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C’River To Rake In $100m From Cocoa Factory

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One hundred million dollar is to be generated on annual basis into the coffers of the Cross River State Government from proceeds which will acrue from the state cocoa processing factory set up by the administration of Prof. Ben Ayade in Ikom Local Government Area of the State.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof Anthony Eneji, stated this during an assessment visit to the cocoa processing factory and the ultra modern rice processing factory sited in  both in Ikom and Ogoja local government areas of the State yesterday.
The commissioner expressed satisfaction with the progress of work currently on-going at project sites and also said that to ensure steady availability of cocoa for processing at the factory, the state government has begun the planting of seedlings/nursery to boost production which will feed the plant when the plant becomes fully operational.
“It is a N100 billion project. Already, we have raised five million cocoa seedlings to ensure the plant does not run short of produce,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of A. A. Universal Agro Industries Limited, handlers of the project, Chris Agara, who also spoke at te event said, “the installed capacity of this processing plant is between 40,000 to 60,000 tons. What we have here is a three-phase facility. The first phase is to clean and dry the cocoa for export, thus giving a lot of value to the beans that will be exported.
“The second phase is processing the beans after which it is processed into powder in the third phase for chocolate, for beverage and other cocoa related product. The project is about 90 percent completed. The entire equipment needed for installation to complete the first phase are here.
“The economic benefits of the plant are enormous. I have been privileged to attend a number of world cocoa conferences with emphasis on the end users of cocoa products. The point is that by the time we create an identity for Ikom as a place that produces organic and pure cocoa, the entire world’s focus will be on this place.’’
“The plan is to have about four to five of this plant around here.
So, if we are generating between $500 million to $1 billion annually, you know what that means to the economy of the state,” Agara said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Rev Joseph Ugbe, who also accompanied the commisioner to visit the plant, stressed that the project was well conceived and by first quarter next year it should be completed.
Ugbe said, “You know Ikom has been well known for cocoa production and for this factory to be located here, it is going to benefit the people, the farmers and the State. It will also boost the Nigerian economy. We are also happy to be part of it. That is why we are here to ensure that whatever is done here is in order. The factory will provide employment for the teeming youths.”
In his welcome remarks, the Project Manager, A.A. Universal Agro Industries Limited, Dapo Obayemi, averred that the factory when fully operational would be interested in the processing of cocoa beans that is organic so as to get a flavor the can rank among flavors that are of international standard.
“it is the first of its kind south of the Niger. It is something that will yield the desired result. This is a 10-ton per hour processing factory. In terms of volume, you know what that is. Apart from that, it is something that has come to add value to cocoa processing in Nigeria. You can call this a cocoa refinery. Obayemei said.
Speaking shortly in a visit  to the place of  paramount Ruler of Yala LGA Ogamode Ipuole shortly after assessing the  ultra modern rice processing factory, the monarch charge the state government to ensure that employment opportunities are given to youths of the host communities to work in the factory so to reduce the high rate of unemployment in the area.
The monarch said that his qiuteness concerning the land given to the state government by the  community for the factory dosent nean that there were no agitations. “There are a lot and lots of agitations is just that i have been on top of the game telling my people particularly youths in the are to calm down. All we want as a community is for our youths to get opportunity to work whenever the factory kicks off.” Ogamode said.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar.

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MWUN Threatens To Down Tools Over Failed Quay Aprons 

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The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Friday threatened to shutdown port operations over the dilapidated quay aprons at some of the nation’s seaports.
Speaking in Lagos during a joint press conference put together by the union and Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), President General, MWUN,  Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, reiterated that the lives of labour workers at the affected terminals was at risk, saying that “injury to one is tantamount to injury to all.”
Adeyanju lamented that the union cannot allow the situation consume some dockworkers before protesting against the trend, noting that as a responsible and proactive group, there was the need to down tools for government to do the needful.
Our correspondent gathered that two port terminal, at Tin Can Island Port Complex, Lagos, and another  at Port Harcourt, Rivers Port  Quay wells have been in  dilapidated condition for over five years without any sign of repair works from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Recall that Minister of Transportation, Mu’Azu Sambo, who also inspected the dilapidated portion of the Tin Can Island Port quay apron recently, asked Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the engineers to forward the ‘as-built’ plan of the jetty, alongside other documents to his office for immediate action.
While reacting to questions from the journalists, Adeyanju said the union will also engage management of the NPA in furtherance to address the menacing failed infrastructure of the terminals.
On the recently inked Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NARTO, the President General noted that the collaboration has been in existence for a long while with the aims to cater for drivers’ welfare and support projects of the NPA in port terminals operations.
He also warned members of the dockworkers branch to cooperate and embrace the agreement with the trucking association, noting that any attempt by the dockers to flout the MoU reached so far would result to sanctions from the national executive of MWUN.
He assured the leadership of NARTO, led by its National President, Alhaji Yusuf Othman, of the Union’s commitment towards ensuring that progress and success is achieved  in the agreement.
According to him, the MoU is binding for members of the dockworkers branch, stressing that the Lagos ports was a test run with plans ahead to extend the agreement to other seaports, including, Warri, Calabar and Port Harcourt ports.
Earlier, President of NARTO, Alhaji Othman, lauded the MoU reached with MWUN, adding that success will be achieved in the merger. Othman said in line with port operations, the merger will bring about free flow of vehicular movement in and out of the ports calling on the parties involved to embrace sincerity and transparency for the benefit of the industry and Nigeria.
He said, “We wish to draw the attention of the general public to the decision for MWUN and NARTO to synergise and collaborate on a basis of common desire to ensure seamless environment to do business in the maritime sub sector of the nation’s economy”.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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PenCom Approves Use Of Pensions For Mortgage

