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Afe Babalola Donates N13.2m to Revamp Agriculture in Ekiti

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Afe Babalola

By Adedapo Adesanya

Legal luminary and educator, Mr Afe Babalola, has donated N13.2 million to outstanding farmers in Ekiti State as part of efforts to encourage farming and lift farmers financially.

Mr Babalola, who is also the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), is reputed to be the largest farmer and highest taxpayer in Ekiti State.

The gifting of money to farmers took place on Sunday at the grand finale of this year’s edition of the Annual Afe Babalola Agricultural Expo and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Youth Empowerment, held at the university’s sports pavilion.

According to a statement, Mr Aribasoye Emmanuel, from Ado Local Government Area, got the star prize of N2 million as the overall best farmer in the state for the year.

The five best farmers in each of the 16 Local Government Areas in the state got N250,000, N150,000, N100,000, N75,000 and N50,000 respectively.

Mr Babalola said distributing money to hardworking farmers on annual basis was a fulfilment of his dream.

“This is in the realisation of my dream. It all started like a dream which translated into reality in 2015.

“The dream was my burning desire to make people realise that farming is a divine vocation.

“It is also part of my individual contributions to ongoing efforts at revitalising farming as well as reducing unemployment in the country.

“Another reason why I started this Expo was that I found it utmost painful that many Nigerians have abandoned farming for white-collar or menial jobs and also for no jobs.

“There was a time in this country when whatever one’s profession was, such a person would still have a small garden at the back of his house, if only for vegetables, tomatoes, pepper and garden eggs, among others,” he said.

He also used the opportunity to appeal to the federal government to establish a special Agriculture Bank, which will be completely different from those before it

He said the establishment of the structure would help farmers obtain loans at low-interest rates with their cooperative societies serving as guarantors.

He, however, expressed regret that farming in Nigeria has suddenly become abandoned and unattractive.

“Farming has been abandoned in Nigeria today and Nigeria is the worse for it.

“For instance, there was a time when Ekiti State alone was producing 52 per cent of the Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) of the defunct Western Region.

“Today, Ekiti State is the poorest state in Nigeria. In fact, there was no beggar in Ekiti State at that time as everyone was gainfully employed, but today beggars are found everywhere.

“Regretfully, Ekiti State has become the poverty capital of Nigeria,” Mr Babalola bemoaned.

“Also, no thanks to the spate of insecurity ranging from kidnapping, robbery and invasion by herdsmen ravaging the country, life is no longer safe at home, on the farm, on the road or even in classrooms.

“The combination of these ills has led many farms to be destroyed with many farmers having to abandon their farms.

“Despite all these, Ekiti State farmers have been able to forge ahead. I believe in farming because I grew up on the farm and I am still a farmer as many of you know,” he said.

He added that he included the study of agriculture in the curriculum of his university, with a 50 per cent slash in tuition fee for the course.

“In my university, we provide seed money for graduates of agriculture to start their own businesses.

“That was why in addition to all of these, in 2015, I thought of how to improve the lot of our farmers.

“That is why I started this programme. I started with a prize of N5 million, but it has risen over the years, thus this year, we are giving out N13.2 million,” he said.

The Local Organising Committee Chairman and UNESCO Chair in Entrepreneurship Education for Sustainable Development, Mr Abiodun Ojo, also made a donation of 48 spraying machines to select farmers.

He said that partnering with ABUAD was to commend the good work which Aare Afe Babalola was doing to return agriculture to its old days of glory.

Mr Olugbenga Odesanmi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Ekiti State commended Babalola’s efforts and promised the government’s enabling environment at all times.

On her part, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of ABUAD, Professor Smaranda Olarinde, appreciated the founder’s gesture to farmers.

She said that the best way the beneficiaries could show gratitude to him was to invest wisely, the monies received so they would be able to fend for themselves and also provide employment for others.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Ellah Lakes, Enugu Government Seal Rice Processing Deal

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Ellah Lakes

By Dipo Olowookere

A Nigerian agribusiness company, Ellah Lakes Plc, has sealed an agreement with the Enugu State government for the processing of rice aimed to improve food security in the state and the nation at large.

The chief executive of the firm, Mr Chuka Mordi, described the deal as “a significant landmark for the company in fulfilling our strategic objective of diversifying our portfolio and production base.”

Ellah Lakes said in a statement that with the partnership, it will transform the Ada Rice Company and Plantation in Adani, Uzo-Uwani LGA, into a Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) in Enugu State.

