Nigeria on Brink of Severe Food Insecurity—UN Report
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria is one of the countries on the brink of severe levels of food insecurity and could potentially fall into famine within three to six months as the coronavirus pandemic erodes people’s ability to access food, a new United Nations report warned on Friday.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, alongside Burkina Faso, Yemen, and South are the countries mentioned in the Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots report conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
It was found that millions of people who were already facing hunger are on the brink of famine as the pandemic plunders employment, disrupts agricultural activities, slashes remittances and sends crude prices spiralling.
“We are at a catastrophic turning point. Once again, we face the risk of famine in four different parts of the world at the same time,” said Mrs Margot van der Velden, WFP director of emergencies.
It was disclosed that the four countries were already facing a dangerous combination of conflict, mass displacement, economic crisis and climate and agricultural calamity and with COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions and lockdowns, the condition has worsened.
According to Mr Luca Russo, an agricultural economist at FAO, up to 80 per cent of the people experiencing acute food insecurity are farmers, herders, fishers and foresters, noting that COVID-19 has disrupted their ability to work their land, care for their animals, go fishing and access markets to sell their produce.
“They have little cash reserves to fall back on and could be forced to abandon their livelihoods,” Russo warned. “Once a poor family does that, getting back on their feet again becomes difficult.”
“Declines in farming household mean that poor farming families will have less money to buy food and meet critical needs. The amount available for other expenses like education, health spending will be cut. So we are not just talking about hunger here,” Mr Russo added.
The FAO and WFP analysis lists another 16 countries and territories – from Haiti to Zimbabwe – as at risk of rising levels of acute hunger and urges developed countries to take urgent action to avoid an international food emergency.
By 2019, 135 million people were facing a food crisis or emergency in 55 countries and territories.
The Hotspots report warns that unless critical action is taken fast, the world could experience its first outbreak of famine since it was last declared in 2017 in parts of South Sudan.
Famine is the most severe of five phases used by the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system to chart escalating degrees of food insecurity.
Lagos Laments Return of Commercial Motorcycles in Eti-Osa, Others
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Lagos State Government has maintained operations of commercial motorcycles in 10 local government areas (LGAs), and 15 local council development areas (LCDAs) across the state remained prohibited.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa, made this disclosure over the weekend when he toured some of the restricted areas.
He lamented the return of Okadas in these areas, noting that law enforcement agencies have been given the directive to ensure the ban is adhered to.
The state government in 2022 prohibited commercial motorcycles in Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Somolu, Mushin, Apapa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Surulere and Eti-Osa LGAs and Ojodu, Onigbongbo, Lagos Island East, Yaba, Coker-Aguda. Itire-Ikate, Eti-Osa West, Iru Victoria Island, Ikoyi-Obalende, Ikosi-Isheri, Agboyi-Ketu, Isolo, Ejigbo, Bariga and Odi-Olowo LCDAs.
While urging both riders and passengers to desist from contravening the ban, the Special Adviser implored the general public to comply as both the riders and passengers are liable to three years in prison if apprehended and prosecuted.
He added that motorcycles impounded will be crushed in line with the provision of Section 46, sub-section 1, 2 & 3 of the Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018.
Mr Giwa, therefore, solicited the support of residents towards ensuring full compliance with all government policies, noting that despite the available existing interventions and viable alternatives provided for okada operators, which were expected to cushion the effect of the ban on their livelihood, the recalcitrant riders have refused to take advantage of them.
He revealed that some of the viable alternatives had been made available for the operators by the State Government through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Ministry of Wealth Creations and Employment, Office of Civic Engagement, Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme (LEAP) and the Ministry of Agriculture (Agric YES), among others.
He also said the state government’s First and Last Mile Bus Transport Scheme, the BRT Scheme, the Lagos e-hailing taxi Scheme (LAGRIDE), and other sustainable modes of transportation were also part of interventions provided to minimise the inconveniences of the motoring public in executing their daily activities.
The Governor’s aide averred that the position of the state government on okada is very clear, stressing that there is no going back in order to consolidate on the achievements made so far in the decrease in the accident and crime rates as well as the return of sanity to the communities within the state.
The Special Adviser averred that the security agencies who have been partnering with the state government, including the Nigeria Police Force, the Army, Navy and Air Force, are still prepared to sustain enforcement on all the banned corridors; this is in addition to the operations of the State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Anti-Okada Squad.
ILO Lauds Nigeria on Pro-Labour Commitments, Policies
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has commended Nigeria for its unprecedented commitment to tripartism, social dialogue, and decent work, as evident in its policies.
This commendation came from the ILO Director General, Mr Gilbert Houngbo, when he received the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, at the weekend in Geneva, Switzerland.
In a statement issued by Mr Olajide Oshundun, the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, it was disclosed that the minister was in Geneva to attend his last Governing Body meeting of the ILO before the wrap-up of President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year tenure.
Mr Ngige presented to the ILO boss with two instruments comprising conventions 1975 (143) on Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention and Convention 1997 (181) on Private Employment Agencies, which Nigeria ratified.
Mr Houngbo, while receiving the conventions, said he noted the renewed passion and commitment that the Nigerian government had given to tripartism, social dialogue and decent work in the past few years.
According to him, this is making it possible to ratify four conventions in a year.
“I recall that Nigeria’s Minister was here in November 2022 to deposit two ratified instruments – Conventions 2006 C (187) on Promotional framework for occupational safety and Health and 2019 C (190) on Violence and Harassment.
