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Songhai Farms: Boosting Integrated Farming

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Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako of Adamawa Central Senatorial District (left), distributing improved maize seedlings to farmers in  Yola, recently.   Photo: NAN

Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako of Adamawa Central Senatorial District (left), distributing improved maize seedlings to farmers in Yola, recently. Photo: NAN

Have you ever found
a place where nothing is considered a waste, where man, animals, plants, and where all that nature has got to offer are harnessed; each relying on the other without friction?
Finding such a place seems impossible but it exists in Songhai Farms in Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin.
Tourists note that in the farm, everything is re-generated. Leaves, stems and roots are used to produce animal feeds, soil mulch and compost manure while aquatic plants, such as water hyacinth, are used to generate gas and purify water.
Animal wastes such as droppings, horns, bones, intestines, feathers are equally used for biogas production and compost manure while rain water is harvested for aqua-culture, irrigation and human needs.
In the farm, tourists observe that one becomes so in tune with nature because all food items are organic (natural) without additives or any form of chemicals.
Songhai Centre, a 200-acre land that has become an international non-governmental development organisation, was founded in 1985 by a Nigerian-born American Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Godfrey Nzamujo.
It has become a destination for agro-tourists from around the world. It is named after a prosperous and powerful empire that was very strong in West Africa between the 14th and 16th centuries.
“Songhai for us is not that empire but the spirit of a people that can carry themselves and know how to make a good reading of their environment and discover the opportunities therein.
“And again, how to convert these into common wealth, rather than individual wealth, which most leaders in Africa are infamously known for today,’’ Lazarus Dourossimi, a tour guide at the centre said.
Apart from citing its regional base in Porto-Novo, the centre has three other farms in Savalou, Parakou and Kinwedji, all in Republic of Benin.
The Porto-Novo centre has pens for chicken, grass-cutters/rabbits, turkey, guinea fowls and quails while the snails and others are kept in neat houses.
The maggot uses the intestines of slaughtered animals and dung to produce relatively big ones that are used in feeding fish.
The farm, a mini-town on its own, has metal workshops, pottery workshops and an industrial zone for the production of bio-energy, liquid and bar soaps, plastics, fruit juice, fish mill and a slaughter house.
It also has administrative blocks, communication buildings, multi-purpose halls, staff and student quarters, feed mill, rice mill, compost production, swimming-pool, chapel, meeting and conference rooms.
It has variety of hotels and restaurants where various natural cuisines are prepared and served to visitors as well as a supermarket where only organically-grown produce and finished products from the farm are sold.
“I want to be a part of Africa saying no to this logic of poverty. When I see brothers and sisters, I am really grateful that we are not giving up. We want to give our children something different.
“In Nigeria, we are being trained to face the problems of yesterday. We are doing our training in agriculture of yesterday.
“We are not seeing the challenges of today and preparing ourselves for the challenges of tomorrow which are very simple.
“It is a challenge of employment for all, particularly young men and women. It is to remove poverty in terms of what we eat, food security and the way we live,’’ Nzamujo told a group of Nigerian agro-tourists who visited the centre recently.
Tourists observe that the farm transforms all its agricultural products, using simple and natural processes and effective technologies that are easily accessible.
They note for instance that palm-nuts are processed into palm oil and palm kernel oil that can be used for various purposes.
“We want to develop the idea that we can really develop in a very sustainable manner if we respect our environment. The environment, therefore, is going to improve our productivity.
“To further magnify what we are doing and in order for us to really get everybody on board, we are developing low-input agricultural production. Most of the production inputs are within the reach of practically everybody here,’’ Nzamujo said.
“The plant is what nature has given us, it takes carbon-dioxide from the air, chemical substances from the soil and some energy to grow fruits, leaves, stem and roots.
The animals consume parts of the plant that man has no use for, like corn stalk, to feed grasscutters.
“Since Songhai is a resource centre, we discovered that out of primary production, we can process our goods into finished goods; hence we need machine and energy.
“For energy to run those machines, we use solar and covert our all categories of waste to methane gas to power our generators and machines.
“We want to train young people so that they can provide jobs for themselves first and then the entire world.
“The second aspect is giving technology to farmers and people to enhance their productive capacity, ‘’ Dourossimi explained.
According to him, the Songhai model of green rural cities has extended to other countries including Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Congo Brazzaville.
Statistics shows that Songhai has farms in Cross River, Lagos, Katsina State, Rivers and Enugu State while the project is also being replicated for private individuals in Ebonyi.
In spite of these initiatives, Nzamujo said Nigeria had yet to take full advantage of its vast agricultural potential to transform its fortunes.
“Nigeria, rich as it is and with all the blessings from God, imports food. It is even importing fuel into a country that produces crude oil.
“But we can produce food and send it to all of West Africa but we are doing the opposite. So, we’ve lost it. What we are doing at Songhai Farms is to show that Africans can do it,’’ he said.
Nzamujo said his experience with some states in Nigeria had been worrisome because of the attitudes of the government nominees.
“Something that costs 20 dollars, they want us to quote 40 dollars. We built our Port Novo centre for just a third of what they wanted us to quote in one state,’’ he alleged.
He said that Songhai Farms employed more than 2,500 people from different countries, noting that it recently sponsored 185 candidates to undergo psycho-technical test, written test and endurance test.
“My dream is that when you come to Songhai Farms, you marvel and say Africa is working,’’ Nzamujo said.
A Nigerian agro-tour operator, Mrs Olufunke Taiwo, said: “We want to inspire our farmers to form the habit of cultivating big and sustainable farms as against small ones.
“Running small-scale farms is no longer in vogue, the business of agriculture has grown beyond that.
“We are looking at people to build sustainable farms and these must not necessarily have to be the government but individual farmers that could build big farms to provide employments and grow the wealth of Nigeria.’’
Pedro is of News  Agency of Nigeria.