This is expected to create not less than 5,000 jobs over the next 24 months as the company will have the opportunity to establish a feed mill and ethanol processing plant on the site in Adani.

Business Post reports that Adani community is well-known for the cultivation and production of rice but due to poor infrastructure and support of the government, it has suffered low patronage.

This partnership between the Enugu State government and Ellah Lakes should change the narrative for good and boost local production of rice.

In the statement issued on Wednesday by Ellah Lakes, a company listed on the trading platform of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, work is scheduled to begin immediately in Adani.

“Ellah Lakes is happy to announce that it has entered into an agreement with the Enugu State Government, through the Enugu State Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, for the expansion and further development of the Ada Rice Company and plantation in Adani, Uzo-Uwani LGA, into a Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) in Enugu State, Nigeria.

“Ellah Lakes will produce and process rice with the participation of over 200 indigenous farmers in the local out-grower program. Ellah Lakes will also develop a feed mill and ethanol processing plant on the site in Adani.

“The development is expected to create a minimum of 5,000 jobs over the next 24 months, and work is scheduled to begin immediately,” a part of the statement disclosed.

“This is a significant landmark for the company in fulfilling our strategic objective of diversifying our portfolio and production base, and we are very excited to be working with the Enugu State Government.

“We are very pleased with this collaboration with the very progressive government of Enugu State. For us, this is the beginning of a great journey to expand the industrial base of the state, and we look forward to a mutually beneficial, valuable and fruitful venture,” Mr Mordi was quoted as saying.

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Economy

Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Rewards Customers

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Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers scheme

Ahead of the festive season, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers, Nigeria’s largest Pension Fund Administrator (PFA), has unveiled the Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Loyalty Program tagged Umatter.

It is a reward scheme targeted at the customers of the PFA, to reward them for their loyalty and patronage through exclusive discounts as they shop with their e-loyalty card.

The loyalty program is available at the PFA’s partner merchants’ locations and stores across the nation. It is aimed at providing Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers’ customers with exciting shopping discounts to help them spend less and save more when they shop.

Some of the participating merchant outlets are Maybrands, Café Royale, Hubmart Stores, Chocolate Royal, La Campagne Tropicana, Physio Centers of Africa, Medplus, iStore, Oriki, Launderland and Active Leisure.  The discounts range from 5 to 12 per cent on products and services purchased.

Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers’ partnerships with these major outlets will enable customers to seamlessly enjoy instant discounts on their purchases during this festive period, thereby making life even more easy and affordable for customers who use the Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers e-loyalty card.

Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers will continue to initiate valuable programs like this that encourage people to continue saving for their retirement and building their financial future.

New and existing customers can be a part of this exciting loyalty program by visiting www.stanbicibtcpension.com or calling 01 271 6000.

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Economy

FG to Inject N381trn into Economy to Create Job, Tackle Poverty

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Nigeria Economy challenges

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government is partnering with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to inject N381 trillion into the economy to cushion the growing rate of poverty, job losses and economic degradation in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the Director-General of the Fund, Mr Joseph Ari, during a media interaction with the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Jos.

Mr Ari said the federal government came up with a 5-year National Development Plan tied around the sum of money to be able to achieve this aim.

He said the plan will replace the initial Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP).

According to him: “The plan, which projects the creation of 21 million jobs, with 35 million Nigerians lifted out of poverty, affordable housing for Nigerians and an export-led economy among others, is expected to cost N381 trillion to implement and have six focal areas of economic growth and development, infrastructure, public administration, human capital development, social development and regional development.

“As the leading human capital development institution in Nigeria, we have commenced the process of repositioning our programmes and activities to effectively prepare the Nation’s workforce in line with our mandate of developing a pool of qualified Nigerians to man the public and private sectors of the national economy as we believe that for this plan to succeed, all Nigerians as individual citizens and as institutions must contribute their bit.

“You will recall that on the assumption of office in 2016, the economy was in recession leading to massive job losses and corresponding increases in poverty.

“Our initiatives then particularly the emphasis on skills intervention programmes was borne out of the need to drive the actualization of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP), which we achieved to an appreciable degree by training hundreds of thousands of Nigerians that are today gainfully employed or even employers of labour,” Mr Ari said.

He, however, lauded the media for a robust coverage of the Funds activities over the years, saying that the media has been critical in return of peace in the state.

“Beyond this, fora such as we are holding today have been critical to the return of peace in plateau state, thereby creating the necessary environment for our organisation to thrive especially within the last five years on account of your professionalism and determined efforts to rise above sensationalism, headline-grabbing and petty politics,” Mr Ari said.

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