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Lagos APPEALS project seeks collaboration among financial institutions, insurance companies, farmers

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The Lagos State Coordinating Office, Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS) has called for synergy among financial institutions, insurance companies, farmers and off-takers in the state.

Lagos State Project Coordinator, APPEALS, Mrs Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo made the plea on Thursday in Lagos at a joint forum of financial institutions, insurance companies, offtakers, stakeholders and beneficiaries.

The forum, which was organised by the Lagos APPEALS Project in its Oko-Oba, Agege office, was to deliberate on sustainability of the project.

Speaking during the stakeholders’ forum, Sagoe-Oviebo said that synergy among all agricultural stakeholders would promote productivity in the sector.

The forum was attended by representatives of financial institutions, insurance companies, farmers and off-takers in different agricultural value chains, specifically rice, poultry and aquaculture.

Sagoe-Oviebo urged the financial institutions and insurance companies to assist and support farmers with necessary funds to remain in business, just as she implored the farmers to be prudent and good managers of all resources.

“Today, we are having a meeting of our service providers — banks and insurance companies so they can interface with us and our cluster heads because that is the bedrock of the APPEALS project.

“The APPEALS is in the middle and we have all these people by our side.

“Last week, the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) came to my office that they wanted to support one cluster out of the many cluster groups that we have in APPEALS.

“I asked them to come and see what our farmers are doing here.

“I felt that there was the need for us to collaborate with other institutions, not just BoA.

“How can we work together to make sure that our farmers remain in business?

“The government alone can’t make it happen, it has to be a collective effort.

“We all have to determine amongst ourselves that we must make this thing happen. If all of us can work together, then our farmers will remain in business,” she said.

Sagoe-Oviebo noted that the APPEALS project had established 15 aggregation centres across the state in three value chains — poultry, aquaculture and rice.

“That is one thing that can trigger production. If the aggregation centres work, then farmers will definitely have every reason to produce.

“But we all know what is happening in the Industry today, so how can the Bank of Industry (BoI), how can the Bank of Agriculture help our farmers?

“Bank of Agriculture can come and help with inputs, BoI can support with equipment, while insurance companies will insure our farmers.

“We have the commercial banks and that is why we are working with all these people with their wealth of experience to help us and guide us, so that we don’t make mistakes.

“We have so many people here today, let’s rub minds together; the cluster heads, everybody must work together.

“The banks must understand the terrain of agriculture. When I was speaking with BoA, I told them that a lot of people do not understand Agriculture,” she said.

Zonal Manager, South-West Zone, BoA, Mr Akeem Osho said the financial institution was ready to assist farmers with short, medium and long-terms loans at affordable rates to boost their productivity.

The BoI Representative, Mr Johnbosco Idoko urged farmers to develop insurance cultures as a way of protecting their businesses and farms.

He advised farmers to always read through every policy document at the point of registering for any insurance cover.

“BoI does not give group loans, we give loan to only individuals and registered businesses who have met all the requirements.

“If you must take a loan, ensure that you really need it and are not just copying your friends or neighbours,” Idoko said.

NAICOM Representative, Dr Olisha Mokemo urged farmers to embrace insurance to protect their businesses and avoid loss, adding that this minimised risk management.

Representative of Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Commission (NAIC), Mr Bolaji Folayan said that insurance was real and urged farmers to pay attention to their insurance policy and documents.

He urged the farmers to contact their insurance companies immediately after a disaster or loss occurred on their farms.

“Apart from India, Nigeria is the cheapest in agric. insurance cover.

“Call us immediately whenever there is emergency, so that we can ascertain the level of loss because any delay can be dangerous,” he said.

President, Lagos State Catfish and Allied Association (LASCAFAN), Mr Sejiro Oke-Tojinu commended the APPEALS project for their support to farmers over the years.

“In terms of implementation, the APPEALS project has been awesome. It is one project that has really kept the farmers in business.

“We pray that the state government will continue with the project or adopt the model for other agric. programmes in Lagos,” he said.

Some of the farmers expressed their displeasure over the services received from financial institutions and insurance companies.

They said that there was a lot of mistrust on the part of the financial institutions.

The farmers urged financial institutions to support them with market linkages, which could aid in the repayment of their loans.

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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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