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Elections: NBC sanctions NTA, AIT, others for breach of ethical codes

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Sanctions

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sanctioned 45 broadcast stations, including NTA, AIT, Channels and TVC News, for alleged ethical infractions in relation to the 2019 general elections.

Director-General of the commission, Malam Is’haq Modibbo, disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja on Friday.

Kawu said the erring stations, which cut across the country, violated provisions of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, and were fined N500,000 each.

“Despite our various interventions, at the end of the Presidential election which was held on 23, Feb. 2019, 45 stations were found culpable of infractions on the provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and have been sanction accordingly.

“We gave them the highest level of sanction under the NBC which is to make them to pay N500,000 each and the cut across the entire country.

“NBC also sanction stations that allowed politicians to utter abusive, inciting and provocative statements during rallies.

“And this happened on several radios and television stations, particularly and unfortunately on the big nation network such as NTA, AIT, Channels, TVC News.

“There are also several radio and TV stations involved in this various infraction.

“Only recently J FM for instance in Jos, Plateau State was sanction for inciting broadcast by a preacher, who move away from religion into the arena of politics and was saying particularly inciting comments.”

Kawu warned that any of the stations that continue to broadcast hate and inflammatory comments that threaten the security of the country would be shutdown.

He said that it had become necessary for NBC to issue such warning as the country move to the next elections.

He reminded all the stations that were sanctioned and those that were not to know that the next step NBC was going to take was to close down any erring station.

Kawu said that the commission had set up a National Monitoring System involving all members of the board of management of NBC to monitor stations on 24 hours basis.

“We monitored all the broadcast in every single Radio and Television and all our licences. We monitored exactly the way people performed during the elections.

The DG said that NBC was working in partnership with INEC, the EFCC, and Nigeria Financial Intelligence Units on tracking campaign financing in the country.

“It is a very vital part of deepening the democratic process and it is important for us to mention this as we move to the next elections. (NNN)
SSI/KOLE/SH

Edited by Remi Koleoso/Sadiya Hamza

Agriculture

Nigeria to export rice in 2 years – Nanono

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, says with the phenomenal increase in rice production and processing in the country, Nigeria will be exporting the commodity in the next two years.

The minister stated this on Thursday in Kura, Kano state during an assessment tour of the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain.

Nigeria News Agency reports Nanono, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed led stakeholders and a team of journalists on inspection of cluster of cottage rice mills in Kura.

The team also visited four integrated rice mills in the state which are Al-Hamsad Rice, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd and Umza International Farms.

“The way and manner we are going in the production of rice, in the next two years, we will start exporting rice outside the country.

“For those that are worried about the partial close of our borders, we are not doing this to hurt the people but to protect the future of the country, provide jobs and food sufficiency.

“Government will continue to give support to rice farmers to achieve this goal,” he said.

The minister said that Kura is an agrarian settlement known for irrigation farming in rice, tomato, maize and others items, mostly consume in the Southern part of the country.

He said farmers in Kura had, however, concentrated on rice production following the border drill and the ban in rice importation.

Speaking in the same vein, Mohammed assured that the federal government would continue to support the stakeholder in the rice production value chain.

He however appealed to rice growers and millers not to see the loans given to them as their own “share of the national cake”.

“They must understand that when loans are not paid back, it will be difficult for them and others to get more loans,” he said.

Alhaji Ali Idris , Chairman Kura Rice Processing and Marketing Association called on the government to sustain the border closure, stressing that Nigeria has the capacity to feed itself and the neighbouring countries.

Idris, who spoke in Hausa language, said since the closure of the borders and the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to achieving self-sufficiency on food production, his people were fully back in business.

He disclosed that over 10,000 youths in Kura Local Government were gainfully employed in the rice production value chain and they produce about 5000 tones of rice every day.

He commended federal government for supporting them with modern machine and urged provision of polishers, de-stoners to further enhance their production.

Another miller, Adamu Habu called on government to sustain the border closure because of its impact on the economy.

He said more people were being employed in the rice production value chain and supporting the economy.

The President of Integrated Rice Millers Association in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Umza, said the border closure had impacted positively on rice industry nationwide and in particular, Kano state.

He said prior to the closure, the industry had been battling with foreign rice market forces which threatened its coexistence.

Umza said that the border closure had helped to transform rice value chain in Kano state and government should sustain it.

Kano state, by virtue of its agrarian origin has provided a conducive atmosphere where rice milling activities thrives.

“The state has the largest concentration of integrated rice processing mills as well as clusters of cottage rice mills scattered across nearly all the local government in the state.

