The Federal Government has begun the implementation of the agricultural programmes in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates assisted food sufficiency programme.
Farmers in Benue, Kogi and Kaduna states will be trained to develop value chains, food processing and marketing.
A delegation from the Gates Foundation were in Makurdi, the Benue State capital for a meeting with Governor Samuel Ortom.
The Head of the delegation, Mr Audu Yerima, hinted that the value chain development, processing and marketing of food items were priority areas in the partnership agreement with the Federal Government.
Governor Ortom, on his part, said his administration was willing to open up the State Agricultural Policy for input and greater efficiency for the growth of the sector.
He asked the Foundation to deploy its expertise knowledge and marketing network, in order to make millionaires out of Benue farmers.
In another development, the state’s Commissioner of Information, Onoja Otokpa, said the Benue State Executive Council has approved the cancellation of the ongoing auctioning of government vehicles and equipment due to fundamental lapses.
The auction was cancelled following a series of reactions that trailed the sale of the government property.
The Rivers State government has set up a task force to tackle the black soot polluting the atmosphere of Port Harcourt and its environs.
The task force has been mandated to investigate and recommend solutions to the environmental challenge.
The decision was part of the resolutions of the State Executive Council during their meeting on Wednesday at the Government House.
Briefing the media after the meeting, Commissioner of Information, Dr Austin Tam-George, stated that the decision was reached after the Commissioner of Environment, Professor Roseline Konya had presented findings from a preliminary investigation.
The Commissioner of Environment, Professor Roseline Konya; Commissioner of Special Duties, Mr Emeka Onowu and the Commissioner of Information, Dr Austin Tam-George are members of the task force.
The committee will be backed by technical experts and they are expected to liaise with major stakeholders to resolve the environmental challenges in the state.
The Ministry of Environment sent its investigative teams to all parts of the state and immediately suggested that the black soot could be caused by illegal oil refining activities, the burning of car tyres at night in different locations in the state, and other air-polluting activities around the state.
Residents of the state were immediately advised to stop the burning of tyres or any illegal oil mining activities.
Oil companies were also advised to stop gas flaring in order to encourage a healthier and sustainable livelihood in the state.
The chairman of the Nigerian Environmental Society in Rivers State, Adeyemi Adewale, equally led his team to the field to set up particle sampling machines.
It is not known if their findings were part of the report presented to the Rivers State Executive Council.
The Government of Niger State has cautioned against nefarious acts of middlemen who specialise in buying and hoarding food items to cause artificial scarcity.
The Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Jonathan Vatsa, said the government was worried that such act may cause untold hardship for Niger State residents and prevent them from enjoying the bumper harvest recorded in the state in 2016.
Mr Vatsa appealed to farmers and other Nigerlites to be wary of such middlemen and put the interest of the state above any over profiteering ventures like hoarding food items.
The commissioner stated that the call had become imperative because “it is not humanly right that we allow people to suffer while the middlemen rip the farmers of their hard work and hoard foods from the public”.
He, however, thanked the people of the state for their understanding amidst the recession and high cost of food items, assuring them that the government was considering various economic recovery strategies.
Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Dr. Austin Tam-George, believes that the security situation in the state is not as bad as being reported and believed.
While admitting that the state has been in the news for the wrong reasons in recent times, he argued that incidents of violence are not peculiar to the state as other states across the country have had notable cases of violence.
Dr. Tam-George was the guest of Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday. He said: “There is this mythology that Rivers state is not safe, that is not correct.
“If you look at the pattern of violence that has characterized the political dispensation we are in, you will see that the situation is worse in many places.
“In the whole of the Northeast for instance, as you know, we have over 70,000 people that have been killed over the past seven years with more than six million people displaced.
“In Kaduna we have what looks like a low level of insurgency already underway. The whole of Southern Kaduna is under siege by so-called Fulani herdsmen.
