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1,500 Niger Delta Amnesty Beneficiaries to Get NIRSAL Loans

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Niger Delta

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) is set to extend the single-digit interest loans to 1,500 ex-agitators trained under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in the Niger Delta region.

According to a statement, Mr Milland Dikio, the Interim Administrator of PAP said the initiative is part of the efforts to raise the economic prospects of people of the region by attracting financial support for small and medium scale enterprises.

He urged the beneficiaries to judiciously use the NIRSAL loans to become successful entrepreneurs, warning them against misuse of the facility, adding that diverting the facility would create more hardship for them and the region.

NIRSAL is a Central Bank of Nigeria backed programme targeted for entrepreneurs in the agricultural value chain at a concessionary interest rate of nine per cent.

The training, which took place at designated centres in Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States, was in continuation of a programme for NIRSAL loans which PAP commenced in November 2021.

Represented by the Head of Reintegration, Mr Alfred Kemepado, Mr Dikio said that the training would help the beneficiaries of the loan to grow their businesses and mitigate risks, saying that the focus was to facilitate and enhance single-digit interest loans for entrepreneurs in the region.

At the Yenagoa and Port Harcourt Centers, Mr Dikio who spoke through his Special Adviser on Projects, Mr Godwin Ekpo asked the beneficiaries to form cooperatives and focus on agriculture.

“The facilitators were very engaging and it just gives us hope and we are hopeful that once we are done with this set and we go into the next batches, the subsequent things we will do with these people will yield results.

“We have asked them to form themselves into cooperatives, look at the Agriculture value chain, production, processing, packaging and logistics end to see where they fit in.

“A lot of them have shown interest and I am hoping that maybe by tomorrow they will form themselves into different clusters in the value chain of several products.

“We are saying to everybody that cares to hear is that the Niger Delta is ready for development. Come back to the Niger Delta, come back and invest here. We are ready to receive you and we are ready to support you.” Mr Dikio said.

In Warri, through a senior Reintegration Officer in PAP, Mr Benjamin Appah, he explained how the beneficiaries were drawn across the region for the various centres.

“The names were compiled across impacted communities, PAP success stories, PAP cooperatives and the documented bonafide beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.

“We received the names through their camp leaders, their cooperatives and the post-training units.

“We also gathered from the success stories of people who have been previously empowered by the amnesty office and are doing well in their businesses.

“So the office of the Interim Administrator thought it wise to say that since they are doing well in their businesses, why don’t we help them expand.

“This loan is a scheme organized by the Federal government of Nigeria.

“However, PAP decided to bridge that gap and facilitate training by engaging a consultant who will train beneficiaries and show them the prerequisite of accessing the loan and also guide them through getting a credible business plan.

“In a nutshell, the current PAP administration is trying to facilitate the access for the beneficiaries to benefit from the Federal Government’s single-digit collateral-free loan programme.

“All the beneficiaries have to do is come down to their training centres, receive their training, and the office is responsible for all the other expenses that qualify them,” Mr Appah said.

Certificates of participation were issued to the beneficiaries across all centres at the end of the five-day workshop.

The certificate qualified the beneficiaries for other Central Bank of Nigeria, accredited loans, grants and credit facilities.

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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IGP Authorises Stop & Search, Raids, Others to Tackle Crime

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IGP alkali Tinted Permits

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the deployment of adequate security around schools, hospitals, and critical national infrastructures across the country.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said the IGP has also ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality in some states of the federation.

“The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the deployment of water-tight security arrangements to cover all schools, hospitals, health workers, and critical national infrastructures around the country,” the statement added.

“The IGP has equally ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids, and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality recorded in some states of the federation,” it further said.

Mr Baba gave the directive while reviewing the reports he received from various commands and formations on the general security situations across the country.

He tasked strategic police managers at various levels to prioritize the use of intelligence gathering networks while charging officers and men of the force to take the fight against crime to the doorsteps of suspected criminal elements with a view to flushing them from their hideouts.

