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Security situation in Nigeria is frightening, says Para-Mallam

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Security situation in Nigeria is frightening, says Para-Mallam

IFEST Ambassador and Peace Advocate, the Revd. Gideon Para-Mallam, slams the Buhari-led government as he X-rays current issues in Nigeria, in this no hold barred interview with TAI ANYANWU

 

What is your opinion about the state of the nation’s security?

 

 

There are two dominant narratives. One is pro-government which suggests that the security situation is a normal challenge. Therefore, with this normative view, people should not be exaggerating the security situation in our country. Some even go to the extent to suggest that some Nigerians are portraying the country in a bad light both in and out of the country.

 

 

The recent statement in May by our Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, in the US, over the hue and cry about the security challenge in Nigeria, which was followed by a more audacious statement by the Nigerian High Commission in the US – which went as far as to call Leah Sharibu’s mother and others liars regarding the security situation of Nigeria falls into such a narrative.

 

 

More recently, is the statement released by the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria on the need for the government to take a tougher stand in addressing the problem of insecurity which is creating fear in the nation.

 

 

I was deeply concerned, when President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, issued a statement suggesting that the Catholic Bishops are instead creating fear in the minds of Nigerians by their statement and not the government’s handling of the security challenge. This is both shocking and painfully embarrassing. Are we back to the days of Abacharism and the Chukwumerije’s press shenanigans? The issue of security is too serious to be politicised in the way the government is doing.

 

 

The other narrative comes from other Nigerians who say that all is not well with Nigeria and that the security situation is frightening. Making travels and even living in your own home unpredictable. Therefore, Nigeria is very unsafe. Our citizens could be kidnapped either at home or on the roads; in the city or in the village, on the farmlands, no one is safe.

 

 

Our citizens are killed every day. Life is valueless today in Nigeria. The Nigeria of 2019 is worse than the Nigeria of 1999, that’s 20 years down the line. The government may deny this for all it wants but the Nigeria of today is in a sorry state – security-wise.

 

 

A government living in denial of its citizens’ security is a government which is abdicating its social contract with the people and either intentionally or unintentionally, acting as a rogue state. The government is sounding as though they have become apologists for the criminal elements in our midst especially the Fulani herdsmen. The herdsmen are literally on a rampage today. Invading university campuses just like Boko Haram. I have heard some people argue that criminality should not be racialized in order to avoid profiling. The issue is not about profiling but our collective resolve to find a way to deal with those causing these pains. Let’s act wisely and responsibly to make such attacks history in Nigeria.

 

 

Today, such lingos as Islamophobia, Christianophobia, Fulanization are showing up. Let’s call a spade a spade. If someone hates Muslims, condemn it as such. It is not right. Similarly, if someone hates Christians, condemn it. It is also not right. Naming it sometimes leads to shaming it. If you value your ethnic identity, then work to promote the right values and not insist on political correctness which only hurts us all as a nation. Those who live to protect the interest of these attackers and kidnappers today will leave to regret in future. So, call criminality out and its drivers, so that we can collectively, with wisdom and love, deal with it according to the laws of our land and the forgiveness of God. Government’s impunity and apologists posture, over the security challenges of our nation, is the most bizarre thing I have seen in 21st Century Nigeria.

 

 

This present government should cover its face in shame. The way they are dealing with our collective security as a nation so far shows an abysmal failure. There is a need for a change of attitude on the part of the government in the way our security challenges are handled. Frankly, this government is becoming a real liability unless they intentionally choose the noble path of changing for the better. Otherwise, we may still have four more hellish years to contend with.

 

 

But guess what; this too (the cup of political affliction and emotional torture) shall pass away! I sincerely pray Nigeria will survive to make it. Everything is not all about politics. Is it any wonder they are seeking to re-define the word revolution? The patience of Nigerians can only go so far. One day there will be a mass uprising if things don’t change in this country. It is very sad.

 

 

Some ethnic groups have resorted to self-help to tackle insecurity. What is the import?

 

 

I will rather rephrase this to be self-defense. This is what failure of government has inspired! Unfortunately, unless something drastic is done, President Buhari and his government may turn out to be the most ethnicised in the history of Nigeria. Is this the best the North can offer to rest of Nigeria as a President? I am perplexed and really weeping inside.

