By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government in collaboration with states is considering an Operation Feed Yourself initiative to encourage the establishment of urban farms and small home gardens.
The Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed this at a High-Level Meeting on Nutrition attended by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs Amina Mohammed, State Governors, representatives of development partners including UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Aliko Dangote Foundation, and convener of the UN Food System Dialogue, Mrs Olusola Idowu who is also the Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning Ministry.
The Operation Feed Yourself scheme is one of three major plans arising from the UN-backed Food Systems Dialogues, to advance the fight against malnutrition to be championed by the National Economic Council and the National Council on Nutrition.
Others are providing support to farmers across the country, especially by providing useful weather and soil pattern information that will improve farming yields, and also encouraging State Governments to ensure prompt release of budget for nutrition and related activities.
At the meeting, presentations were made by the Deputy Secretary-General, the Dialogue Convener, the Oyo State government which already has an integrated farming model, and the Director-General, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) on how weather information can be helpful to farmers.
According to the Vice President, “there are practical steps that can be taken by the States and Federal Government in the next 12 months.
“I think that some of the suggestions are important, especially those that have come from the UN Food System Dialogue.”
The VP listed the different stages as; the establishment of Agribusiness Investment Hubs or farm settlements; the establishment of urban farms and homestead gardens by individuals and schools; the adoption of weather information to support farming; leveraging the support of the UN agencies and other partners for nutrition activities, and the call on MDAs and States to release funding for nutrition activities.
“States and the FGN will promote what the convener has described as “Operation Feed Yourself”. This is more of the establishment of urban farms and homestead gardens. This is simply something that we think should be a mass appeal to citizens in the States, and the encouragement we can give them so that individuals and schools develop their own farms or homestead gardens,” the VP noted.
“This obviously not only helps individuals and families but the excess can be sold to others and generally improve food security.
“The establishment of Agribusiness Investment Hubs or farm settlements or farm estates or any variety of those kinds of integrated farming arrangements will improve food and nutrition security. What we are recommending is the sort of model that Oyo State has or any of the variety that States have. That sort is obviously recommended because of the way that it is structured and the obviously good result that they have been getting.”
Speaking specifically about the funding of nutrition and related activities by MDAs and states, the VP noted that “this is something that we have made a point of importance even at the National Economic Council meetings.
“It is one of the action points as defined in the food transformation pathways which we already have issued and we are hoping that these budget releases will be specifically directed at the action points defined in the transformation pathways because these are ways by which we have identified that we can gain maximum traction in food security.”
“We urge the States to budget adequately for nutrition. Each MDA and State should adopt the national priority list, make budgetary provisions for those who haven’t concluded their 2022 annual budgets. I think there is still time to make adequate budgetary provision for nutrition in the 2022 budgets,” the VP added.
Mr Osinbajo urged state governments to adopt partnerships that can be effective in scaling up nutrition and related activities.
He said “it is also clear that we can leverage on the support of the UN Agencies and other partners like the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank as well as our development partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Aliko Dangote Foundation.
“The Aliko Dangote Foundation was able to show what they have been doing especially with de-risking facilities that could be used by farmers in the various localities all over the country,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Mr Kayode Fayemi, said despite dwindling financial resources, the States will continue to “push on the frontier of improvement in nutritional issues.”
Also in a brief remark, the Chairman of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Mr Sanusi Lamido, urged relevant authorities to leverage technology to address the challenge of shortage of rainfall to boost farming activities in parts of the country.
Aside from the Convener of the Food Systems Dialogue, Mrs Olusola Idowu, the DG of NiMet, Prof. Mansur Matazu, and the Executive Adviser to the Oyo State Governor on Agriculture, Dr Debo Akande, the representatives of the FCDO and the Aliko Dangote Foundation also made presentations at the meeting.
BEDC Promises to Restore Electricity to Delta Community
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has promised to restore electricity to the Agbarho community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
This was disclosed by the Head of the Community Relations of BEDC, Mr Simple Ugherakpoteri, at a meeting between the company and leaders of the community.
He explained that the prolonged power outage in the community was caused by a heavy downpour that destroyed electric poles.
He stated that BEDC’s men were already working and power will be restored immediately they are through.
Mr Ugherakpoteri also promised to look into the issue of overbilling and estimated bills complained about by the community.
Responding on behalf of the community, President General of Agbarho Urhobo Improvement Union, Mr Monday Igho-Odiphri, described the meeting as fruitful and expressed hope that power will be restored to the community as soon as possible.
He urged BEDC officials to keep to their own part of the agreement and promised to give all necessary assistance, assuring that the BEDC office will not be relocated from the community.
