The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has identified security as a major success so far recorded by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration since the past five years.
On the challenges and achievement of the government in the past, the minister identified security, effective foreign policy and improvement in international trade cooperation, as top success stories.
“Security has been an achievement in the sense that we have been able to mobilise the support of foreign countries, African countries and the international community in the fight against terrorism.
“We have been able to make it a priority for the international community and get that support and I think that is a real success.
“We have heard that as a result of the terrorism challenges, there has been a humanitarian crisis,’’ Onyeama said.
According to him, at one time, Nigeria was listed with South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia as countries likely to have a famine as countries of great crisis.
“We were able to mobilise the international community, starting with Oslo conference in Norway and then Oslo-2 conference.
“We mobilised over $2 billion for humanitarian assistance for countries of the Lake Chad area.’’
The minister listed efforts being made to get major donors to support Nigeria in the huge humanitarian challenge with over two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), as part of successes recorded.
He commended the emergence of President Buhari as an eminent personality in ECOWAS, to further promote his administration’s vision on democracy and good governance within the West African sub-region.
The minister said that Nigeria’s intervention in the Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Mali and other West African countries during crises, has helped to stabilised the sub-region, recognised for good democratic governance.
He explained that success recorded through intervention, based on “Buhari doctrine” of outreach to mediate and establish good relations with immediate neighbours, has enabled the country to achieve a lot.
According to him, the strategy forms a key component of Buhari’s success in the bid to keep a good relationship with immediate neighbouring countries.
“We are coming out of a very difficult situation.
“You might recall at a time how the cost of petroleum crashed to below $30 a barrel and we had real economic challenges.
“The big aim was to promote foreign direct investment and so, Mr President went on major outreach to foreign countries and partners, promoting Nigeria and inviting foreign direct investment,’’ the minister added.
Onyeama told NAN that although insecurity posed a challenge of bringing potential investors into the country, a lot of progress had been made to beef up security to encourage business development.
He revealed that the successes recorded through the outreach have translated into the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Steel, Mambilla Dam and other major infrastructural projects across the country.
The minister noted that in spite of the challenges facing in the country, Buhari was focused to make the country an attractive place for investment and businesses.
He reeled out the success recorded to include Nigeria’s rating by World Bank index as a business destination, good governance, the appointment of President Buhari by African Union as Anti-Corruption Champion and restitution of stolen assets.
“A lot of these have been due to the credibility of Mr President and his respect among his peers around the world.
“We have cooperated with a number of countries to develop new industries here and one of them is the fertiliser industry.
“We have been able to get the cooperation of countries, to help us establish the building bloc, to be able to produce a more affordable rate of fertilisers in our country.
“To push towards agrarian reform and agricultural revolution of Mr President, we have lots of bilateral agreements, with countries that we believe will make big difference to our economy,’’ Onyeama said.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Work resumes in Oyo State after Eid-el-Kabir holiday
Some workers in Oyo State on Monday, resumed work after the annual Muslim Eid-el-Kabir festival, celebrated on Friday, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Some of the workers monitored around Oyo North area of the state, comprising 10 council areas, showed up for work in their respective offices as early as 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
NAN reports that the resumption of workers after observing the Thursday and Friday public holiday declared by the Federal Government, was witnessed by greetings and throw of banters among the workers.
Workers were also seen exchanging meat, drinks and gifts as they discussed the merriment of the festive period.
Some workers who spoke to NAN in separate interviews, expressed satisfaction and happiness over the festival time and resumption.
A middle-level council worker at Iseyin Council area, Ismail Ishola, said the period was enjoyable and memorable for him and his family members.
A top official at the Saki West Council, who preferred anonymity, also said the period was good for him and his neighbours.
Another worker in Iseyin Council area, Mrs Aina Adio, said the holiday was equally a memorable period, saying that she had a good time with friends and family.
She, however, decried unsteady power supply by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) saying that “very good time but we ran on generator for greater part of the period”.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
Agro expert wants ban on maize importation beyond economic benefits
An agriculture expert, Mr Ismail Olawale, has advised the Federal Government that the ban on maize importation should go beyond economic benefits.
The expert speaking in reaction to the recent ban on importation of maize by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said the government should have considered the ripple effects of the ban before its commencement.
“The question we are asking is what is the actual basis for the ban on importation of maize? Are we banning because we have large quantity of maize in stock or because of the quality of our local maize?
“Has the government considered all the variables affecting local maize production like quality and quantity produced before implementing the ban on importation?
“If they have, what has the government come up with to salvage the ripple effects of the ban on the importation of maize?
“We should not just consider the economic impact of the ban but also consider how it borders on the quality and health of our local maize.
“If the ban is just for economic reasons alone without factoring in the substitutes if they are healthy enough, if they have the best quality and other favourable factors to the end users, then it is not fair,” he said.
Olawale reiterated that the ban should not just be about increasing the nation’s Gross Domestic Product but also about improving the local value-chain of the crop.
In addition, he said a balanced communication on the reasons for the ban should be communicated to the consumers, producers and also the farmers.
“If we are serious about banning the importation of maize, then we need to improve our production value-chain line.