 

 

From the Southwest, the Yorubas are thinking of how to protect themselves as they are no longer sure of what the government will do. Judging from what has been happening in the Middle Belt, the Northeast and Northwestern Nigeria people are really thinking of how to protect themselves from these marauding attackers. The Middle Belt has long been talking about self-help in the face of constant violence. It’s only a matter of time this will become a reality if things continue this way. The South-South guys are talking of protecting themselves as well – if, in fact, they are not already doing so. The Southeast is similarly crying and seeking to protect herself. In the Northeast, the Civilian JTF and vigilantes are complimenting what our soldiers are doing. I salute those innocent boys and girls in the military who are daily paying costly sacrifices and some with their lives to keep Boko Haram at bay. May their souls’ rest in peace and may God continue to comfort their families and provide for their loved ones.

 

 

But one must ask, for how long? The killings have become unconscionable, unbearable and unacceptable. A responsible government should never allow this to linger on for so long while they keep generating fake narratives in explaining away what is happening. Some of us are unimpressed because what we hear from the government is untenable. There is a disconnect between what is said and what is happening. To believe that people will fold their hands and allow themselves to be killed on a regular basis as we see in Nigeria is untenable. Added to this, is to believe that their ancestral lands will be grabbed, or they will be forced to vacate their homes, only God knows till when. Even if you drive people away and forcibly take away their lands, 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years from now, they will fight their way back to reclaim their land. If the present generation does not do it, future generations will act. Rwanda is a case in point.

 

 

Let’s learn from history. All we keep getting from the government is one narrative after another and this keeps changing with almost every attack. I am into peace building and as an ordained reverend and Peace Advocate, I believe in the peace that is predicated on justice. I believe in promoting justice in any peace building journey. Peace building is a process. Any peace agreement which is not predicated on justice is an injustice. You simply cannot machete people into subjugation, gun-them into submission; and neither can you bomb them into extinction. It won’t work. Those dreaming such are failed 21st Century narcissists. Time will tell!

 

 

Therefore, the yearning for self-help in the context of self-defense can hardly be faulted. If the government does what she should do for the protection of all, these sorts of conversation won’t be necessary. But this is a matter of life and death. I challenge all the people in government to give up all their security details, protective armoured cars, hidden bunkers and travel our roads just like all citizens and let’s hear their argument regarding self-defense. They are living in a false paradise so they can afford to see self-defense in a negative light.

 

 

Buhari is slamming those who are critical of his government, accusing them of not being patriotic. What is your take on that?

 

 

To the best of my knowledge, freedom of speech is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This aspect should actually help to celebrate our diversity as culturally diverse people. In fact, the last time I checked, Nigeria remains a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nation. I am not aware that being critical of our government or her policies is a criminal offence either in our constitution or the penal code of Nigeria.

 

 

Therefore, the most recent pre-emptive arrest of Sowore, the self-acclaimed leader of the RevolutionNow group because of the protest marches on August 5th is a bad signal both locally and internationally. If the government thinks that by doing this they will succeed in sending shivers down the political spines of Nigerians then they are making a BIG mistake. It won’t deter people not because of Sowore’s popularity or acceptability but because it is simply wrong to try and silence people or voices of dissent in this way.

 

 

People will continue to dare government and government should come off the illusion that they can scare people into political surrender. It won’t happen. President Mohammadu Buhari should simply chat with Muammar Ghaddafi, the anger of the people does not simply disappear because of scare tactics however brutal. Unfortunately, Ghaddafi the self-acclaimed strongman of Libyan politics is no more. Let our President chat with ‘Uncle Bob’ Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Let him consult President Deng Xiaoping of China as Tiananmen Square could be child’s play    in Nigeria. Our President should learn something more positive from the present Chinese President Xi Jinping. The government needs to remember that there is always that one day. A simple spark and it becomes a catalytic moment and that’s it. Nigeria is beyond any single person. No leader should be deceived. There is no absolute power either by one leader or those he or she surrounds themselves with. It takes just one day.

 

 

So, I will rather suggest that Mr. President thinks more about what positive impact he will make through the APC programs his party has for Nigerians than this political grandstanding with despotic zest. The government sometimes by some of its actions and inactions has shown itself to be very unpatriotic.

 

 

Look at the massive corruption on display in Nigeria. The recent global rankings of Transparency International says it all. Look at Nigeria’s position between 2016 to date. What is there to celebrate about patriotism? Who are the worst road traffic lawbreakers in Nigeria today? Government officials drive through with reckless abandon. Is this being patriotic? Victory at the ballot box is not a license to do as you please whether as governor, NASS member or minister. Are these acts of intimidation in the name of national security, right? Who are those who eat up and deplete our pension savings; the protesters or government workers? In fact, it is the government’s political appointees. Yet the same government does not want to be criticized?

