desirable as at when it was embarked upon, adding that the money sunk into the project would have been used for more people oriented projects. 
According to the GDI boss, the state has not reached the stage where the monorail is necessary.
“We have not reached the stage of development where we will need monorail. Where is the power to run it ? We have not grown to the stage to run it, as we have observed in other developed countries.
“We need power to run the monorail, but even the power project former governor Peter Odilli executed was sold by Amaechi. He squandered the money he sold the power project built by Odili without giving account of it.
“There is just little to show for the huge amount of money spent on the monorail and the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority”, he said.
On account of his stewardship as the coordinator of taskforce on Street Trading and Illegal Parking, Amehule said that he performed his duties well, but pointed out  that no individual can satisfy everybody, irrespective of how the person tries.
He said that the state government engaged over 600 youths as task force men, adding that the state government is doing its best to ensure youths employment in the state. 
According to him, the state government has taken steps to provide employment through numerous projects such as the Cassava Plant at Oyigbo, the recent partnership with South Korea, numerous construction works being handled by Julius Berger, and the expansion of the Rivers State University, among others.

By: Corlins Walter

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SON Procures Warehouse For Goods’ Testing

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In a bid to stop the practice of arresting containers released at the seaports on the highways by its officials, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has procured a warehouse around the port where suspicious goods will be taken to for testing.
The Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim who disclosed this at a one day capacity building workshop for journalists organized by SON in Lagos, recently, said that rather than blocking suspicious goods at the port and delay other legitimate businesses coming through, they would just take those containers to their warehouse and conduct their test.
Salim explained that after testing, if the goods were found to be okay, they would release them but if the goods were found not to be okay, they (SON officials) would show those individuals how to fix the products if the products were fixable, adding that where they were not fixable; the SON would destroy them in line with their mandate.
Salim explained that the idea was to encourage ease of doing business at the seaport, saying the organisation does not want bottlenecks and bureaucracy that would stop people from achieving their legitimate goals.
He assured that the SON management would continue to rejig the system to make it more efficient.
According to him: “We have done so many changes over the years. For example, we have our own warehouse right by the port where goods that are suspicious, instead of blocking them in the port and delay other legitimate businesses coming through, we just take those containers to our warehouse which are nearby and because we have a very high professional and efficient lab in this country, we do our test, if the goods are okay, we release them. If the goods are not okay, we show those individuals how to fix those products if they are fixable, if they are not fixable; we destroy them which is our legitimate mandate by the government and by the National Assembly”.
He emphasised that it was the SON’s responsibility to make sure that every goods that enter the country are up to standard.  
He said: “We make sure there are consequences to any product and that any person producing substandard products will have to pay one way or the other. We will have to make sure that there are consequences for individuals buying fake products and injuring our people. We are to make sure manufacturers of goods; building materials are up to standards because collapsing buildings are not discriminatory. 
“We, as an organisation, are committed to improving our responsibility. If we expect standards from people, we have to three times inspect how we handle ourselves. So, over the years, we have collaborated with market associations, we have collaborated with importers’ associations even though our responsibility is primarily to help our local producers but Nigeria has importers and they are legitimate businessmen and they are importing things that are needed in Nigeria. So, our responsibility is to make sure that whatever comes to this country is standard, is good, is not going to harm our people and our local industry”.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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