Thailand Accuses Nigeria Over Rice Mill Collapse

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh says Thailand has accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s government of being responsible for the collapse of its seven rice mills as rice importation from Nigeria fell drastically.

The minister made this known at a meeting of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and leadership of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.

The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ogbeh said Thailand’s Ambassador to Nigeria made the “accusation’’ when he visited him in February.

According to the minister, the ambassador lamented that the collapse of the rice mills has increased the unemployment rate in his country from 1.2 per cent to 4 per cent.

“Just like two weeks ago, the Ambassador of Thailand came to my office and said to me that we have really dealt with them.

“But I asked what did we do wrong and he said unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent, it has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone.

“So, Mr President we thank you for the support and we thank all the agencies and those of you in the private sector for your resilience,’’ he said.

The minister, however, alerted the nation on what he described as alarming smuggling of fake fertiliser and rice along the western borders of the country.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to take drastic measures to check the trend as all previous diplomatic measures had failed to address the menace.

“But one last request Mr President, we have to take one strong measure against our neighbour to the West. The smuggling is really compromising our capacity on our result.

“Too much rice, too much fake fertilizer is still coming across the borders into this country in spite of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we have with them they are not listening.

“Maybe if the Federal Government takes one tough action, they will come and renegotiate the terms because good neighbourliness means reciprocity.

“We can’t be allowing them to survive at our own expense and I believe that we will do something about it,’’ he said.

Ogbeh appealed to FEPSAN to adjust their blending formula using little more micro nutrients for some crops like cocoa, cashew, plantain, banana and others that would soon be revived by his ministry.

The minister noted that the agricultural sector had created millions of jobs for Nigerians in the last two years.

He said: “People may say what they like about jobs. Recently I heard that we lost four million jobs. Nobody has calculated the millions and millions of jobs created on the farms.

“So, this programme as it grows can only make us stronger.

“As soon as more dams and lakes are put in place, you begin to sell fertilizer all year round and not wait for the rainy season alone.’’

Minister Laments 35 Years Neglect Of Dam In Oyo

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Tuesday, lamented the 35 years neglect of the multi-purpose Ikere-Gorge Dam in Iseyin, Oyo State.
The minister said at a town hall meeting in Ibadan that the dam has the potentials for irrigation farming, generation of electricity, water supply and tourism.
The town hall meeting was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its Oyo State counterpart.
Ogbeh was in the state on a two-day working visit.
Ogbeh, a Minister of Communications between 1982 and 1983, recalled he had visited the dam in 1982.
He said: “I remember that we visited the dam in 1982 and brought the required turbines to complete the project.
“I almost wept yesterday (Monday) when I visited the dam in Iseyin and met the turbines lying fallow at the dam without being fixed.
“It is very sad to know the dam has been idle since 1982. This is how we have been wasting our various resources that landed us in the present economic woes.”
He said the dam could serve multi-purpose functions of fishery, irrigation, water supply and electricity generation, with a capacity of seven megawatts.
Ogbeh also commended Governor Abiola Ajimobi for the sustained peace in the state in the last six years.
He said: “A Fulani leader in Oke-Ogun on Monday during my visit to the area told me that they have found peace in Oyo State.
“The efforts of the state on security are highly commendable.”
In his remarks, Ajimobi called Nigerians to imbibe attitudinal change, urging them to shun attitudes inimical to the growth of agriculture in the country.
He said the state was ready to work with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure food security in the country.
Oyewole Oyewumi, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, said the administration was committed to the well-being of the citizenry.

Rice Price Crashes

Nigeria’s precious meal, rice, is becoming more affordable as the price of the product dropped in April by an appreciable margin.

The report on prices of selected food released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in May indicated that the price of rice dropped by 7.22 per cent in April.

According to the report published on its website, NBS said the price fell from N418.71 in March to N250.30 in April per kilogramme indicating a 7.22 per cent reduction.

The Bureau also released the current prices of some other products including eggs.

It said that the average price of 1 dozen of medium size Agric eggs decreased month-on-month by 1.71 per cent to N518.66 in April 2017 from N527.69 in March 2017.

The Bureau said that the average price of 1 kilogramme of tomatoes increased by 6.36 per cent.

It means that the price increased from N268.64 in March to N285.72 in April.

An independent check shows that the price of 50 kilogramme bag of imported rice dropped from N28,000 it sold in May last year to N15,500 at the popular Garki Market in Abuja.

The slight increase in the price of tomatoes has been attributed to the season.

Malam Adamu Abubakar, a tomatoes dealer at the market, said that rainy season was not good for cultivation of the northern brand.