 

 

If they do what is in consonance with the wishes of the citizens, won’t we commend them? Let them secure the release of Leah Sharibu, Alice Ngaddah, the Chibok girls and more recently Grace Tuka; and countless nameless others – both Christians and Muslims in captivity. If these are released from Boko Haram and ISWAP captivity, there will not just be commendation but jubilation in support of this government. Let them deliver these captives and see what will happen.

 

 

Let them end the killings, let them promote social justice and treat all Nigerians with fairness. Let them provide gainful employment to our teeming youths and graduates and see. Let government free several Nigerians in kidnappers’ den. We are hearing now that paying a ransom is not enough for you to regain your freedom. You could still be killed even after your ransom has been paid! Yet, people should not cry out and protest? Where is the government in power which claims to be in charge?

 

 

The real people criticizing the government are those who show the government to be powerless in their daredevil kidnappings as and when they choose. In those who invade villages and our farms and kill freely? Those who create disorder in our society and make the government look helpless. These are unpatriotic elements in our midst and these are the people government should be going after with their State might and not harmless protesters.

 

 

I just read that a Federal High Court has ruled that Sowore be remanded in prison for terrorism reasons? Why? This is very curious. IPOB, terrorism. IMN, terrorism. Sowore another case of terrorism or just what again? And yet the Fulani herdsmen? What’s this about? Isn’t this nother dance of shame in the public square of the comity of nations? These are the sorts of actions which makes injustice so glaring. It stinks and stings the conscience!!! Sadly, instead of striking fear, it will only embolden people in the long run.

 

 

The President took some time to submit the list of ministerial nominees to National Assembly; but failed to assign portfolios as expected. He has set up a committee to do that. Isn’t this time-wasting an indication that Mr. President is unprepared for governance?

 

 

I recall that six months passed by before the Ministerial nominees were submitted in 2015. The excuse we had was that the President needed more time to put his cabinet together. The list eventually came out; practically nothing seems to have justified the needless wait; nothing radical among those nominated and later appointed to serve. Before the ministers’ names were submitted to the Senate for screening, a major decision was taken and billions of naira was voted in to prospect for oil by the NNPC, in Northern, Nigeria. I understand that nothing came out of this rather wasteful exercise. This time around, the President has been in power for four years – one would have expected a much speedier approach but we have had to wait for another three months. Why this is the case again remains to be seen. Now, what is lost by many Nigerians is the fact that even before the Ministers were approved, a major decision was taken to implement RUGA. The begging question is – who approved this decision without the Minister of Agriculture in place to oversee the implementation? The massive outcry from Nigerians against this ‘smuggled decision’ forced the government to beat a tactical retreat. Before we could recover from that suspension, some Northern Group issued a 30-day ultimatum for the same government to reverse the decision to suspend RUGA. Does this show a government in full charge?

 

 

Citizens are now issuing ultimatum to a sitting government. Yet some Nigerians wanted to protest the social conditions in our country today and they are picked up and charged to court? What selective system of justice or injustice are we seeing before our very eyes – in a country that is adjured a leader in Africa and regional power? Now RUGA misstep took place even before the Minister of Agriculture is sworn in? As at the time of this interview, we do not know who the Minister of Agriculture will be. Yet, RUGA saga, though suspended, was to have been executed during a so-called ‘waiting’ period when a decision of this magnitude was to have been implemented? Something is surely amiss.

 

 

The bill seeking to transfer control of water banks to the Federal Government has been resubmitted to the National Assembly for consideration. Do you agree with those who think there is a hidden motive?

 

 

This government is almost turning into a control freak! RUGA, unless it is revisited, redefined and subjected to rigorous healthy national conversation is sadly pointing in this direction. How does the government seek to solve some problems by creating more social combustion? How could our government appear so insensitive in strategic decision making?

 

 

This government seems to me suffers from a colonial mindset which requires an urgent reset. Do I see any hidden motive in the executive bill? Well, I haven’t read the bill so it’s difficult to say. However, I dislike the smell of it. Coming so soon on the heels of the ‘suspended RUGA’ saga is needless overheating of the polity by the same government. What’s the rush for? We will just have to wait and see if the National Assembly members will serve the interest of the nation or not.

 

 

Political party interest may not always align with our collective national interest. Worst still, an individual interest which is predated on parochial interest will only end up creating distance and alienation among the populace. Nigeria can do better but lack of 21st Century creative problem-solving leadership is so glaring. Let the government humble itself and invite constructive ideas from well-meaning Nigerians to help guide this nation in such a turbulent moment. Crisis moment if well managed by the leader could result in transforming the nation.