“In Lagos we have seen inter-communal clashes between Hausas and Ibos in Mile-12 area where about 12 people were killed and over 40 cars burnt in just one incident.
“We have had pockets of audacious criminal activities in Ogun state and elsewhere. Se we’ve seen a pattern of insecurity and violence characterizing the kind of political system that we run.
“In Rivers state, we have had episodes of violence; sometimes criminality in some sections of the state and we have taken unprecedented steps (to curb it).”
The Commissioner reeled out a number of steps taken by Governor Wike, particularly the provision of financial and logistical support for the Police, adding that the state has a “very efficient security architecture” and the cases of violence are “not out of control”.
“Are we denying that that there are episodes of security challenges? No, but the situation is totally exaggerated,” he affirmed.
Dr. Tam-George also commented on the controversial audio recording released by Sahara Reporters alleged to be that of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
In the recording, a voice purportedly of Governor Wike is heard in a telephone conversation arranging payment to some persons who are supposedly officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in exchange for their help in rigging the recently concluded legislative elections in the state.
The Commissioner reaffirmed the position of the state government not to be part of the panel set up by the Inspector General of Police to investigate this allegation and the crisis that trailed the rerun legislative election in the state.
“We will not be part of this, it’s just childish…We have no confidence in that panel and we will not participate in it.
“The Governor was not elected to get involved in this kind of nonsense. Our own focus is to deliver service to our people. So we will not be distracted by this kind of antics by the APC and their media supporters.”
Port Harcourt residents have expressed worry over the emergence of black soot across the city in recent days and the interview also was an opportunity for the Commissioner to address the matter and allay residents’ fears.
He explained that there are a range of factors that experts have suspected as causes of the black soot.
“The hypothesis is that they probably have A-level refining activities around the state. There is also the likelihood of the black soot originating from gas flares by major oil companies and the burning of tyres in some areas as well.
“What they have decided to do is that, rather than pin it down to one cause, why don’t we do test that we determine the actual origin of the black soot.
“The findings are still being awaited,” he said.
Mr Tam-George reiterated an appeal he made in his earlier statement that residents should stop the burning of tyres and major oil companies should “look at ways of using alternative strategies rather than flaring gas”.
He emphasized that the rest of the world is focusing on healthy and sustainable livelihood and the Rivers state government is working with several relevant agencies to ensure that it aligns with the vision to make the state an healthy environment.
The Rivers State government has denied an audio recording released by Sahara Reporters alleged to be that of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, calling it a technological contraption.
According the audio recording, a voice purportedly of Governor Wike is heard in a telephone conversation arranging payment to some persons who are supposedly officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in exchange for their help in rigging the recently concluded legislative elections in the state.
In a statement by the Commissioner of Information, Austin Tam-George, the government said that the Governor had no contact with any INEC official.
The statement reads: “We categorically deny these latest allegations as a sick fabrication, an outright lie.
“Governor Wike never made any contact with INEC officials, in person or by telephone.
“Saharareporters.com is the online propaganda bullhorn of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Their publications are typically false, and the writers are professional hawkers of fiction.
“No one would have thought that the APC and its cowardly media allies would resort to an audio impersonation of Governor Nyesom Wike, using a voice changer technology.
“The voice changer technology is often used by teenagers mainly in South Korea and Japan to launch innocent technological pranks at each other, mainly for laughs.
“The use of such a technology to blackmail a governor is a new criminal low for the APC, a party already widely discredited for its addiction to falsehood.
“The APC and Saharareporters are inmates in the prison of their own lies. We reject the latest blackmail by the APC.”
The Niger State government has urged the people of the state to strengthen their commitment and obligation to the state as well as continue to show their understanding, in the face of the ongoing national economic recession.
The Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Jonathan Vatsa, in a statement, expressed the readiness of Governor Abubakar Bello’s administration, to see the state through the path of greatness despite the recession.
He further stated that the administration had since inception, been positioned to always take the interest of the people above all others, even in the face of challenges.