He explained that only the Southern brand with heavy seeds can thrive, but not sufficient to meet the demand.

Price of onions has dropped with a small basket which sold for between N800 and N900 in March selling for between N400 and N500 in May.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Tuesday at a Town Hall meeting in Abuja revealed the reason behind the increased price of Nigerian rice compared to the imported rice.

He pointed out that despite government’s efforts, the locally produced rice remains expensive compared to the imported rice because most of the imported rice was subsided by the foreign governments.

He further noted that most rice brought into the country were a product of Vietnam, India and Thailand whose government have imposed export subsidies on their products.

Audu Ogbeh further pointed that imported rice arrive into the country at about N9,000 per bag and are subsequently sold for about N13,000 per bag to consumers unlike the local rice which is sold for about N16,000 per bag.

He noted that the federal government was working on plans to better the lots of Nigerian farmers as there would be a meeting with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun to discuss rice prices among other matters.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources says it has begun the implementation of the National Roadmap toward increasing the country’s irrigated agriculture from 100,000 to 130, 000 hectares by 2020.

The Minister, Mr Suleiman Adamu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that this was part of the ministry’s plan to boosting food production and generating foreign earnings.

“I will say it’s work in progress, between now and 2020, we hope to bring an additional 30,000 hectares based on what we have on ground and other intervention programmes.

“When we are able to complete all the projects on ground, we will be able to get 130,000 hectares by 2020.

‘‘I think that is a good step, of course we can’t do much now until we get the 2017 budget passed.”


FG to Set up 200 Rice Mills Nationwide- Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has stated at the opening ceremony of the 42nd regular meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state that plans are underway to set up 200 rice mills across Nigeria.

He also revealed that government would also begin the distribution of processing machines to women and youths to fight unemployment in the country. He said “A new programme of Agro-industrialization is going to happen in the states; young people, women, elders who are interested will receive machines, we will subsidize at 60%, you can set up your oil mill, set your rice mill, set up cassava mills, set up yam flour mills, do whatever you can in the village; we don’t all have to migrate to the cities to survive. “There are two-hundred rice mills we are about to give out and every state must have one”, he added.

Regarding fertilizers, Mr. Ogbeh said: “We have given you a formula for every state. I am still very disappointed when I see some states are ordering fertilizer NPK 15-15-15. There is no soil in Nigeria that can accept the same amount of potassium phosphates and nitrogen; soils differ”.

Mr. Ogbeh also tasked state commissioners of Agriculture to include school farms in their plans, saying that “I want to ask you to include this in your agenda for the schools; the boarding schools in your states have to re-introduce school farms. Let the children learn how to grow chickens, let them learn to grow tomatoes even for the kitchen, learn to process something and when you start we will see what help we can get for you.”

Agric Minister Launches Kano Wheat Harvest, Says Will Soon Cost Less Than N6, 000

A bag of fertilizer will soon cost less than N6, 000 in Nigeria, following an agreement reached on its supply, between the Federal Government and the government of Morocco, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh announced.
‎Chief Ogbeh made the revelation in Kano, on Monday, during the 2017 wheat harvest ceremony at Garun- Babba, in Garun- Mallam Local Government area of the state.‎
‎“President Buhari signed an agreement with the Moroccan Government, we went to Morocco and had a good agreement for phosphate import.‎ With the importation of phosphate we will put fertilizer on the market for less than N6, 000,” he said.‎
‎‎He said already, blending plants in the country have swung into action, assuring that the Federal government would continue to support farmers to produce more for local consumption and export.
The Minister lamented that before the Federal government’s renewed drive on agriculture, the country was losing millions of dollars annually to import rice, wheat and milk, which could be produced in sufficient quantity locally.
Chief Ogbeh who praised the government of Kano for leading the way in rice processing and agricultural transforming in the country assured of the support of the Federal government towards transforming the sector.‎
He announced plans to create special grazing reserves for herdsmen across the country, revealing that the Federal Government would also train 3,000 Civil Defense Officers to ‎protect herdsmen from cattle rustlers.
‎‎Earlier, the state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, disclosed that his administration had granted a  loan of N100 million each to wheat and rice farmers associations in the state to enable them purchase seedlings and other requited consumables to boost their endeavor, even as free storage facilities have been provided for the to prevent undue loss.
“The state government recently approved N50 million short-term loans for wheat farmers who need quick cash, to prevent them from selling off their produce at give-away prices, until its price stabilized in the market”, the governor added .
In addition, he said the administration recently purchased 500 zero fuel water pumping machines and placed order for the supply of 5,000 as part of commitment to boost irrigation in the state, assuring that his administration is willing to support wheat and rice farmers to boosts their productivity.
On cattle grazing, the governor announced that “a large expanse of land would be provided around Dansoshiya in Kiru Local Government area to serve as model settlement for herdsmen, in a bid to curtail recurring clashes between farmers and herdsmen”. ‎
Governor Ganduje also recalled that his administration trained 60 Fulani youth in artificial insemination, in Turkey, to expose them to modern breeding techniques, revealing that refrigerators would also be provided to Fulani dairy women as part of value addition to dairy chain.
The Flour Milling Association of Nigeria, represented by Alhaji Sa’idu Zakari Garun Babba, commended the Federal government for its renewed commitment to agricultural development, restating that they would off-take all the wheat produced by wheat farmers in the country.
Also speaking the chairman of the board of directors, New Nigerian Development Company, NNDC, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, disclosed that the 19 Northern Governors have been given approval to board to establish an agricultural commodity marketing board, envisaged to purchased excess produce, create more jobs and generally add value to the economy of the region.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, inaugurated the Kano FADAMA tractorization scheme, inspected the state seed processing facility being renovated at Kadawa and undertook a guided tour of the state fertilizer blending plant and other facilities at state-owned Kano state Agricultural Supply Company, KASCO, Dakata, in Kano metropolis.
He commended the government for Kano state under Governor Ganduje for leading the agricultural revolution in the country, hoping other states would emulate the shining example.

