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FG To Train 100,000 Graduates As Extension Workers – Osinbajo

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Vice-President Yemi
Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government will train 100,000 graduates as extension workers out of the 500,000 graduates to be engaged as teachers.
He made the declaration while launching the agricultural sector roadmap entitled: “The Green Alternative: Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016 to 2020’’ in Abuja.
The vice president also called for policy alignment of all government’s economic plans.
“This particular alignment is crucial. Just to give some obvious example: you cannot have a policy of encouraging local production of food and on the other hand have a high tariff on imported agricultural equipment.
“There is no way that we can encourage local production when we allow unbridled importation of the same things that we are trying to produce.
“There is no way we can do the scale of agricultural production both for domestic consumption and export without ensuring local improved seedling development alongside those that we import.
“And of course encouraging the work of the agencies of the Ministries of Science and Technology who have been making great breakthroughs in local development of agricultural equipment.
“Still on the issue of policy alignment, our social investment programme, which is possibly the largest in recent history, is designed to align with the design of our agricultural and other policies.
“And so, as part of the 500,000 teacher corps that we will be engaging, 100,000 of them will be trained as extension workers for our farms.’’
Osinbajo further said that the road map had identified the inability to meet productivity challenge of self-sustenance due to inefficient farming model, inadequate seeds, irrigation, and crop protection.
He said the administration met an economy in meltdown and had to take difficult decisions to repair the huge damage done by dependence on oil, not investing in infrastructure, deepening diversification and increasing reserves.
The vice president said that it became imperative to set the economy on the part of inclusive growth with job opportunities for the huge youth population through positioning agriculture as the focus of diversification.
Osinbajo said there was no doubt at all that if the administration got the agriculture right the economy would be right.
According to him, the home grown feeding programme was anchored on the use of locally produced food for primary school pupils in the country.
Osinbajo also said that financing of agriculture was also a crucial policy issue with double-digit interest rate and reluctance of banks to lend to the sector.
He said the administration must develop some funding options in the short term.
“The anchor borrowers’ programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria has proved to be extremely useful.
“Indeed the phenomenal success of the Kebbi rice programme where the farmers moved from 3.5 metric tonnes per hectre to 7.5 metric tonnes per hectre was largely the result of the single digit credit extended by the anchor borrowers’ programme which they used to purchase the right fertiliser quality and other inputs.
“The Ministry of Finance has practically concluded plans to recapitalise and re-engineer the Bank of Agriculture.
“We expect that before the end of this quarter, the Bank of Agriculture should be ready to give single-digit-interest-rate loans to farmers.’’
The vice president commended the Agriculture minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for developing an effective roadmap and conducting an advocacy for the revamp of the agriculture sector.
He further said President Muhammadu Buhari’s urgent call to return to the farm was one to embrace the truth of a renewed vision of an agriculture-led economy as an alternative to an oil dependent growth.
He said the agriculture revolution was a call on all to farm, even small vegetable farms.
“Interestingly, the only commercial activity that our constitution allows a public officer is farming; so we have no excuse,’’ he added.
In his reaction, the Kogi Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Tim Nda Diche, applauded the new agriculture roadmap as a viable option for the advancement of the nation’s economy.
He told The Tide source that the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari was high and the agriculture diversification was best way to avoid over reliance on oil.

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Inflation Rate Falls To 16.63%  – NBS

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The rate of inflation in Nigeria has declined for the sixth consecutive month to 16.63 per cent in September, which is its lowest level since January this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
The Bureau, in its Consumer Price Index released on Friday, said the inflation rate fell by 0.38 per cent from 17.01 per cent in August.
The drop in headline inflation began in April when it fell to18.12 per cent from 18.17 per cent in March.
According to NBC, the urban inflation rate increased by 17.19 per cent (year-on-year) in September 2021 from 17.59 per cent recorded in August 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.08 per cent in September 2021 from 16.45 per cent in August 2021.
It said farm produce such as bread, cereals, cocoa, meat, coffee, tea and cocoa drove food inflation, fell to 19.57 per cent in September from 20.30 percent in August.
Other items that led to the rise in the composite food index in September included oils and fats, yam and other tubers, fish, potatoes, milk, cheese and egg.
“On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.26 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.20 per cent points from 1.06 per cent recorded in August 2021”, the NBS stated.
 The Statistician-General of the Federation, Simon Harry, said the fall in the inflation rate signalled an improvement in government performance and more favourable economic conditions.
“The inflation rate in Nigeria has maintained a consecutive decline in year-on-year for a period of six consecutive months, starting from March 2021 to August 2021”, he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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5G Now At 97% Completion, As NCC Moves To Auction Spectrum

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the plan for deployment of Fifth Generation technology in the country has gotten to 97 per cent. 
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum with the theme ‘Embracing changes and digital transformation in the new normal’.
According to a statement titled ‘NCC update on plans for 5G deployment’ issued  by the NCC’s Deputy Manager, Public Affairs, Kunle Azeez, the commission stated that some spectrum would be auctioned.
“Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in the 3.5GHz band. The other day, I was at the National Assembly, I informed the Senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G.
“Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion. 
“The committee set up to auction the spectrum has already developed an information memorandum which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders.
“Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured the Federal Government’s approval”, the commission stated.
The commission also explained that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every means of communication became virtual, which led to an increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of unprecedented upsurge in internet traffic.
Danbatta added that even though the network infrastructure in the nation demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work was being done by the commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure accessibility to affordable connectivity.
“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things; Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.
“The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhancing user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector”, he stated.

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Nigeria’s Debt-To-GDP Ratio To Hit 42% By 2026 – IMF

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio will rise from 35.7 per cent in 2021 to 42 per cent by 2026.
The IMF stated this in its October 2021 Fiscal Monitor Report published on its website.
It said the country’s gross debt-to-GDP ratio would increase from 35.7 per cent in 2021 to 36.9 per cent in 2022, 37.7 per cent in 2023, 39.1 per cent in 2024 and 40.6 per cent in 2025.
According to the report, the gross debt includes overdrafts from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and liabilities of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). 
It added that the general government’s revenue-to-GDP ratio would decrease from 7.2 per cent in 2021 to 6.5 per cent in 2026, while the general government expenditure-to-GDP ratio would decrease from 13.3 per cent in 2021 to 12.6 per cent in 2026.
The global financial institution said that the general government net debt-to-GDP ratio would increase from 35.3 per cent in 2021 to 41.8 per cent in 2026.
“The overdrafts and government deposits at the Central Bank of Nigeria almost cancel each other out, and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria debt is roughly halved,” it added.
The report said for low-income developing countries like Nigeria, average gross debt in 2021 would likely remain stable at almost 50 per cent in 2020, while debt vulnerabilities “are expected to be high.

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