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Niger Delta

Food Security: Delta, AUDA-NEPAD Earmark N3bn For Smallholder Farmers

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The African Union Development Agency and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), in partnership with the Delta State Government, have proposed to raise N3 billion to support smallholder farmers in Delta State.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Godfrey Enita, made the disclosure recently at Amukpe, Sapele, in the state.
Enita said the first phase of the training programme on “Innovative Strengthening of Smallholder Farmers’ Capabilities Towards Productive Land Restoration Amid COVID-19 in Nigeria” has commenced at Amukpe.
The Commissioner, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Ben Agamah, said the Delta/AUDA-NEPAD programme is a 10-year planned project aimed at tackling food insecurity in the state and the nation at large.
He noted that the African Union has decided to focus on the smallholder farmers through capacity building and material support to ensure best practices in agricultural production to ensure availability of food in Nigeria.
On the planed budget of N3 billion, Enita said the State Government is expected to pay N1 billion as counterpart funds while AU will provide N2 billion to drive the programme over a 10-year period, targeting 3,380 smallholder farmers across the state.
“Because food security is actually a challenge, the various governments are making deliberate effort to ensure that poverty and hunger are alleviated and reduced to a manageable point.
“One of those efforts is this AUDA-NEPAD intervention to strengthen smallholder farmers because physically, they are the people that feed the nation. So, for food security, it has to be smallholder farmers.
“The four cardinal indicators that a state or country is food secured are food availability, affordability, cultural acceptability, and the liberty to chose what to eat at any time.
“The state contribution to the programme is 1:2 ratio.
“We have articulated 3,380 smallholder farmers from six commodities; cassava, Rice, aquaculture, Piggeries, poultry, and green house vegetables cultivation and the total proposed budget is N3 billion for the 10-year period which will be implemented in phases”, he said.
According to the Commissioner, the programme has adopted a group and cluster approach as the farmers will be given requisite training and materials to grow their businesses as no cash component will be given to any farmer.
Earlier in her opening remarks, the National Coordinator, AUDA-NEPAD, Princess Gloria Akobundu, who was represented by Mrs Timi Young-Itiye, Chief Administrative Officer, AUDA-NEPAD, Abuja, said the training is aimed at empowering the farmers to increase their contributions to the nation’s food production.
According to Akobundu, building the farmers’ capacity would enable increased food production, and nutrition to cushion the effect of COVID-19, “in line with African Union – United Nation agenda which seeks to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030.
“This programme also served as a vehicle for the actualisation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of uplifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty”, she stated.
She lauded Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his support, while tasking the participants to remain committed to ensure the essence of the programme is achieved.
Resource person, Dr Oghenesuvwe Okpara, Head of Department, Animal Science Department, Delta State University, Abraka, said given the vision of NEPAD, the programme’s target was to make the farmers subsistent in food production.
“They are to produce their own food and have enough to sell to other people to make enough money to continue on their businesses.
“The AUDA-NEPAD mission is to end poverty and hunger, and in spite of the many interventions, Africa is still walloping in poverty and starvation. This is the essence of this capacity building and empowerment, particularly in the chosen commodities in which we have comparative advantage,” he said.
The beneficiaries, Mr Patrick Onolunoje and Mr Simon Uzuhai, lauded the programme and said that it would strengthen them to tackle most of the challenges they face running their farm business.

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Niger Delta

Eno Sacks Commissioner For Special Duties

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno has relieved the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr Bassey Okon, of his appointment with immediate effect.
Secretary to the State Government, Mr Enobong Uwah, disclosed this in a statement in Uyo on Monday.
Uwah, who did not give reasons for the commissioner’s sack, directed him to hand over all state government properties in his possession to the Permanent Secretary.
He thanked the former commissioner for the period he served the state, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Niger Delta

Check Oil Pollution In N’Delta, Stakeholders Urge Oil Firms

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Stakeholders in host communities have demanded that oil companies be compelled to address adverse health impact of oil exploration in the Niger-Delta.
They made their position known on Monday during a public presentation of the research report on the impact of oil extraction on women’s health in Otuabagi community in Bayelsa.
The Tide’s source reports that Dr Emem Okon, Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, an NGO, championed the event.
The source also reports that Otuabagi Community within the Oloibiri District in present Ogbia Local Government Area is where crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria in 1956.
Okon said the report highlighted the adverse consequences of oil extraction which had profound negative impact on health and livelihood of women in Otuabagi community.
She said research revealed that several of the participants had hydrocarbons in their blood sample more than World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold and therefore demanded for compensation from oil companies and government.
“There is, therefore, a need to demand for compensation and restoration of polluted sites as well as health actions to keep us alive and to resist death, poverty and injustice”, she said.
She stated that the findings and data would serve as a tool for policy makers, community leaders and all those who strove for a more equitable and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, Dr Bieye Briggs, a public health physician and head of the research team, said from the findings of the report, it was revealed that there was very high and unacceptable level of exposure of the people to hydrocarbons.
Briggs advocated for the Federal Government to carry out health audit in Otuabagi community and other oil producing areas in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that such audit was with a view to instituting intervention program to halt and reverse the impact of oil exploration.
Similarly, Chief Daniel Amangi, the traditional ruler of Otuabagi community, commended Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre for undertaking the project and urged the Federal Government to focus on developing the community.
Amangi also called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the research findings for the overall benefit of the people.
In the same vein, Alagoa Morris, a stakeholder, lamented that life expectancy was lower in the Niger-Delta region than in other parts of the country due to the hazards caused by oil exploration.
He called for compensation to be paid to host communities to ameliorate the health impact of oil extraction in the region.
The ceremony also featured a drama presentation by Otuabagi women and panel discussion on the findings of the report.

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Niger Delta

Court Orders AAU Graduate’s Car, iPhone’s Forfeiture To FG

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A Benin High Court on Monday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to sell a Toyota Venza 2012 model, recovered from a graduate of Biochemistry from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Osadolor Edomwonyi.
The EFCC charged Edomwonyi with internet fraud.
Delivering judgment, Justice Efe Ikponmwonba, sentenced Edomwonyi to three years imprisonment.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of an iPhone 13 Promax, recovered from the convict .
He also ordered that balances in his Opay account, Kids Bank account and Access Bank with which he was charged and convicted to the Federal Government through EFCC and the accounts be parmanently closed.
The convict prayed the court for a plea bargain agreement.
Ikponmwonba, however, gave him an option of fine in the sum of N100,000.
Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Mr I K Agwaisaid, said the convict committed an offence contrary to the provisions of Sections 6 and 8 (b) of the advance free fraud and other fraud-related offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
The prosecutor said in a plea bargain agreement, Edomwonyi pleaded guilty to the one-count charge of possession of fraudulent documents.

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