He said the government highlighted the need for the support of the people to be able to achieve its set objectives.
“We call on all ‘Nigerites’ to meet up with their obligations, such as paying taxes, playing their roles diligently wherever they find themselves, especially if in positions of responsibility, remaining productive by identifying areas of comparative advantages, such as agriculture, and most importantly, protecting public institutions and property,” he stated.
He assured residents that whatever resources were available to the government, would be judiciously used for the best interest of the state emphasising that “since this government came to being, we have not put anybody in doubt about the readiness of the government to block areas of leakages and avoid wastage”.
“We are aware we have a date with history and the restoration agenda in key areas we set to achieve, that is why we are doing everything possible to make sure that we have projects ongoing in every sector of the state’s economy,” Mr Vatsa stated.
This he said was in order “to lubricate the system and also focus on priority areas that have multiplier effect on the people at short, medium and long term basis”.
The Commissioner further urged the people to support the government and show considerable levels of understanding of the economic situation.
He reiterated the need for the support and understanding of the people in tackling the challenges, as the government continues to leverage on the basic tenets of democracy.
“It would also encourage engagements and will be as open as possible, as the economic situation functions along the variables of recovery,” he added.
Police in River State are calling on other security agencies, community leaders and other stakeholders in Port-Harcourt, to seek practical solutions to fighting criminal activities within the state.
During an interactive session with the community, the Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr Francis Odesanya, said that the era of unknown suspects would soon be a thing of the past.
The Commissioner of Police said intelligence gathering and information sharing were imperative in dealing with security challenges in the state as well as Nigeria.
He also urged the stakeholders to come up with urgent and practical ways of dealing with the security situation in the state, which he said required genuine collaboration.
In his words: “Everyone is encouraged to say it as it is”.
Furthermore, the commissioner advocated for the record keeping of the crime history of arrested suspects, as the police paraded suspected criminals with recovered arms and ammunition.
Also at the meeting was the State’s Commissioner of Information, Austin Tam-George, who said the state government had come up with creative ways of checking criminality.
On what they feel about the meeting, residents said that, though it was not the first time such meetings and activities were carried out by the police, they could only expect more to be done to protect their lives and property.
It is World Press Freedom Day and the Niger State government has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding and promoting press freedom.
The government says such freedom will enable it engage the people for open and transparent governance.
The Commissioner of Information, Tourism and Culture in the State, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, made the position of the government known in a statement issued on Tuesday to mark the World Press Freedom Day.
Mr Vatsa assured the media that the present administration in the state viewed press as the fourth estate of the realm, partner in lubricating participatory governance as well as ensuring accountability and fight against corruption to achieve development.
He stated that, the government was desirous to always promote freedom of expression as a way of allowing the people to contribute to the process of governance and leveraging on such expression to make correction when necessary for the overall development of the state.
The Commissioner said: “At this auspicious time of the World Press Freedom Day, the government of Niger State under the leadership of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is assuring all practicing journalists in Niger State the commitment of the government to providing the right avenue legally and genuinely possible to continue in discharge their duties”.
According to him, “just as Governor Bello has always said, our doors are always open to constructive criticism that will help to move our dear state forward. We will always advise our dear friends in the media to practice within the confines of the ethical codes that guide their profession”.
“Once again I congratulate the entire media practitioners in the state, Nigeria and world over on this World Press Freedom Day that is a General Assembly of United Nation declaration to promote freedom of expression”.
Organised labour in Imo State has given the State government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the indefinite suspension of workers in 19 parastatals in the state and the concession of some of the parastatals.
The ultimatum was given after a meeting of the organised labour on Monday in Owerri, the capital of Imo State.
The chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Austin Chilakpu, maintained that the labour unions in the state still had confidence in the state government as a worker-friendly government which had the interest of workers at heart.
For over one week the feud between the state government and labour has continued to generate so much controversies, with the latest being the ultimatum.