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mckinley Bizub

    November 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    very cool

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Business

Bank mistakenly deposits $37m into woman’s account

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Bank mistakenly deposits $37m into woman’s account

A clerical error by her bank made a North Texas woman a millionaire for a day.

KTVT-TV reports that when Dallas resident Ruth Balloon checked her bank account earlier this week, it had some extra money in it: an extra $37 million to be exact.

Balloon had wanted to believe “someone really gifted us with that $37 million” but she knew it was too good to be true, reports The Associated Press.

Her husband called their bank, LegacyTexas, which informed the couple the extra money wasn’t a Christmas miracle but a mistake. The bank apologized and took the money back.

The bank told the television in a statement that even if Balloon had not caught the error, it would have been spotted and corrected. The bank said the manual entry error that resulted in the mistake has been addressed.

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Aviation

Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims

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Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims

The remains of 38 people killed in a military plane crash have been flown to a military base in Chile for identification.

“A C-130 plane [just like the one that went down on Monday] arrived at the Chabunco airbase, with the first findings of human remains and personal items .. these were already delivered to the Public Ministry … to confirm the identity of the people that went missing,” the Chilean air force said in a tweet on Friday.

On Friday, a total of 39 relatives of 11 crash victims flew from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas, where the base is located, to provide DNA samples.

Thirty-eight people – 21 passengers and 17 crew – were on the plane that crashed on Monday, en route to a base in far-southern Chile on a regular maintenance flight for an Antarctic base, reports al-Jazeera.

Radio contact was lost 70 minutes later.

After midnight, the air force declared the plane a loss, but it was not until Wednesday that a plane scanning the seas first spotted floating debris believed to be from the plane.

Authorities say they have not ruled out anything as to the cause of the crash, while they also called for national mourning on Saturday and Sunday.

According to reports, the plane made no emergency signal prior to its disappearance, indicating the circumstances of the accident were likely abrupt.

The air force has said the plane’s maintenance record was in order.

It also said it will investigate a WhatsApp audio message sent by a passenger to relatives that allegedly said the plane was having electrical problems.

The plane was flying over the Drake Passage, the sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica, which is infamous for rapidly-changing and often severe weather.

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Report: US reaches deal in principle on trade with China

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Report: US reaches deal in principle on trade with China

The United States has reached a “phase-one” trade deal in principle with China, a source briefed on talks between the two nations said on Thursday, saying a statement from the White House was expected soon.

Trump was scheduled to huddle with his top trade advisers at 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) on Thursday. Ahead of the meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told senators that announcements were possibly “imminent” on U.S. tariffs, senior Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters.

Bloomberg News was first to report a deal in principle had been reached.

U.S. negotiators have offered to reduce tariffs on about $375 billion in Chinese goods by 50% across the board, two people familiar with the negotiations said, and suspend tariffs on $160 billion in goods scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, reports Reuters.

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NDIC: Mobile money subscribers hit 9.25m in H1’19

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NDIC: Mobile money subscribers hit 9.25m in H1’19

The number of subscribers to the 23 mobile money operators (MMOs) in the country stood at 9.25million as at the first half of this year, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, has said.

He disclosed this at the 16th edition of the workshop for business editors and members of tmFinance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN), which ended in Yola yesterday.

Represented by Mohammed Kudu of the Communications and Public Affairs Department of the NDIC, Ibrahim cited the provision of Deposit Insurance Coverage (DIS) to subscribers of MMOs to maximum limit of ₦500,000.00 through the Pass-Through Deposit Insurance Framework, as one   of the significant reforms embarked upon by the corporation.

Another such reform, according to him,   is the NDIC’s extension of DIS coverage to micro finance banks (MFBs) and primary mortgage banks (PMBs).

He said: “In 2010, the maximum deposit insurance coverage was increased from N200,000 and N100,000 to N500,000 and N200,000 for deposit money banks (DMBs) and MFBs and PMBs, respectively. The coverage level for the PMBs was later reviewed upward to N500, 000.”

Other significant reforms embarked upon by the NDIC  during  the period, according  to Ibrahim,  are the development of Enterprise Risk Management, implementation of Differential Premium Assessment System (DPAS), Capacity Building in Risk-Based Supervision (RBS), deployment of a Performance Management System, enhanced Deb Recovery System and increased pay-out to both insured and uninsured depositors.

