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AGRICULTURE

2021: Ogun agric team brainstorms, as Ogun agriccalls for rededication

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Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta

Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina has urged members of the State Agric Team to redouble efforts in the new year to engender a seamless implementation of the government’s agricultural programmes.

Dr Adeola Odedina gave this charge while declaring open the brainstorming and strategic session of the State Agric Team held at the State Veterinary Hospital, Ita-Eko, Abeokuta.

While thanking God for the successes recorded in the outgone year, Odedina charged the Agric Team of the Ministry to brace up and redouble effort in order to surpass the achievements of last year.

He submitted that the gift of life was the greatest achievement, thus thanked God for preserving every member of the Team and appreciated the governor, Prince (Dr.) Dapo Abiodun for support given to the Ministry.

“We are privileged to be in charge of Food Security, Industrial Linkage, Land administration among others, accounting for the influx of investors into our dear State. I sincerely appreciate you all, during the outgone year, we were not found wanting, that doesn’t mean that there is no room for improvement.

“We are more of social technologists, we should  have good relationship with our clients, attend to people with courtesy and let’s keep our record.

“As we forge ahead in our drive to implement our agricultural plans and programmes, I urge you all to be more productive, focused, friendly and firm even as we attend to our farmers with courtesy and good relationship,” Odedina said.

He said the state  government was working with the Federal Government and private sectors to promote the consumption of Vitamin A and bio-fortified food as well as sensitizing the people on the need to grow nutritious food.

He assured that the Ministry would create a feedback mechanism across the 20 Local Government Areas where enquiries on any of its programme would be promptly responded to, just as the Agro-shop located at the State’s Secretariat would serve as linkage centre.

Speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Dotun Sorunke who acknowledged that year 2020 was an eventful year with the Ministry making many giant strides.

Dr Sorunke disclosed that more positive development will be witnessed this year asking for the need to retrospect with a view to adequately evaluate and empower implementors of government programmes with ideas of government on Agriculture in order to drive the agenda.

He equally appreciated the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, Commissioner and the entire Agric Team, expressing the hope that more lofty agricultural programmes would be witnessed this year.

Also in attendance were the  Senior Special Assistants to the Governor on Agriculture, Dr. Angel Adelaja-Kuye, Tolu Bankole as well as the top echelon of the Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP), Ogun State Economic Transformation Programme (OGSTEP) The Cassava Revolution Programme, Ogun State Agriculture Corporation ( AGROCORP) and the State’s Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP),  FADAMA Project, Nigeria Cares as well as Directors and their Deputies, among others.

The session ended with questions and answers as well as suggestions on better performance for the year.

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AGRICULTURE

List: High-profile Nigerians tainted with corruption, fraud allegations under Tinubu’s first year

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By Adeyanju Esther

In the wake of Nigeria’s Democracy Day, the nation confronts a serious reality as allegations of corruption and fraud loom large over several high-profile individuals, including under the tenure of Tinubu’s first year.

These accusations strike at the heart of democratic ideals, challenging the integrity of Nigeria’s political elite and igniting fervent calls for accountability and reform.

While some allegations are ongoing investigations, others persist as unresolved questions, underscoring the urgent necessity for political decency and integrity. Recent events have left Nigerians astounded by accusations ranging from embezzlement of funds to mismanagement, highlighting vices that threaten the nation’s growth and development.

Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Godwin Emefiele

Godwin Emefiele, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has been charged with fraud and corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Emefiele, who served as CBN Governor from 2014 to 2023, was suspended by President Bola Tinubu in June 2023 and subsequently arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The EFCC has presented 26 charges against Emefiele, including abuse of office and irregular allocation of funds totaling $4.5 billion and £2.8 billion during his tenure as CBN Governor. Reports allege that the CBN under Emefiele’s leadership kept Nigerian funds without authorization and that billions of naira were stolen from the bank’s accounts.

Specific allegations include fraudulent account activities and unauthorized cash withdrawals, such as a withdrawal of $6.23 million (approximately N2.9 billion). Emefiele has been brought before the Federal Capital Territory Court in Abuja to face these charges, which have led to the official termination of his tenure as CBN Governor.

The charges against Emefiele are part of a broader effort to investigate his office and implement reforms in the financial sector. The case has sparked widespread outrage and calls for accountability and transparency in Nigeria’s financial institutions.

