The Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) says Federal Government’s outright banning of food importation will lead to inflation and further impoverish the masses.
The President of the society, Prof. Bashir Raji, said this while reacting to the recent pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari, that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should not give “a cent’’ to importation of food.
In a telephone interview with newsmen, yesterday, he described the move as “a right policy, right timing but wrong approach.’’
It would be recalled that Buhari had, last Tuesday, in Daura, Katsina State, directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country with the steady improvement in agricultural production and attainment of full food security.
He said the foreign reserve would be conserved and utilised strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
The country had achieved food security, and for physical security, “we are not doing badly,’’ the President had said.
But Raji, who emphasised that the policy would be good if properly articulated, however, advised that the president should put into consideration the nation’s food production as well as consumption.
The don specifically noted that the country required about eight million tonnes of rice annually, adding that “currently, the country is producing just about 3.7million tones.’’
Raji decried that the country was not meeting up to 50 per cent of its needs.
“With the outright ban, there is no way the country can meet up with the required 50 per cent in one year,’’ he said.
He suggested that the Federal Government embark on the ban gradually over the next five years putting in place incentives and measurable targets to ensure that the 50 per cent shortfall was met during the period.
“But now the way was going, definitely there will be a lot of inflation, there will be high prices and considering the economy at the moment a lot of people will suffer.
“The president must have been fed the impression that because of the drop in the importation of rice through our ports, the rice we consumed in this country is produce locally which is not true.
“There is a lot of increase in the production of rice locally but there has been increasing smuggling from neighbouring countries which eventually ends up in Nigeria to complement what is produce locally.
“The policy if properly articulated will be beneficial on the long run but is quite clear that we still rely a lot on importation of food and outright banning is likely to bring about inflation.
“It will also bring about pressure on the black or parallel foreign exchange market and high cost of food, especially rice.
“We don’t import yam, we don’t import cassava, beans and we don’t actually import most of our staple food; the ones we import are basically rice maybe wheat, milk, sugar and some of the exotic foods.
“Unless we can produce one and a half times what we required, it will not be a good decision to ban outright importation of food, especially now that a lot of people are suffering economically,” Raji said.
The SSSN president decried that a lot of populace were currently not eating local rice as it ought to be due to series of complaints. He however advised the Federal Government to give incentives in terms of free seeds of the varieties to enable people to eat locally produced rice.
Raji urged the government to consider issues regarding production and processing by buying some of these medium scale processing mills and giving them to cooperative farmers at 50 per cent discount.
“Government should give incentives in terms of input and processing so that the rice can meet the standard required by the people.
“Such incentives will go a long way in assisting the country to meet the required target of rice production and consumption in the next five years before banning importation,” he said.
Raji pledged the readiness of the society to work with the Federal Government to ensure that land degradation and climate change mitigation safeguards were put in place following the envisaged massive farming activities the policy might generate.
In the same token, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, described President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), not to release forex for the purpose of food importation as a move by the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress to punished and further impoverish Nigerians.
The PDP said the directive would worsen food scarcity, “exacerbate the already harsh economic situation and the general depression, frustration, resentment and despair in our country under President Buhari’s watch.”
In a statement issued by party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the PDP said rather than formulating and implementing policies to make life suitable for Nigerians; the APC-led government is taking pleasure in inflicting more pains to its citizens.
The statement read: “It is indeed appalling that instead of bringing solutions to the depreciating living conditions in our nation, President Buhari is rather imposing more suffering by ordering the removal of subsidy on food even when it is manifestly clear that he had failed on all fronts to achieve any level of food security despite the huge resources available to his administration.
“The party says by the directive, the Buhari-led Presidency and the APC have again demonstrated their insensitivity towards millions of Nigerians who are already suffering from acute hunger and starvation due to severe food shortage and high prices brought by President Buhari’s misrule.
“The PDP states strongly that Nigerians do not, in any way, deserve such suffering being foisted on them by such directive on food.
‘Such situation will only breed further despondency among our citizens, heighten our security challenges and put more pressure on compatriots, many of who, in the face of suffering occasioned by APC misrule, are resorting to suicide and slavery mission as options.”
The party counselled that instead of removing subsidy on food and putting more suffering on Nigerians, President Buhari should cut the “billions of naira being wasted on luxuries in his Presidency and free the funds for the welfare of the masses.
“Furthermore, the PDP urges President Buhari to recover the over N14 trillion siphoned by APC interests under his administration including the stolen N9 trillion detailed in the leaked NNPC memo and channel the resources towards food security for Nigerians.
“The PDP states that it is a complete disservice to Nigerians for the government to place restrictive directives on food for the masses, while interests condoned by the same administration are frittering our common patrimony.
“The PDP wants to believe that while Mr. President enjoys the comfort, luxury, sufficiency and safety of the government house, he is barely aware of the sufferings of Nigerians.”
Also reacting, a Nigerian knowledge institution, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his directive to the Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN), to stop issuing forex for food importation into Nigeria, warning that such restriction would increase the rate of suffering among majority of Nigerians.
