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We will turn Ogbomoso zone to an industrial hub — Makinde

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…As Gov. meets CAN, Muslim clerics in Oriire LG

Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has declared that his administration was set to turn the five local governments in Ogbomoso zone into Agro-Industrial Processing Zones.

The Governor, who made the promise during separate meetings with the leadedship of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Muslim clerics in Ikoyi-Ile, Oriire Local Government Area of the state,  said that his administration will explore the potentials of each of the local governments.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa quoted Makinde as saying that his administration was determined to industrialise the state so as to provide employment opportunities for the youths.

While addressing CAN leaders at the First Baptist Church, Ikoyi-Ile, as part of his campaign tour of Oriire Local Government on Tuesday, Makinde maintained that the state is progressing in terms of economic emancipation.

He added that the present administration has laid the necessary foundation for economic prosperity of the state by connecting all the zones in the state.

The Governor expressed confidence that infrastructure projects done by his government will stand the test of time because of the quality of work, while pledging that residents of the state would get more if he is re-elected as Governor.

He said, “When the zonal chairman was speaking, he said they will rejoice with us on March 11th, but I want to say that you all would rejoice with us first on February 25th. We will rejoice with Wolekanle, Onireti and other candidates of our party on that day.

“I have noted a few of the things you said, especially the issue of grading of rural roads.

“We have put something in place to help us in fixing the rural roads. But what it means is that the effort is not enough and we have to put in more. So, I promise you that we will do the needful soon.

“For most of the things we are doing, we are laying foundation gradually, and one of the major foundations is to connect our zones together. If our people can farm, operate in a safe and secure environment, access infrastructure to transport their produce, it means we are getting somewhere in terms of economic emancipation. So, we will continue to push the frontier, and under Omituntun 2.0, we will do better.

“If you examine all the infrastructure projects that this administration has done, you will realise they are still strong and can last for the next 20 years. So, we don’t need to spend on the projects we have completed in the past, and we only have new projects to do in the new dispensation.

“I equally noted what you said about those disturbing our farmers from going to their farms. It is actually a concern to me also. I signed into law the anti-open grazing law because we saw the need to sanitise that area. But we appreciate the Amotekun operatives for what they are doing because I receive weekly report from them.

“They intervened in most places, on the issue of farmers/herders clashes.

“The only thing I can tell you at this point is to listen to your leadership.

“A decision is about to be taken in the next couple of weeks and I can tell you that the decision will be major for Nigeria. So, pray fervently. The best thing I can do is what I am doing right now; to convince people to vote for my re-election.”

The Governor urged the people to vote for PDP candidates on February 25, adding that the candidates vying for Senate and Reps seats are also his candidates.

“If you vote for Wolekanle and Onireti, who are the candidates of our party for the National Assembly, as well as my deputy and I, we will work together and Oyo State will be better for it,” he added.

Earlier in his remarks, the General Secretary CAN, Ogbomoso zone, Rev. Sunday Olojede, commended Governor Makinde on various laudable projects his administration has embarked upon in the zones.

Similarly, Governor Makinde also met with the leadership of Ikoyi-Ile Muslim Community at the Ikoyi-Ile Central Mosque, where he charged the Muslim Ummah to work hand in hand and cooperate with his government and to also re-elect him so that he can continue to move the state from poverty to prosperity.

While thanking them for their prayers,  Governor Makinde noted that their demands will be addressed in due course.

He said, “In 2019, I lost Oriire LG but I won’t count that. I will continue to do the needful for this local government. So, I want to beg of you this time around and want to use this LG as a good example, going forward.

“I expect 90 per cent of your votes for the PDP in the coming election.

“The Chief Imam said that there is always a rapid development around where there is higher institution but I will say that more developments get to an industrialised location.

“Yes, you have an expansive land in Oriire LG and it is a candidate for a major processing industry. And under Omituntun 2.0, I am promising you that a processing industry is coming to this local government.