Former Cross River Commissioner for Health, Betta Edu

Betta Edu, a former National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Cross River Commissioner for Health, has been charged with fraud and embezzlement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Edu, who also served as National Chairman of the Nigeria Health Commission Forum, faces 26 charges, including abuse of office and unauthorised allocation of funds totaling $4.5 billion and £2.8 billion.

Specific allegations include the unauthorised transfer of N585 million meant for grants to vulnerable groups into a private account and the transfer of N650 million into a private account, leading to her suspension and subsequent detention.

Edu has denied any wrongdoing, claiming the allegations are baseless and orchestrated to undermine her ministry’s efforts.

Sadiya Umar-Farouk and Halima Shehu

The EFCC investigation has also implicated Edu’s predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, in a N37.1 billion fraud and Halima Shehu, the National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), in the suspicious transfer of N44 billion from NSIP accounts to private and corporate accounts.

The investigation is ongoing, with no one cleared of wrongdoing yet.

Despite the controversies, Edu maintains her innocence and commitment to transparency and accountability.

The case has sparked calls for accountability in Nigeria’s political sphere, highlighting the need for transparency and good governance.

Former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

Yahaya Bello, the former Governor of Kogi State from 2016 to 2024, is currently embroiled in a legal battle facing allegations of corruption and money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed 19 criminal counts against him, involving the laundering of over N80 billion.

The charges include accusations of converting public funds to acquire properties in various locations, including Abuja.

The EFCC alleges that Bello, along with accomplices, used intermediaries and corporate entities to launder significant sums of money, including N950 million and N920 million used for property acquisitions in Abuja.

Despite efforts to block his arraignment, the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Bello to appear in court to face the charges.

The court has criticised his attempts to evade court proceedings, and the EFCC has obtained a warrant for his arrest to ensure his arraignment.

Bello, a member of the All Progressives Congress and the youngest governor in Nigeria during his term, has denied any wrongdoing and has challenged the legal propriety of his arraignment.

However, the court has upheld the EFCC’s charges, and the case is ongoing. The allegations against Bello have sparked calls for accountability and transparency in Nigeria’s political sphere.

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi

The senator representing Delta North in the Nigerian Senate, Peter Nwaoboshi, was convicted by the Court of Appeal in Lagos on a two-count charge of fraud and money laundering on 1 July 2022.

Former Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje

Also, a Kano State High Court has granted an order for substituted service on the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Former Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, and others charged with bribery and misappropriation of public funds.

The defendants, including Ganduje, his wife, son, and four others, will be served through publication in two national newspapers. They face an eight-count charge of bribery, misappropriation, and division of public funds amounting to billions of naira.

The order was granted following an application by the counsel to the state government, Zahradeen Kofar-Mata, who represented the lead prosecution counsel, Ya’u Adamu. The case has been adjourned until July 11 for further hearing.

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AGRICULTURE

FG calls for synergy over expansion of agribusinesses in Nigeria at AICM

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By Omolola Dede Adeyanju

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari (CON) has called for synergy amongst all players in the Agriculture sector to create a sustainable and consistent food supply in the nation.

The Minister made the call at the Agri-investment and capital market conference (AICM) 2024 Fourth Edition in Lagos yesterday. This follows the facilitation of funds by Welcome2Africa International for various Nigerian Agribusinesses at the AICM.

According to Senator Abubakar, the conference aimed at addressing critical issues concerning food and nutrition security, with a focus on “CONNECTING DEALS;
SEEDING GROWTH” is most relevant in the socioeconomic space. He explained that when it comes to the global economy, seeding growth becomes crucial. Governments and businesses must understand the importance of investing in innovation, research, and development, he said.

The Minister who was represented by Lagos State Coordinator for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food security, Farmer Omolara Abimbola Oguntuyi further urged, ‘we are here to link up business deals or partnerships that can contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria most importantly the agricultural sector. We will identify and establish strategic alliances, collaborations and investments that have the potential to drive expansion, increase market reach, enhance capabilities, or achieve other desired objectives that will bring development to our nation.

“We are all seated to lay down the groundwork or foundation for future growth which involves investing resources, such as time, effort and capital, into initiatives, strategies, or projects that have the potential to yield long-term benefits and facilitate growth that will bring development in all spheres of our lives.

By connecting deals and seedling growth, companies and organizations here present can tap into external resources and expertise, leverage synergies, access new markets and customer bases.