Recently, members of the Delta community took to the streets to protest against the incessant power outage in the area and outrageous estimated bills being imposed on them by the company.
BEDC is responsible for the retail distribution of electricity in Delta, Edo, Ekiti, and Ondo States with geographical coverage of 55,770 square kilometres.
The company operates from 25 business districts with approximately 350 offices located across the four states with about 13 million people and about 4 million households.
The DisCo is the 4th largest in distribution capacity and 3rd largest in the number of households among the Distribution Companies (Discos) in Nigeria.
Apprehension Over AMCON MD’s Visit to EFCC
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The visit of the Managing Director of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr Ahmed Kuru, to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already causing apprehension.
Mr Kuru was reportedly grilled by the anti-graft agency on Wednesday after he was invited by the organisation for questioning.
Already, it is being speculated that his ordeal with the EFCC may be connected with the plans by AMCON to name and shame chronic debtors, who took loans from commercial banks but refused to repay as promised.
Yesterday, the AMCON MD was grilled by the agency over allegations bordering on the diversion of assets and the sale of the properties to his associates at ridiculous prices.
According to reports, Mr Kuru allegedly sold properties valued at billions of naira belonging to Atlantic to another despite a court case on the assets.
Atlantic was accused of loan default with Skye Bank and the properties in collateral were seized and allegedly sold below the prevailing market value while the action was instituted in court.
Amid these accusations, the EFCC is yet to comment at the time of filing this report.
AMCON is an agency set up by the federal government to acquire all toxic loans of commercial banks, with the aim of recovering them.
In November 2021, the agency submitted a list containing its top 1,000 obligors owing N4.4 trillion to the National Assembly.
Mr Kuru had said with the support of the parliament and the Judiciary, recovering the total current exposure on all Eligible Bank Asset (EBAs), which stands at N4.4 trillion, may be possible before the sunset period.
He had lamented that more recently, due to the socio-economic downturn, the market values of assets have significantly reduced, lower than the valuation at the point of EBAs purchase, making it extremely difficult to consummate sales transactions.
“To enable AMCON to succeed in its national call to duty, AMCON solicits the continued support of this Distinguished Committee. The Judiciary must be encouraged to respect the provisions of the law that require them to fast-track cases before them, issue certificates of judgement on properties, which the Corporation has no collateral and demand debtors to deposit Judgment sum before proceeding to appeal any judgement,” he had stated.
NSCDC Denies Operating Illegal Oil Bunkering Site
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has debunked the rumour that its marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro jetty, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, was an illegal oil bunkering site.
This was made known by the Rivers State Commandant of NSCDC, Mr Aliyu Bature, who explained that the Ogbogoro jetty has remained its marine exhibits yard for over 10 years.
He added that every marine exhibit like boats, vessels, barges drums, arrested by or handed over to the Corps by sister agencies for oil theft are usually detained at the yard, pending investigation and court prosecution.
This follows claims made by Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman, Mr George Ariolu, that the NSCDC marine exhibits yard in Ogbogoro was being used for illegal bunkering activities.
In the reaction to the allegation, Mr Bature disclosed that the NSCDC Commandant General, Mr Abubakar Audi, in December 2021 visited the said yard, maintaining that it was a known fact that the yard has been the Corps’ marine exhibits yard.
The agency said some of the exhibits, including 220 drums of AGO and eight Cotonou boats in the yard were seized by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the NSCDC last week, while other vessels were taken by operatives of the Corps.
He disclosed that the agency has got an intelligence report that hoodlums were planning to attack the yard, by setting it ablaze in order to destroy the exhibits, assuring that such plans will be strongly resisted.
“This place is our marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump. Most of the exhibits here were arrested by the Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests too were made by us.
“The commandant general was here in December and he’s aware that this place is our exhibits yard.
“The Commandant General has deployed personnel to ensure the place is secured, Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying this place means destroying the exhibits to prove that these products were all stolen.
“We had it on good authority that hoodlums were planning to attack this place in order to destroy the exhibits and we will not allow that,” the statement said.
The NSCDC also urged members of the public to report any personnel of the organisation who is involved in the business of aiding and abetting oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism, warning that the agency will not hesitate to show such person the way out.
“If any of our personnel is caught, please report the person to us and we will discipline the person accordingly.
“The NSCDC leadership does not in any way condone acts of indiscipline. We are charged to protect critical national assets and if any of our personnel is involved, we will not take it likely.
“That is why those who were in charge of the anti-vandal unit have been disbanded, and are being investigated currently by the committee set up by the Commandant General,” the statement said.
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