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Makinde suspends revenue collection on agric produce to alleviate hardship

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…To subsidise land clearing, provide haulage trucks, tractors

Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, has suspended the revenue collection on agric produce to alleviate hardship.

The Governor declared some far-reaching measures towards addressing the rising cost of food in the state, stating that his government will continue to do everything necessary to make life easy for residents of the state.

He declared that his government will move in to subsidise land clearing for farmers across the state with an initial sum of N600 million, with farmers now expected to pay N15,000 instead of N30,000 for land clearing, while the government will pay the balance.

The governor also declared an immediate suspension of revenue collection on farm produce marketed within the state for the next six months, noting, however, that agricultural produce taken out of the borders of Oyo State will attract necessary revenues.

Governor Makinde, who stated this on Wednesday, at a meeting with stakeholders in the agriculture sector, held at the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub, Oyo, said the government would also provide tractors and haulage trucks for farmers, among other measures.

The governor, who said the state has disbursed N1billion to smallholder farmers through the Sustainable Action for Economic recovery (SAfER), also declared that the Agriculture Credit Corporation of Oyo State (ACCOS) loan support to farmers will no longer require a civil servant as guarantor, stating that farm associations will now guarantee their members to have access to the loan.

At the meeting, which had in attendance maize growers, cassava growers, rice processors, poultry farmers and traders across the state as well as officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, ACCOS and Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency, the governor maintained that there was need for a brainstorming session to address the food security challenge facing the state.

Governor Makinde noted that though his government had done well in trying to stimulate and support the process of food security, with data showing that the state had made progress in terms of food production, it was worrisome that that progress had not been reflected in terms of food pricing.

He maintained that since the removal of fuel subsidy, his administration has been doing everything possible to make life easier for residents of Oyo State, including spending N77 million monthly to subsidise public transportation for 20,000 residents of the state on a daily basis, among other measures and that it would do everything possible to stem the tide of rising food cost.

He said, “I deliberately moved this meeting here because this place was established when agriculture used to be the mainstay of our economy.

“In Oyo State, we have been getting data on what we have been producing, which suggests that our production is on the increase but the prices of food stuffs are also increasing.

“As a government, we have also done quite a bit to stimulate and support the process of food security. It is either what we are doing is not enough or they are not being channeled to the right sources.

“So, our meeting here is not a talk-shop but to brainstorm on some issues and bring up solutions. I expect you to open up so we can tackle the problem we have on the ground.

“I have noted some few things from the points you all raised and there are few decisions we are going to take. The first one is the issue of revenue, because those in charge are compounding the problem of increment in prices of food stuff. For the next six months, nobody should collect any revenue and all the people involved should know that this takes effect immediately.

“We will set up a special line you can call when you have issues with recalcitrant revenue collectors who are not ready to abide by this pronouncement.”

The governor added, “We will provide an initial N600 million through the ACCOS to subsidise the cost of hiring tractors. The modalities of how our smallholder farmers can access this subsidy will be worked out and communicated to them. In total, we plan  to subsidise the clearing of at least 120,000 hectares this planting season.”

Governor Makinde, who also responded to different views from the agriculture stakeholders, including the dearth of agriculture extension services, cost of produce haulage and other issues, added that the Pacesetter Transport Services will, in the course of the coming weeks, be supported to have a fleet of haulage vehicles dedicated for the movement of farm produce across the state.

He equally set up a 10-man committee comprising agriculture stakeholders and government officials, with the mandate “to track the decisions we have taken here today so that six months down the line when we gather again to look at how far we have gone, it will be quite easy to track those things.”

He added, “You also said the extension workers were visible under OYSADEP but not visible again under OYSADA. It is because they are now under the Ministry of Agriculture.

“I asked the Commissioner why they are not active and he said there was no budget for them before he got into the office but there is a budget this year and there will be changes. But if we do not feel their impact, we will move them to OYSADA. What this means is, they have to be visible and contribute to the efforts we are putting into food production in the state.”

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Emirate crisis: FG will be held responsible for violence in Kano – Atiku

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government would be held responsible if violence breaks out in Kano State over the emirate crisis.

Atiku said Tinubu’s government was inviting anarchy to Kano State by providing security for the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero.

On Friday, Governor Abba Yusuf had deposed Bayero while reinstating Lamido Sanusi as the 15th Emir of Kano.

Posting on X, Atiku cautioned the federal government against destabilising Kano State.

According to Atiku: “The action of the Federal Government in deploying soldiers in Kano in the tussle over the throne of the ancient city is an upset to the peace and security of the state, and also in breach of the 1999 Constitution as Amended.

“The foregoing circumstances happened within the confines of the law and in compliance with the powers conferred on the governor as provided by Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; and also in consultation with the kingmakers of Kano, reappointed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (also known as Muhammadu Sanusi II) as the 16th Emir of Kano State and accordingly handed him a letter of appointment.