The NDIC boss also  stated that  as at June 30, 2019, the corporation received a total number of 35 petitions/complaints from  bank customers on various issues such as  Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud, unauthorised fund transfers  and cheque related  problems, adding  that  “investigations and mediation were carried out where necessary and customers were appropriately reprieved.”

In addition, he emphasised that following the issuance of the framework for licensing and regulation of payment service banks (PSBs) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which stipulated the extension of deposit insurance coverage to PSB depositors, the NDIC  would protect the depositors of PSBs and guarantee  to pay them N500,000.00 as insured sum in the event of  the financial institutions’ closure.

Noting that fintech and digital currencies were witnessing rapid deployment globally and in these parts, the NDIC chief executive pointed out that the corporation  in  August 2019, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on experience sharing and capacity building with the Korean Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC) and the Taiwan Central Deposit Insurance Corporation to further deepen the implementation of the DIS in Nigeria, adding that the MOU also aims to enhance the NDIC’s capacity to understand and supervise the fintech and the digital currencies phenomenon.”

He stated that the support of the media had been instrumental to the successful implementation of the DIS by the corporation since its inception 30 years ago, noting that “it is in recognition of the crucial and strategic role the media has to play in the actualisation of our own objectives that the NDIC has remained faithful in its support for the annual FICAN conference along with the editors’ forum.”

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PZ Cussons’ profit dips on weak consumer spending

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PZ Cussons’ profit dips on weak consumer spending

Cosmetics and soap maker, PZ Cussons Plc, reported lower half-yearly profits on Thursday due to weak consumer spending in its major markets.

The maker of Imperial Leather soap and Carex handwash also said Alex Kanellis, a company veteran, who has been at the helm for 13 years, would retire on Jan. 31.

The company is facing challenges both at home as well as in its African business that makes up more than a third of revenue, as Britons cut back on spending and demand for personal care brands dwindles in key African markets.

According to Reuters, PZ also reported lower revenue for the first half, but expressed optimism for the second half.

“A stronger second half is expected subject to no further worsening of the economic and trading environments across our key geographies,” the company said in a statement.

Still, full-year revenue and adjusted profit before tax is expected to be modestly below the prior year on a like-for-like basis, the company said.

Non-Executive Chair, Caroline Silver, will become executive chair following Kanellis’s exit, the company said, adding that it expected to find his successor in the first half of 2020.

Shares in PZ Cussons, which said it would provide an update on cost-saving measures at a later date, looked set to open five per cent lower on the London Stock Exchange, according to premarket indicators.

PZ Cussons Nigeria had early in the year denied reports that it is pulling out of Nigeria as reported by  some online medium.

In a statement issued  by PZ Cussons Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Christos Giannopoulos, he described the stories as false.

He said the headline was misleading and creating the impression that PZ had decided to leave the country.

The CEO explained that the trading statement issued to the London Stock Exchange was clear on PZ Cussons’ continued operations in Nigeria.

“While these conditions prevail, we will maintain our strong market shares in key product categories in Nigeria until growth returns to the market,” he stated.

“This year, 2019, we shall be celebrating 120 years of making life better and adding value to Nigeria.

“In our 120 years of doing business in Nigeria, we have faced different conditions and come out stronger at the end of each phase.

“We confirm to our shareholders, consumers, customers, employees, business partners and stakeholders that Nigeria still remains a market of interest for us and have made no plans to leave Nigeria. Our factories in Ikorodu, Aba and all our distribution centres around the country are operational and will continue to be,” the statement said.

The firm’s parent company in the UK has been issuing cautionary trading statements ahead of the release of its quarterly results as its business in Nigeria faced tough conditions due to weak consumer demand precipitated by a lingering recession.

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Business

Christmas rush: Controversy over Nigerian rice re-bagging

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Christmas rush: Controversy over Nigerian rice re-bagging

Following massive rush to buy rice for Yuletide and New Year celebrations, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned business owners involved in sharp practices of revalidating expired rice and also repackaging Nigerian rice as foreign to desist from the act in the interest of the  economy. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

Already, the hierarchy of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) led by Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had raised the alarm over existence of expired rice in circulation.

Ali, who made this known when the customs destroyed containers of foreign rice smuggled into the country recently, warned that Nigerians were eating expired rice without knowing.

The comptroller-general blamed importers of the commodity for not saying the truth on the state of what was being imported into the country.

He, however, applauded the country’s border closure policy of the Federal Government, saying that the closure would benefit the nation in future.

