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Enugu, FG’s Partnership On Cassava Production Yielding Results – Commissioner

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The Enugu State Government has stated that its partnership with the Federal Government on cassava to bioethanol production is yielding the desired results, saying it was intensifying cassava cultivation in the state to boost the economy while helping to address unemployment and insecurity.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro-Industrialisation, Mr. Patrick Ubru, made this known at Okpanku in Aninri Local Government Area while conducting a federal government delegation on an inspection tour of cassava-bioethanol projects in Aninri, Isi-Uzo, and Udi local government areas of the state, during the weekend.
Ubru informed the delegation comprising officials of the Federal Ministry of Budget, Economic and National Planning, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, (ICRC), and Prof Ken Ife, the promoter of Biosources and Technology Ltd.
Biosources and Technology Ltd is a private sector investor in cassava-bioethanol production in the state,  that cultivated  over one thousand hectares of cassava farms in the three council areas last year for the pilot phase of the cassava-bioethanol project.
He observed that prior to the clearing of the large hectares of land in the said local government areas, hoodlums and kidnappers had been using the forests as their operational bases and hideouts while terrorising the people.
He disclosed that the state was set to commence the construction of over 20 kilometres of access roads to farmlands at Okpanku, adding that it had also made a 50 per cent payment for the construction of a 22-kilometer road from Ikem in the Isi Uzo council area to the border with Benue State.
Ubru said the State Government was partnering with the Federal Government to establish a military base in Isi Uzo, while it was also in the process of establishing the Agro Rangers, a security outfit that would ensure safety in the farmlands.
Addressing female cooperative farmers after inspecting the farms at Okpanku in Aninri, the leader of the Federal Government delegation, Mr Olaifa Fatai, commended the State Government for empowering women to participate in agriculture, encouraging them to take advantage of the support programmes from the state and federal governments.
Fatai said the Federal Government was keen on producing ethanol to replace the fossil fuel, saying that what they had seen on  ground justified the statistics they were given.
At the Enugu State Produce City in Ikem-Nkwo, Isi Uzo Local Government Area, where the State Government had allocated 15,000 hectares of land to Ugwu Anama Farms Ltd for the cultivation of cassava and other crops.
Mr. Ubru explained that Governor Peter Mbah had directed the acquisition of 120,000 hectares of land across the state for the cultivation of various crops such as cassava, rice, maize, sorghum, cotton, cucumber, cashew,  palm oil,  Nsukka pepper, yam, and soybean, saying the produce city project was a significant step towards transforming the agricultural sector in the state in partnership with private sector investors.
Welcoming them to the farm, the proprietor of Ugwu Anama Farms Ltd, Alhaji Friday Nnaji told the delegation that his company was using smart mechanization to transform the rural areas from dormant to productive zones while creating jobs for over 5000 youths.
“We are not only contributing to food security in the state but we are equally fighting insecurity by engaging massively in agriculture, clearing the bushes and getting youths engaged with employment.
“Right now, aside from the indirect workers, I have over 5000 people who are gainfully employed in my farms. So, I appreciate the vision of Peter Ndubuisi Mbah in turning the state into an agricultural state”, Nnaji stated.
Lending his voice, the traditional ruler of Ikem-Nkwo Autonomous Community, Igwe Pius Onyekachi Nnamani, commended Governor Mbah for bringing development to their community.

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CBN Assures On Depositors’ Fund Safety 

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reassured the banking public of the safety of their deposits and the banking system’s resilience.
CBN’s Acting Director of  Corporate Communications Department, Mrs Hakama Sidi-Ali, gave the assurance in a statement on  Monday in Abuja.
The statement, a response to concerns raised about the stability of some Nigerian banks in the wake of Heritage Bank Plc’s license revocation, faulted claims that the CBN was considering revoking the operating licences of Fidelity, Polaris, Wema, and Unity Banks.
It also clarified that a circular issued by the Bank on January 10, 2024, notifying the public about the dissolution of the Boards of Union, Keystone, and Polaris Banks, was currently being circulated as though it was freshly issued.
According to the Director, Heritage Bank’s case was isolated.
“Allegations of further revocation of licences prior to the completion of CBN’s recapitalisation exercise are mere fabrications aimed at creating panic within the system”, Sidi-Ali said.
She stated that bank customers, particularly those of Heritage Bank, need not worry about the safety of their deposits, adding that the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) had commenced payment to the bank’s insured depositors.
The spokesperson urged members of the public to continue their regular banking activities without fear, dismissing any false reports regarding the health of specific Deposit Money Banks.
“The CBN, with its robust regulatory framework, is proactively ensuring the stability of Nigeria’s financial system, thereby guaranteeing the safety of depositors’ funds in all Nigerian financial institutions”, she said.
Sidi-Ali reiterated the assurances of the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, that the recapitalisation of banks in Nigeria was intended to bolster the banking system and safeguard the sector against risks.