The government had on January 15 suspended workers of 19 parastatals and agencies in the state indefinitely, with the concession of some parastatals.
Briefing reporters at the State Secretariat, the state government insisted that the action taken by the government was in the best interest of the people of the state.
Giving the reasons behind the decision, the Commissioner of Information, Chidi Ibeh, said it was taken after a consideration of the present state of the economy.
He said that the state government could no longer continue the payment of salaries and wages of workers in parastatals and agencies that do not contribute any meaningful development to the socio-economic welfare of the state.
At the press conference attended by some other members of the cabinet, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Technical Matters, Ikenna Emeh, gave numeric analysis, saying that the state government does not have any intention to sack workers but to make the state public service more efficient, effective and productive.
Hopefully, before the end of the seven-day ultimatum given by the labour unions in the state, both parties would have arrived at a reasonable conclusion that would favour both parties.
According to the Commissioner, while government is saddened by the development, it wants the people of the state to allow the Police to conduct their investigation instead of speculating.
He said that the government is trying its best possible to find a solution to the present situation but this requires a lot of diplomacy.
“This things require a lot of tact and diplomacy and we are doing that because whenever there is an aggression, there are people who also are aggrieved and something must be done to placate their grieve and that is what the government is doing right now.
“We understand that there are some displaced people’s (IDP) camps in places like Boro, we have dispatched a team of our own humanitarian agency to go and check what is going on,” he said.
While expressing grief over the attacks, Mr Sajoh said that there were chances that it could be the result of a communal clash.
He maintained that the Adamawa State government would wait for the report of investigations and findings by the security agencies before taking further steps.
“We are not deciding on anything for now. We are waiting for security agencies to give us the exact report on their investigations and their findings,” he said.
Niger State Government has urged all the people of the state to strengthen their vigilance during this Christmas season and provide security agencies with information on any suspicious act, in order to have incident free celebrations in the state.
According to a statement from the Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism in the state, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, the government was always ready to leverage on the already established synergy with security organizations in the state to provide security, but the people have a role to play.
Mr Vatsa noted that though the state has always been peaceful, the people should not take any unusual occurrences and people around them for granted because those who want to breach the security of the state may want to hide under the Yuletide to commit crimes.
He stated that for the security agencies to effectively carry out their duties, the people must be ready to co-operate with them by providing the necessary information on undesirable elements and their acts in the state.
According to the Commissioner, apart from various development programmes, like boosting education, health care delivery, Agriculture, as well as women and youth empowerment and providing infrastructures, the administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in the state takes the security of lives and property very seriously.
He added that “it is within the framework of the change agenda that the needed peaceful environment should be provided for development to thrive and we emphasized here that nothing will derail the present administration from ensuring that the people enjoy the outcome of the change they massively voted for”.
“We must expose the mischief makers and those who will want to deny us of the peace we all cherish by giving the security agencies the appropriate information. We should do that in good fate not by raising unnecessary alarms” Vatsa admonished the people of the state particularly and Nigerians in general.
Five people have been confirmed dead at the Tao FM radio station in Kuroko, Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State.
The community radio station was bombed by some unknown gunmen at about 8pm on Monday.
An eyewitness who spoke to our Lokoja correspondent on telephone said that the bombers entered the premises of the radio station pretending to come for commercial purpose and were allowed access by the security guard.
He said after gaining access to the building they headed straight to the operation room were they threw the explosive inside the building, killing five people – the security men and the Chief Engineer.
The Kogi State Commissioner of Police, Mr Ogunjemilusi, who confirmed the incident, however said that he could not confirm the number of casualties at the time.
He stated that there was dynamite explosion on the part of the building housing the station.
He added that security had been beefed up in the area while investigation was on going.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the station, Dr. Tom Adaba and the Kogi State Commissioner of Information, Zainab Suleiman, have also confirmed the bombing.