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FG Vows To Support Farmers Nationwide

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The federal government has stated that it would strengthen its partnership with farmers to boost food production and agro-allied businesses in Nigeria.
The Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. George Akume stated this during a meeting with the National Apex of Nigeria Farmers’ Cooperative Societies (NANFACOS) in his office in Abuja.
The NANFACOS is a statutory body established to complement the efforts of the federal government in the agricultural value chain activities.
According to Akume, Nigeria may join the list of countries with serious implications for food security by 2050; but he is optimistic that the country has all it takes to feed the rest of West Africa and beyond.
He said: “Agriculture is the mainstay of many countries, particularly the developing world. There is something unique about agriculture; that is food security. One of the basic needs of man is food. It is the first need of man. If you don’t have food you cannot think well, you become sick and very unproductive. So food is the main need of man.
“Food also provided cash for us in those days in this country before the discovery of oil; agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy. You remember the groundnut pyramids in Kano, you remember cocoa in the western region, you remember palm oil in the eastern region and we have beniseed, soya beans which earned the people a lot of money needed, maize, rice, ginger, so many, even fish abound in our waters.”
He reiterated the need for sustainable partnership that would boost agricultural productivity in the country, assuring the body of President Buhari’s support.
A Member of the Board of Trustees of NANFACOS, South East Zone and Chairman/Chief Executive of Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company, Mr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, in his remarks revealed that his tractor manufacturing plant, which is situated at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, would be commissioned this year.
Chukwuma said that the plant was built to boost agricultural mechanisation in the country, hence making farming attractive to university students.

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Devote Budget To Training Youths On Tech Skills – Expert

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A tech firm, LearnWithPride Limited, has urged both states and Federal Government to devote a significant portion of their budgets to training youths on technological skills that would enable them secure international jobs.
Founder of LearnWith Pride, Mr Akin Oladeji, who argued that it was one of the ways by which Nigeria can reduce the unemployment gap, explained that an individual, well-skilled in technology, can get a job anywhere in the world while working from the country.
Speaking at the organisation’s 2024 Tech Summit, with the theme: “Breaking Barriers of Unemployment Through Tech”, in Lagos, Oladeji also urged business owners to leverage technology, noting that it is one way by which their businesses can acquire large visibility.
“Our programme focuses on youths, and what we realise is that people, irrespective of their age, think they cannot learn any new skill again. The fact is, one needs to unlearn to relearn.
“At the mention of tech, most people think it has to do with coding, and that is why the majority say they don’t want to transition to tech.
“One of the reasons we have this summit today is to bring awareness to people that acquiring tech skills is not about coding, it could be product management and others that don’t require any coding.
“After learning these skills, you won’t be focusing on your environment but other countries because the skills that you have acquired are useful all over the world. With these skills, you can be in Nigeria and apply for jobs  in the UK, Malta and Ireland among others”, Oladeji explained.
On why people should invest in acquiring tech skills, he said: “It is a good investment and nothing good comes free. No matter how much you are spending, you need to spend something.
“You can never get quality training for free, if you really want to invest in yourself and reap the rewards later on, then you should be ready to pay for it. It is an investment that can be beneficial in a short while.
“People need to start looking at the bigger picture. No matter what, some amount of money has to be invested, and you need to find a quality training organisation that is ready to hold you by the hand and walk you through the process.
“You need to invest something to get something. Whether you are a man or woman, the only thing required in the journey is determination”.
Oladeji, Chief Executive Officer of LearnWithPride, stated that he believed that some states could do better on youth empowerment, saying if they could get more money into the sector and train as many people as possible in lucrative tech training, they could secure good jobs.
“In tech, your location doesn’t matter. As long as you can be skilled up and you can defend what you know, you can get a job remotely. If government can invest money in quality training, not just training, then people will get good jobs irrespective of the location”, he concluded.