 

Iyiola Pedro

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City Crime

Sustaining Existing Peace In ONELGA

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Security is one area that leaders of all tiers of government must address their minds to. This is because government originated from the desire of the bourgeoisie to secure their property from the commoners.
Consequently, one of the fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure the security of lives and property of the citizenry.
Most importantly, the present situation in the country calls for concerted efforts by all and sundry to ensure that law-abiding citizens of the federation were safe.
Interestingly, less than 24 hours from now, chief security officers of the 23 local government councils executive in the Rivers State will be sworn in by the executive governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike.
It is expected that the council chairmen will complement the robust security architecture already fixed by the governor. The proactiveness of the state chief executive has paid handsomely as the level of security in the state has been beefed up. This is exemplified by the short fall in security challenges.
Many people who spoke with The Tide on their expectations from the council chairman across the state harped on the need to battle insecurity.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, a business operator and resident of Omoku, Mrs Patience Ndidi (Nee Obuah), who spoke on behalf of the business community urged the incoming chairman to sustain the existing peace in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of the State.
She described the chairman-elect, Hon. Vincent Job as a trusted leader as well as epitome of what a leader should be.
Mrs Ndidi expressed hope that the incoming chairman would sustain the existing peace in the area. According to her, “the peace we are enjoying today must be sustained even as we pray for him”.
Also speaking, an elder statesman in the area, Chief Ono Eze Obi, said, “my expectation is for the chairman elect to accord the security of lives and property a priority because our people must stay alive to enjoy the dividends of democracy.”
He noted that insecurity had relegated the local government to the background which they did not want to recur.
“We expect the incoming chairman to tackle security holistically by partnering with relevant stakeholders, security operatives, especially the local government vigilante called ONELGA Security Planning and Advisory Committee (OSPAC),” he stated
“Hon Vincent Job understands administration especially at this level. He is assuming this exalted office at this critical time in our history, when insecurity has been a great source of worry to all and sundry.”
Hon Azubuike Awuya, a youth leader in Obrikom stated.
“He should act like a desired messiah in this regard. I can assure you our people will be pleased with his administration; Hon. Awuya noted.
Another person, who spoke with The Tide, the female youth leader, Hon. Sarah Woko, said the blueprint conveyed by Hon Vincent Job during his electoral campaign received wide acceptance.
She averred that the blueprint had given them the assurance of peace and tranquility in the area.
She said, “the security architecture must be adequately strengthened to further boost both economic and social activities of our people.
Also speaking, a farmer residing in ONELGA, Mr Ossai Tony, noted ,” I join other farmers to plead with the incoming chairman to ensure farmers could conveniently go to their farms without security threats. We give kudos to ONELGA OSPAC. They are the reason farmers can carry out their legitimate business, so we expect him to sustain it.
A trader, Mr Okechukwu Nwokocha who spoke with The Tide noted,” I must thank you for this opportunity. A lot of expectations but the one that concerns us is that of security. Since the arrival of OSPAC business activities have grown steadily. We operate freely without molestation. The only thing he can do for us is the sustenance of security, peace and order. We will be grateful to him”, he said.
It would be recalled that ONELGA was the hotbed of crisis during the era of late Don Wani, the cult kingpin that relegated the LGA to the background. The killing of Don Wani and the formation of OSPAC were two things that brought a new lease of life to residents of the area.
The issue of reliving the horrible and ugly experiences of the pre-OSPAC days has often assailed the minds of ONELGA residents, little wonder then that everyone craves for the sustenance of the security apparatus in the area.
Before OSPAC was formed, many ONELGA communities had been deserted. Raping of women and girls was commonplace. Killings, decapitation and selling of body parts were the order of the day.
Don Wani was the notorious dictator in the entire local government area.
It would be pertinent therefore for successive council administrations in the area to sustain peace so that there should be no relapse into the horrors of the past.
Ralph Echefu is a public affairs analyst, based in Port Harcourt.

