Kebbi Seeks WHO Support On Polio

Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help curtail spread of Polio by influx of children infected with the virus from neighboring Benin and Niger republics.

Bagudu, who received a delegation of WHO led by County Representative, Dr Wondi Alemu, in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday, said the influx of infected children had reduced Polio immunisation performance index.

“Our state has porous border with neighboring Benin and Niger republics.

“Most of the children we have on the streets are beggars or out of school who are not from the state not even from this country, but from the two countries.

“We are known for Islamic scholarship as a result of that citizens from the two countries send their children to acquire Islamic education in our state,” he said.

He appealed to the WHO to consider increasing funding to tackle health challenges commensurate with the population of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states with about 11 million people.

He described the WHO donation to the three states as inadequate when compared to the amount received by Asian and Latin American developing countries.

“While we are not implying that we want to be dependent on WHO’s assistance but the assistance is needed by a country in need of it at the time of need,’’ Bagudu said.

According to him, Kebbi has the largest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the whole of North West Nigeria, noting that about 60 per cent of fishermen in Borno are from Kebbi.

“A few months ago we received about 7,000 IDPs from Niger Republic,” he added.

He said the influx of IDPs was a challenge to the state health sector.

The governor commended development partners for the engagement in the health sector, while appreciating the efforts of WHO in the eradication of polio and improvement of the health sector.

However, he thanked traditional and religious leaders for their support and participation in polio immunisation campaigns and actualisation in the state.

Alemu had earlier said the team was in the state to review what the government was doing and its efforts in health care service delivery as well as challenges faced on polio immunisation in the state.

He said the organisation was looking forward to building capacity on surveillance on polio and other diseases.

“We are determined to improve regular supervision on capacity surveillance, strengthen gains and evaluation of health sector,” he said.

He advised the state government to strengthen the health sector, especially improvement of laboratory system, adding that some diseases could be diagnosed via laboratory channels before they escalate.

He commended the state government for the restoration and increase of counterpart funding to support WHO’s activities.

Kebbi Governor Offers Special Prayers For President Buhari

Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State has urged clerics to offer special prayers for good health for President Muhammadu Buhari.

He made the call at the launch of an appeal fund ahead of the Muslim Ramadan fast by the Jama’atul Izalatul Bid’ah Wa’ikamatu Sunnah (JIBWIS) in Birnin Kebbi.

The governor also urged clerics to sustain prayers for peace, unity and economic advancement of the country.

A statement by the Press Secretary to the governor, Alhaji Mu’azu Dakingari, on Saturday in Birnin Kebbi said the governor donated N5 million, a Coaster Bus and Hilux Van to the group.

The governor, who also attended the foundation of the Tijjaniya Islamiyya Mosque and school in Jega Local Government Area of the state, reaffirmed his resolve to uplift religious education and pledged financial support to religious groups.

The leader of the Tijjaniya movement, Khalifah Ahmadu Tijjani, performed the foundation laying for the Mosque and school.