“It is surprising that in the early hours of today, exactly at about 5:30 am the former Emir of Kano, His Majesty Aminu Ado Bayero, backed by Federal might made their way into the Nasarawa Palace of the Kano Emirate while the reappointed Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II was at the Gidan Dabo, which is the main residence of the Emir of Kano.

“In this wise, the former Emir could not have made his way into the Nasarawa Palace without the support of the Federal Government having done so with the support of the army and other security personnel in his company. The deployment of soldiers in extra constitutional matters such as this undermines the integrity of the Nigerian military.

“We need to remind the Tinubu administration that Kano State is known for peace and harmony spanning thousands of years and any attempt to destablise the peace of the Land of Commerce shall be resisted. Recall that Muhammadu Sanusi II was dethroned on 9th March, 2020: dethroned, Kano forged on in peace without any fracas.

“We wish to state unequivocally that if for any reason, law and order breaks down in Kano State, particularly Kano Municipal, the Federal Government should be held responsible as the act of providing security cover to the former Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero to come back to Kano is an invitation to anarchy.”

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Justice’ll prevail – Deposed Kano Emir Bayero breaks silence

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The deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero, has said justice will prevail over the issue surrounding the emirates in the state.

Bayero urged relevant authorities to ensure justice because nobody is above the law.

Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State had dethroned Bayero as the 15th Emir of the state.

Speaking on Saturday, the deposed Emir urged residents to maintain law and order. He spoke at the mini-palace where he has since returned to after his dethronement.

According to Ado-Bayero: “I call on the people to remain law-abiding while awaiting the outcome of the legal process in this tussle.

“We call on the authority to do justice in this matter. Kano is a very influential state in Nigeria. Whatever affects Kano affects Nigeria. May peace reign in Kano. We pray for Allah to bless Kano with responsible and just leaders.

“Justice is the way to go on every issue. There will be justice. Nobody is above the law. We will accept whatever the law says. I appreciate all the people who have shown concern. As I said, justice will take its course. We will keep on praying for peace in Kano State. May Allah the Almighty protect us.”

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Nigerian airports most expensive globally – NAHCO

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Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc has set an N100 billion revenue target within the next five years.

The projection was made known by the Group chairman of the company, Dr Seinde Fadeni, at the sideline of its Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Saturday.

In achieving this, the company noted that it had concluded plans to diversify its investment portfolio to create new jobs and contribute significantly to resolving the country’s foreign exchange crisis.

NAHCO which was established in 1979, provides aviation cargo, aircraft handling, passenger facilitation, crew transportation, refuelling and aviation training services from its base at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

According to Fadeni, the company is convinced that the food export holds significant potential for foreign exchange earnings because of its impact on the livelihoods and prosperity of Nigerians.

He said though the company is navigating safely around the myriad of challenges confronting the air transport space, he urged the government to look at ways to improve airport infrastructure and reduce the financial burden for airlines and passengers to keep pace with the future growth plan.

He said ” NAHCO believes that the government at the centre should work towards reducing the financial burden for airlines and passengers by reviewing applicable taxes. This way, more payees would be brought into the tax net. Not too long ago, the International Air Transport Association declared that Nigerian airports charge foreign airlines about 27 levies.

“This makes Nigerian airports the most expensive in the world, discouraging airlines from flying into the country. This is not the kind of laurel Nigeria should be proud of. It is a disincentive to investment for both active and prospective investors. The government should address this situation. Government should also heed the industry’s calls for the harmonisation of the regulatory environment, particularly at the ports in a way that aligns with global best practices. The nation’s Ease of Doing Business mantra should be in practice and not in theory only.”

He further said that though multiple cost-related challenges characterised 2023, the increased cost of handling an aircraft cannot be easily passed on to the airline by ground handling companies because any proposed rate hike would require the approval of the industry regulator – Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

He said, “The very act of getting new rates approved has its challenges as well. It is therefore not uncommon to see ticket prices rising geometrically while ground handling rates charged by service providers to airlines remain solidly stagnant.

“Our push towards birthing a global integrated logistic giant is taking good shape with the coming into operations of new subsidiaries.”

Also speaking, its Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Indranil Gupta said the company intends to diversify investment into other sectors of the economy to grow.

“We will continue to leverage our strength and market insights to pursue organic and strategic growth initiatives to expand our market presence and revenue streams

“We plan to comprehensively refresh our fleet of ground support equipment to replace ageing equipment and increase the numbers in our fleet to meet the ever-increasing customer needs and expectations.

“We are already embracing digitalisation and innovation, investing in cutting-edge technologies and solutions to enhance our service offerings, operational efficiency and competitiveness. By harnessing the power of data analytics, automation and predictive maintenance, we aim to stay ahead of the industry trends and deliver superior value to our clients ”

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