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City Crime

Whether Rent Is Refundable

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A Tenancy Agreement is a contract between a landlord and the tenant which sets out the rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant when renting property in Nigeria. Both landlord and tenant have something called implied rights in all tenancy relationships whether or not a tenancy agreement exists. However, a tenancy agreement is important because it provides further protection for both the landlord and the tenant, and it expands on the implied rights.
As the tenancy agreement is a contract between two parties, the landlord and the tenant, the tenant has the right to review the terms of the tenancy agreement to determine whether or not the agreement protects his/her interests.
As a landlord or a tenant, you need to ensure that your tenancy agreement includes the following terms and information at a minimum:

  • The names and addresses of the landlord and the Tenant and the address of the property
  • The start date and end date of the tenancy
  • How much the rent will be
  • Other applicable amounts including legal fees, agency fees, security deposits, service charges/fees etc as applicable.
  • The obligation of both the landlord and the tenant.
  • An outline of bills the tenant is responsible for.
    The above list is not exhaustive, these and more terms that are frequently included in well-drafted tenancy Aaeements. It is advisable therefore, that a well drafted tenancy agreement is signed by both parties.
    Having established the fact that a tenancy is a contract, it must be noted that breaking it at will does not entitle the tenant any refund. In simple terms, there is no refund of rent after payment. If the tenancy surrenders before the contract is executed, the Landlord may return the amount gained which was let out during the subsistence of the tenancy which was surrendered, apart from that; a tenant is not entitled to refund. See Abdurahman V. Thomas (2019) 12 NWLR (PT 1685) 107 SC @ 129, Nig Con Holding Com. Ltd V. Owayele (1988) 4 NWLR (PT 90) 588 @ 603.
    The mere fact that the tenant returned key does not mean rescission of the tenancy. When tenants returns key before the expiration of his tent, he is not entitled to refund of rent except the property was let out, and it is only for the remainder of the period let out and paid for by the new tenant within the period under by the old tenant.
    In other words, your tenancy will continue to subsist in the apartment until it is let to a new tenant. Once the place is let after you have vacated (and before the expiration of your tenancy), you are then refunded for the unexpired term.
  • By: Nkechi Bright-Ewere
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City Crime

Five Friends In Court For Abduction, Robbery

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An FCT High Court, Kubwa, has fixed July 5 for the definite hearing in a case against five friends.
Justus Alex, Victor Alex, Marcus Eze, Asogwa Johnson and John Ofor face four counts of armed robbery and abduction filed by the police.
Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya fixed the date after prosecution counsel, Sadiq Haruna, announced he had made rearrangements with the court registrar to serve the defendants’ sureties.
The sureties could not be served due to the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) strike.
The defendants are accused of robbing one Theophilus Kelechi and three others of five phones, one digital camera and N50,000 cash at Nandu Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja on October 15, 2019.
They also allegedly abducted Chief Benard Nwora from his office at Suite 52 of the same plaza and took him to Ado village in Nasarawa.
According to the prosecution, they demanded N50 million ransom from his wife, Bethel.
The police recovered two pistols, six live cartridges without licence, from the friends in Ado on October 16, 2019.
Their offences contravened the provisions of Section 2(3) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provision Act Cap 398 LFN 1990 and Section 273 of the Penal Code.
All the suspects have pleaded not guilty.

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