“Of the 35 registered integrated rice mills in Nigeria, about 12 are domicile in Kano and more are coming up, which makes Kano undoubtedly the capital of rice processing in Nigeria.

“An estimated 5000 metric tones of finished rice is turned out daily by the combined integrated mills and cottage mills in Kano.

“This is shared in the ratio of about 60 per cent from the cottage mills and 40 per cent from the integrated mills.

“Combined, the mills employ about 10,000 people either directly or indirectly,” he said.

Umza urged the federal government to sustain the good work of securing the borders and hence the economy.

He said, if the policy is sustained, the industry would continue to grow and provide food and employment to the rapidly growing and urban population.

ROT/

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Agriculture

Border Drill: 6 million venture into rice production – Mohammed

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says no fewer than six million people, mostly youths are venturing into rice production following the impact of the border closure on rice value chain.

The minister disclosed this on Thursday in Kano when he led a stakeholder in the rice production to the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Mohammed, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, are in Kano on assessment tour of the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain.

“Before the drill, which some people have referred to as border closure, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, according to the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).

“The farmers were cultivating rice twice a year. Now, many rice farmers across the country have started three-times-a-year cultivation in order to meet the increasing demand.

“Not only that, at least 6 million people, mostly youths, are now venturing into rice production, meaning that we could hit 18 million rice farmers in no time if the present trend continues,” he said

Mohammed said that Nigeria’s quest to achieve self sufficiency in rice production will be hastened by the increasing activities in the rice production value chain brought about by the border drill.

He added that self sufficiency in rice production would also translate to more jobs for millions of people as well as cheaper and more nutritious rice for all.

“We can now tell you, without mincing words, that the border drill has impacted positively on rice production in the country,” he said.

Mohammed said that some farmers were going beyond rice farming and venturing into buying rice paddies and even packaging and marketing.

He said that young farmers were buying small rice mills and off-taking rice paddies from rice farms.

The Minister noted that before the drill started in August, the existing 34 rice mills and the thousands of rice clusters in the country were practically shutting down, due to the pervasiveness of smuggled foreign rice into the Nigerian market.

“In fact, over 200,000 bags of rice were occupying spaces in the warehouses of virtually every integrated rice miller as at that time, according to the rice millers, whose president, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Umza, is also here.

” The story of the small scale rice holders or rice clusters was even worse, since they had to abandon their small scale, but valuable means of livelihood.

“Since the integrated rice millers were already struggling to save their businesses by laying off staff and finding other means to pay off their bank loans with mounting interest rates, buying paddies from rice farmers was almost an impossible task.

“So, farmers practically stopped farming, with a devastating impact on the income of those farmers and their families,” he said.

Mohammed said that the story changed in August when the border drill drastically reduced smuggled rice, thereby giving the entire rice production value chain a new lease of life.

He said within one week of the drill, every integrated rice miller exhausted the milled rice in their warehouses, recalled the staff that were laid off and resumed production.

The minister said all the existing 34 rice mills in the country were now producing at maximum capacity, 24 hours a day.

*Currently, the integrated mills now produce about 150,000 bags of rice every day, translating to 35 million bags annually.

“In addition, the 34 mills are expanding rapidly in order to increase capacity and meet the rising demands.

“More mills are also springing up in all parts of the country and the small scale rice clusters in all parts of the country are now back on stream feeding their local communities,” he said.

Mohammed said the team chose Kano to assess the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain, because the state has the highest number of integrated mills in the country.

He said out of the 34 integrated mills in Nigeria, Kano State alone had 11, in addition to 20 rice clusters.

” An estimated 5000 metric tons of finished rice are turned out daily by the 11 integrated mills and 20 clusters in Kano.

“The ratio is 40 per cent from the integrated mills and 60 per cent from the clusters, while mills, combined, employ about 10,000 people.

NAN reports that both ministers, some rice farmers, millers and sellers in the state as well as a team of journalists visited integrated rice mills and clusters of cottage rice mills in Kano, before the courtesy call to the governor..

Specifically, the team visited four integrated rice mills which are Al-Hamsad Rice, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd and Umza International Farms.

The team also visited clusters of cottage rice mills in Kura Local Government Area of the state.

Edited & Vetted By: Kamal Tayo Oropo
(NAN)

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Agriculture

FG challenges soil experts on strategies to make agricultural sector predominate economy

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The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has challenged soil scientists to identify strategies that would ensure the agricultural sector predominated the nation’s economy.