However, despite the attempt to take the minds of Nigerians away from foreign rice consumption, it was learnt that the preference is still outweighing that of local rice as investigations carried out by this newspaper showed that Nigerians are desperately looking for foreign rice to buy for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Amid this mass rush for foreign rice by Nigerians, there are insinuations that business owners involved in the country’s rice value chain are now secretly bagging local rice with foreign labels and also jerking up the price tag following Nigerians preference for foreign commodity.

In fact, the fallout of rice conversion from local to foreign ones is mind blowing.

Why foreign rice patronage

Recently, a survey on the rice market across the six geo-political zones in the country by the Economic Confidential team observed that foreign rice such as Mama Gold, Royal Stallion, Rice Master, Caprice, Falcon Rice and Basmati were sold alongside Nigerian rice such as Umza and Fursa Crown from Kano, Mama Happy from Niger, Labana Rice from Kebbi, Olam Rice from Nasarawa, Abakaliki Rice from Ebonyi, Ofada Rice from Ogun State, Swomen Dama from Plateau, Lake Rice of Lagos/Kebbi States among others.

The reason for the sale can be attributed to the fact that the desire for Nigerian rice is still low, thereby raising doubt as to Nigerians’ preferences for local rice.

Stakeholders in the rice sub-sector, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) had given kudos to the Central Bank of Nigeria for the timely intervention and banning of rice import into the country since 2015 without issuing of Form M, a development that has seen growth in local production, thereby saving foreign exchange for the country.

On-the-spot checks by the magazine showed that the preponderance of foreign rice in these markets by merchants who said that profits coming from foreign rice far out-weigh the local rice which majority of those interviewed believed has more nutritional value than the foreign rice.

However, what cannot be fathomed is why still preference for foreign rice by Nigerians despite the border closure, ban and aggressive local production of rice milling?

Locally fabricated rice de-stoner machine

Speaking on the changes that need to embrace by local millers to bring sanity to the country’s rice value chain, an agriculture expert, Mrs. Bridget Obi, charged the three tiers of government to embrace and adopt the locally fabricated rice de-stoner innovation machine to boost local rice production in Nigeria.

Obi, also the former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Youths Development in Anambra State, disclosed this at the unveiling ceremony of three agricultural devices by the Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE) in Oshodi, Lagos recently.

According to her, the agricultural devices were: scale down rice de-stoner,castor oil de-husking machine and automated mains failure device.

Obi pointed out that these rice machines would ensure accelerated production and reduces drudgery, especially in the processing of agricultural produces in the country.

“We don’t need to import rice again. The Federal Government should support various institutions to help in driving technology that will help our nation to achieve our agricultural goals. “Without technology, we can do nothing; it helps to save cost, manpower and man hour,” she added.

She said local rice production should henceforth be encouraged with the devices to assist in addressing the major challenge of local rice.

“With huge amount released by CBN toward increasing rice production, the NATE scale down rice de-stoner will increase mass production of quality rice to ensure availability in the farming communities. “I urge governments to give necessary assistance in ensuring mass production of the machines at subsidised rate.

“They should be made available to farmers at a very low interest rate with long term repayment plan,” Obi said.

NAFDAC’s warning

However, NAFDAC has read the riot act warning business owners involved in sharp practices of revalidating expired rice and repackaging local rice as foreign to desist from the act.

The Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Christiana Adeyeye, in a statement made available to New Telegraph recently, called on Nigerians to be vigilant, and exercise discretion when purchasing rice and other food items.

“NAFDAC is fully alive to her responsibilities of assuring the safety, wholesomeness and quality of foods and other regulated products offered for sale to the public,” she noted.

She said the Ogun State office of NAFDAC received a report from the Department of State Services (DSS) in the state of ongoing food fraud at Oke-Aje market in Ijebu Ode

“We, in company of men of the Nigeria Police Force proceeded to the scene of the illegal activity. On arrival, the suspected perpetrators of the food fraud instigated unnamed persons to unleash mayhem on the team of investigators

“However, enforcement officers of the agency and its Federal Task Force team stormed the market in company of DSS officials. They sighted miscreants at the market who took to their heels.

“Bags of expired rice, caked rice, bags of local rice, bags of popular foreign rice and sealing machines were found in the shops the NAFDAC enforcement team finally gained access into.

“Three shops were sealed during the operation. It is instructive to note that expired and caked rice are unwholesome as they contain moulds and microorganism that cause diseases which are of immense public health concern,” she added.

She called on Nigerians to report cases of re-bagging and sale of caked and expired rice or other food items to the nearest NAFDAC office across the federation.

