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Uniabuja Ventures to enrol 100,000 students for farming scheme

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By Matthew Denis, Abuja

In a bid to enhance farming activities in the country, the University of Abuja (Uniabuja ) Ventures Limited has concluded plans to enroll 100,000 students nationwide with the target of ensuring food availability, security and profitability.

The Chief Executive Officer and Group Managing Director of UniAbuja Ventures Limited, Hon.Teslim Balogun made the disclosure during the Agro and Environmental 2024 Summit powered by the ventures held in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said, “Yesterday we were able to get some support from the Turkish and Danish delegations in terms of scholarship, grants, seed funding for more research works, you know we are doing research here we want to improve the seedlings.

“For example, we have various species of rice seeds but we now have a popular seed called faro 44. When you plant it you can have more yields and output production on each hectare of land.”

The GMD revealed that the Turkish Delegation is pledging funds between $10 to $30 million for three major schemes such as the Agro Processing Hub, Machineries so that our Agro products increase in terms of value addition in terms of monetary aspects.

“The Turkish also believes in investing in scale businesses to provide the equipment for farming, research methodology, exchange programmes as well that is why we are bringing the students to key in thereby providing them seedlings and equipment for farming.

“The programme we are trying to set up we want to have a 100,000 students capture in the next four years, which is a youth programme across the 36 states, and people can apply in any part of the country so far you viable idea and register your business.:

“When you apply for these funds we will come and do some verification and the funds will be injected into your farm, and there will be off takers agreement to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Uniabuja Ventures and the Turkish Delegation to secure these foods production,” He said.

Speaking on the summit he emphasised that it is about food security, application of technology in Agriculture to improve our yields, climate change and climate funds as well and how to access it.

“We are also looking at the supply chain optimization that involved in moving Agric products from one country to another and issues partnering to storage facilities.”

Hon. Balogun stressed that the summit is apt, and an opportunity for major stakeholders to deal with the major crisis of food scarcity, inflation and how to proffer solutions to improve yields, farmlands, storage facilities and to enhance roads logistics network hinterlands etc.

According to him, the programme is targeted at the use of technologies on the farmlands thereby shifting from the old spraying techniques to the modern spraying techniques.

He said, “It will take a farmer a lot of time to spray 100 hectares of land but with the use of modern sprayers like drones it can cover these hectares within the period of six hours.

“On climate change he explained that there are many factors affecting the farming system in Nigeria such as deforestation without reforestation programmes which is becoming dangerous to the ecosystem.”

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Education

UNIBEN ASUU threatens to boycott April 28 resumption over violence on campus

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By Elvis Omoregie, Benin

The University of Benin Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Monday said its members may not be available to resume academic activities on the 28th of April 2024, if immediate action and the necessary processes are not immediately initiated to nip in the bud incessant violence attack on lecturers and management staff by some errant students of the institution.

The ASUU leadership also noted that it is constrained to embark on teaching and research in an environment in which lecturers are prime targets for brutalisation or elimination by some UNIBEN students they are labouring to impact with the wealth of their intellectual property following attack on her members.

The ASUU position is coming on the heels of the attempted murder of Dr. Presley Osemwengie, a lecturer in the Department of Economics and member of the University of Benin Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), by some members of the Executive Committee of the University of Benin Students Union.

A statement signed by Ray Chikogu and Success Abusomwan, Chairman and Secretary respectively, UNIBEN Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and made available to Nigerian NewsDirect in Benin City noted that Dr. Presley Osemwengie was attacked, hit in the back of his head with a small axe and left for dead in the pool of his own blood by some of those in the company of the Students Union President.

The statement reads in part, “We are constrained to issue this statement on the basis of the spate of violence and general atmosphere of insecurity that has pervaded the Ugbowo campus of the University of Benin of late. This culminated in the attempted murder of Dr. Presley Osemwengie, a lecturer in the Department of Economics and member of the University of Benin Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), by some members of the Executive Committee of the University of Benin Students Union led by their President and some ex- as well as non-students of the University on Friday the 12th of April, 2024.

“On that fateful day, the President of the Students Union of the University of Benin marched upon a gathering of staff of the University and their invited guests, ordering them to discontinue their interaction as he was not pre-informed and consequently, did not grant permission for the interaction to be held.

“In the resulting melee, Dr. Presley Osemwengie was attacked; hit in the back of his head with a small axe and left for dead in the pool of his own blood by some of those in the company of the Students Union President.

“It is necessary to note that this worrisome trend began with the assault by both students and nonstudents of the University on the person of the current Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin in September 2021 when she was humiliated and marched from her residence to the Main Gate of the University in very hostile circumstances.

“Other similar and very unsavoury incidents in which students of the University of Benin have threatened and brutalised lecturers of the University have also been reported at different times. This cannot continue.