Dr Muhammed Bello, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said this at the experts’ dialogue on Thursday in Abuja to commemorate the 2019 World Soil Day (WSD) with the theme “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.

The dialogue was organised by the Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Bello appealed to soil experts to prioritise erosion and diversification as they constituted threat to soil health and drastically limited agricultural productivity.

Bello, who identified erosion as a threat to soil health and agriculture production, however, described the country as a paradox.

He noted that a section of the country was threatened by soil erosion due to excessive rainfall while the other section was threatened by desertification due to low rainfall.

Bello noted that the ministry was responsible for developing the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy with a view to growing the sector to drive income growth, accelerate food and nutritional security and generate employment.

Bello further noted that it was responsible for transforming the country into a leading global food market and completely diversifying the economy.

“The ministry successfully delivers on this mandate courtesy of the present government policy which accorded the agricultural sector highest priority in the quest of government intention of diversifying the economy.

“The ministry in driving the successes supports the nation’s farming communities with various production incentives such as agricultural inputs, agrochemicals, quality seeds, fertilisers, land clearance services, agricultural mechanisation equipment, rural roads, markets, among others.

Speaking on the theme Prof. Victor Chude, a soil scientist, said NISS was seeking to raise awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the increasing challenges in soil management in the country.

Chude described the Nigeria soil as being threatened due to degradation and erosion.

He emphasised that the threat had the potential of affecting next generation it there was failure to adopt sustainable management which included appropriate policy.

According to him, what soil scientists can do is to support with soil information and make it available to government.

He said such information would relate with soil fertility or how the soil could be properly managed to support the growth of trees.

Dr Balbir Singh, representative of Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemical Ltd, identified soil as important to food and healthy nutrition.

Singh described locally produced rice, millet among others as better than the foreign rice in terms of nutrition adding that what the nation required was to take proactive measures to sustain its soil.

According to him, consuming those natural foods will make the citizens healthier and limit their visitation to hospitals.

Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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Agriculture

Lagos Govt inaugurates reform to end sales of unwholesome red meat

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The Lagos State Government on Thursday inaugurated a three-pronged reform to sanitise the red meat value chain, end its unwholesome sales and ensure consumption of healthy meat.

Prince Gbolahan Lawal, State Commissioner for Agriculture, said at the occasion that the state government was committed to sanitising the value chain.

Lawal, flagging off the pilot scheme of the reform at Ita Faji Market in Lagos Island, said this would be done by embarking on three-pronged strategies with the acronym A.T.M: Abattoir, Transportation and Market.

The commissioner said that the reform was in conformity with Section 4 of the Cap M3 Meat Inspection Law of Lagos State and the Forth Schedule (Regulation 33) of the Law.

He added that the reform would not only ensure the consumption of wholesome meat by the people, but it would also facilitate export of red meat to other countries.

Lawal said that the reform would be piloted in four local governments including: Lagos Island, Ita Faji Market; Ikorodu, Igando and Badagry axis.

He said the reform would go live across the 20 local government areas and 37 LCDA on Jan. 5, 2020.

“The pilot of the A.T.M reform starts today and it will last one month; thereafter, we will begin full implementation across the state on Jan. 5.

“The three-strategies, which is Abattoir, Transport and Market is to guarantee the safety and health of the populace by ensuring that only certified animals are slaughtered and wholesome beef is available in our markets.

“This will also boost the international recognition of beef from the state, thus opening up an export portal which will be a source of foreign exchange to the state government,” he said.

Lawal wondered why some African countries like Botswana, Namibia, Ethiopia and Kenya could export meats to Europe, Saudi Arabia and other developed countries and Nigeria, a naturally endowed and big country, could not do same.

“Botswana alone exports about 9,000 tons of meat to Europe and 10,000 tons to Saudi Arabia, and also enjoys unlimited preferential market access to the European Union, competing with meat exporting countries like Brazil.

“So, rather than only producing meat for local consumption, Botswana exports meat that is hygienically tested and proven to meet the European market standard.

“In the same vein, Namibia also exports meats to about 18 European countries and China.

“Its meat exports industry is quite lucrative and a sure revenue generator for the country.

“The question is: how did our brother African countries are able to do this while naturally endowed and big country like Nigeria is not able to do this?

“The answer is solely because of the reforms they have been able to carry out in their red meat value chains which enable their red meat to meet the international standard,” he said.

Lawal said that it was important for the state government to raise the standard of slaughtering, processing and marketing of red meat for hygienic reason.

He said the reform would also bring activities in the value chain to international best practices, particularly as the government was committed to becoming a 21st century economy.

