Nigeria Has Saved $600m From Rice Importation – BOA

Nigeria has saved over $600m dollars (N216bn) from the importation of rice alone from Thailand and other countries since the nation’s domestic mass production flooded the markets under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

The figure represents a fraction of a staggering $22bn (N7.92tr) spent on importation of foods into the country annually prior to the advent of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The Executive Director, Risk Management and Finance, Bank of Agriculture, disclosed this when he led a delegation of top officials of the bank on a courtesy call to Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in his office, in Ibadan.

Akenzua said it was worthy of commendation that the country had committed itself to diversifying from the oil economy, with emphasis on the revitalization of agriculture.

He said, he had embarked on advocacy visit around the country to enlist the support and involvement of state governments in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which, he said, had freed the country from reliance on importation of rice.

Akenzua said, “We enjoin Oyo State to participate in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, as we have rejigged the programme to expand the scope of beneficiaries. The pilot scheme was so successful that $600m was saved from rice importation due to massive rice production in the country.

“One or two rice millers in Thailand have closed down because Nigeria, which has always been their major importer, has stopped importing their rice.

“We used to spend $22bn importing food into Nigeria and with our consciousness that every square meter in the country is arable land, we felt that it was not sustainable. Of course, the crash in crude oil price has forced us back to agriculture.”

The ED said that the state could choose a particular crop it wished to produce under the programme, with a promise to either co-fund or completely fund the production of such crop.

In his response, the governor commended the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,  Audu Ogbeh, for what he called the positive changes he had brought into the agriculture sector since taking over the ministry.

The governor stated that the fundamental problem besetting the country was attitudinal, stressing that the country was not bereft of knowledge, policies and programmes capable of boosting its economy.

Ajimobi said that the state was supposed to be the food basket of the nation if past leaders had seen agriculture as a major solution to hunger and economic driver, as well as a main source of employment for the youth.

According to him, the state was in good stead to be a major Agric hub, judging by the concentration of reputable research institutions in the state, its vast arable land, as well as the location between Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of the country, and the North among other comparative advantages.

He advised the new management of BOA to do all that was humanly possible to sustain the momentum in its renewed drive to revitalize the agriculture sector.

Ajimobi said “You need to change the attitude of our people so they would know that there is money in agriculture. We are in this sorry state today because of bureaucracy and lack of sustenance of past agric policies. What has happened to Operation Feed the Nation?

“The new management of BOA has started well. I hope you will maintain the zeal with which you have started. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the talk. In the past, some people will just give loans to themselves, which they knew they would not recover and this had crippled the bank.

“Oyo State is ready to take advantage of all opportunities available in agriculture to promote the standard of living of our people. We believe that with the natural endowment in our state we should be the food basket of Nigeria.

“I salute the giant strides of the Ministry of Agriculture under the leadership of the Minister, Chief Audi Ogbeh. I have known him for many years as a man of impeccable character, a professional with high sense of responsibility.”

The governor promised to lead by example by also venturing into commercial agriculture, urging the BOA team to advise him on how he could go about obtaining a loan for the State

FG Spends N9bn To Boost Food Security

Agriculture, Food Sufficiency,The Federal Government through the Bank of Agriculture, has expended nine billion Naira on agriculture in Nigeria’s south-east region, to encourage farmers, foster food security, as well as employment of women and youths.

This assertion was made known to newsmen at Enugu when the delegation unveiled their Agriculture layout aimed to boost the economy. According to them, there are opportunities that can be tapped from in the region, that include the oil palm revolution, the cocoa enhancement, rice, among many others.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Agriculture, Kabir Mohammed, noted that there are projects that are directed at improving the employment rate in the country.

“I want to say that what we intend to do is to make sure that we support the rural women because that is one of our mandates.

“You must know that there are a lot of women in the rural area that are involved in agriculture in the south- east zone and presently, our intention is to make sure that our activities are extended to them.

“I want to say that we are looking at youth unemployment which is a global phenomenon and we are committed and have projects targeted at improving employment rate in Nigeria. We want to use agriculture to get the youths engaged thereby reducing youth restiveness drastically.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Director, Partnership and Strategy, Dr. Gabriel Okenwa, disclosed that the Federal Government’s strategic focus on the agriculture sector is geared towards producing more food for the citizens and a lot more for export.

“I must say that Nigerians are very hard working and resilient people and with the strategic re-focus in Agriculture now, all hands should be on deck – We will produce enough food for the people and have more for export, and I must say that the Federal Government is doing a lot in Agriculture.”