Meanwhile, the CEO, Welcome2Africa International, Bamidele Owoola expressed that the 4th Edition of the Agri-Investment and Capital Market Conference (AICM) was a success in its efforts to spur sustainable agricultural development throughout the African continent. She said, ‘We are pleased to announce that Welcome2Africa International successfully facilitated funds in investment for various Nigerian Agribusinesses at the Agri-Investment and Capital Market Conference (AICM).’

Bamidele further stated that AICM 2024 is an improvement above 2023, which procured investments totaling $12 million. She said that the $24 million investment facilitated this year demonstrates the faith and belief in the firm’s aim to change the agricultural landscape of Africa. ‘It was obtained through strategic partnerships and collaborations with global investors through the AICM deal room components. Participating agribusinesses will be able to expand their operations and activities, boost productivity, and seize new chances for expansion and development thanks to the finance they have secured.

The keynote speaker, co-founder and former Group Executive Director, Sahara Group and energy conglomerate, Tonye Cole while speaking to press men stated that Nigeria is at a crossroad. In respect to mechanized farming, he said, ‘Even at the same time, you have to go to mechanized farming, you have to increase access to arable land for mechanized farming. Now, it’s almost contradictory because a lot of times when you move there, you wipe away smallholder farmers. Nigeria has to have a mix, an integral mix between smallholder farmers and large-scale industrial farming.

Well, I would say that if you look at what happened in the world between 2012 and 2023, you see that the world actually tackled food security and there was an improvement in food security. But the data shows that Nigeria was one of the few countries that had not dealt with it adequately. But if you look at it deeper from our own issues, we find out that what has driven that has been a lot of insecurity.

As regards investment and capital market, Tonye enumerated that the capital market is a platform, a place where trade exchanges are made. And so, the capital market always has money looking for opportunities. Once you can bring the opportunities to the capital market, then money will flow.In addition, Tonye explained the privileges in the Agriculture sector and how young people could take advantage of loans and grants as well as the durability of loans and it’s implications. He expressed, ‘It’s that long-term financing that will sweat the equity over time. So if anyone is going to take a six-month loan, three-month loan, one-year loan, it won’t work. So you must be able to give long-term financing into that space which will make it attractive for them.’

AICM however had in attendance key figures such as; the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security ably represented by Mrs. Omolara Folashade Abimbola, Lagos State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security; Tonye Cole, diplomats of the Spanish embassy and portfolio investors such as the International Finance Corporation, Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, Emerging Africa, ARM, and NORfund amongst others.

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AGRICULTURE

PAN advocates nationwide replication of Lagos goods discount market

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The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has called for the widespread adoption of the ‘Ounje Eko’ Lagos Food Discount Market model across the nation, particularly in South West states.

Speaking to journalists on Monday in Lagos, PAN’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Godwin Egbebe, emphasised the importance of replicating the successful initiative to ensure broader access to affordable food items.

The ‘Ounje Eko’ scheme, which was launched on March 17, spans across various locations in Lagos, including 27 in Ikeja, six on Lagos Island, nine in Ikorodu, five in Epe, and 10 in Badagry division.

Egbebe commended the Lagos State government for its food subsidy program, which operates exclusively on Sundays, and called on other states to follow suit by implementing similar initiatives to alleviate the burden of food insecurity among citizens.

The endorsement from the Poultry Association of Nigeria underscores the significance of government-led efforts to address food affordability and accessibility challenges, especially in the wake of economic uncertainties.

“As an association we want to express our profound gratitude to the governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his team, especially the commissioner for agriculture for the ‘Ounje Eko’ initiative.

“We have driven round all the food hubs across the local governments where they are situated, and the report is really encouraging,” he said.

He called on other governors across the country to replicate this initiative in their states to douse the tension over food inflation.

“We want, especially the governors in the South West geopolitical zone, to replicate the Ounje Eko template in their states.

“The positive impact of the Ounje Eko initiative is felt by both farmers and the consumers, but would have been better if other states emulated the initiative.

“Other state governments should take up the initiative and start their own food subsidy plans,” Egbebe said.

He also urged the Lagos State government to extend the period of the initiative as more residents of the state were still hungry.

“The initiative was meant to last for a period of three weeks, but an extension will really be beneficial.

“We want this initiative to be extended because the people are really hungry,” he said.

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