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Of Insecurity And Economic Dev In Etche

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Etche Local Government
Area of Rivers State is regarded as the food basket of the state.
This elevated status accorded the area is mainly due to its rich agricultural potentials-large expanse of fertile land suitable  for the cultivation of various crops, energetic farmers, big markets, attracting traders from all parts of the state and neighbouring states, atmosphere of peace and love from the people known to be one of the most hospitable in the oil-rice Rivers State.
In a bid to enhance these enviable potentials, various administrations in the state sited agric projects in Etche land. The School-to-Land project, Risonpalm plantations, Delta Rubber Company and not excluding the avowed interest of the present administration led by Governor Rotimi Amaechi in developing farms across many clans in the area in partnership with an Israeli agro-allied company, are few examples.
Unfortunately however, insecurity in the area is dangerously upturning these socio-economic fortunes of the people as armed youths allegedly empowered by politicians  are robbing and attacking innocent farmers, traders and investors.
Only recently, armed youths struck at Eketa market located at Igbodo, the traditional headquarters of Etche land. They scared away innocent traders and disposed some of their money, valuables and injured so many.
An Aba-based trader who is a regular articles seller in the market was disposed of his N480,000.00 with his wares also stolen.
An eye witness told The Tide correspondent that a lot of people lost their money and goods when the gun-totting youths struck.
“I have been patronizing the market for more than 25 years and I have never seen a thing like that, a trader who identified himself as Egeonu Mathew narrated adding  that his colleague did not only lose all his sales for the day but had a broken head while running to save his life.
“So many people were also seriously injured by the heartless armed youths who took over the market for over 45 minutes,” he stated.
At Mba Market, over eighteen (18) armed youths also besieged the market in the similar manner as that of Eketa. The Tide gathered that poor traders were scared off when the robbers struck.
“It had never happened before. They came on motorcycles and shot severally into the air and as people ran for safety, they stole most of their goods and those they caught, were disposed of all the money on them,” said a trader who was  her self a victim of the dangerous drama.
The fish-seller who identified herself as Charity Nwankwoala said, “the robbers stole some motorcycles belonging to traders and many people were wounded while many lost their money to the gang of young robbers.
Apart from operating in markets, the robbers who many see as political thugs also ambush traders on their way to the local markets. Many a times the traders have been robbed of the money with which to buy their stocks.
One of the victims, Mary Akpan told The Tide that they were robbed on a Monday morning, on their way to Obite market.
“The robbers numbering about twelve (12)  intercepted our vehicles at Egwi/Nihi junction and robbed all of us in the vehicle. We were confused whether to proceed to the market or get back to Port Harcourt because we had no money to buy things. It was when we phoned some of our customers who promised to sell to us on credit (deferred payment) that we decided to proceed”, Akpan narrated.
“This is not my first experience. The operations of the robbers had forced some of our colleagues to stop coming to Etche markets for the fear of either losing their lives or valuebles to the heartless robbers”, she continued alleging that there was attempt to rape some of the ladies in one of such raids.
Investigations carried out by The Tide showed that vigilante groups providing security to some communities in Etche land have devised means of checking operations of the robbers.
The vigilante groups now escort vehicles carrying the traders to their various communities to ward off the incursions of the armed robbers.
A youngman who is one of the vigilante members confirmed the development. “We arrive early at Egwi Etche and wait for the traders and accompany them to our market every market days, said the man.
On regular basis, traders travelling to Aba in Abia State from Etche are robbed either on their way going or returning.
A transporter who plies Ulakwo/Odogwa/ Owasa road narrated his ordeals to The Tide. The driver who gave his name as Chimuanya Amakalam said, “on more than three occasions, I had been robbed with my passengers who are mainly provision store dealers. Each time the robbers subjected us to serious beating and disposed us of every thing on us.”
The driver said, “the road which is one of the easiest routes to Aba has become a traveler’s nightmare. Good number of the drivers who ply the route have since changed route, he said.
Another respondent, Chief Ebere Njoku, said he has decided to close his provision store business because, “it is either you are robbed on your way to the market or the robbers come to your store mainly in the day time to remove your money and take whatever things they wish to, from your store. So, when I discovered that I was no longer in any reasonable business, I closed down and relocated to Oyigbo where I am at present”.
The Okehi/Eberi Road which had separated the people of Etche local government from Omuma local Government was celebrated when some years ago, the government constructed the road and built a link bridge joining the two local government areas. However, the road later turned to be a death trap to those plying it because robbers operate on the route daily.
The situation became so worrisome that Etche ethnic Practising Journalists Association met with the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Omuma Local Government Area, Chief Emeka Nwogu and complained of the ugly experiences of people plying the route. The council boss who confirmed the situation disclosed that he was discussing with his counterparts in Etche Local Government Area on the possibility of establishing a police post at the bridge for better security on the road. So far, the police post is yet to be established.
The fear of deadly armed youths who daily kill and maim innocent indigenes of the area has become everybody’s concern. Farmers, fishermen, traders and innocent travelers have one ugly story or the other to tell about Etche land today. Some women had been reported raped at various parts of Etche by these robbers.
The police and other security agents in the area, are working hard and doing their best to provide better security but the situation remains dangerous for socio-economic life of the people.
Investigation revealed that a good number of Etche sons and daughters avoided going home during the past Christmas and New Year celebrations because of the insecurity in the area.
Even Okada ridders in the area operate with fear because the robbers daily snatch their motorbikes from them including their money.
Certainly, the situation would affect negatively the availability of adequate food supply more as the fear in the land would also affect farming operations which has just started, unless some serious security steps are taken to check the excesses of the armed youths.
Unconfirmed report indicates that some of the robbers come in from the neighbouring local government areas and even states to operate freely  in Etche land.
There is need for the chiefs and Traditional rulers in Etche to step up collaboration with security agents in the areas to contain the problem, since majority of these youths themselves are from Etche communities.
The churches, women groups and opinion leaders in Etche also have serous roles to play in any serious effort to return the area to its past state as one of the most peaceful local government areas and the food basket of Rivers State.