N148bn Funds For Roads: Wike Slams Buhari, APC, FG Over Deliberate Neglect Of Rivers …Says Real Madrid Football Academy Has Come To Fruition
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has berated the Federal Government for deliberately neglecting Rivers State in the recent release of N148billion for roads’ construction across the country.
Wike declared that the action of the Federal Government was the most shameful act of marginalisation in a federation where Rivers State contributes to the financial sustenance of the country.
The governor said this before commissioning the new Rivers State Civil Servants’ Quarters at Amassoma Street in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said Rivers politicians in APC should be able to plead with the Federal Government to site projects in Rivers State to expand their political relevance.
According to Wike, “The Federal Government released N148billion for the construction of roads and it did not consider one road in Rivers State. Look at the condition of the East-West Road.
“Shame on those who say they are working with the current Federal Government, but cannot protect the interest of Rivers State in that government.
“We are producing oil that finances projects in the country and the Federal Government can release N148billion for roads and Rivers State was neglected. You are working with the Federal Government and you cannot attract projects to Rivers State. Anyone who is in APC and is from Rivers State, shame on you.
“You are there; you cannot even say for my sake, help me and give me one road, so, I can go home and tell my people this is what I brought to Rivers State.
“What offence has Rivers State committed in this country that this Federal Government cannot for one day remember the state? They have our son who was their director general. If for nothing, since he was your director general, help him and do one project for his people.
“Tomorrow, you will say Rivers people should vote for you. Which vote? We won’t do that. Nobody is a slave. We are not slaves. We cannot be conquered by anybody”, Wike added.
Similarly, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has expressed happiness that the Real Madrid Football Academy has become a reality, saying that major international football stars will be groomed at the facility.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, after inspecting the Real Madrid Football Academy in readiness for the commissioning programme on Saturday, Wike said that all the facilities have been put in place for the successful take off of the academy.
“The administrator in charge of Africa and Asia for Real Madrid will be in Port Harcourt on Thursday night. Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State will be commissioning the project on Saturday.
“When we promised that we will set up a Real Madrid Football Academy that will help groom international stars in the area of football, so many people played politics and said that it was fake.
“We are happy that it has come to fruition. We have sent people to Madrid and they have been trained as instructors and coaches. We also sent the players of Banham Model Primary School, winners of Channels Television Kids Cup to Madrid for training. They will form the first set of students”, he said.
The governor said the development of the Real Madrid Football Academy was a confirmation that his administration was serious with keeping promises made to Rivers people.
He said that on Saturday, Nigerians will watch live on television to excellent facility that will produce the next set of international soccer stars.
Also yesterday, the governor visited the Judges’ Quarters, which would be commissioned by the administration in October, 2019.
He said: “Rivers State has provided the basic infrastructure for the Judiciary. Anybody who comes here will attest to the fact that Rivers State has provided quality infrastructure for the Judiciary to do their work as expected”.
The governor later inspected the Fruit Garden Market built by his administration after the initial market was gutted by fire.
The Fruit Garden Market would be commissioned next week.
$9.6bn Scam: Court Winds Up P&ID, Orders Forfeiture Of Assets …As Nigeria’s Legal Team Meets In London, Moves For Revocation of Fine
The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, convicted and subsequently ordered the winding up of Process and Industrial Development Limited and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited, for charges of fraud and tax evasion in respect of the contract leading to the recent controversial judgment of a British court empowering the firm to seize about $9.6billion worth of Nigerian assets.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his judgment also ordered the forfeiture of “the assets and properties” of the two firms to the Nigerian government.
The judge made the orders shortly after the two firms, through their representatives, pleaded guilty to the 11 counts instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Relying on provisions of Section 19(2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, and Section 10(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006, the court ordered the Federal Government to wind up the two firms and confiscate all their assets in the country.
While P&ID Limited incorporated in British Virgin Island was represented in the dock by its Commercial Director, Mohammad Kuchazi, P&ID Nigeria Limited was represented by Adamu Usman, who is also a lawyer.
Kuchazi was represented by his lawyer, Dandison Akurunwua, while Usman represented himself.
Both men pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies to all the 11 counts read to them before Justice Ekwo, yesterday.
They were accused of among others, fraudulently claiming to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement which led to the $9.6billion judgment.
After the defendants pleaded guilty to the 11 counts, an EFCC investigator, Usman Babangida, was called to the witness box for review of facts which was not opposed by the defence.
Documents relating to the controversial 2010 gas supply contract and EFCC’s investigation activities were tendered and admitted by the judge as exhibits without objection from the defence.
The judge then went on to pronounce the two firms represented by the two men guilty.
Making an allocutus, plea for mercy, P&ID’s lawyer Akurunwua, urged the judge to consider “the forthrightness and candour” of P&ID by pleading guilty and not wasting the time of the court in the trial.