Osinbajo To Launch MSME Clinic In Kwara

MSME Clinic, Yemi Osinbajo, KwaraActing President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is set to launch a three-day Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) clinic on Thursday, February 23 for viable enterprises in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

Recall that Acting President Osinbajo commissioned the Aba MSME clinic on January 26.

Aba is the commercial hub of Abia State in southeast Nigeria.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Kwara State MSME Bureau, Mr Segun Soewu, who made the disclosure in a statement on Monday, informed that the event would hold at the Banquet Hall, Ilorin by 10:00AM daily.

He described the clinic as an opportunity for MSME operators in the state to discuss the opportunities and challenges confronting their businesses.

The MSME Bureau boss added that business owners can also make inquiries about policies and regulations regarding their businesses from the Federal agencies that would be present at the programme.

He listed the agencies to include the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Nigerian Export-Import Bank and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Others are Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Projects Development Institute, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure.

Mr Soewu asked intending participants to contact the office of the Chief Operating Officer of the Kwara State MSME Bureau at the Ministry of Commerce and Cooperatives, Gambari Road in Ilorin.


How Senators View Nigeria’s 2017 Budget

Senate on 2017 budgetAt least 30 Senators on Wednesday gave their views on areas they feel the Executive Arm of Government needs to focus on if the nation is to attain some level of socio-economic development.

It was the second plenary in the week presided over by Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President and the 2017 Budget was one major bill that deliberations focused on.

Some of the areas the senators want the government to prioritise are infrastructure and agriculture.

After the Senate President led the lawmakers into plenary, he demanded that Senators should make their individual contributions to the 2017 Budget.

Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso spoke on the need to have at least one per cent allocation of the budget to the Health Sector. The Senator also harped on the need for increased personnel provisions for salaries to avoid incessant strikes in the health sector in 2017.

Senator Nelson Effiong identified what he called the focus of the budget on local workforce and commended the five per cent VAT which he believes will build investor confidence.

He also commended the increase in budgetary allocations of the Amnesty Programme from 45 billion Naira in 2016 to 65 billion in 2017.

The low capital expenditure in the budget, was of concern to Senator George Sekibo, who warned that Nigeria was indeed broke and had no money.

He pointed out that there was an increase personnel cost in the 2017 Budget “even when we say we are saving costs” and demanded that contractors should be paid.

While Senator Bassey Akpan lamented the high budget deficit and the poor management of foreign exchange rates, fiscal and monetary policies, he also commended the increased budget allocation towards increasing agricultural production.

Senator Gbenga Ashafa commended the Executive for bringing the MTEF in good time as well as keying-into the revamp of railways.

“We must compare the 2016 Budget’s performance with the estimated allocations in the 2017 Budget,” he said, demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari should tell Nigerians how much funds they had recovered in order to ensure transparency.

Senator Shehu Sani expressed hopes that the allocation to Education in the budget would address the basic issues in the sector while Senator Yele Omogunwa spoke on the factual data and statistics of unemployed, widows and others for National Planning and budget implementation.

Senator Omogunwa further highlighted that Nigeria’s budgets do not have maximal impact due to corruption and mockingly called for the legalisation and liberalisation of corruption.

Senator Jide Omoworare spoke on the need to reduce recurrent and increase capital expenditure. “Government has to spend more.  The allocations for Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture should be increased as the nation moves move towards diversification, PPP and Concessioning.

“The Peace in the Niger Delta Region should be sustained and the time line on MTEF and Budgets be reviewed,” he requested.

The Senator further stressed that there was a need to look at developmental planning from the past and improve on it for the future.

On his part, Senator Dino Melaye told the Senate that “truth be told, the 2017 Budget is too ambitious” and that “we borrow to swagger”, harping on the need to develop Agriculture to liberate the economy.

Senator John Enoh, like a professional in developmental economics, focused on the need to increase salaries and wages; high personnel costs; deficit budget; borrowing and revenue projections towards the implementation of the budget.

Senator Biodun Olujimi questioned the success or otherwise of the Treasury Savings Account. She said the Federal Government was paying lip service to diversification.

Senator Matthew Urhoghide spoke on the non-implementation of the Abuja Declaration on allocations to the Health Sector.

Senator Urhoghide further told the 8th Senate that they owed Nigerians a duty to do the right thing by allocating for basic health infrastructures budget.

