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AFCON: Akpabio hails Super Eagles, urges team to conquer Africa

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The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, has commended the Super Eagles of Nigeria for defeating the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon to qualify for the quarter- finals at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

Akpabio gave the commendation in a congratulatory message to the Nigerian team signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Eseme Eyiboh, in Abuja on Sunday.

Akpabio said the Eagles’ triumph over Cameroon had shown that they had the capacity to beat any team in Africa.

He said the resourcefulness of the Super Eagles was never in doubt.

“I felt proud watching the Super Eagles demobilise the lions; apart from dominating the Indomitable Lions, the Eagles tamed the Lions and made them look ordinary.

“That is the Nigerian spirit, I congratulate you for making millions of Nigerians proud,” Akpabio said.

He said the Super Eagles’ opponent in the quarter finals, the Palancas Negras of Angola, was not a pushover, but expressed optimism that Nigeria would triumph in the game.

“Your opponents in the quarter finals are also a strong side, but I strongly believe that with determination, right tactics and team work, you will subdue them.

“While I congratulate you for advancing to this stage of the competition, I urge you not to be complacent but continue to be focused and resilient.

“We are behind you and all Nigerians are supporting you.

“Do not look back but go on and bring home the trophy,” Akpabio stated.

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Food security: Nigeria requires about 312,000 metric tons of seed – Minister

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The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, says Nigeria requires about 312,000 metric tons of seed towards achieving food security, food sufficiency and global security in 2024.

Kyari said this at a High-Level Stakeholders’ Forum on Seed System Development, organised by Feed-the Future Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The minister was represented by Dr Haruna Suleman, the Director, National Food and Strategic Reserve.

The theme of the forum is, “ Enhancing Seed Systems Development for Improved Food Security: A Paradigm of USAID Interventions in Northeast Nigeria’’.

Kyari said the ministry had outlined series of critical pathways to solve the food security challenges in Nigeria.

He explained that the pathways were streamlined into short, medium and long term for a period of four years, which includes the immediate production of 31 million metric tons of grain in 2024.

According to him, for success to be achieved, factors to be addressed are the seed availability, affordability and adaptability, paying particular attention to food security.

“Major crops that are most concerned are rice, maize, wheat, sorghum and cowpea in 2024.

“We require about 312,000 metric tons of seed which is to enable us to achieve the required metric tons.”

The minister said the Federal Government had developed programmes to support farmers with high quality seeds for rice, wheat, maize, cassava and other inputs at a subsidised rate.

He said the Nigerian seeds development required partnership and synergy among all key stakeholders that would facilitate a model of collaboration built on knowledge sharing, skill exchange, expertise, competitiveness and mutual benefit.

“Of great interest is the new science, technology and innovation (STI) developed by USAID Feed-the Future Nigeria Integrated Agricultural Activities (NIAA) implemented by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

“It is a community based enterprises model that is not only localised but adaptable to the climatic and specific conditions of communities and above all against the traditional approach of demand driven which have not been effective.

“The NIAA model is market driven and on need based riding on cohesive cooperative system to create the needed ownership and stewardship to protect enterprises.

“This model developed and promoted by IITA and NIAA was piloted in the northeast of Nigeria in the states of Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe.

“Building an ecosystem and end-to-end market driven seed network through the community based system to produce seed to a network linked farmers group aggregated within the community with the local governments.

“This by extensions makes the availability and adaptable and specific resilience seeds to the ecology of the locations concerned,’’ he said.

Mr Prakash Silwal, Chief of Party/Principal Specialist, IITA, said that USAID had in the last five years, funded IITA and their partners to work in the northeast, to address the food insecurity.

Silwal said the forum was organised to share some of the successes so far recorded especially with a focus on seed system development.

According to him, it is the IITA’s contribution to addressing food security in the northeast, adding that the actors that made it happened would be awarded.

He said that 150 community based seed enterprises contributed to making farming possible to nearly half a million farmers or half a million hectares of land in the region.

“About 3 million dollar worth of additional food may be provided in those areas.

“As we are winding up our programmes, we are also here to share some of those knowledge that we have developed, as to what varieties of crop, legumes and cereals, will be very good in those areas,’’ he said.

Mr Bassey Archibong , Market Systems and Livelihood Specialist, Feed the Future Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity, IITA, said the beginning of food security anywhere was seeds.

Archibong said the programme was aimed at ensuring that farmers had the right kind of seeds that must be affordable and accessible within the localities where food crops were being produced.