Buhari Condemns High Illegal Migration Of Nigerians To Europe

President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the high rate of illegal migration of Nigerian youths to European countries through the Mediterranean Sea.
Mr. Buhari made this known at the 32rd Annual Meeting of the Sahel and West Africa also to mark its week, organised by the Food Crisis Protection Network in Abuja on Monday.
The president, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for an immediate stop to the action by Nigerians, saying it was unfair to European countries.
He said that agriculture revitalisation was a solution to the migration issue, while expressing the readiness of his administration to support farmers in order to boost local production in the country.
“We are pained when we see our youth across West and North Eastern Africa in a desperate attempt to cross the desert; get to Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
“We consider it as something that must stop as fast as possible because it is unfair to Europe.”
Data from the European Union indicate that an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016.
The daily figure was extrapolated from the 22,500 illegal Nigerian migrants that the EU said crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September this year.

Nigeria, however, said it hopes to use agriculture to stem the tide of illegal migration.
“We think that if we reorganise our agriculture better, many of these youths will earn a decent living at home rather than become an embarrassment to their host countries and to us here in Africa,” the president said.
“We are not unmindful of our youths population here, hence the need to ensure that the agriculture sector is revitalised as soon as possible.
“We have decided that we will no longer rely on rainfall, we will create dams, water reservoirs and insist on harvesting food at least three times in a year,” he added.
On food crisis in the West African region, he described the threat as real, saying that urgent steps were necessary to address the challenge.
According to him, there are 800 million hectares of agricultural land across the world yet to be cultivated and Africa owns half of them.
The president, appealed to Sahel and West African agricultural stakeholder to devise ideas that would guarantee better management in cattle breeding through artificial insemination.
Mr. Buhari, however, said his administration was aggressively tackling humanitarian crisis of the Internally Displaced Persons by attending to issues of food and nutrition, especially for women and children in the North East.
Marcel De Souza, the President of ECOWAS Commission, said that no fewer than 4 million Nigerians were internally displaced as a result of the insecurity in the North eastern region.
He listed some of the developmental challenges of the Sahel and West African regions to include economic and political governance.
Mr. De Souza called on governments of the regions to invest toward addressing unemployment and food crisis, which he described as bane to development.
Kassoum Denon, the Malian Minister of Agriculture, appealed to various countries in the Sahel and West Africa to share ideas and success stories with a view to addressing food crisis in the regions.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Food Crisis Protection Network is an international network created in 1984 as part of regional system for the prevention of food crisis.
It brings together Sahelian and West African expertise of the humanitarian and development spheres by mobilising available resources for social protection, livelihoods, nutrition, agricultural development, natural resources management to benefit the most vulnerable populations.