Governors, Ministers Back Sale Of Assets To Fight Recession

There was an insight yesterday into the Federal Government’s battle against the recession that has hit the economy.
The government’s plan to exit the recession which got the backing of the National Economic Council (NEC) includes
assets sales;
advance payment of licence renewals;
infrastructure concessioning; and
implementation of fiscal stimulus.
The NEC is the highest economic decision body chaired by the vice president. Other members are governors and key ministers in charge of the economy and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor.
Some experts and leading politicians have suggested the sale of some assets, saying this will provide the cash to reflate the economy, reopen factories and put money in the people’s pockets.
Pushing this view are business giant Aliko Dangote, former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Muhammad Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano and Senate President Bukola Saraki, among others.
But Labour has condemned the idea, saying it will make a few to amass the wealth of all and deepen the seeming despair in the land.
Yesterday’s meeting, which started about 11.10am, was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
No fewer than 23 governors attended it. They include Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Abubakar Mohammed (Bauchi), Willy Obiano (Anambra), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Abdufatah Ahmed (Kwara), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).
Deputy governors of Rivers, Nasarawa, Katsina and Lagos represented their bosses.
A statement from the media office of the Vice President on the meeting said: “Rising from its monthly meeting today at the Presidential Villa, members of the National Economic Council, NEC, presided over by Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), expressed support for the plans and proposals of the Federal Government to steer the country out of recession.
“While acknowledging the current economic challenges and difficulties, governors at the meeting also endorsed the work of the President’s Economic Management Team and specifically commended the Budget & Planning and Finance Ministers.”
Among the measures for economic revitalisation, he said, are a plan to generate immediate larger injection of fund into the economy through assets sales, advance payment of licence renewals, infrastructure concessioning, and use of recovered funds etc to reduce funding gaps, implementation of Fiscal Stimulus/Budget Priorities.
“Council members in response commended the Economic Management Team and generally welcomed the presentation and expressed support for the plan to steer the nation out of recession.
“Under AOB, Council members expressed confidence in and unanimously commended the EMT and both the Budget & National Planning and Finance Ministers for the presentations to the Council, praising their efforts, competence and capabilities.”
The NEC also expressed confidence in the capability of Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma and Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and a few other senators on Wednesday pushed for the removal of Udoma and Adeosun for their ‘poor’ handling of the economy and the recession.
But, speaking with reporters at the State House yesterday at the end of the NEC meeting, Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu said NEC praised the handling of the economy.
He was accompanied to the briefing by Ajimobi and Ogun State Deputy Governor Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga.
Bagudu said: “The National Economic Council met today at its sixth meeting of the year, which is the 70th National Executive Council meeting and the Ministers of Budget and National Planning and the Central Bank (of Nigeria) Governor made presentations and the highlights of the presentations were the sad news that the economy was in recession largely due to the dependency on single commodity which is crude oil, which prices we do not control.
“Oil price collapsed to less than $30 per barrel in first quarter of 2016 and market expectation is that it will remain low for a longer period.
“However, this crisis holds a silver lining to restructure the economy towards other areas that we believe we have comparative advantage.
“Fast track procedures through legislation and strategic implementation plan of the budget, meaningful diversification of the economy which will cut down importation.
“The members of the council responded and acknowledged with commendation the presentation by the economic team and support the plan to steer the nation out of recession.
“And, in particular, it was noted that our economic managers the National Economic Team are responding in competition with economic managers elsewhere. So it is not an easy task, it is a very difficult task and we crave the indulgence of our nation to give them a chance for the measures to take effect.”
Ajimobi said the Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform (PTCLR) presented the draft regulation on Land Use Act 2013 to NEC.
According to him, the regulation seeks to make provisions to streamline mortgage transactions and clearly delineate the rights, duties and obligations of a mortgage.
Ajimobi said the Minister of Finance made a presentation on Public Private Partnership (PPP) Initiatives on Affordable Housing.
Highlights of the presentation, he said, included target of N1 billion fund to operate PPP (N500 billion initial) to create a blended pool of long term funds to intervene in housing development finance and mortgage provision
He said the fund will deliver family housing for as low as N2.5 million up to N18 million delivered in a ready to occupy condition with essential services (water and power connected).
Ajimobi said: “The delivery target is 400,000 to 500,000 housing units per annum. The ultimate aim of the programme is to channel funds from savers to borrowers, so that builders have the required capital to construct and prospective buyers can access credit to purchase.
“The fund will attract low cost local and international capital, including from domestic pension and insurance funds, Federal Government funding, as well as contributions from state governments and other agencies.”
The states are to designate a liaison with whom Family Homes Fund can interface, expedite building plan approval process and security of land title, invest in enabling infrastructure, such as Federal roads.
Other benefits, Ajimobi said, include improved urban planning and development, employment generation and skills enhancement, and expansion of tax base.
Mrs. Onanuga said the NEC was briefed that the balance on Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at 20th September, 2016 was $2.453 billion.
She said Adeosun and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele briefed NEC on best options for managing the floating forex policy introduced by Emefuele.
Highlights of the presentation, Mrs Onanuga said, included CBN -introduced cautious Monetary Policy orientation as dictated by consumer price and exchange rate, adoption of policy tightening measures for flexible forex rate to address persistent pressures caused by scarcity and speculative demands, improving market dynamics by CBN, interventions to states in the area of salaries and in commercial agriculture.
She said that the presentation also noted that controlling inflation is key to stabilising other macroeconomic indices and the current stance of monetary policy is expected to continue to help lock-in inflation expectations.
On the update on Budget Support Loan facility, Mrs Onanuga said the minister of finance reported to Council that N50 billion had so far been disbursed to state governments while the facility was ongoing.