The IGP also called for the cooperation of members of the public, warning police officers to be civil, professional, and humane in the course of discharging their duties.

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SERAP Begs INEC to Allow 7 million Nigerians Complete Voter Registration

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inec electoral bill

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow seven million Nigerians to complete their voter registration.

SERAP made the call in a statement on Sunday through its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, warning that the failure of the electoral body to grant this request could attract legal action.

According to the rights group, INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at physical centres.

SERAP believes that the right to vote is also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process so that it can be effectively exercised.

“The right to vote is not merely the right to cast a ballot but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised,” the statement read.

“Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians and denying them the time and opportunity to complete their registration cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.

“Denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters,” it submitted.

The organisation noted that, “According to a report released by INEC, out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 Nigerians representing 32.8 per cent, completed the process at a physical centre. 7,043,594 Nigerians carried out their pre-registration but are yet to complete the process at a physical centre.

“This represents over 67 per cent of those who began their registration process online.

“According to INEC, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians completed their voter registration; 8,854,566 of which were persons who did their registration entirely at a physical centre.

“The over seven million Nigerians have already completed their registration online, that is, via INEC online portal by providing their biodata and required documents.”

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FG Threatens CCECC Over Drawback in Rail Contract

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CCECC China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has threatened to sanction the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for not meeting up with the agreement of providing 85 per cent of rail project costs in a move that could signify friction.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Mu’azu Sambo, at the inspection of the Lekki Deep Seaport on Saturday in Lagos.

According to Mr Sambo, the projects are the Kano-Kaduna and the Maiduguri-Port Harcourt rail lines.

“The CCECC has not brought anything to the table. I gave them a deadline which is October 30, if I don’t get that money on the ground, I know what to advise Mr President to do,” he said.

He expressed satisfaction with the Lekki Deep Seaport project, noting that the initiatives were to ensure the smooth evacuation of cargo at the port.

He said that for part-time, the road was being expanded, adding that the government was looking into it, and for medium-term, barges would take care of it.

“I am impressed and happy to be back here. This we know is the pride of all Nigerians, the first deep seaport in West Africa that will take the largest ship in the world has 16.5 meters deep, and will give us hundreds and thousands of jobs.

“Almost automated not fully but automated enough to make life easy for port operations.

“It is initiatives like this we want to encourage, that is why I did not hesitate when I came to the ministry and I saw a proposal of the Badagry Deep Seaport sitting on my table and took it immediately for approval.

“Also, the president is concerned about cargo evacuation at the port and does not want a repeat of the Apapa and TinCan port and so we cannot rely on the road alone which is not the best option.

“There is a need to sit down with stakeholders to see how to tackle this,” he said.

He pointed out that cargo evacuation was not just within the port but outside the port, as goods must reach the final destination.

“First of all, you save a lot of time at the port because of automation and modern technology and equipment.

“After the port what happens, it only makes sense when the goods get to the shipper or owner. And to do that, you need to move either by rail, water, or road,” he said.

Mr Sambo urged the management of the port to employ as many Nigerians as possible as this was the only way citizens could put food on the table for their families.

On his part, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, noted that the Lekki Deep Seaport was one of the first solutions to reducing traffic at Apapa and TinCan.

According to Mr Bello-Koko, the automation deployed at the port is commendable and fantastic as the processes will be free of human interference.

He said that the Apapa and TinCan port would still be viable, adding that what they had done was to create alternatives for importers and exporters as to where they would decide to do business.

“The operators of those ports should also up their game, and improve their speed in terms of cargo clearance or otherwise.

“Feasibility studies have shown that these ports will still be viable in future like 10, 15 years, the government can decide to turn some of these ports into a real estate, we have some of them in Europe,” Mr Bello-Koko said.

Mr Du Ruogang, the Managing Director, Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd. (Lekki Port), said that the port was 95 per cent completed, adding that they would meet the targeted time.

Mr Ruogang appreciated the NPA for deploying marine services such as tug, pilot, lines, boats and harbour master before the operations of the port.

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