Nigeria May Face Famine In January, Presidency Warns

The Presidency on Monday warned that Nigeria could face famine in January if drastic steps are not taken now.
Nigeria, which is currently Africa’s largest producer of cereals and grains risks famine from early next year as a huge demand in the global market is targeting Nigeria’s surplus production.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu made the grim forecast in a radio interview in Kano on Monday.
Shehu told Pyramid radio that the “huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year.”
He said the Ministry of Agriculture has advised the President on the need to draw the attention of all Nigerians to the issue which, if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January.
He said: “Over the past year, Providence has blessed Nigeria with a bountiful harvest of grains, more than enough to feed the country and to export to other countries. At present, there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria, and from places as far away as Brazil.
“However, the ministry of agriculture has raised concerns about a massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January,” Malam Garba said.
He explained that Nigeria currently enjoys a free market situation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is not in any way opposed to or intent on tampering with that. On the other hand, exporters also have a moral obligation to make their produce available to Nigerians who live within our country’s borders, to ensure that our citizens have access to food,” he added.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity informed the radio station that the ministry of agriculture estimated that no fewer than 500 trucks laden with grain leave Nigerian markets every week, headed for countries outside Nigerian borders.
“The major markets involved in this exportation are: the Dawanau market in Kano, Naigatari in Jigawa, Bama in Borno, and Ilela in Sokoto, as well as three other main markets in Kebbi State,” he said.
He further explained that President Buhari has on various occasions reiterated his plan for Nigeria to become a food-producing giant, self-sufficient to the point of depending very little on imported food.
“This noble plan could easily be defeated by the pull of the foreign market if food continues to leave our shores to feed people elsewhere. If care is not taken, Nigeria could face a famine by January,” he stressed.
“Building our country into the edifice we envision it to be will require sacrifice and strategy from every single Nigerian. Let us remember that charity begins at home,” said in the program.
Asked a question on what the government is doing to avert the frightening situation, the Presidential Spokesman said that President Buhari has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to present a quick plan for the purchase of surplus grains to be stored in warehouses across the country to save for the rainy day but opined that there was a need for moral pressure on exporters by traditional and religious authorities to curtail the depletion of the home market.

Nigeria’s Rice Supply Short By Four Million Tonnes – Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says the country has huge deficit in the demand and supply of food commodities.

The minister said this while receiving a team of Russian investors led by the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Udovicnenko Nikolai who visited him in Abuja on Friday.

Ogbeh said that the present administration was ready to evolve flexible policies that would promote agricultural investments.

He said that the country’s demand for rice was currently at seven million tonnes but the local production was at about 3.5 million tonnes, adding that there was a deficit of four million tonnes.

The minister also said that the country had a deficit of three million tonnes in fish production.

According to Ogbeh, we are encouraging potential investors to come to Nigeria and invest, apart from production, we encourage processing of agricultural produce.

He appealed to potential investors, particularly the Russians to take advantage of the existing huge market in the production of rice, wheat, maize, fish, dairy, vegetables and other food crops to invest in Nigeria.

He said, “We will evolve flexible policy that will promote investment and when we see your willingness to invest, we will create enabling environment.

“Nigeria being one of the largest economies in Africa has millions hectare of arable land for agricultural production and any investment in Nigeria is a gateway to other African countries.

“The policy thrust of this administration is to enhance local production of agricultural produce thereby creating wealth and jobs for the teeming youth.”

He called for the support of the Russian Government in areas of agricultural machinery and technical expertise to boost agricultural yields.

Earlier, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Tkachev Alexander, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said they came to explore areas of collaboration with the Nigerian government in the development of agriculture sector.

“Nigeria has huge potential in agriculture like Russia and we are interested in contributing to the economic development of Nigeria through agriculture.

Alexander said that Russian companies were ready to contribute to the nation’s dairy, beef and poultry production as well as provision of machinery and technology if given the opportunity.


Farmers In Niger Projected To Produce 1m Tonnes Of Rice – CBN

The cluster of rice farms in Niger are expected to produce one million tonnes of rice through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the bank said in a statement in Abuja o Sunday.

The CBN acting Director of Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said in the statement that the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, made the fact known when he inspected rice farms in some local government areas of the state. The Governor was accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, the Governor of Niger, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, and the Governor of Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu.

Emefiele said that over 14,000 farmers in Niger had benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with billion naira disbursed from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund . He said that the programme’s enhanced funding for agriculture was in line with the bank’s resolve to build a strong and sustainable agriculture sector with integrated value chains.

On his part, Ogbeh said President Muhammadu Buhari was satisfaction with the programme and commended the farmers for contributing to efforts to ensure food security for Nigerians. He assured the farmers that government would provide them harvesters and mills. Ogbeh expressed optimism that the planned installation of state-of-the-art harvesters and mills would lead to increased production of rice in Nigeria.

He also promised that the government would provide them a solar-powered irrigation system to ensure all-year-round farming. The minister urged farmers to embrace shifting cultivation to ensure the restoration of depleted soil nutrients. He said that government would soon stop the importation of rice into Nigeria because of increased local production of the crop.