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National Pension Commission (PenCom), has commenced approval for workers to use 25 per cent of their Retirement Savings Accounts for mortgage.
PenCom in a press statement released on Friday, titled ‘PenCom approves guidelines on accessing Retirement Savings Account balance for payment of equity contribution for residential mortgage by RSA holders’, noted that the approval was in line with the Pension Reform Act of 2014.
It stated in part, “PenCom is pleased to inform all stakeholders and the general public, particularly RSA holders, that the commission has approved the issuance and immediate implementation of the guidelines on accessing RSA balance towards payment of equity contribution for residential mortgage by RSA holders.
“The approval is in line with Section 89 (2) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, which allows RSA holders to use a portion of their RSA balance towards payment of equity for residential mortgage”.
According to the PenCom, the guidelines cover pension contributors in active employment, either as a salaried employee or as a self-employed person.
It added that the maximum amount to be withdrawn is 25 per cent of the total mandatory RSA balance as of the date of application, irrespective of the value of equity contribution required by the mortgage lender.
It further stated that where 25 per cent of a contributor’s RSA balance is not sufficient for payment as equity contribution, that RSA holders may utilize the contingency portion of their voluntary contributions (if any).
To qualify as a mortgage lender for the purpose, it stated, the company must be licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, comply with the Contributory Pension Scheme and have valid Pension Clearance Certificate.
“The RSA of the applicant shall have both employer and employee’s mandatory contributions for a cumulative minimum period of 60 months (five years).
“A contributor under the Micro Pension Plan is also eligible, provided he/she has made contributions for at least 60 months (five years) prior to the date of his/her application, and the RSA Holders that have less than three years to retirement are not eligible.
“Married couples, who are RSA holders, are eligible to make a joint application, subject to individually satisfying the eligibility requirements.
“RSA holders, if registered before 1 July 2019, must have their records updated through the RSA data recapture exercise.
“Application for equity contribution for residential mortgage shall be in person and not by proxy.” it stated.

By: Corlins Walter

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Car Hires Operators, Bolt Driver Flex Muscles In PH Airport

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There was pandemonium at the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, Friday, as the Accredited Car Hires operators clashed with a Bolt taxi operator over passengers.
The scenario that played out got to the extent that everyone scampered for safety, as the Bolt driver went wild with his vehicle, and defied everything put in place to stop him, determined to crush anything, including humans, that stool on his way.
Problem started when the suspected Bolt driver was stopped by the Car Hires.  After a heated argument, characterized by abuses, the bolt driver decided to enter his vehicle in anger, after he sensed that his car was in danger of being confiscated.
In the commotion that ensued, the car hires, as usual, used their iron piercing instruments to block the tyres of the vehicle to keep it within their custody, and the uproar attracted  the attention of other airport users.
The Car hires and their allies at the airport had always insisted that no other taxi operator must carry passengers at the airport, since they do not pay any levy to the airport authority.
Consequently, they use every force necessary to stop other outside taxis from carrying passengers from the airport.
Friday’s incident took a new twist, as the Bolt driver over. Powered the forces used by the car hires, and went on a suicide mission, which made people to scamper for safety, including the car hires.
The driver went on a speed spree away from the airport. Even when the piercing instruments cut his tyre, he drove in such reckless manner capable of pulling down a building, thereby setting the entire environment on panic.
Some security agents present had to clear the way for the Bolt driver who drove out of the Airport with the iron piercing instrument obstructing his car, defiling all attempts to stop him.

By: Corlins Walter

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