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Basic infrastructure: Reps make case for border communities

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The House of Representatives has urged the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) to provide infrastructure in the border communities to check migration to other countries.

The house mandated Committees on Special Duties and Appropriations to provide funds in the 2020 budget for the provision of basic facilities in the border communities.

Mohammed Bio (APC-Kwara) at the plenary on Wednesday.

that Nigeria has many communities that share borders with neighboring countries like Republic of Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

that several towns and villages including Chikanda, Sinaguru, Aroguru, Taberu, Boriya, Gure, Yanri, Bukuro, Gbabe and Karonji are some of the border communities in Baruten and Kaiama Local Government Areas of Kwara.

According to him, the proximity of those communities to the Republic of Benin opens doors for National and International business transactions between both sides.

Bio said that despite the commercial importance of those border communities, there are no significant infrastructural facilities .

 to the Benin Republic.

According to him, they move for medical attention and quality education which does not portray a good image for the nation.

“If the absence of infrastructural facilities in the border communities are not urgently addressed, the people will continue to suffer deprivation and Nigeria will be the worst for it,” he said.

The house urged the BCDA to employ indigenes of border communities to ensure that they represent the interests of their communities.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabimila forwarded the matter to the relevant committee to ensure compliance.

Edited by Jane (NAN)-Frances Oraka/Sadiya Hamza

Ericjames Ochigbo: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Agriculture

IITA, partners launch phase 2 BASICS 11 cassava project

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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan and partners have launched phase II of the Building an Economically Sustainable and Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS-11) project.

Speaking on the launch at IITA on Thursday, the Project Manager, Prof. Lateef Sanni said the project aimed to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting dissemination of improved varieties.

This will, in turn, create a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that those the partnering IITA on the project are the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, Catholic Relief Service, African Development Bank (AfDB) and Umudike Seeds among others.

Sanni said that it would nurture the development of sustainable early generation seed systems through public-private partnerships.

According to him, the project will also provide farmers with access to affordable, quality-assured seeds of the cassava varieties in demand by local food and processor markets through the establishment of a commercially viable seed value chain.

The project manager further said that the value chain would enable more efficient dissemination and adoption of new varieties to improve productivity, raise incomes of cassava growers and seed entrepreneurs.

He added that it would enhance gender equity and contribute to inclusive agricultural transformation in Nigeria and Tanzania.

Sanni also emphasised that the project would work with cassava processors and out-grower schemes to multiply certified seeds for farmers.

“It will ensure that improved varieties of cassava are disseminated in a structured and sustainable manner through seed systems.

“Customer feedback and sales data generated by the seed systems will be continuously shared with breeders to inform refining of their target product profiles and product advancement decisions.

“BASICS 11 consist of six components.

These include ensuring the integration of breeding and seed system activities; development of early generation seed enterprises and development of commercial seed entrepreneurs.

“It also consists of development of the processor-associated seed system model, quality control and disease management as well as catalysing scaling and replication through partners,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, remarked the Federal Government was passionate about the development of agriculture and farmers in the country.

Nanono pledged continuous support to the development of the project in the country.

The minister thanked IITA and partners for efforts made in the conduct of research for the nourishment of the agricultural sector in Nigeria and Africa at large.

Earlier, the institute’s Director-General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga remarked that in the last five years, there had been a lot of revolution in the cassava seed system of IITA.

“If cassava will continuously be important in Africa, the seed system must be given adequate development.

“So, I urge all stakeholders to ensure a sustainable cassava business system after the next four/five years of this project,’’ Sanginga said.

He thanked the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and other partners for the full support they had given to the development of BASICS I and II projects in Nigeria and Tanzania.

Also, the IITA Deputy Director-General, Partnerships for Delivery, Dr Kenton Dashiell, said the project would focus on Nigeria and Tanzania with a spin-off to other African countries.

Dashiell said it was to create a value chain for cassava where all stakeholders would make a good profit in their businesses.

“It’s all going to be business and all about business for us to achieve this.

“There is need to create a correct and enabling environment involving all stakeholders,’’ he said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

Iran to use monetary resources in Iraq to buy basic commodities

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Iran will use its monetary resources in Iraq to buy non-sanctioned and basic commodities, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.

In a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Ali Mohsen Ismail al-Alaq in Baghdad on Wednesday, Hemmati stressed the need for the promotion of monetary and banking cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad and the employment of a joint mechanism to expedite the process of supplying Iran’s needs for basic commodities.

In the meeting, representatives of the central banks of Iran and Iraq were tasked with working out the details of joint mechanism to put it into practice.

Iran and Iraq signed an agreement in 2019 to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Zimbabwe central bank blames forward pricing for surge in cost of basic commodities

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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on Tuesday blamed forward pricing as one of the main contributors to the skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities and depreciation of the local dollar.