Last line

With this disturbing report of re-bagging, sale of caked, expired rice or other food items in the country, it has shown that government needs to do more in its monitoring activities by extending its searchlight beyond borders as perpetrators are ready to make more gains on Nigerians through re-bagging of Nigerian rice as foreign ones.

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Business

WISTA: NPA boss calls for improved female empowerment

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WISTA: NPA boss calls for improved female empowerment

The Managing Director, Nigerian Port Authority, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, has called on women in maritime sector under the aegis of Women in International Shipping and Trade Association (WISTA) to work towards balancing gender gap in the work place.

Speaking at the 25th anniversary of the association in Lagos, Bala-Usman, who was represented by Dr. Chinwe Abama, said that pursuing gender balancing would enable women to get fair advancement that commensurates with their qualifications and experience.

“When a woman is empowered, you are invariably empowering a whole generation that will benefit from the quality of leadership that is exceptional and unique to women.

“The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as ensuring in SDG (4,5,8,.10) aim for inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all; Gender quality and empowerment of women and girls; Decent work and economic growth; Reducing inequality in the lives of women.

“Emphasis should be laid on innovation by enabling women discover themselves, build personal and corporate brands, identity that differentiate them in society making them not only unique and authentic but visible to rise into role of leadership and influential position,” Bala-Usman said.

She maintained that women were not asking for equality in terms of power with men but are earnestly calling for equal opportunities, adding that women were special gift from the unfathomable unknown and are greatly endowed with special qualities.

She further argued that there was evidence to show that institutions with more women leaders have better performance and achieve higher economic growth.

Also speaking , Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Dame Pauline Tallen said that the most effective approach towards balancing the gender gap in maritime participation was to ensure qualitative priority education of the girl child, particularly in terms of equal opportunities at the developmental level.

According to her, “this explains my priority focus on girl-child education as the fulcrum for balancing the gender gap in the society.

“And to achieve this, we are collaborating with the ministry of education to promote enrolment, retention and completion rate of girls in schools at all levels.

WISTA also unveiled its first ever magazine, a development which Pauline noted and lauded, saying that women operating in the nation’s maritime industry may become the bedrock on which genders equality in Nigeria may one day, lean on.

“It is heartwarming to note that the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, Nigeria, is driving the vision of creating a credible platform for women in this sector to network and forge stronger partnerships.

“For this, I salute the leadership of the organization and encourage you to sustain the momentum.

“The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality. Therefore, balancing gender gap in the maritime sector connotes that there is inequality in opportunities and need to be rectified.

“It requires that from the onset young girls receive quality education to prepare them to make the rightful choices in life; especially in careers in maritime,” she said.

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Oil workers parley to tackle challenges

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Oil workers parley to tackle challenges

The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), and Petroleum Dealers Association of Nigeria (PEDAN) are collaborating to tackle challenges confronting members in the downstream sector.

Among the challenges is a plea for the international oil companies (IOCs) to look into their rebate, which they describe as presently very low.

PEDAN team led by Hamlet Emman solicited NUPENG’s assistance in this regard during a recent visit of the leadership of the Interim PEDAN to NUPENG Secretariat in Lagos.

Reiterating the union’s support and assistance to the Association, Williams Akporeha, President of NUPENG, urged that they embrace workers’ right to unionisation at their various filling stations.

Akporeha, however, said that NUPENG has commenced negotiation with Nexen Petroleum Ltd. in furtherance of its commitment to social dialogue.

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Unemployment: ILO restates importance of Nigerian forum

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Unemployment: ILO restates importance of Nigerian forum

Following the growing youth unemployment in Africa, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has declared that the forum organised in Nigeria in August was apt to address the unfortunate development.

Speaking on the challenges facing Africa as regards unemployment at the 14th African Regional Meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Director-General, (ILO) Guy Ryder, said that despite opportunities to be proud of within the continent, a number of challenges are also there to contend with.

According to him, “our meeting is taking place at a time when the global economy is stalling: estimates for next year will show growth to be only three per cent worldwide, and about 4 percent to the continent. It is in this context that the challenge of employment in Africa will have to be met: to create 26 million productive jobs every year in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“It is also in this context that the $68 billion annual financing gap will have to be filled in order to finance the investments needed to make universal social protection a reality in Africa.”

The ILO boss said that it was estimated that by 2035 the labor force would grow by more than 60 per cent in Africa, adding that “it is a tremendous demographic dividend for growth and development, provided that all the jobs that it needs can be created, without which this development will lead to more economic, social and migratory pressures.

“That is why it was particularly timely for Nigeria to host the Global Forum on Youth Employment in Abuja in August, and I was very pleased to be able to participate.”