 

Chris Oluoh

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CBN Opens N500,000 Grants Portal For Graduates, Undergraduates

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To reduce the level of suffering associated with unemployment in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has developed grants of N500,000.00 for graduates and students.
A statement from the apex bank, made available to The Tide, said qualified persons have been directed to visit cbnties.com.ng portal for the CBN N500k grants registration.
This, according to the statement, is under the Tertiary Institution Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), in partnership with Nigerian Polytechnics and Universities to exploit the potential of graduate entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
CBN said the aim of TIES is to increase access to finance for Nigerian polytechnic and university graduates and graduates with innovative business and technological ideas.
The apex bank added that it is also to address the trend of white-collar job seekers and focus on job creation.
The statement quoted the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as saying that the scheme is designed to create a “paradigm shift from a ‘white-collar’ job search culture to an entrepreneurial culture to economic growth and job creation between undergraduates and graduates.
“As for the grant, CBN will allocate N500 million among the top five third best delivery organizations.
“The top five polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with the best entrepreneurial trends/ideas will be awarded first place: N150 million second place N120 million third place N80 million fourth place N80 million and fifth place. Location – N50 m illion”, it stated.
As part of the scheme, the CBN has announced that it will form a private and public sector expert organization (BoE) for two-year regional and national entrepreneurship competitions to assess the entrepreneurial and technological innovations offered by Nigerian polytechnics and universities.
BoE will also recommend high-potential projects and the variable impact on the award of the grant.
Projects funded under the scheme will be monitored by independent monitors set up jointly by CBN and MFIs.

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Economic Growth, Determining Factor For Policies In 2023  – Stockbrokers

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Chairman of Research and Technology at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Akeem Oyewale, has said that economic growth and development should be the determining factor in policies ahead of 2023.
Oyewale, who said this recently at the institute’s Annual National Economic Review and Outlook 2022 webinar  in Lagos, urged policy makers to act in a spirit of justice and tolerance to avoid acts that could lead to violence in the run-up to the 2023.
Speaking on the topic: “Global Dynamics Shaping Nigeria‘s Economic Future”, Oyewale listed factors such as the process leading up to the 2023 general elections, the response to Omicron, and the effects of COVID-19, as what would also determine the growth of the nation’s economic development.
He used the fora to urge the Federal Government to intensify its engagement with Nigeria’s capital market to better smoothly finance the 2022 budget deficit without increasing borrowing.
Oyewale also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fully consider the effects on the capital market when making monetary and fiscal policies.
According to him, the philosophy of building an economy led by the private sector enshrined in the National Development Plan must be strictly adhered to.
On the need for new listings, Oyewale said Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s trading should continue with the public listing of its shares on the stock market.
This, he explained, would give Nigerians the opportunity to co-own one of the country’s commanding heights.
“The CBN and banks should grant trading facilities to securities trading firms in the country to maintain optimism in the capital market”, he said.
Speaking further, he urged pension funds and other institutional investors to increase their investment in the stock market to create much-needed stability and encourage new investment.
Earlier, President of the CIS Council, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe,  said the institute would continue with initiatives that would enhance its growth and development in 2022.
Amolegbe stated that CIS would undertake activities that would promote capital market literacy in all geopolitical zones of the country, saying that he would strengthen collaboration with international professional bodies such as CISI UK and others for the benefit of their members.
He continued that the institute was working to increase the number of Nigerian universities offering graduate and undergraduate courses in securities and investment/capital market studies.
“Our vision by 2023 is to see the Securities and Investments profession registered in the hearts of young Nigerian academics as their preferred career path and CIS as the model to be followed by other professional bodies,” he concluded.

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PenCom Completes Review Of Pension Reform Act 2014

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The regulatory body of the Nigerian Pension Industry, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) says it has deliberated on the review of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014).
This was contained in a statement to newsmen signed by Peter Aghahowa, Head, Corporate Communications of PenCom, who disclosed that the regulator organised the retreat on the review of PRA 2014 in Abuja between January 12 and 14.
According to Aghahowa, the retreat was aimed at identifying salient issues to be reviewed in the PRA 2014 as a prelude to advancing legislative action on the bill.
Aghahowa said it is expected that the National Assembly would subsequently organise a public hearing to provide an avenue for stakeholders to formally make input into the proposed amendments.
He also said that the PRA 2014 was enacted following a review of the initial PRA of 2004, which introduced legal and institutional frameworks of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and established PenCom to regulate and supervise all pension matters in Nigeria.
According to him, the Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, during the opening ceremony of the retreat, had informed the participants that the PRA 2014 codified one of the most important socio-economic reform initiatives of the Federal Government.
He continued that she said this has brought about a pension industry that has accumulated pension assets in excess of N13 trillion invested in various aspects of the Nigerian economy.
He quoted her as saying that “the review is a corollary to some implementation challenges encountered with certain sections of the Act not long after its enactment in July 2014.
“This was also an addition to persistent calls from stakeholders for the amendment of some sections of the Act, which resulted in several legislative initiatives through the sponsorship of Bills for amendment of the PRA 2014 by the National Assembly.
“Consequently, the Commission as the regulator of the pension industry, decided to coordinate and harmonize the various efforts in order to achieve a comprehensive and constructive exercise for the review of PRA 2014”, he concluded.

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