Prices of basic commodities are rising every week as manufacturers track rates on the parallel market where they are getting most of their foreign currency.

RBZ said the increase of prices was caused, in part, by the growing tendency by the business sector to forward price goods and services in anticipation of upward exchange rate movements.

“Price determination in the economy by businesses is being established on the basis of expectations about the depreciation of the exchange rate and prices that will exist in the future,” the bank said in a statement.

“This forward pricing system or practice of front-loading anticipated exchange rates in the current prices based on fear factor is detrimental to the economy, as it leads to self-fulfilling depreciation in the exchange rate, with negative knock-on effects on prices,” it said.

Commenting on depreciation in the exchange rate experienced over the past few weeks, the RBZ said a number of factors were responsible for the prevailing situation.

“It was largely a result of behavioral and other non-monetary factors such as negative perceptions, adverse expectations and speculative tendencies of economic agents and tracking of the Old Mutual Implied Rate (OMIR), which was quoted at around 140 Zimbabwe dollars (ZWL) to 1 United States dollar over that period.

“The depreciation was divorced from economic fundamentals, as it occurred immediately after the opening of the tobacco selling season, which is traditionally associated with stability and appreciation of the local currency,” it said.

RBZ said the recent introduction of 10 ZWL and 20 ZWL notes did not represent an increase in money supply, but a substitution of electronic dollars to physical notes.

Experts have been lobbying the apex bank to put a lid on money supply in order to arrest inflation.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Black market rates run amok in Zimbabwe as price of basic commodities surges

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Black market rates have surged in recent weeks resulting in concurrent hikes in the prices of basic commodities and a clamour from workers to have wages increased.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government, parastatals and the private sector are all laden with labor issues related to salary increases as the United States dollar rate hit over 1: 60 to the Zimbabwe dollar.

Illegal money changers are charging as much as 78 ZWL to 1 United States dollar and prices have also been galloping since most of the foreign currency used by manufacturers is acquired on the black market.

Prices of nearly all basic commodities, including milk, bread, sugar, beef, cooking oil and maize meal, have risen considerably in recent weeks, prompting workers to agitate for higher salaries.

The government is due to meet civil servant representatives this week to negotiate the gap between what is being offered by tax collector the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and worker representatives.

ZIMRA has offered the workers a 140 percent salary wage and benefit allowance increase to 3,370 ZWL per month for the least paid for the year while the Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Trade Union (ZIMRATU) is negotiating for a 1,350 percent increase to 20,362 ZWL for the same.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima said the government was committed to comprehensively review its workers’ incomes and the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) would meet soon over the workers’ welfare.

“As Government we appreciate the need to cushion our workers against the tough economic environment. The NJNC should be meeting as the negotiating forum between government and its employees,” said Mavima.

“They last met in January when a minimum salary was agreed on, but we feel that there has been an erosion because of inflation. The issue of this erosion of incomes is well-appreciated by government,” he told The state-run Sunday Mail.

The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said in a tweet at the weekend that among conditions for re-opening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic was the need to adjust teachers’ salaries.

“Our conditions for re-opening remain the same: a visible plateau viz.COVID-19 cases; testing of all teachers, ancillary staff, learners; provision of adequate PPE; USD520 salary or equivalent,” it said.

According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, the monthly low-income urban family budget for a family of six was about 8,725 ZWL in May, yet the lowest-paid government worker earns about 3,000 ZWL before deductions.

Mavima said the government would not commit to paying its workers in foreign currency as widely expected by the civil service.

“Our position is that we cannot remunerate our workers in United States dollars. As government, we cannot run around looking for United States dollars when we have just introduced a new currency,” he said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo also told The Sunday Mail that most employers were failing to make salary adjustments according to inflation trends.

“We had this discussion about workers welfare at our Tripartite Negotiating Forum and there are various proposals that we put on the table,” said Moyo.

“The first one was to continuously review the incomes so that they follow inflationary trends. The second one was to see whether authorities can be able to establish an unemployment benefit scheme, because a number of able-bodied people are now unemployed and they need to be assisted,” he said.

He said the National Social Security Authority was tasked with crafting an unemployment benefit scheme to assist those who would have lost jobs.

“And thirdly, we needed to look at our currency reforms. Our view is that if that cannot be done as a short term measure we need to then ensure that incomes are regularly reviewed to follow the trend,” he said.

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president Israel Murefu said many businesses were either in intensive care or functionally dead and thus unable to review salaries.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown had severely disrupted operations, markets and production value chains.

“Businesses are not only grappling with survival but escalating costs which threaten business viability,” he said.

“Therefore, given such a scenario, the first rule of thumb is to find ways of recovering and bringing back to life many businesses. Survival is the priority so that jobs or employment can be saved or restored to pre-lockdown levels if possible,” he said.