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Rivers Crisis Distracts Business, Dev, Real Governance – Membere- Otaji

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Nigeria’s frontline business leader, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, has said the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State is not helping business development and real governance, calling on parties involved to sheathe their swords.
This was contained in  a press statement made available to the press by his media aide, Anderson Hart, in Port Harcourt, recently.
Membere- Otaji noted that in recent months, most of the negative political news in the country have come from Rivers State, which, to him, is not only bad for business and investment, but also distracts real governance and economic development in the State.
“It deeply pains me that my State is daily being dragged into the mud”, he said.
This call, according to the release,  has become necessary as he  is presently the highest member of the Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN), not only in Rivers State but the entire South-South of Nigeria.
This is also in line with  his position as the Deputy President, Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
The OPSN member, who was Chairman of the West African Glass Plc and  also a Council member of both the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and Nigerian Institute of Management, further observed that the political heat was not only affecting the state, but the nation  in general.
He argued on the premise that Rivers State was not only the headquarters of the nation’s energy source, but also its major source of income.
According to him,  this current era of  social media and online news/publications can negatively affect  the nation in the international community,  as well as serve as distraction to Mr. President in his bid to reposition the country.
He also noted that in a state there is only one Executive Governor and one government with the judiciary and legislature as branches.
“Finally, I must conclude with the Shakespearian quote often used as words of wisdom by the late sage, a prominent fighter for an independent Nigeria and its first President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. My fellow Rivers people in all we do, let’s put Rivers State first”, he said.

King Onunwor

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SMEDAN Directs N5bn Loan Applicants To Submit CAC Certificate

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The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has reviewed the selection process of beneficiaries for a N5billion credit facility allotted,  meant for small businesses in the country.
With the new procedure, the agency has mandated the submission of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) certificate and Tax Identification Number as a compulsory requirement to obtain the loan.
The Head of Corporate Affairs, Moshood Lawal, made the disclosure during an interview with our correspondent recently in Abuja.
The report said last year SMEDAN signed an agreement with Sterling Bank to disburse loan options ranging from N250,000 to N2,500,000 at a single-digit interest rate of nine per cent, facilitating the growth of small businesses through enhanced financial access.
The credit with the target to assist over 10,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) has a duration period of 12 months, enabling small businesses to leverage the facility fully.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the SMEDAN DG, Charles Odii, described it as “an important milestone in our efforts to stimulate economic growth and drive prosperity by enhancing SME access to finance.
“We believe that the financial support, which comes at a very competitive rate, will help SMEs expand operations, hire additional employees, and contribute to an overall upswing in beneficial trade and economic activities”, he stated.
But giving an update on the issue four months after, the spokesperson said a software application had been developed to smoothen the process and limit human interference on the credibility of the process.
He added that submission of CAC certificate and tax identification number was needed to identify fake applicants and ensure the fund is given to the right persons.
He said, “Concerning the N5bn loan for small businesses, we have developed an app and it is ready now. We are now taking submissions via the software application. Everyone is expected to download it, put in their business plan and every other detail. Then, they would be evaluated on the app.
“We had to move to an app to avoid human interference because almost everyone had a brother or a sister who tried to influence the process.
“So, it is better to register via the application, upload the Corporate Affairs Commission certificate, Tax Identification Number, and other necessary documents.
“Once that process is fulfilled, the request will be evaluated and those qualified will get a reply immediately. But, if we had continued with the former procedure, the process may be influenced.
“We also noticed that most applicants do not have their CAC certificate and that is a very important document to be submitted.
“Some persons have claimed not to have these certificate but we have insisted that it would be a very important criteria to receive the loan or they would be ineligible. We have promised to be transparent about this initiative and that promise will be kept”.
On the status of applicants who had registered earlier, Moshood explained that those applicants must start the process again using the newly developed app in order to be considered for disbursement.
“Everyone that initially applied for the grant would have to do it again. During the former procedure, they were not asked serious questions, they were only told to register.
“But now, we are asking specific questions on how the money will be utilised, the business turnover per month. It is via those questions we will be able to sort out real businessmen and fake ones”, he stated.
According to report, over 200,000 small-scale businesses had earlier signified their interest to obtain the credit facility with successful applicants receiving emails from the bank.

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