Senator Sola Adeyeye decried the allocation to the education sector, saying “Nigeria is a pathetically poor country with an entire education budget of 448 billion Naira being 20% of that of Harvard University”.

Senator Adeyeye further identified an increased debt servicing in the 2017 Budget and demanded that cost of government must be reduced.

He said: “We must strengthen our private sector. Power, Road, Railway and Refinery Infrastructure must be developed”.

Senator Abu Ibrahim appreciated President Buhari for plans towards stabilising the country, commending the Social Intervention Plans.

For Senator Ali Ndume, the budget passed annually by the Senate so far lacks details. He says Senators need to know the sub-heads.

Senator Ndume further stressed the need for the allocations towards the humanitarian crisis in the North East to be increased.

After several other Senators took turn to give their views on the budget, the Senate Leader moved that the plenary should be adjourned to the next legislative day, Thursday, to continue the debate on the budget.

Economic Recession: Bank of Agriculture Disburses N21.5billion to 107,200

Economic Recession: Bank of Agriculture Disburses N21.5billion to 107,200As part of efforts to bring Nigeria out of the current economic recession, Bank of Agriculture, BOA, has given out over N21.5billion to 107,200 farmers nationwide.

This was disclosed by the Zonal Manager, South-West Region, Mrs Idiat Folorunsho at the empowerment programme of the bank of Agriculture held in Osogbo, the state capital of Osun State.

Folorunsho, who stated this during the presentation of cheques to the representatives of hundreds of beneficiaries, who were selected for Ooni Ogunwusi’s Agric-empowerment programme, explained that the dwindling oil revenue has forced a rethink in strategy in favour of agri-business

She noted that BOA has since realized this and has taken necessary steps through deliberate policies and special programmes aimed at galvanizing agriculture and engendering the development of agribusinesses.

Folorunsho further stressed that the bank is always ready to produce young farming entrepreneurs to assist in food production and to make the nation to be self-reliance in all agricultural products.

Under the scheme, Folorunsho said about 40billion Naira has been set aside to serve as a special purpose vehicle to ensure proper implementation of the programme to farmers nationwide.

She further disclosed that under the scheme the most recent one is BOA Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP, which provides some degree of support through the supply of inputs and technical advice to the farmers.

Kaduna Govt. Drags 725 Loan Defaulters To EFCC

Mob attack, Kaduna Govt., Shiites, Prison Inmates, Kaduna,The Kaduna State Government say it has reported a total of 725 persons to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for failing to repay the loan they took from the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) in March 2015.

A statement by Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, says the government has officially written a petition to the EFCC, requesting for investigation and recovery of the funds.

Mr Aruwan said BOA, in partnership with Kaduna State government in March 2015, disbursed agriculture loan to 1,859 beneficiaries.

However, 725 of them have failed to liquidate their loans to the tune of over 205 million Naira, contrary to the terms and conditions of the loan.

“The agriculture loan scheme is an intervention of the state government in partnership with BOA meant to assist farmers in the state to have access to financial assistance, in order to improve agricultural activities and ensure better harvest.

“It is revolving loan that enables farmers to access funds and repay after a farming year to enable other beneficiaries enjoy similar interventions.

“BOA has therefore forwarded names and details of the defaulting beneficiaries to EFCC for investigation to commence.

“You may also wish to know, that the BOA had on October 21, 2016 reached out to the government with details of the defaulters and the outstanding loans,” he said.

The Governor’s spokesman concluded that the state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as well as BOA have been directed to furnish the EFCC with any additional information and/or documents that it may require.

FG To Restructure Bank Of Agriculture

Audu-Ogbeh-Bank-Of-AgricultureThe Federal Government says that it is set to restructure the Bank of Agriculture to encourage low interest credit facility to farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, made the disclosure to Channels Television in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He explained that the restructuring might see interest rate fall to 5% for farmers who seek funds to boost their businesses.

The Minister added that the government wants to encourage young generation to also get into farming.

He said that efforts were being made to attract the teeming youths to the agricultural sector.

Bank of Agriculture, Kaduna Govt Distribute 1bn Naira To Farmers

AgricultureThe Kaduna State Government in partnership with the Bank of Agriculture has distributed cheques worth 1billion naira to small scale farmers in the state.

This is aimed at boosting agriculture and food security in Nigeria.

The money was disbursed to cooperative societies and individual farmers who have fulfilled the conditions of the Bank that enabled them to access the loan.

Both the Kaduna State Government and the Bank of Agriculture provided N500Million each as counterpart and marching fund for the purpose of encouraging small and medium scale farmers in the state.