He pointed out that new technologies opened up entirely new perspectives for development in Africa, with real breakthroughs if these technologies can be applied and deployed successfully.

“However, the danger is that digital divide and marginalization will become worse if the necessary investments and innovation are lacking.

“Africa has a unique renewable energy potential, which gives it an extraordinary advantage in the transition more than ever necessary to climate neutrality. At the same time, we are witnessing the continent’s vulnerability to climate change, which gives rise to fears of large-scale population displacement and the destruction of their livelihoods.

“Experience has shown us that the benefits globalization brings to Africa depend entirely on the conditions in which it integrates into the global systems of trade, investment, finance, migration and technologies. Hence, ladies and gentlemen, the imperative need to strengthen the global foundations for sustainable, balanced and just development for Africa’s future prosperity.

“This is to say how important are the issues of the discussions that we will have this week here in Abidjan. It is about how to apply in Africa the approach to the future of human-centered work enshrined in the Declaration of the Centenary adopted in June by the International Labor Conference.”

On her part, the ILO’s head of employment and labour markets, Sukti Dasgupta, described the youth unemployment crisis in Africa as a reflection of ineffective development strategies, saying that serious and honest political will was needed to avoid a disaster.

Of the over 226 million youth on the continent, 13.4 million are unemployed, while 52.2 million are not in employment education or training.

Dasgupta said the biggest problem that has exacerbated the youth unemployment crisis was a lack of opportunities and that drastic action is needed to fix this.

“There is a time bomb about to explode, I would say. The number of youth in the labour market is rising. By 2040 you will have a labour force size on the African continent which will be the combined size of the labour market in India and China,” she noted.

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Pressure mounts on govt to tax vacant properties

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Pressure mounts on govt to tax vacant properties

As one of the remedies to check money laundering and corruption in the country, both federal  and state government have been urged to tax all vacant houses  in most value precincts and communities across Nigeria.

According to real estate professionals under the auspices of Society for Professional Valuation (SPV), more than 80 per cent of proceeds of corruption in the country find their way into real estate, hence the  need to tax  vacant houses that have remained in the market in the last two to seven years.

Leading the call  to  commemorate the United Nations (UN) Global Anti-Corruption in Lagos, Chairman of SPV, Mr. Sola Enitan, stated that government would need to send tax notifications to owners of  these properties once the vacant period exceeds one year.

He said: “In most high value precincts and communities in Nigeria, large swathes of vacant homes exist with the owners uncaring and unperturbed about the long- vacancies of the properties running into years.

“Government should realise that these are symphony of money laundering and such properties ought to be taxed to ensure that they are engaged in productive occupation.”

The SPV boss advised Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies to upscale their efforts in the fight against money laundering in the country.

He pointed out that effects of the scourge on economic growth among others included loss of economic policy, erosion of financial institution systems, weakening of the financial sectors and evasion of tax.

New Telegraph gathered that most of these buildings, which have stayed more than five to eight years unoccupied, are located in exclusive quarters of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki in Lagos; Maitaima, Asokoro, in Abuja and other locations in the federation.

Secretary and Public Relations Officer of the association, Isaac Fabiyi and Adetokunbo Fakeye respectively, said Nigeria had been described as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, adding that pervasive corruption in Nigeria constituted a major threat and underlined most of the money laundering cases reported in recent time.

For over 27 years, they noted that government had committed itself to combating corruption and money laundering to set the stage in confronting the menace on economic activities, and to comply with the Vienna Convention.

Enitan further listed some causes and methodologies of money laundering in Nigeria, pointing out that the menace had the tradition of eroding financial institutions and weakening the financial sector’s role in economic growth.

“It has the habit of facilitating corruption, crime and other illegal activities at the expense of the country development and increase the risk of macroeconomic instability,” he said.

Suggesting ways out, Enitan urged government to make asset declaration by public officials a must before and after their term in office, adding that an independent body such as Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) should ensure their asset declaration was true and made public.

“Pre and post-construction development appraisal ought to be done to clear issues of over and under invoicing,” he stated.

Besides, he stated  that procurement officers from public and private institutions should be held accountable through professional certification and strict ethical conduct.

He called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to establish an online land registry to which a catalogue of all titled properties nationwide will be seated, where owners of lands and properties will be known with cover ups exposed and their sources of wealth fully disclosed.

Besides, he urged EFCC to work with other international intelligence agencies to report suspicious movement of funds in accounts suspected of belonging to Nigerians across the globe, adding that all suspicious transactions be reported to the appropriate authorities.

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