“If there is a space for higher institution, we will establish one here, but I will not promise what we cannot deliver. The number one priority for us as a government is security, which we know will enable our farmers to go to their farms unhindered. We are also prioritising infrastructure because before I got here, while passing through Olokoto, Tewure and the rest, I saw bags of yam flour almost in front of every household. Even this morning, I stopped at a point where I plucked cashew and ate.

“Why can’t cashew processing firm be here? What about our children who are yet to be employed? Industrialisation will provide jobs for our people.

“Let me use this opportunity to thank you for your support and prayers. But I still want to appeal to you to vote for our party’s candidates on February 25th and for me on March 11th.

“Before I got here, they already told me you want an upgrade to Omituntun 2.0. Majority of our out-of-school-children are back in schools now because they no longer pay the N3,000 levy.

“Amotekun, which is our creation, was not there before 2019. We are also working on the interconnectivity of our zones.

“Our workers get paid on the 25th of every month. So, I have come to you today, again, because of all the things we have done, and not to have a repeat of what happened in 2019. This time around, let’s work together to win this LG.

“We are constructing a road from Ogbomoso to Iseyin. We have done that of Iseyin to Ibadan with a dry port. This means we can now export things to other countries from here. That is Omituntun 2.0.”

The two meetings featured special prayers for the Governor and the state at large.

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Hardship bites harder as Nigerians loot Govt food storage in Abuja

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…Police arrest 15 suspects, recover 26 bags of maize

By Our Correspondents

Nigerians continue to groan as the hardship occasioned by the current economic realities continue to bite harder.

Recently, food crises in the country have continued to worsen with soaring hikes in the prices of food items. According to a recent report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) food inflation rate in January 2024 rose to 35.41 percent while Nigeria’s annual inflation rate rose to 29.90 percent in January from 28.92 percent in December 2023.

Protests also hit some parts of the country recently over the rising prices of food and services making life unbearable for many Nigerians.

Although the government has promised more palliatives, labour protests last week saw more insistence on honouring agreements over consequential adjustments on new realities, following the removal of subsidy.

This was further evidenced on Sunday as individuals looted a government owned warehouse in Gwagwa town, Tasha area of the Karmo district of Abuja.

Findings by the Nigerian Newsdirect indicate some youths in their number broke into the warehouse located around Tasha area of the community around 7am, looting bags of maize and grain.

A resident, Jaafar Aminu, said the looting continued unhindered till 9 am when he spoke to our reporter.

He said some residents as well as persons from neighbouring Jiwa and Karmo town trooped towards the site with the intention of partaking in the loot.

He said the situation has caused a gridlock on Gwagwa-Karmo road, that leads to Dei-Dei and Jabi axis, respectively.

Commenting, the Executive Director of Nigerian workers Group, Dr. David Kayode Ehindero who spoke to Nigerian NewsDirect attributed the development to the untold hardship on the people by government policies.

He stressed that the removal of the fuel Subsidy by Tinubu’s Administration was a good policy but not providing palliative to cushion the effect of skyrocketed inflation spoiled the intention.

According to him, the looting of the foodstore should give the government a signal that the masses are damnly hungry and can do anything to have their way .

Recall that the warehouse was also looted during the COVID-19 lockdown. Grain bags as well as pumping machines meant for intervention were stolen from the site by the looters at the time.

After raiding the store, the rampaging youths headed towards Idu Industrial Estate, an area that hosts warehouses owned by individuals and also the government.

However, the FCT police command has arrested 15 suspects, including two security guards who actively participated in the looting.

A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Josephine Adeh revealed that: “Exhibits such as twenty-six (26) bags of maize, five (5) motorcycles, and some vandalized aluminum roofings were recovered from the suspects.”

She said, “The FCT police command is fully informed about the impulsive attack on the Agric Department Strategic food store located at Tasha, Abuja, on 2/03/2024 by some irate mobs, which resulted in the vandalism and looting of the warehouse.