Malam Yakubu Gombi, leader of Gombi Community Based Seed Producers from Adamawa, thanked IITA for its support, saying they had been empowered to become entrepreneurs.

He said the organisation had trained him and his group in different fields of agriculture with requisite skills in the last five years.

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Senior Citizens must be captured in Nat’l Dev’t Plan – Bagudu

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The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Atiku Bagudu, has stressed the need to capture the yearnings and aspirations of senior citizens in the National Development Plan.

Bagudu said this at a one-day capacity enhancement workshop for state commissioners and Directors of Social Welfare on the domestication of NSCC Act and National Action Plan on Ageing in Abuja on Tuesday.

The workshop was organised by the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

The minister assured stakeholders of the determination to work with NSCC to come-up with accurate and acceptable document that would provide a guide to ensure proper capturing of senior citizens into the national development plan.

”The national planning function, which resides in the ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, is the custodian of national development plans and it is a perceptive on where we want Nigeria to be by the year 2050.

”And, from there we also do the five year plan which is national development plan, then the annual budget.

”I would ask the director-general to ensure that these documents, which are available online are reflected upon.

”So that where we have not captured sufficiently the yearnings and aspirations of our senior citizens may be interrogated and improved upon,” Bagudu said.

He assured the participants that the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu’s administration had passion for the welfare and wellbeing of senior citizens in the country.

Mr Abel Enitan, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, said “Nigeria is projected to accommodate 30 million older persons by the 2050.”

The permanent secretary, who was represented by the Director, Special Duties in the Ministry Agnes Aneke, expressed the need to plan properly to arrest the situation.

”It is imperative to recognise the global trend of ageing population that by 2030 as we approach the conclusion of decades of healthy ageing, the population of aged 60 and above is expected to increase by 56 per cent.

”By 2050 Nigeria is projected to accommodate 30 million older persons.

”When Nigeria’s ageing population has not yet reached an alarming proportion, it is important that we proactively implement policies and guidelines to address the challenges of ageing in our country.

”Older Persons encounter challenges with negative stereotypes” he said

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Ebonyi: FRSC confirms abduction of two personnel by gunmen

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The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), in Ebonyi, has confirmed the abduction of two of its personnel by gunmen along the Abakaliki-Enugu federal highway.

The road has recently become nightmarish for commuters due to incessant abductions by gunmen.

The most affected axis is the Nkalagu (Ebonyi) and Idodo (Enugu) axis of the road as the cases of the abductions keep increasing daily.

The Sector Commander of the FRSC in Ebonyi, Henry Igwe, told newsmen on Tuesday in Abakaliki that both personnel were abducted on March 8.

Igwe remarked that both personnel concluded their duties at the corps’ Nkalagu office and were abducted as they returned to Enugu.

“Contacts were made and it was established by their families that they never got home.

“The families said that some people contacted them that they were kidnappers and were demanding ransom.

“The negotiations are between the families and kidnappers and as an organisation, we have been doing the much we can,” he said.

The sector commander said his office has informed its headquarters of the development and also formally reported to relevant security agencies.

“This is the much I know of the situation and we are optimistic that they would be released by whoever is holding them.

“The situation is very unfortunate and the insecurity in the country has made everyone vulnerable.

“Our vulnerability is higher because we find ourselves on the road always, exposed to these sort of dangers,” he said.

He noted that it has not been established that the personnel were either alive or dead but the fact remained that they have not been seen.

“The core security agencies said that efforts to find the personnel are still being made and they were not among those that were released.

“Not much has been heard positively from their families and though the situation is still scary, we pray that luck will shine on us and them.”

Mrs Chinwe Oli, a Commuter who plies the road regularly, described the situation as worrisome and chided the governments of both states for being nonchalant over the development.

“What will it take both governments to moblise relevant security outfits to flush the hoodlums from the little space they occupy as their operational base?” she queried.

Mr Jude Okpor, Ebonyi Commissioner for Information and Orientation, dismissed the insinuation that the state government was nonchalant on the situation.

“The state government has surmounted several security challenges in the state and is resolutely protecting the lives and properties of its citizens.

“The matter has inter-state connectivity and the government has initiated measures with its affected sister-state, to nip it in the bud,” he said.

DSP Joshua Ukandu, the Police Public Relations Officer in Ebonyi, urged families of victims to report such incidents to the command to enable it establish whether the incident happened at the Ebonyi axis of the road.

“The situation is more of an Enugu issue and information on it should be sought from the Enugu command of the force.

“I believe some steps are being taken to combat it but our safer highway teams stationed at the affected axis always assist commuters to cross safely from the area,” he said.

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