Meanwhile, with the trial and conviction of both the British Virgin Island and the Nigerian affiliate of Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) by a Federal High Court for fraud and corruption, Nigeria is set to present the United Kingdom Appeal Court handling the case, with a new set of pleading to revoke the monumental award against the country.
Beyond the conviction of the company, the Nigerian federal court also ordered the forfeiture of the assets of the company to the Federal Government.
Arising from the judgment, a consortium of Nigeria’s legal team is set to meet in London early next week with a view to reviewing the case and making an appropriate adjustment to its deposition towards the revocation of the award earlier granted by the court to the shadowy company, which has now been convicted.
It was learnt that with the conviction, Nigeria is likely going to argue before the court of appeal that the UK commercial and Arbitration Court was misled by the suspects to grant the huge award and should, therefore, be revoked given the new and better information that was unavailable to the country at the time.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, confirmed that the legal team would be converging in London to review the case and take further steps to advance the cause of justice and Nigeria in the case, which has drawn global attention.
Malami said: “Nigeria is expected to review its strategy in view of the unfolding development as it relates to the conviction of some of the suspects that have admitted to fraud and corruption that gave rise to the award.
“The implication of today’s conviction of the suspects by the FHC in Nigeria is that Nigeria has a judicial proof of fraud and corruption as a foundation of the relationship that gave rise to a purported liability and arbitral award.
“From the available evidence, Nigeria now has a cogent ground to ask for the setting aside of the entire liability.
Female Hotel Murders: Kudos To Rivers Police Command
The response of the Rivers State Command of the Nigeria Police over the incidents of hotel murders of at least eight ladies, qualifies for attention, given the far reaching impact it will have beyond the immediate circumstances of the heinous crimes. Following the incidents of murder of these ladies in some hotels in the state, the Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura, summoned hotel owners to a meeting where some new codes of practice in guest reception and management were adopted. Among these were the installation of close circuit television (CCTV) systems and detailed profiling of hotel guests pursuant to providing same information to the police on demand. To accentuate his point, the Commissioner clarified to them that in the event of untoward developments in their facilities – such as the incidence of criminal conduct, they as hotel operators and staff immediately qualify as accomplices to the crime, at least until their innocence is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Drastic and novel as the measures may be seen by some, they constituted the minimum standard with respect to the issue of integrity of hotel services. The utility of such measures far outweighs whatever inconvenience and costs they may impose on the respective hotel operators and guests. Just as well, the implications of the measures with respect to enhancing the general state of insecurity in the state justify by far, the need for their effective implementation. Already, their effectiveness has been established as some suspects in respect of the reported crimes have been arrested and are helping police investigations. The most recent was that of a man who was allegedly in the act of suffocating with a pillow, the lady he spent the night with in a Diobu hotel. Her vigilance saved her life as she was able to stop him from executing his plan before raising alarm. Meanwhile, as a manifestation of the public revulsion over the development, the outcry over it has been stringent with at least one group of sympathetic women has actually taken to the streets to express solidarity with the victims of the dastardly acts.
Seen within the context of the riot act by the Police to the hoteliers, it could not have come at a more auspicious time than now. Even as it can be said that the unprecedented murders of the unfortunate ladies prompted the Police order to hoteliers in the Rivers State, the measures are better late than never. Among the factors that define the merit of the Commissioner’s position are at least two. In the first place is the fact that hotel management has its traditional code of ethics which are intended to guarantee the safety of both workers and guests. Being locations where anybody no matter the character, capabilities and motives can come in and enjoy hospitality, there are traditional risks associated with their operations. For this reason, developed countries where hoteling has been better managed, pay premium attention to the issues of identity of guests and other patrons of hotels. Among hotel guests can be the good, the bad and ugly characters, and as the playwright, William Shakespeare put it, one cannot tell the character of any individual just by the facial features. So ordinarily, hotel monitoring remains a primary duty of the Police as they constitute the choice locations for sundry crimes, due to the anonymity they provide guests.
Secondly, given the heightened scale of anti-crime operations in the state courtesy of the resolve of the government to tackle its perpetrators to a standstill, the traditional bases of the miscreants are under surveillance, hence, forcing them to seek fresh bases which include hotels, especially the non – descript ones that can easily escape the prying eyes of the law. Hence, the new initiative by the Rivers State Police Command offers the promise of placing tracers on not only serial women killers but also other criminals that habitually use hotels as their operational rendezvous. Thus, by the riot act to the hoteliers, the Police is expected to kill more than one bird with that single metaphorical stone.
Meanwhile, this is to express the condolence of this column to the bereaved families of the deceased, whose deaths have stirred the conscience of the society to the outrage spawned by the presence of demented serial killers in our midst. We have been hearing of killings by armed robbers whose proclivity to murder their victims is borne out of the devilish urge to instill fear and facilitate compliance with their demands. There is also the spate of killings by cultists in order to press home their underworld values. What then can be said about killers who do it for no justifiable reason other than the fun of seeing others, and in this case women with whom they could have been passionately intimate, die?
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