FG Sets Up Task Force On Rice And Wheat Production

The Federal government has established a National Rice and Wheat Task Force to set up targets that will yield comprehensible and self-evident results in rice and wheat production in the country.

“What we are trying to achieve is that agriculture is our main stay and we are trying to evolve a strategy for our economy, a strategy for employment and a strategy for feeding our people,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa during the inauguration of the Task Force.

Osinbajo said the need to feed Nigeria’s population is the focus of the Buhari administration.

“Rice and wheat is our main focus, and we are making sure that in one year we can show the world that we are serious”, he stated.

Emphasizing on the need to develop strategies to rejuvenate the whole value chain, he gave the following as terms of reference to the panel:

“to set up production targets for rice and wheat in the participating states;

“to determine the scope and particulars for government support needed towards the attainment of the set targets;

“to consider and proffer the best off-take and marketing arrangements that will encourage maximum effort among the farmers/millers;

“to determine the rice and wheat value chain deficiencies and recommend solutions for addressing them;

“to mobilize farmers and millers in identified target states to engage the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and other available support facilities;

“to establish timelines for the delivery of goals set by the Task Force.”

Responding, the Chairman of the Task Force and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, thanked the Vice President for the consideration and stated that the disconnect between farmers and millers needed to be addressed.

He added that the two bodies in the value chain needed to be mobilized for maximum results.

Members of the task force include Governors of Kebbi State Senator Abubakar A. Bagugu, Dr. A. U. Ganduje of Kano State, and Engr. David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

Others are the Minister of State for Agriculture Lokpobiri Heineken, the President of Rice Farmers Association Mallam Aminu Goronyo and the President Wheat Farmers Association Saliu Mohammed.

Oba Akiolu Seeks Prayers For Buhari

Worried by the economic downturn in the country, Oba of Lagos, Oba Riliwanu Akiolu yesterday urged Nigerians to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari, saying; “He needs God’s intervention to address the country challenges.”

Akiolu who made the appeal during a courtesy visit by a delegation from Kebbi State led by the state governor, Atiku Bagudu, to his Palace, said that Buhari has good intention for the country.

According to him; “He has good intention for Nigeria and that was why I like him. But he needs Gods intervention to achieve his aim. And I know that if we pray for him, by this time next year, the economic challenges we are experiencing would cease. And we will all have reasons to smile.”

On his part, he said “I often pray for the President to achieve his campaign promises. And we expect Nigerians also do so for him to achieve all his aspirations for the country.”

The Oba however appealed to Nigerians to patronize Made-in-Nigeria goods because it would “help create more employments for Nigerians.”

Earlier, governor Bagudu said that the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu facilitated the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi state on the establishment of a commodity value chain and appealed to other governors to adopt the strategy.

According to him; “Infact, yesterday, he (Tinubu) saw me at the Economic retreat in Abuja, asking the progress made on the partnership. That showed how keen he was to ensure that the partnership works.”

He noted that the partnership was what the founding fathers of the country clamoured for after the country’s independence which helped the country’s economy to grow.

Lagos, Kebbi Sign Partnership Agreement On Agriculture

In line with the persistent calls for a paradigm shift from over dependence on oil as the major earner of the country, the Lagos State Government and Kebbi State on Wednesday entered into a partnership on the establishment of a commodity value chain that will give a quantum leap to food processing, production and distribution

The partnership is aimed at bringing about national food sufficiency and food security, as well as creating employment and wealth distribution for the benefit of both states and the nation in general.

Speaking at the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two states held at the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Ikeja, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the partnership signaled the commencement of a new beginning of cooperation and common-sense revolution, which is line with the change mantra of All Progressives Congress (APC) that calls for patriotism in all facets of life.

Governor Ambode, who said the partnership would bring an end to the era of imported rice in the country, noted that there was no doubt about the economic prowess of the country to produce rice locally.

