By Aduragbemi Omiyale
An expert in development economics, Mr Rufus Idris, has been appointed as the new Nigeria Country Director for Heifer International.
The seasoned development specialist with cross-cultural experience spanning over 17 years was chosen to lead the Nigerian operations of the organisation and operationalize its global mission and strategy in Africa’s largest and most populous economy.
It was gathered that the new appointee assumed his duties in June 2021 and has already set the ball rolling.
“I am excited to join Heifer International as the Nigeria Country Director and to lead its innovative and inclusive in-country programs to end hunger and poverty, leveraging the creativity of our young women and men, new technologies, and strong public-private partnerships to unlock Nigeria’s potential for food sufficiency and a sustainable living income,” Mr Idris said.
The Senior Vice President for Africa Programs at Heifer International, Adesuwa Ifedi, while commenting on the choice of Mr Idris for the exalted position, stated that, “Rufus’s proven capacity as an administrator, mobiliser and excellent team player will serve him well in his new role as Country Director for Heifer Nigeria.
“His appointment will deepen Heifer’s interventions and support for Nigeria’s food systems resilience and sustainability agenda. I trust that he will provide the much-needed operational acumen required for Heifer International’s transformational journey in the years ahead.”
Mr Idris is an expert who has developed and led innovative economic development programs in Nigeria and the United States.
As Country Director for Heifer Nigeria, he will provide the leadership and the strategic focus required to develop and leverage public-private partnerships, implementing market-driven programs that address the systemic constraints and stimulating lasting market systems improvements for farmers to attain sustainable living incomes.
Prior to joining Heifer International, he served as Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, a five-year program aimed at strengthening the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment in five key value chains (rice, cowpea, soya, maize and aquaculture) and seven focal Nigerian states (Benue, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Delta, Ebonyi and Cross River).
He was the Program Director for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded program Promoting Learning in Agribusiness using New Technologies (PLANT) where he led TechnoServe’s collaboration with DFID and the British Council to develop a more competitive agriculture sector in Nigeria by increasing innovation and uptake of technology within the sector.
He was also the Portfolio Manager for a DFID-funded – Market Development (MADE) Program in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria implemented by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI).
Mr Idris holds a Master of Science in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester, NH), Executive Education in Performance Measurement for Effective Management of Non-profit Organizations from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Bachelors degree in Biology from La Roche University (Pittsburgh, PA), and a Diploma in Fisheries Technology from Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology (Lagos, Nigeria).
Working with rural communities across Africa for 47 years, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a sustainable living income.
The organization is repositioning its work in Africa to invest in infrastructure, young agritech entrepreneurs, and smallholder farmers to support the transformation of the continent’s agricultural sector.
Heifer has the vision to support additional three million smallholder farmers in Africa to reach a sustainable living income. As a part of this commitment, the organisation has extended its operations to Nigeria to assist more than one million farmers (largely young men and women) to reach a sustainable living income by 2030 through strategic private and public sector partnerships, unlocking demand and market opportunities, leveraging finance across priority value chains, and leveraging innovation and emerging agricultural technologies to reach transformational scale.
Joseph-Amedu Heads National Blood Service Commission
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal Government of Nigeria has established the National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) to replace the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to coordinate, regulate and ensure the provision of safe, quality blood transfusion services.
This information was contained in a statement issued by Mr Abdullahi Haruna, the commission’s Head of Media and Publicity over the weekend in Abuja.
He explained that the NBTS was formerly a unit under the Department of Hospital Services in the Federal Ministry of Health, which was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, Dr Omale Joseph-Amedu, the National Coordinator, would serve as the Acting Director-General of the agency in line with the provisions of the Act establishing the organisation.
“[The] commission has the statutory mandate to coordinate, regulate and ensure the provision of safe, quality blood transfusion services on a country-wide basis within the national health plan.
“Therefore, the commission is legally mandated to ensure proper compliance with the National Blood Service Guidelines and standards.
“It will also maintain a system of quality assurance at all levels of service, encourage research in all aspects of blood transfusion services and promote the rational use of blood, blood products and alternatives to blood where appropriate.
“The commission which takes effect immediately as National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) has communicated that its new name and status more aptly reflects the mandate of ensuring the availability of safe, quality and adequate blood services to all Nigerians,” the statement added.
NDLEA Boosts Anti-Drug Fight with Fresh Narcotic Assistants
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has strengthened the war against drug abuse and trafficking with the addition of hundreds of newly trained narcotic assistants to the workforce of the agency.