In selecting the beneficiaries, a technical committee was set up by the State Ministry of Agriculture which screened and cleared the beneficiaries before they could access the loan.

They were selected from the three senatorial zones of the state.

Each cooperative association has an average of ten 10 farmers and will receive loans from N2.5million and above, while each individual beneficiary would receive the sum of N250,000.

In his speech at the ceremony, Governor Muhktar Yero said that the scheme is aimed at providing finance to farmers in a bid to increase performance in the sector.

The Governor reiterated the commitment of his administration towards improving the agriculture sector in the state as a way of diversifying the economy.

He noted that with the dwindling Statutory Allocation from the Federation Account, it has become imperative to revamp the agricultural sector.

He said that the loan would assist the farmers in increasing their productivity and also create employment opportunities in the drive to achieve food security and poverty alleviation in the state.

The Acting Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Mr. Babatunde Sadikuin, said that the loan was geared towards developing agriculture into viable business, and moving it from subsistence to mechanized system.

The loan, which attracts an interest rate of 5 to 10 percent has a long term payment plan.

Some of the beneficiaries shared their their joy with Channels Television. They expressed confidence that the intervention would translate into significant progress for their farming activities.

They promised to make good use of the money in boosting their businesses and to boost food production in the country.

The Bank of Agriculture, has as its core mandate, the promotion of economic empowerment of Nigerians and the development of Nigeria’s rural communities, by supporting Agriculture and Agro-allied, Small and Medium-scale enterprises.

Kaduna Employs 2,550 Youths, Women Under SURE-P

KadunaThe Kaduna State Government has employed a total of 2,550 youths under the Youth Employment Development Programme of Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P).

Addressing the beneficiaries during the flag off of the programme on Wednesday, Governor Mukhtar Yero, urged them to make use of the opportunity to add values to their lives and become self dependent, rather than relying on government for assistance.

The Governor stated that the government’s efforts was geared towards ensuring that youths were gainfully employed in order to encourage productivity and prevent them from involving themselves in social vices such as drug abuse, armed robbery among others.

Governor Yero said that the Kaduna State Government has also deposited the sum of 2billion naira with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Bank of Industry (BOI) for disbursement to small scale entrepreneurs.

This, he explained, was geared towards creating more jobs and reducing poverty in the state.

The State Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Everton Yari, said that over 5,000 indigenes of the state have also been given employment through the SURE-P and therefore thanked the Governor for providing such opportunities to the youths and women.

He also admonished the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity to better their lives.

The Commissioner for Special Duties added that the Governor has directed the  Ministry of Youth and Sport, as well as Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to be in charge of the programme in order to ensure a smooth and transparent implementation of the exercise.


Privatise Rice Mills, Minister Tells NDDC

akinwunmi adeshinaThe Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is set to partner with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the privatisation of the two rice processing plants built by the Commission at Elele-Alimini in Rivers State and Mbiabet-Ikpe in Akwa Ibom State.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said this at a business meeting between his ministry and top officials of the NDDC, led by the commission’s Managing Director, Bassey Dan-Abia.

He promised that his ministry would support the re-activation of the two rice mills with a combined capacity of 210 metric tonnes per day, but suggested that they would be better managed by private investors.

The meeting, which was attended by experts from both sides, was held at the Minister’s conference room in Abuja with expectations that it would bring the dividend of the Act establishing the NDDC to the people of the Niger Delta region in the area of agriculture.

Dr. Adesina had assured Nigerians that the two rice processing plants would be revived through a private sector-driven model as “Government does not really have any business running anything”.

He noted that, its role should be to formulate policies, put infrastructure in place and give incentives to aid the private sector to perform.

“It is the private sector that can run the mills efficiently,” he said.

The Minister stressed that he was ready for a very strategic engagement with the NDDC on how to get agriculture working as a viable enterprise that would create jobs in the Niger Delta region.

In his presentation, the NDDC Boss, Bassey Dan–Abia, solicited the support of the Ministry of Agriculture in its drive to boost the efforts of farmers and meaningfully engage majority of the people of the Niger delta.

While speaking on the needed assistance of the ministry in bringing the two rice processing plants, which had been idle for many years, to life, he regretted that the plants, which were test-run in 2009, could not function due to lack of rice paddy and the fact that they had suffered depreciation over the years.

While speaking on the NDDC’s readiness for the re-activation of the dormant rice mills, Dan-Abia, said that the NDDC was poised to establish an Out-Growers Scheme of 1,000 rice farmers in the Niger Delta.