“This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that two States are collaborating to develop their agricultural potentials. We have the economic prowess to produce rice locally. The era of imported rice is gone. The reality is for all of us to embrace the consumption of local foodstuff and commodities,” he said.

The Governor acknowledged the fact that the future of Lagos is partly tied to deliberate resolution on food security, and that food production and self-sufficiency required immediate attention at policy and strategic levels to sustain the country, hence the need for the partnership.

“Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in Nigeria by virtue of our State population. We have the market, with the required purchasing power also. Lagos State has an estimated consumption of over 798,000 metric tonnes of milled Rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96 million of 50kg bags, with a value of N135 billion per annum,” he said.

In addition to rice, Governor Ambode said Lagos is presently consuming 6,000 herds of cattle daily which may increase to 8,000 in the next 5years, adding that the bulk of vegetables produced in the country eventually end up in the Lagos markets.

He added: “Lagos State is one of the largest producers of poultry and thus has a large demand for maize for livestock feed production. The State also houses most of the industrial users of wheat and sorghum; mostly flour mills, bakeries, breweries and food manufacturers.

“Kebbi State, on the other hand, is blessed with a vast arable land suitable for the cultivation of Rice, Wheat, Ground nut, Maize, Sorghum and Sugar cane.

“It is an agrarian State with over 1.2 million hectares of arable land characterised by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes. In the 2014 / 2015 wet season, over 600,000 Hectares of land was deployed for Rice cultivation in the three senatorial areas of the State.

“The people are traditionally Rice farmers with average land holding of about 10 Hectares. Presently, Kebbi has over 50,000 metric tonnes of paddy in store produced from the last 2 planting seasons.

“With these considerations in mind, Lagos State and Kebbi State have decided to collaborate and exploit our areas of comparative advantage to create value for both States. This alliance will ensure Food Security, job creation, increase in farmers’ income and the overall improvement in the living conditions of the residents of both states through wealth creation and poverty reduction.

“This collaboration is in line with the clarion call and policy direction given by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on the need to feed ourselves,” Governor Ambode stated.

The joint venture between the two states, Governor Ambode explained, will be implemented using a Special Purpose Vehicle known as LASKEB Agricultural Production and Marketing Company (LAPMCO), adding that the major areas of focus will be the development of commodity value chains with emphasis on Rice, Wheat, Ground Nut, Onions, Maize/Sorghum and Beef.

Speaking further on the agreement, Governor Ambode said: “The numerous thousands of our market women and men can become key employers of labour as distributors of ‘Ibile Rice’. We can also brand and package rice in the names of our distributors and market women. As a State, we shall adopt our local rice as a State dish in all ramifications.

“The special purpose vehicle will allow the entrance of private sector investors and other states in expanding the rice mill at Imota, Ikorodu and other locations. We have already designated the 100 hectare land at Imota as the Agric Park in the State. Other locations in and outside the State will be vigorously activated to fulfill our mission in record time.”

Also speaking at the event, which was attended by top government functionaries, traditional rulers and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) from both states, Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu thanked Governor Ambode for providing leadership and innovation that brought about the partnership, adding that same was in line with the effort of President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to restructure Nigeria away from overdependence on oil.

Governor Bagudu said in the world of genetically modified food, the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi was an additional motivation to provide certainties for the people in terms of food production and sufficiency, and that the goal is to produce 60 to 70 percent of Nigeria’s Rice needs, and replicate same in other food items.

He said the agreement had the broadest public acceptance in Kebbi State, and that the people, especially farmers in the state, are delighted to partner with Lagos, which he described as the most entrepreneurial part of Nigeria.

He said Lagos and Kebbi have had a long history of trade, and that the signing of the MoU was a further way of cementing the relationship with the view to make the people to get richer.

“Lagos is the most entrepreneurial part of Nigeria. Lagos, if it were a country on itself, is a country that other states will be going to establish a relationship and so why not state to state. So, what we are doing is that we are pioneering a collaboration that will bring other states on board later and we believe that our potentials is enormous and we must have pacesetters to start that process of joint collaboration for our collective good,” Governor Bagudu said.