She urged all stakeholders to cooperate in ensuring the success of the process, which she said would be for the overall growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Without prejudice to the ongoing recapitalisation process, I want to restate that the Nigerian banking industry remains resilient. Key financial soundness indicators remain within current regulatory thresholds.

“Customers are, therefore, encouraged to proceed with their transactions as usual, as the CBN is committed to ensuring the safety of the banking system”, she said

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NERC Approves New Tariff Hike For Port Harcourt DisCo

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In spire of calls that the recently hiked “Band A” tariff be reversed, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved a new tariff hike for the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (DisCo).
NERC permitted the PHED to raise tariffs for Band A customers categorised as Maximum Demand 2 Special (A – MD2 Special).
MD customers are customers that have a load of 45kVA and above. They also operate and maintain their dedicated transformers.
From N206 per kilowatt-hour, this category of customers within the Port Harcourt franchise will now pay N225/KWh.
In a regulatory instrument tagged June 2024 Supplementary Order to the Multi-Year Tariff Order – 2024 (“June 2024 Supplementary Order”) for Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc, the NERC said the tariff approval was under the Tariff Review Application by PHED.
“Further to Section 23 of the MYTO-2024, this Supplementary Order seeks to reflect the changes in the pass-through indices outside the control of licensees including inflation rates, naira/dollar exchange rate, available generation capacity and gas price for the determination of Cost-Reflective Tariffs”, NERC stated.
The electricity regilator emphasised the basis for the review, saying the Naira to the US Dollar exchange rate of N1,469.06 per dollar has been adopted for June to December 2024. It said this has been determined by adding a 1 per cent transaction cost to the average foreign exchange rate of N1,454.52 during the period May 1 to 24, 2024 as obtained from the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It also added that the Nigerian inflation rate of 33.69 per cent for April 2024 as published by the National Bureau of Statistics was applied to revise the Nigerian inflation rate projection for 2024.
“Under Section 116 of the Electricity Act and extant regulations, the commission has considered and approved for PHED, the tariffs (in Table 2) effective 1st June 2024. The approved tariffs shall remain in force subject to monthly adjustments of pass-through indices including inflation rates, naira/dollar exchange rates and gas-to-power prices.
“In line with the policy direction of the Federal Government of Nigeria on electricity subsidy, the allowed tariffs for Bands B – E customer categories shall remain frozen at the rates payable since December 2022 subject to further policy direction by the government.
“With this policy, the estimated subsidy benefit for customers under the PHED franchise in 2024 is approximately N11.49bn monthly”, the NERC stated.
In April, the NERC announced a new tariff for customers in Band A, from N68/KWh to N225/KWh.
It later reduced the tariff to N206.80/KWh based on the rebound of the naira.
Meanwhile, organised labour and manufacturers have kicked against the Band A tariff.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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AMJON Partners School To Train Journalists On Maritime Operations 

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The Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) has gone into a mutually beneficial collaboration with School of Eloquence to strengthen the capacity and reporting skills of Maritime journalists.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Chairman, AMJON Organising Committee, Mr. Segun Oladipupo and made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Monday.
According to the statement, “This year’s edition, tagged “Special Edition”, is a collaborative effort between the foremost Public Speaking training School,  School of Eloquence and AMJON”.
Oladipupo said the training is slated to hold on Friday at the School of Eloquence premises at Osborne Road, Ikoyi.
“Experts from the Nigeria Customs Service, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and School of Eloquence have been lined up to train journalists on the rudiments of their own operations”, according to the statement.
Speaking, the President of AMJON, Paul Ogbuokiri, said journalism required constant training to be in tune with evolving trends in the industry.
According to him, journalism has taken a leap from what it used to be and journalists need to equip themselves with modern journalism tools that will help them to catch up with the trends.
“We need constant training and restraining to be relevant in this age of journalism. If we fail to update ourselves, we will soon fizzle out,
“This partnership with the School of Eloquence is a right step in the right direction. It will no doubt, energise our knowledge of reportage”, he stated.
On his part, the Chairman, Organising Committee, Segun Oladipupo, said the event would afford members the opportunity to take their reporting to enviable height
He, therefore, enjoined participants to seize the opportunity to learn new trends in journalism and also learn the business side of the job.
He thanked the School of Eloquence for providing a platform for Nigerian journalists to take a flight in their daily assignment.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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