Barring unforeseen hitches, all plant components and infrastructure for the €10million (approximately N2,151,934,000.00) Rivers State Cassava Initiative in Afam, Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state, will be ready for test-run and comminssioning by February, 2014.
Executive Director, Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), Noble Pepple, who said this at the project site while briefing members of the Editorial Board of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation (RSNC), during a guided tour of the agency’s facilities in the Ogoni axis last weekend, said that April, 2014, has been fixed as tentative date for the official commissioning of the complex.
The initiative is a major private sector-driven intervention bringing together the Rivers State Government being represented by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), the Dutch Agricultural Development and Trading Company B.V. (DADTCO), the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, to develop local cassava farmers, build their capacity and provide opportunities to generate greater income.
Of the total investment of €10million, 30 per cent will be used for the education and development of smallholder cassava farmers in the state while 70 per cent will be invested in the joint venture for the building and operation of the cassava factory.
RSSDA, he said, would use the strategy to create employment for 20,000 Rivers people, either directly or indirectly, act as a launchpad to transit Rivers farmers from subsistent to commercial farming, inject more than N3million daily into the farming communities through direct payments for the purchase of cassava roots from farmers, while guaranteeing product off-take from the factory by multinational players such as Unilever, Nestle, Nigerian Breweries, SABMiller, Johnson Wax, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, and Honeywell, among others.
Pepple said so far, 45,000 Rivers farmers have been identified and registered, with more than 600 already trained by IFDC on improved cassava cultivation techniques while four integrated soil fertility management demonstration and multiplication farms have been established, while 245 are currently participating in farm clusters development scheme.
He added that the RSSDA has surveyed a total land area of 4,000 hectares in the different local government areas of the state, which would serve as pilot farms while doubling as support and input centres.
Pepple said that the cassava processing plant, including the flash dryer were manufactured in Holland while the three Autonomous Mobile Processing Units (AMPUs) for on-farm processing of cassava roots were being produced in Norway, adding that the on-site infrastructure would be completed before December, 2013, just as the processing components are billed for installation and test-run by February, 2014.
He said that the 30,000-ton capacity factory would increase the yield for local farmers from 10 to 20 tons per hectare, facilitate evacuation and processing of tubers at the farm gate, while ensuring that farmers are paid guaranteed competitive prices for supply of roots based on international market prices for starch.
The executive director said that when on stream, the AMPU units would produce cassava cakes from fresh roots, which could be used directly by brewers across the country or supplied as feedstock to the main processing plant for further conversion into high quality cassava flour.
Pepple said that the initiative was aimed at leveraging the abundant production capacity of 90 per cent of smallholder cassava farmers in the state, who have continued to experience significant post-harvest losses, low yields and non-competitive pricing of the dominant staple food on the Nigerian menu.
He regretted that although Nigeria is by far the largest cassava producer in the world, producing more than 45million tons annually, cassava value addition to the national food chain was insignificant, adding that with the initiative, more than seven products’ opportunities would be available for the company.
According to him, when available, cassava flour from the facility would help replace expensive wheat flour for macaroni, spaghetti and bread production, just as cassava cakes could serve as a significant cost effective substitute for imported glucose syrup and starch from barley for the brewing industry.
In addition, Pepple said that the DADTCO and second largest world brewer, SABMiller partnership, would guarantee income and good fortune for thousands of Rivers smallholder cassava farmers, stressing that the HQCF would serve a binding agent for food and other industrial uses and provide increased ready market opportunities for manufacturers of Bouillon cooking cubes such as Knorr and Maggi.
The RSSDA executive director said that the products from the factory would help boost Nigeria’s fight against malaria through the production of sufficient re-agents for mosquito coils while 95 per cent starch from DADTCO’s HQCF could be further processed into sugar substances like commercial Glucose and Sorbitol – a sugar substitute for toothpaste, chewing gum and cough syrup production.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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