The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh says Thailand has accused Nigeria of being responsible for the collapse of its seven rice mills following the drastic fall in rice importation from the country.
The minister made this known at a meeting of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and leadership of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Friday.
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ogbeh said Thailand’s Ambassador to Nigeria made the “accusation” when he visited him in February.
According to the minister, the ambassador lamented that the collapse of the rice mills has increased the unemployment rate in his country from 1.2 per cent to 4 per cent.
“Just like two weeks ago, the Ambassador of Thailand came to my office and said to me that we have really dealt with them.
“But I asked what did we do wrong and he said unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent, it has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone.
“So, Mr President we thank you for the support and we thank all the agencies and those of you in the private sector for your resilience.”
The minister, however, alerted the nation on what he described as alarming smuggling of fake fertilizer and rice along the western borders of the country.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to take drastic measures to check the trend as all previous diplomatic measures had failed to address the menace.
“But one last request Mr President, we have to take one strong measure against our neighbour to the West. The smuggling is really compromising our capacity on our result.
“Too much rice, too much fake fertilizer is still coming across the borders into this country in spite of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we have with them they are not listening.
“Maybe if the Federal Government take one tough action, they will come and renegotiate the terms because good neighbourliness means reciprocity.
“We can’t be allowing them to survive at our own expense and I believe that we will do something about it.”
Ogbeh appealed to FEPSAN to adjust their blending formula using little more micro nutrients for some crops like cocoa, cashew, plantain, banana and others that would soon be revived by his ministry.
The minister noted that the agricultural sector had created millions of jobs for Nigerians in the last two years.
He said: “People may say what they like about jobs. Recently I heard that we lost four million jobs. Nobody has calculated the millions and millions of jobs created on the farms.
“So, this programme as it grows can only make us stronger.
“As soon as more dams and lakes are put in place, you begin to sell fertilizer all year round and not wait for the rainy season alone.”
Nigerians Spent N2.37trn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that, in 13 months, Nigerians spent N2.37 trillion on petrol imported into the country.
According to the data released by the corporation last Wednesday, its total revenue generated from the sales of white products for the period May 2019 to May 2020 stood at N2.39 trillion.
It disclosed that petrol contributed about 98.84 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.37tn.
The corporation said it made N92.58bn through the sale of petrol in May 2020.
It said the revenue from petrol sale was generated through its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, as the oil firm also announced a 43 per cent decrease in oil pipeline vandalism in May.
NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, explained that these were contained in the May 2020 version of the corporation’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report.
The report stated that the N92.58bn was made on the sale of white products (only petrol this time) by PPMC during the review period.
The oil firm said 950.67 million litres of white products were sold and distributed by the corporation’s downstream subsidiary, PPMC.
This comprised 950.67 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, only, with no Automotive Gas Oil or Dual Purpose Kerosene.
There was also no sale of special product in the month.
NCC Revises USSD Pricing, As 20 Seconds Cost N1.63
The Nigerian Communications Commission, has revised the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data pricing to allow mobile network operators and financial institutions negotiate mutually beneficial rates.
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the commission amended the determination earlier issued in July 2019 by removing the price floor and the cap.
According to him, each USSD session is 20 seconds and costs N1.63 per session on the MNO network.
He said the cost should form the basis of negotiations between MNOs and other related service providers using USSD channels.
The amendment was carried out after a dispute between MNOs and financial institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.
The NCC, in the amended determination which took effect from August 1, said that if MNOs and financial service providers were unable to agree on rates, it would intervene and the commission’s decision would be final and binding.
The telecoms regulators said refusal to pay for services provided or to negotiate in good faith would lead to discontinuation of provision of the service, the possible withdrawal of the USSD short code and/ or imposition of regulatory sanctions.
NIESV Laments Dilapidation Of RSHA Quarters
The Nigerian Institution for Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has described the Rivers State House of Assembly Quarters as being in bad shape and no longer befitting as a dwelling place for the legislators.
The president of the institution, Mr. Emma Okahs-Wike lamented that the Assembly Quarters could not have dilapidated to the extent of being marked for demolition if the property was maintained.
He noted that a facility of such nature should not have been left in the hands of the occupants, adding that the Rivers State government ought to have employed facility managers to take care of the quarters, noting that facility managers be engaged when the new proposed assembly quarters are completed.
According to him, if we had professionals who are managing the place, I can tell you that it would not have dilapidated to the point we are.
“I want to advise that the Speaker or the house officers should appoint facility managers that would be able to manage those properties. Now that the government is thinking about reconstructing, they should be able to bring out professionals, seek professional advice so that at the end of the day when they finish this kind of structure it would be properly cared for,” he continued.
Okahs-Wike reasoned that professional facility managers would be able to care for and maintain the facility, “let them not just leave it in the hands of the occupants, they should be able to have one stop facility manager that would look after the environment and make sure that the property is well maintained and well structured”.
While enjoining the state government to have the project reevaluated and get the public notified on the reason for demolition and rebuilding of the assembly quarters, the NIESV’s president pointed out that it would cost more to renovate the facility.
He explained: “the buildings, some of them are dilapidated. What I will advise the government to do is to carry out feasibility and viability study of that project. The feasibility is that demolishing and reconstructing, ‘which one would be better for us?’ Then you go to viability, which one would be more costly, which one would be more beneficial to the people? If the viability study says it’s good to renovate, you renovate, if they say no, you reconstruct. Now if the government has done that and they have found out that it would be more cost effective to reconstruct, it’s a better deal… and bring in current and modern building materials”.
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