The scheme, according to the NDDC boss would ensure the sustainability of the rice processing plants when they become operational, apart from the contributions of the NDDC in commercial rice farming.

Dan-Abia said the NDDC had trained 14,000 youths in agricultural skills and entrepreneurship development.

The commission has given financial support to 3,700 farmers through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), as well  partnered with the International Funds for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on the Community-Based Natural Resources Management Programme in Niger Delta.

An expert opinion have suggested that if the NDDC gets it right, they should be able to have NDDC own rice in the market by December 2014.

Boko Haram: Scores Killed In Borno, Adamawa And Plateau

Several people were killed in an early dawn attack  by the Boko Haram sect in Adamawa and Borno States. At the Catholic seminary near Lassa in Borno state, at least five bodies were recovered. Two security men and three Catholic nuns were among the dead.

An unspecified number of people were killed in Michika, Adamawa state, with several sensitive public facilities burnt. An unconfirmed report claimed that nine people were killed in the attack.

Some of the residents told the News Agency of Nigeria on phone on Thursday that the attackers arrived the town around 9pm to unleash the mayhem for about five hours.

“They burnt three banks, a police station, shops and part of the Michika Local Government Council secretariat. They came in nine Toyota Hilux vans firing guns and throwing explosives,” a resident who simply identified himself as Fide said.

It was further learnt that several people were injured in the attacks while efforts were on to get more of the injured and those killed from the nearby bushes. The scores of suspected Boko Haram Islamists who carried out the attack were armed with grenade launchers and explosives.

Residents in Michika, said people fled to the nearby foothills when the attackers dressed in military uniforms stormed the town in four-wheeled drive trucks and motorcycles.

“One of the dead body is that of a staff of Bank of Agriculture,” Fide said.

It was also gathered that the attackers raided Kirchinga, Kubla and Shuwa villages on their way to Michika.

“They burnt places of worship and the house of a former commissioner, Idris Nuhu, in Shuwa village,” said a resident, Mr Sule Idris.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday promised that his government would spare no resources in ensuring that those behind the Tuesday gruesome killing  of schoolchildren in the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State are brought to book.

Jonathan made the vow in his keynote address at the international conference tagged “Human Security, Peace and Development: Agenda for 21st Century Africa”, held in Abuja as part of activities marking the nation’s centenary.The President described the barbaric act as “unNigerian and unAfrican.”

He described the activities of the Boko Haram Islamists as condemnable acts of terror.

Gunmen on Thursday killed two members of one family in a pre-dawn attack in Diyam- Rim village of Riyom Local Government Council of Plateau State.

Two other family members sustained injuries and are currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.The attack came in the wake of another raid on Rakok and Razat in Barakin Ladi Local Government Council of the state.

The attackers razed down the two villages, which had almost been deserted from previous attacks. It was gathered that the rampaging gunmen burnt down over 50 houses, food stuff harvested from the farms and vehicles in Diyam – Rim.

Habila Dung, the Interim Chairman of Barkin Ladi told journalists that the unknown gunmen stormed the villages in the early hours of Thursday destroying every thing on their way

A member representing Riyom constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Daniel Dem, who spoke to our correspondent on phone confirmed that two persons were killed in the area .

Yobe Attack: Staff, Survivor Narrate Ordeal, Blame Security Lapse For The Havoc

Members of Staff of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, who suffered terrorist attack by the dreaded Boko Haram sect on Tuesday, have blamed security forces for the prolonged attack on the school saying; the attackers held them hostage for several hours without security intervention.

The staff, who cried foul to the state governor when he visited the scene, are of the opinion that a day before the attack, security men stationed in towns within the local government were relocated as the hoodlums had a field day during the attack.

According to them, motorists now have to pay a fine of N50 at security checks points and proceed unchecked, a lapse they said the sect members can capitalise on to convey arms and ammunition for their atrocities.

The people also noted that the sect members are often being sighted by communities around various locations within the outskirts but security operatives often stay away from confronting the hoodlums in their hideouts.

This can be linked to the fact that security forces are either short of the required arms and ammunition or manpower as claimed by the governors of the affected states.

Meanwhile, one of the students Samson Ghali attacked by the insurgents is currently receiving treatment at the General Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, Damaturu.

The decision that the military should change their mode of operation is very necessary while the officers and men on ground need to be adequately motivated if the war on the insurgents must be won within the shortest possible time.