The commissioner said that series of engagements were held with critical stakeholders like the Butchers Association in the state, Market women and men, concessionaires and franchises, among others.

“Today, after about 12 stakeholders’ engagement, starting on the Sept. 11, the stakeholders in the red meat value chain agreed with the ministry.

“That it is of great importance for us to reform the red meat value chain in order to boost the profitability and productivity of the value chain.

“In time past, the processing of the animals has been a major challenge for the government of Lagos State.

“Often times, we have had to engage law enforcement officers to clean up the system by clamping down on illegal abattoirs.

“But, we still discover that they continue to spring up; the best way of attacking the challenge is for us to wait for them in the market.

“If we make sure that they do not have access to the market, with that, they will be forced to work with us in line with the law of the land.

“That is why we decided to embark on the reform A.T.M,” he said.

Also, Dr Henrietta Ojuri, Chief Veterinary Officer in the ministry, explained that with the new reform, all butchers were henceforth expected to patronise only registered abattoirs and obtain a receipt.

Ojuri said that butchers were not allowed to transport meat in any other vehicles apart from the Eko Refrigerated meat van and they should wear white coat with cloves and a cutting table with net.

Commenting, Mr Kamal Salau-Bashua, Chairman, Lagos Island East Local Government, commended the state government for introducing the reform.

Also, Alhaji Wasiu Akande, Chairman, Butchers Association, Lagos Island, said that many opportunities were embedded in the new reform, urging his members to embrace it.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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Agriculture

Minister tasks research institutes on agric. sector development

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, on Thursday stressed the need for research to be taken seriously in view of its importance to agricultural development.

Nanono made this known when members of boards of the National Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (NARIS), federal colleges of agriculture (FCA), and National Agricultural Institutes (ARCN) paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

In a statement signed by the Assistant Director of Information in the ministry, Mrs Eno Olotu, the minister said that no agricultural revolution could take place without research.

He emphasised the need for the various agricultural research institutes in the country to focus on developing the agricultural sector through their work.

Nanono noted that the institutes remained the engine of growth in the sector.

“The research institutes remain invaluable in any revolution that will turn around the fortune of a nation.

“There is the need for synergy to address issues affecting the institutes, because they are very strategic in the next level agenda of this administration.

“This government has come to develop the agricultural sector.

“So, I want to be very serious with the research institutes; the aim is for them to focus their research on improved seeds that will be suitable to our environment for maximum yield.”

The minister noted that enormous opportunities abounded in the sector, and called on Nigerians to focus on making agriculture the hub of economic growth in the country.

Mr Adetunji Ajagbe, the Chairman of the Board of NARIs, ARCN and the FCA, expressed satisfaction with the minister’s interest in research.

Ajagbe further lauded the minister’s vision for agricultural transformation for national prosperity.

He pledged, on behalf of all the stakeholders, that efforts would be made to improve the capacity of the institutes in order to reinvigorate the sector for maximum production.

Edited & Vetted By: Oluyinka Fadare/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
(NAN)

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Agriculture

Kebbi State Govt. to monitor agric equipment against diversion

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The Kebbi State Government said it had set up a committee to monitor possible diversion of agricultural equipment distributed to 630 farmers in the state.

Alhaji Muhammad Lawal, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Agriculture made this known while briefing newsmen in Birnin Kebbi on Thursday.

He said that the committee was set up in collaboration with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and authorities of the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

“You will recall that Gov. Atiku Bagudu recently launched distribution of agricultural equipment like power tillers, rippers and threshers to farmers with the sole aim of assisting them to reduce cost of production.

“Over 630 farmers were trained for 45 days on the use and maintenance of the equipment in order to serve as service providers within their respective localities in the 21 LGAs to reduce unemployment among youths.

“But to our dismay, information has reached us that some of the beneficiaries were planning to sell the equipment, hence we deemed it necessary to ensure that those equipment were not sold out to anybody as they were meant for the development of the state,” Lawal said.

According to him, the ministry reserves the right to revoke any sale and take possession of government property when the agreement and purpose of distributing of the equipment is violated.

He also warned that any person caught in the act of bargaining for such equipment, would be dealt with decisively.

“Any beneficiary who doesn’t want to utilise the equipment should bring it to the ministry for onward redistribution to those farmers in need in the state,” he said.

The state government had on Nov. 28, distributed 50 power tillers, 30 rippers and 80 threshers to youths and women cooperative groups drawn from the 21 LGAs of the state.

Edited & Vetted By: Ali Baba -Inuwa
(NAN)

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