This was disclosed by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Mr Buba Marwa, on Saturday at the passing out parade and closing ceremony of the training of Narcotic Assistants Course 3 at the NDLEA Academy, Kotton Rikus in Jos, Plateau State.
“Today’s ceremony signposts yet another of the agency’s efforts towards the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign, and the total eradication of illicit drugs and their effects in Nigeria,” said Mr Marwa who was represented by the agency’s Secretary, Mr Shadrach Haruna.
“In particular, this training and passing out ceremony aligns with my vision of a well-motivated, visible, and proactive workforce that is service-ready to meet the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers of the agency and that of the nation in general,” he added.
Stating that Narcotic Assistants Course 3 of 2021 is the largest of the cadre and the first-ever course in over 25 years, Mr Marwa explained that the process leading to the training started in 2019 but was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stressed that the agency has lived up to its mandate and the accompanying challenges in the past eight months, and challenged the new narcotic assistants to join their colleagues already in the field across Nigeria fighting the drug war.
“The training has prepared you physically, mentally, and psychologically for the demanding tasks ahead. You must, henceforth, keep in mind that you are on national assignment in the fight against the drug pandemic,” Mr Marwa stated.
“You are going to be assaulted and tempted psychologically and physically, subtly and brashly by merchants of this nefarious trade; you will be offered money and other forms of gratification, but I call on you all to cultivate the will, guts, and coping skills required to reject these temptations and allow for effective discharge of your duties,” he further said.
The ceremony, which was concluded with the presentation of awards to the best performing cadets in eight different categories, was well attended by officials of other government agencies, as well as lawmakers and traditional rulers, among others.
20% of Full-Time Workers in Nigeria Lost Jobs in 2020—Report
By Adedapo Adesanya
A new report has disclosed that at least 20 per cent of full-time workers in Nigeria lost employment during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The report tagged The Impact of COVID-19 on Business Enterprises in Nigeria was jointly released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday.
Sampling 3,000 businesses via in-depth interviews across both formal and informal sectors in major industries of the economy, the report assessed the impact of COVID-19 on business enterprises in the country.
“While there have been promising signs of recovery this year, COVID-19 has had an outsized socio-economic impact on Nigeria,” it said.
“From disruptions in supply chains to ongoing supply and demand shocks and a drop in consumer confidence, these challenges are expected to leave a lasting impact on the businesses and enterprises that make up the backbone of the economy,” it added.
The report also highlighted the significant decline in revenue faced by enterprises and establishments across the country due to the pandemic.
It indicated that 81 per cent of enterprises interviewed, experienced a decline in revenue and 73 per cent stated that they faced liquidity challenges due to secondary impacts of the pandemic in 2020.
Data from the report showed that the median loss in revenue remained at 44 per cent, in comparison to 2019 revenues while about 60 per cent of enterprises surveyed experienced an increase in operational costs, with the price of raw materials and logistics being the top two contributors to the increase.
Other operational challenges included access to credit and capital, high expenditure on utilities, and inadequate social safety net, especially for informal enterprises.
In addition, the report revealed that one in three business enterprises surveyed indicated that some businesses have permanently closed due to operational challenges resulting from the pandemic.
According to the report, businesses are likely to continue experiencing the impact of the pandemic even after the easing of public health measures.
Despite reduced restrictions at the time of the interviews, 74 per cent of enterprises still reported a decrease in production levels when compared to the same time in 2019.
In his remarks, the new Statistician-General of the Federation and Head of the NBS, Mr Simon Harry, highlighted the importance of the survey results.
“As the economy begins to show signs of gradual growth, this report contains important information that can guide policymakers in their interventions to mitigate the negative socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in the country,” he said
“I wish to thank UNDP for collaborating with the National Bureau of Statistics on this important report and I urge other development partners to emulate this worthy endeavour by partnering with the Bureau in matters relating to data generation in the country.
“Although the report findings highlight the complex challenges the economy continues to face because of COVID-19, it also tells a powerful story of innovation, resilience, and strength as Nigerian businesses leverage their ingenuity to adjust to this new normal,” he added.
On his part, UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Mohamed Yahya said, “As Nigeria mobilises to recover from the devastating health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic, this report will be a critical tool in informing targeted policymaking and programme interventions for both medium and long-term planning as the country rebuilds.”
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