He also urged employees to exercise restraint when demanding salary reviews as employers had not been spared the economic challenges.

“The currency devaluation and consequent inflation are not sparing the employer. This means employers and employees have to meet each other halfway so that there is a win-win outcome,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Namibia to introduce more refined basic income grant

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Namibian President Hage Geingob on Thursday said his government will introduce a more refined basic income grant for Namibians as a way of dealing with poverty challenges.

Geingob told parliament that the basic income grant will replace the food bank and aim to sustain Namibians under a challenging economic situation.

“The delivery of residential erven has been prioritized but the national housing backlog remains above 300,000. I am cognisant that despite these milestones we need to continue prioritizing housing development. Although the bucket toilet system has not completely been dealt with, we have severely reduced it by 70 percent,” he said.

He said the country will continue to provide more funding to social safety nets as well as catering for the marginalized.

Geingob said Namibia, South Africa and Botswana are among of the very few countries in Africa that have managed to sustain the provision of old-age grants as well as providing a social safety net.

Namibia has spent more than 9 billion Namibian dollars (about 533 million U.S. dollars) in the past financial year addressing challenges faced by society and dealing with the challenges of poverty and inequality,” Geingob said.

(XINHUA)

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Health

Association to manufacture basic orthopaedic hardware locally by 2021 – Official

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The Nigerian Orthopaedic Association (NOA) will begin to manufacture basic hardware used in orthopaedics, locally by 2021, according to its Vice-President, Dr Mohammed Salihu.

Salihu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday, that the association was working with the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mills and some engineers to achieve this feat.

He said importation of basic hardware in the practice of orthopaedic made it very expensive.

“Manufacturing it locally will make it cheaper,’’ he said.

Salihu, also a medical director at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala in Kano (NOHD) said the association had developed the prototype of the hardware.

“We do have the picture of the first one that has been designed and we are test-running it.

“But we will need a lot of money, rules and regulations in the process.

“We are hoping that after the initial test-run, between now and the next one year, we should be proud to have the first phase.

“We should be proud to say that we are now manufacturing the hardware that we use in orthopaedic practice in this country,’’ Salihu said.

He said that producing the hardware locally was one of the ways to address the challenge of heavy duty equipment used in the practice.

“As a country, we need to come together to ensure we manufacture some of these hardware locally.

“If we do that, we are going to get jobs for the young people and it will improve the economy as well.’’

The director, however, urged the private sector operators and individual investors to partner with manufacturers for production of these things locally.

“It is definitely going to help the country and it will reduce the cost of service, rather than continuing to buy from the United States, Europe and Asia.

“The main challenge in orthopaedic and trauma practice is that it is not cheap.

“It is not cheap because we use loads of heavy duty equipment, we use hardware that are not manufactured in Nigeria.

“The equipment and hardware are manufactured in the United States and Europe; so we needed to buy these materials with euros, dollars and pound sterling.

“The challenge of funding; the challenge of heavy duty equipment are real issues,’’ he said.

According to him, due to advancement in medicine through technology, some surgeries are done with some of the technology without necessarily using conventional method of opening the bones.

“So, we need money to buy this equipment and it is only when we are able to buy them that we can move to a higher level of practice,” he added.

Salihu, therefore, appealed to the government and all willing Nigerians to come to the aid of the various departments in orthopaedic hospitals to procure modern equipment.

“In today’s orthopaedic and trauma practice, somebody can have a fracture today and he can walk the following day if we have all these gadgets.’’


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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General news

Imo community begs for provision of basic amenties

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The people of Umugota Orisheze in Ozuzu community in Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo state, have appealed to Federal and Imo state government to provide them with basic amenities.

The people of the community made the appeal on Sunday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria following cry of neglect and abandonment by some residents of the area.

NAN reports that the community had no access road, hospital, light, adequate water, market or school.

Some of the residents who spoke with NAN said that the only government presence in the community was an abandoned and uncompleted building for primary healthcare.

They said the surroundings of the buiding were overgrown with weeds.

”The building which houses lizards and rats also harbours hoodlums and has been turned to an emergency toilet littered with human waste,” Kevin Okeke, a community leader said.

He said that the community had been without electricity light for many months.

Okere, a farmer said that their appeal to government was to let them know that residents of the community were at risk of dying from neglect.

“Many are dying of hunger and diseases here. Nobody is happy in this part of the country.  We are praying that those in authority will come to our aide soon.

“We are mostly farmers, but we do not have a market to buy or sell, we have not had light in this community for a very long time, maybe two years.

“We do not have good access roads, people die here like chickens, because we cannot even tell what is killing them, we live in extreme poverty in this community.

“We do not have any hospital here, and pregnant women cannot attend anbuilding.

