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FG To Resolve Food Exports Suspension To EU

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The Federal Government says it is working to resolve the suspension of Nigeria’s dried beans exports to the European Union before the June deadline.
The Director-General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Mr Rufus Ebegba, said this in an interview with The Tide source yesterday in Abuja.
Ebegba said that relevant agencies of the federal government were working closely on the matter and would ensure that the anomaly was corrected before June.
It would be recalled that the EU announced an import suspension measure in June 2015, which affected dried beans from Nigeria.
Nigeria’s dried beans was said to contain high levels of pesticides which is dangerous to human health.
The EU’s suspension of Nigeria will lapse in June 2016, when the country is expected to provide “substantial guarantees that adequate official control systems have been put in place to ensure compliance with food law requirements’’.
Ebegba said he was aware that the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and other relevant agencies, were working closely to resolve the issue before the deadline.
“The Federal Government is a very large family; however, everybody has to work together to ensure the Change Agenda of the present administration becomes a reality.
“I am optimistic that the country will enhance its productivity and correct the earlier mistakes that led to the ban,’’ he said.
Ebegba emphasised the need for collaboration between regulatory authorities and other stakeholders to put in place a quality control framework to enhance acceptability of the country’s agricultural exports in the international market.
He said it was the responsibility of the new agency, which is six months old, to educate Nigerians on modern biotechnology.
According to him, the NBMA will ensure safe practice of the Genetically Modified (GM) technology among farmers in the country.
“As a regulatory body, what we do is to ensure unbiased treatment and make sure that the new technology does not have any negative impact on humans and the environment.
“We are trying to convince Nigerians and farmers to embark on this new technology in order to boost our economy through agriculture.
“The agency through its sensitisation programmes organised seminars and workshops across the three geo-political zones even before the bill was passed into law to campaign for its passage and create awareness among farmers.
“We are working towards translating our handbills and pamphlets into the three major languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba for easy understanding among rural farmers,’’ he said.
The NBMA also allayed the fears in some quarters that GM crops had adverse effects on human health.
Describing the fear about GM crops as unfounded, Ebegba advised Nigerians to embrace the technology which, he said, was safe and economically viable.
The director-general gave farmers the assurance that the NBMA would carry out risk assessments and analyses on GM seedlings to ensure that they were environmentally friendly and safe for consumption before they are released to them.
He also appealed to farmers to trust the decision of the NBMA and be rest assured that the agency would ensure safety in the practice of GM technology.
“The days of peasant farming are long gone; we are now looking to commercial farming that will help in generating more income for our farmers and the economy,’’ said Ebegba. =

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FOI Act Implementation Bothers BPST Boss

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The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has expressed regrets that the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has remained very low since the law was enacted.
The BPSR boss made the observation during a workshop held on Wednesday in Abuja on the appraisal of Freedom of Information Act.
Arabi said the Act was meant to entrench transparency and openness in governance through improved compliance to annual reporting obligations of public institutions.
“It is also expected to guide and improve compliance of public institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower citizens, the right to access information held by the state.
“Regrettably, since the introduction of the FOI Act, it is evident that the level of compliance among public institutions still remains low.
“While the level of engagement by citizens still remains insignificant and in some cases fraught with misunderstanding between the State and Non-State actors,” he added.
Arabi, therefore, said that the workshop was to resolve some of the grey areas around FOI, as well as foster a harmonious relationship between the State and Non-State actors towards the implementation of the Act.
He said good governance and transparency would only thrive in the country when citizens access to Information is assured.
The DG emphasised that the FOIA provided platform for inclusiveness that sought to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision making process.
Arabi said that the Bureau had worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Act and was making efforts to ensure that it was institutionalized across the public sector.
He said that the interventions were in the areas of training public service workers and development of feedback mechanism through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request were deployed.
Others, he said, are score-card for ranking the performances of websites of public institutions using specific benchmarks, including FOI portal.
“Creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes such as the monthly Lunchtime Seminar series,” he added.
Arabi said that the Bureau had also deployed information technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management using intranet and Electronic Data Management Systems.
He continued that they were working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of citizens on public policies.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria, Dr Gloria Ahmed, said making information open was a hallmark of democracy and a basic human right.
She said that the FOIA has given citizens the opportunity to access information as regards government policies and reforms.

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FCTA Harmonises Mobile Adverts, Haulage System Against Double Taxation

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS), has launched the FCT/State Mobile Advertisement and Haulage permits for 2023 financial year.
Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, while launching the system sought the cooperation of the business owners in the FCT, in order to achieve the objective of the initiative.
Adesola said the move was part of efforts to facilitate the ease of doing business drive in the nation’s capital.
He commended DOAS for the initiative. aimed at improving institutional cooperation and partnerships with the critical stakeholders.
Adesola warned: “FCTA would no longer tolerate acts of thuggery in the collection of taxes, as there are better ways of doing such, which will ensure the attainment of ease of doing business.”
He commended the leadership of Area Councils for resolving to synergise with DOAS to streamline the system.
The Permanent Secretary said the proliferation of collection authorities for mobile advertisements had led to serious loss of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the FCT.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, Kwali Area Council, Danladi Chiya, said although Area Councils have the constitutional right to collect such advertisements, they have no issue with FCTA over the establishment and mandate of DOAS.

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LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation

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The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.

By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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