“We wish to now state that it is impossible for our members to hereafter dispose of any teaching and research in an environment in which they are prime targets for brutalisation or elimination by some of the students they are labouring to impact with the wealth of their intellectual property. So it is incumbent on the Administration of the University of Benin to provide adequate security for staff of the University and create an atmosphere conducive for effective teaching and learning on our campuses.

“To the end that our members will feel safe to conduct their business of research, teaching, and supervision going forward from the 28th of April 2024 (being the date of resumption for the next academic session) therefore, and without prejudice to the work of the Committee set up by the University Administration to investigate the incident at stake, we state as follows as encapsulated in the resolutions of the meeting of the Congress of ASUU UNIBEN on Thursday the 18th of April, 2024.”

“Our Union condemns in very strong terms, the rebellious and terrorising acts of brigandage being carried out by our students both as individuals and under the cover of student unionism in their entirety,” Chikogu said.

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Education

UNLOCK: FG to increase grant winners, support businesses with registration

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As the ongoing UNLOCK Training Programme enters its final and crucial phase, participants on Monday got surprise boosters from the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Education (SSAP-TVEE), Madam Abiola  Arogundade, as she announced a decision to increase the number of grant winners and a promise of assistance in business registration.

Earlier on Friday, the fourth day of the programme, participants were also thrilled by the news that trainees of Vocational and Skills Acquisition Centres are included in the Students Loan Bill recently signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to enable them obtain loans for the duration of their programmes.

In her remarks during the question-and-answer session on Monday, the Day 5 of the training, Arogundade said her Office (OSSAP-TVEE) would assist participants, especially start-ups, to process the registration of their new companies after the training. She added, however, that the assistance would be for only those who do not win the grant while grant winners would be expected to process theirs with part of their grants.

And welcoming the participants to the second week of the programme  at the end of the day’s training session, the SSAP-TVEE, who  expressed delight at their continued enthusiasm, announced, “I want to encourage you to continue to come for every single class, to start with your Business Plans. We have decided to include more people than we decided in the beginning for the grant; and so I want to encourage you to give us a reason for giving you the grant.”

Highlights of Monday’s training session included the assumption of the training function by a new facilitator, Mr. John Eyok, who took over from Bukola Mayie and the visit of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and MSMES, Hon. Tola Johnson, who exhorted the participants on the importance of the training they are currently undertaking.

On Friday last week, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Students Loans and Tertiary Education, Hon. Adegboyega Nasir Isiaka, who gave the news of the Students Loans Bill during a brief visit at the programme, explained that Section 2 of the Act clearly states that vocational trainees would henceforth be beneficiaries of the Students Loans.

According to the Committee Chairman, the Act provides that fees and maintenance cost of students of tertiary and skill acquisition centres would be entitled to some amounts of money for school fees and maintenance throughout the duration of their programmes.

“What that means is that if you are in any particular skills acquisition training institution that meets the requirements of the Board and Management of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND), you can benefit from the facility,” the Chairman said.

Explaining that the details of the Bill are being worked out in terms of how much each category of beneficiaries would be entitled to, the Chairman told the participants, “In broad terms, it means that you have to do more of these activities; because anyone that wants to acquire one skill or the other will now no longer be deterred by funding required to do that.”

No less than 105 participants physically attended the training on Friday and Monday, Days 4 and 5 of the programme, while the number of online participants continued to soar with over 5,000 actively participating from more than 18 states of the Federation. The training enters its final stages this week as  Mr. John Eyok takes over from Bukola Mayie.

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Education

Unibadan students condemn 750% fee increase for fresh students

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By Sodiq Adelakun

The proposed 750% fee hike for newly admitted students at the University of Ibadan has sparked outrage among the student body, prompting a swift response from the Student’s Union leadership.

In a joint statement issued by Samuel Tobiloba, President of the University Students Union, and Olaniyi Dolapo, General Secretary, a meeting with the university management has been requested to address the sudden fee adjustments.

The Student Union expressed shock upon learning of the fee increments when the university portal was opened.

The fees displayed on the portal reportedly range from N133,500 to N372,500, with additional utility and technology levies of N20,000 each expected from every student.

The statement issued by the Union underscores the concern and dissatisfaction felt by students regarding the arbitrary fee hike, highlighting the potential financial burden it imposes on newly admitted students.

According to the statement, “In a bid to clarify these, we reached out to the university management and it was confirmed that the opening of the portal was a demo process in preparation for the commencement of payment and registration processes and there was a plan for the increment of fees ranging from N133,500 to N238,500 aside the utility and technology levies (N80,000 in total).

“We note with concern that this increment represents about 450%-750% of the previous bundle fee which ranged from about N20,000 – N30,000.

“This is coming at a period when several students are finding it hard to cope with the current fees regime, and increased costs of living in the country.

“The union condemns this increment in strong terms, and requests that this proposed increment be reverted to the status quo.

“We are equally requesting a meeting with the university management towards resolving this issue,” the statement added.

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