“The Command wishes to state that normalcy has since been restored to the environs and the situation is very much under control.

“Fifteen (15) suspects were arrested, including two local security guards employed by the warehouse management.

“Exhibits such as twenty-six (26) bags of Maize, five Motorcycles and some vandalized aluminum roofings were recovered from the suspects.”

In a related development, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has denied speculations that the warehouse looted belonged to it.

It said, “This is to clarify that the looted warehouse does not belong to NEMA. However, the Agency sympathises with owners of the looted facility.

“To forestall any security breach at NEMA facilities, the Director General Mustapha Habib Ahmed has directed Zonal Directors and Heads of Operations to strengthen security in and around the Agency’s offices and warehouses nationwide,” he said.

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Account for N4bn COVID-19 relief or make refund – Reps to airlines

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives has given a week aultimatum to all private Airline operators  in the country within which to render justifiable evidence  before it on how they expended the N4bn  they collected from the Federal Government as COVID-19 intervention funds or  refund the money to the government treasury
The Committee being chaired by Rep.Bamidele Salam (Osun-PDP) handed down the directive on Friday at the resumed  investigative hearing on the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 intervention funds by the Ministries Departments and Agencies MDAs of the Federal Government and others who benefited from the funds
The Committee resolved that “all private airlines that received COVID-19 relief funds designated to support the aviation sector to refund the allocated funds to the federal government treasury, if they fail to give justifiable evidence of how the money was judiciously spent within a week”
The Committee lamented that despite appearing before it,  several of the airlines and industry stakeholders, including Aero Contractors, Azman, Newrest, and representatives from the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, failed to provide satisfactory explanations regarding the allocation and expenditure of the funds.
The committee emphasized the need   for accountability and transparency in the utilization of public funds.
On its part, Azman Airlines represented by its Marketing Manager, Odum Chizoba Uju admitted receiving N367,935,779.95, purportedly allocated for various operational expenses including aircraft maintenance; spare parts, fueling, Forex purchasing, and insurance premium paid while  the Station Manager of Aero Contractor, Mr. Abdulmalik Musa said the company received N217,345,542.05 from the federal government for the Covid-19 intervention fund.
The representative of the Aero Contractor Airline explained that the fund was used for Airport handling and facility payment, fueling payment, Onboard catering payment, pilot training payments, and lease rental payments.
However in a Sharp reaction  to the  submissions on how they utilised the  funds , a member of the Committee and former pilot with the Nigeria Airforce, Hon. Ojuawo Adeniyi from Ekiti state faulted the submissions,  saying that the services claimed by the operators were applicable only during the regular operations of airlines.
Following this development a motion was moved by a member, Hon. Akiba Bassey   that the amount involved should be refunded to the Federatiom account should they failed to give justifiable evidence before the Committe on the expenditure which was unanimously supported by members.
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VP Shettima to pay visit to Ogun State, commission National MSMEs business clinics on Tuesday

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The Vice President, Kashim Shettima will on Tuesday declare open the Expanded National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Business Clinics in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The Vice President will embark on a one-day visit to Ogun State on Tuesday. The event will be held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.

The Expanded National MSMEs Business Clinic is an initiative of the Federal Government executed in collaboration with state governments.

It is geared towards providing lasting solutions to the challenges hindering the development of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), help MSMEs have access to capital, formalize their businesses, and also exhibit their products among others.

The Clinic would allow small business owners to meet regulatory bodies like the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and others as well as feature grant presentations to qualified MSMEs.

The Vice President would also inaugurate the Fashion Hub project at the Old OGTV auditorium where over 150 state-of-the-art tailoring equipment have been provided for stakeholders in the fashion industry as well as the Adire shared facility at Asero, Abeokuta.

Participants are expected to register preferably before the day of the event using the programme’s barcode.

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