Earlier, the Chairman of the Farmers’ Cooperative in Niger, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed, thanked the Federal Government for assisting farmers in the state. He cited the lack of mechanised farming and irrigation tools for dry season farming as some of the challenges facing farmers.

Mohammed, however, urged the farmers to remain focused and committed to rice production as government was determined to address the issue of local agriculture production.

President Buhari on Nov. 17, 2015, launched the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Kebbi. The programme has been replicated in 14 states of Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara for rice and wheat farmers. The programme aims to upgrade small farmers to commercial farmers, increase food production and create jobs. (NAN)

Rice Price Will Fall By November – FG

The Federal Government on Monday declared that the price of rice would start to fall from November this year.

It stated that more Nigerians had returned to their various farms, adding that at the next harvesting season next month, the price of rice would start to crash.

This came as the government said that the delay in the approval of the 2016 budget had made it impossible to implement the capital expenditure in the agricultural sector.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said this while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja.

Ogbeh, who stated that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters, stressed that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would be detrimental to local production.

He said the Federal Government was against rice smuggling and noted that the Seme border had become a notorious route for the smuggling of contraband products into the country.

“We will not encourage rice importation and there is no way our ministry or government can be involved in importing rice when we are working hard to be self-sufficient in local production. By November when the full-scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall,” the minister said.

Early last month, the government had warned that the price of rice might hit N40,000 a bag. It is currently being sold around N20,000.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, said that the $22bn annual food import bill had led to the astronomical rise in the price of rice and other commodities.

He stressed that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the items being imported before December, the price of rice could skyrocket to N40,000 a bag.

On why the ministry had yet to start implementing its capital budget, Ogbeh said, “It is about now that the capital expenditure is beginning. One of the reasons why money is not circulating is that we need to follow the due process on issues of procurement, advertisement and others.”

According to him, his ministry has spent just N882.58m, representing four per cent of the N21bn budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act.

He also said, “You may be surprised to know that only six to seven states in Nigeria are showing enthusiasm in agriculture. Some by nature don’t seem interested, while others just can’t connect with whatever we are doing at the federal level.”

Ogbeh further stated that his ministry inherited N67bn debt when the present administration came on board, but added that N20bn had been paid to agro-dealers and distributed 900 million oil palm seedlings to farmers across the country.

Minister Explains Reason For Town Hall Meetings

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the town hall meetings being held across the country by the Federal Government provides an avenue for both the government and the governed to exchange ideas, thus fostering good governance.

”It’s not so much about the government explaining its programmes and policies but also about those who are governed expressing their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. What I found today is that there is a lot of misconception and prejudices, which this kind of platform will throw more light on,” the Minister told newsmen at the end of the South-East Edition of the town hall meeting in Enugu on Monday.

He said each part of the country has its unique and peculiar challenges, and that sustained and robust engagement through the town hall meetings will provide the veritable platform to correct some of the misconceptions and throw more light on government’s policies and programme. “The major takeaway is that there is no substitute to such meeting because it provides the avenue and vehicle for both the government and the governed to exchange ideas. You can imagine the kind of questions we received today (Monday) either on agriculture or appointment or infrastructural development. Clearly, at the end of the day, I felt better because we were able to explain to our brothers and sisters here that this government will not marginalise any part of the country,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

Also speaking to newsmen after the meeting, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said as a follow up to the town hall meetings, cabinet ministers would soon hold a retreat to discuss and articulate ways through which they can enhance service delivery to Nigerians. “Very soon we will have a cabinet retreat where all ministers will come together and discuss issues and find out what people’s reactions are and how we can help each other to solve the problems as well. It’s a finer way of running a country. Keep in touch with the people and they will tell you what they don’t like or what they are unhappy about and suggest to you how to do it,” Chief Ogbe said.

On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, said through the Economic Diplomacy initiated by this administration, his ministry would create more avenues for Nigerians to access foreign investors and partners in order to enhance the quality of their businesses. “We want to build a platform to empower ordinary Nigerians to be able to access any market anywhere in the world and that’s why we are working to produce match-making database, where we will be putting in touch Nigerian businesses that want to sell to potential markets and Nigerians who are looking for investors and partners,” he said.

The Enugu town hall meeting was the fifth in a series that started in Lagos on April 25th 2016 and has now been held in Kaduna, Kano and Uyo. At Monday’s town hall meeting, host Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed was joined by the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama; Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah; Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu and the Minister of State for Environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman Jibrin.