“Also, in less than five months, the nation has ratified and deposited two additional conventions. That is quite commendable,” Mr Houngbo said.
The Togolese also noted the contributions of Nigeria’s Minister of Labour to the Governing Body and the Congress since 2016 while describing him as “knowledgeable and industrious”.
“He has been a great voice in the Governing Body, and we will appreciate it if he keeps in touch with the ILO even after his present tenure as Nigeria’s Minister.”
On his part, Mr Ngige, while depositing the ratified Conventions C143 and C181, said they are critical in widening the employment net and decent jobs in the world of work.
He also noted that the conventions would reinforce Nigeria’s capacity and enhance cooperation with other countries in protecting migrant workers through ethical recruitment.
“These conventions will enhance remittance flow and optimise the benefits of organised labour migration in our country.
“It will go further to reinforce our ability to enter into a Bilateral Labour Agreement (BLA) or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with destination countries who have ratified the same Convention,” Ngige said.
The minister added that the ratification of these conventions was painstakingly put together, passing through the deliberative crucible of stakeholder dialogue as well as the workshop.
He said that this was to properly align them with relevant national laws and policies, including the Labour Act CAP LI, National Policy on Labour Migration, National Employment Policy as well as National Migration Policy.
“In due diligence and legislative scrutiny, we ensured that these two ratified conventions are in tune with the International Labour Migration Division and National Electronic Labour Exchange (ILMD/NELEX) to manage organised labour migration in and out of the country.
“They are also in line with our objectives in establishing Job Centres and Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) to promote employment services and safe migration in Nigeria.
“In November 2022, when I deposited two conventions ratified by Nigeria, I did not hint to the Director General that we had about four others still in the mills.
“I kept it close to the chest that we will soon bring them after ratification. Today, we have two of these ratified instruments, signed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari,” the minister added.
IPMAN Backs Appointment of Cordier by NNPC
By Adedapo Adesanya
Following a spate of backlash faced by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited over the appointment of a French-Swiss national, Mr Jean-Marc Cordier, as the head of the company’s oil trading subsidiary, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has shown solidarity with the state oil company.
NNPC recently announced Mr Cordier to head NNPC Trading Limited, making him the second after another expatriate, Mr Hubb Stockman, who heads NNPCL Retail Limited.
The announcement of the employment of foreigners to head NNPC Ltd subsidiaries has triggered mixed reactions among Nigerians, especially since the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board is targeting 70 per cent Nigerian content in the oil and gas sector by 2027.
IPMAN, reacting to this, said the decision of NNPC Limited to engage foreigners was the best innovation for Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, as it shows that NNPCL was committed to operational effectiveness and efficiency of the downstream sector of the industry.
IPMAN Chairman in Rivers State, Mr Joseph Obele, said before now, marketers had to bribe and lobby to get product allocation from NNPC.
This, he claims, will end, as he charged the new bosses to ensure the necessary things are done.
He also tasked Mr Stockman to end the suffering of marketers by introducing the seamless application, approval, and allocation of products to marketers.
Mr Obele urged the management of NNPC Limited not to be distracted by the protesters, who he described as friends of the corrupt regime and enemies of reformations and also tasked them to engage more foreigners to handle key offices.
“The decision to engage foreigners is the best innovation for the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil & gas industry, and we found nothing wrong with the development as it will usher in a corrupt free system. It will eradicate ethnic dominance, survival of the fittest, jumping the queue, bribery, and religious connections.
“Evidence and observations show that engagement of a foreigner in the person of Mr Hubb Stockman as the Managing Director of NNPCL Retail Ltd. has brought a series of reformations in the downstream sector as it concerns retail outlets.
“It takes less than one hour to apply for a product on the portal and get approval electronically. You don’t need to make any phone calls, beg or neither bribe anyone to get your allocation as a licensed Petroleum Marketer with NNPC Retail Ltd.
“Before now, you will have a make several phone calls, bribe some officers, travel to Abuja for lobbying or contact someone who knows someone for you to get your allocation.
“Mr Hubb Stockman is less than five months in office as the Managing Director of NNPC Retail Ltd, and the achievements are obvious for all to see.
“The process of applying for allocation is now automated courtesy of Mr Hubb Stockman’s team. Petroleum Marketers now apply for Products from the comfort of their homes and get approval automatically without any stress.
“The automated system is configured in such a way that each Marketer gets one truck within seven days. This is a great achievement for us in the industry, as it has eradicated the dichotomy between super marketers and lesser Marketers. Each marketer gets one truck of PMS per retail outlet in seven days irrespective of the status of the Marketer.”
The IPMAN chairman also revealed that it was easier to access the expatriates than it was difficult to access other Nigerian managers, drawing on a recent experience.
“Recently, we visited Mr Hubb Stockman in his office in Abuja, it didn’t take five minutes to see him, and you don’t need to pass through any Personal Assistant or junior manager to see him. Family members and friends of previous Managing Directors of PPMC will make things difficult for anyone to see the MD in the office. The case is different with foreigners in the office as we speak, you can reach him on the phone anytime, and you can see him in the office as a marketer without connections.
“With the recent reforms in the sector, you don’t even need to see or visit the MD for any reason. Nigerians should be watchful to ascertain the intent of those that are aggrieved with the engagement of foreigners to head key subsidiaries of NNPC Ltd.
“We had earlier alerted that the beneficiaries of the bottleneck administration will not be comfortable with the reformations. The expatriation process involves many technical and professional aspects.”
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