“Most of them give birth at home and when peradventure bleeding starts, the rest is in God’s hands because most of them die,” he said.

Okere, however, pleaded with the state government to provide basic health and infracstrure to the community.

Mr Uche Tony, another farmer, also appealed for urgent attention and intervention in the community.

”Nobody lives a long life in an environment that lacks clean water, quality healthcare, light or school.

”Our children in the community have no hope of a better life.

“The children of this community are very intelligent and are eager to go to school, but there is no school here; they often go to neighbouring villages to acquire education.

“You cannot imagine the distance and stress from here to Imeriewe community (neighbouring village), only those who have bicycles can go.

“I have seen countless women die during childbirth in this community, if you have time I will take you round,” he said.

Mrs Kate Ozoemena, a business woman, said it was unfortunate that government could leave a community of people to suffer deprivation to the extent of not erecting a block of classrooms.

”Women go to far away communities with their produce to sell and buy. Our community had not benefited anything from both the federal and state governments.

“We travel to Owerri to access healthcare services; that is for those who have financial capability to go, else we depend on a village chemist to treat us no matter the ailment.

“I have been feeling sick for a while now, but I have no money or means to go to Owerri for check-up and treatment.

“I am the traditional birth attendant here, I help women deliver their babies, but honestly it has not been easy around here because our women suffer a lot.

“We really need urgent assistance; you can see things for yourself. It is almost a hopeless situation, may God help us,” she said.

Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Foreign

Zimbabwe government orders price freeze for basic commodities during COVID-19 lockdown

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The Zimbabwean government on Wednesday announced a price moratorium on various basic commodities as part of measures to protect the public from unfair price increases.

The development follows complaints by the public over the hiking of prices of basic foodstuffs across the country.

In order to address the challenge of escalating prices, government held a multi-sectoral meeting with the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, Bakers Association, Oil Expressers Association and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers among others.

“There was a general agreement amongst the multi-sectoral partners that the price increase, particularly during the lockdown, was speculative and unjustified. The Multi-sectorial stakeholders committed to a price moratorium to operate based on the prices which were applicable on the 25th of March,” said Vice President Kembo Mohadi in a statement.

The moratorium follows recent steep increases in prices of basic foodstuffs following a huge jump in exchange rates on the black market.

In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the value of consumer basket on February 7 was 4,656 Zimbabwean dollars (about 13 U.S. dollars), but by April 11 the same amounted to 6,660.84 dollars.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing hyperinflation, which has seen annual inflation soaring to over 500 percent in February, according to the national statistics agency, Zimstats.

The Southern African country is currently on a five-week nationwide lockdown aimed at slowing down the spread of COVID-19. Zimbabwe has so far recorded 29 positive cases of COVID-19, with four people succumbing to the disease.
(XINHUA)

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Environment

COVID-19: Lagos residents lament lack of basic needs

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Some Lagos residents who have been at home since March 26 because of the lockdown order by the Federal Government are complaining of lack of basic needs to survive the 14 days.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the lockdown of businesses and stay at home order was part of the government measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Mr Kamal Jaylomi, a poly product trader at the Alaba Suru Lagos market said that he could not cope with the lockdown.

Jaylomi, a father of four said the situation could be likened to war period without basic necessities to support citizens and households, saying that many “go to bed with their stomachs empty”.

“The situation is a horrifying one where a father will be staring at his children die of hunger. How long are we going to stay in this kind of hunger, solitude and deprivation?

“Today is just the second day into the 14 days of lockdown that began before the state’s own elapsed and hunger is on the face of everybody in town,” he said.

Mr James Osamade, a Real Estate Consultant said that for government to continue to ensure the success of the stay at home order, there should be provision of relief items to the people.

“Hunger is capable of killing more people in the country than the COVID-19 disease as people before the order do not have enough money to stock food and basic needs to last them for the lockdown period.

“The state should put aside every formality that is delaying relief materials from getting to the masses because the situation out there is biting.

“In as much we are trying to solve one problem, we should not create another in the process as it will defeat the purpose of the whole thing.

“Nigerians are hungry and the only way to make people to stay at home to enable government manage the coronavirus pandemic is by providing them with basic needs to cushion in the social effect,” he said.

Mrs Bolanle Jinadu, a social worker with the Nigeria Red Cross said the situation called for patience on the part of the people to help the state to be effective in controlling the pandemic.

Jinadu said that both the government and donor agencies would soon come with the aids for the masses.

She said that logistics was being worked out to mitigate the hardship in the land.

NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, in a state broadcast on Sunday ordered total cessation of movement in Lagos, the Federal Capital and Ogun to forestall further spread of coronavirus in the country.

The country has recorded over 131 cases, discharged eight infected persons after treatment and two have died.

Edited By: Nkiru Ifeajuna/Grace Yussuf
(NAN)

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