“Is the ban on maize importation just about not allowing the cost imported maize affect the patronage of local maize?
“The banning has come, so how well have we marketed local maize production, because most producers and consumers of maize product are used to the imported ones.
“We need to do an analysis of the ripple effects of the ban beyond our farmers having the competitive capacity of the imported maize and their ability to make more money.
“What have we done to convince the consumers on patronizing locally grown maize or else we should be expecting an increased level of maize smuggling into the country,” Olawale said.
The expert also added that the first effect of maize importation ban is the hike in the price of maize in the local market, if the ban is mainly for maximization of GDP, as soon as the ban takes off, the effect reflects on the local price.
“Also because of the ban on maize importation, most local farmers begin to hoard the stock they have so that after sometime they can have good market value for it.
“We need a deep analysis on how the ban on maize importation and how it affects the local farmers, consumers and producers,” the expert said.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)
Monarch urges strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols
Oba Mufutau Oyekanmi, the traditional ruler of Asipa (the Alasipa of Asipa) Ilufemilloye Fashina V111, near Ipetumodu in Osun State, has urged Nigerians to support the government on strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols to curtail the spread of Coronavirus across the country.
He made the call on Monday at Asipa in Ife North Local Government Area of Osun when he met with some journalists in his palace.
The monarch commended the efforts of the local, state and Federal Government on measures put in place to ensure safety of lives of the citizenry in tackling
Oyekanmi said “recently, government took bold steps at the right time to curtail the spread of Coronavirus by not allowing congregational prayers.
“Some people were not happy with the ban of the Muslim Eid festival prayer by the Osun State Government but it is simply because of us so we
can celebrate many more of Eid el-Kabir.
“We thank God by sparing our lives to witness this because it’s the living that celebrates.”
Sikiru Ayedun, former Osun State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism, said
Ayedun said that the order of the state government on no Eid prayer for the 2020 Eid-el-Kabir was because of the COVID-19 “and a
test of faith.
“Whatever people are doing today is part of sacrifice, because at this point in time, our faith is being tested.”
The former commissioner assured that at the end of the tunnel, there would be a new dawn, but Nigerians should seek peace,
tranquility and live with one another in brotherliness.
Alhaji Eluyera Oyewole, former Education Secretary, Ife South Local Government, Ifetedo, Osun State, said that “everyone has
now realised that COVID-19 is real and that the pandemic is killing both the rich and the poor.
“Osun State Government did not make mistake in banning congregational prayer for the Eid el-Kabir festival, for this can increase human contact
during celebrations and that can cause more infections.
“Thank God for our government that is 100 per cent proactive, by doing the needful, else, it will have spread the virus.
“Government is doing its best; we urge for support from all by obeying the COVID-19 protocols.”
In the same vein, Alhaji Fatai Kolawole, former Permanent Secretary, Osun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), commended
the efforts of the state government for trying to save the lives of the citizenry against COVID-19.
Kolawole said that banning congregational prayer for this year’s festival was a welcome idea, saying this is just for a brief period as it would not last forever.
He asked everybody to co-operate with government on directives given, adding that“COVID-19 is a joint task that government alone cannot fight.
“Very soon, COVID-19 will be eradicated, whereby things will be normalised educationally, economically, socially.”
He urged all and sundry to co-operate with local, state and Federal Government in curbing the spread of the Coronavirus by strictly adhering
to the use of face mask, regular washing of hands with soap and sanitizer, as well as keeping social distance, among others.”
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
`NDDC yet to pay contractors that handled road projects I facilitated’-Orji Kalu
Senate Chief Whip, Dr Orji Kalu, said on Monday that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had not paid contractors that handled roads he facilitated in Abia.
Kalu stated this in a statement issued by Mr Emeka Nwala of Office of the Senate Chief Whip and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria
The former governor of Abia was reacting to claims by Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio that 60 per cent contracts awarded by the commission were handled by members of the National Assembly.
Akpabio mentioned ex governors Emmanuel Uduaghan, James Ibori, Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, Sen. Orji Kalu and others as beneficiaries of several contracts awarded by the NDDC.
“The road projects mentioned by the minister are the interventions I facilitated for the communities as a private citizen before I became a senator,’’ he said.
Kalu argued that his name was mentioned because he used his letter headed paper to write a sympathetic letter to NDDC in 2016 pleading with the commission to rescue roads in Abia.
“I was Governor of Abia between 1999 and 2007 and never held any public office until June 11, 2019 when I was sworn in as a senator.
“Between 2016 and 2018 during my tour to several communities, leaders and welfare unions of most communities pleaded for urgent intervention on some dilapidated roads.
“The NDDC in their consideration which I am very grateful to, awarded the roads to companies that duly tendered for the projects and not myself.
“Whatever link I have with the projects is because it was considered due to my intervention,” Kalu said.
The senate chief whip also noted that the contracts were awarded by fully constituted body of NDDC with its board and not any interim management of the commission.
He said “the roads I requested for intervention as mentioned by the minister were repairs of Ezere-Acha-Ndiokoukwu road, Amaubiri-Eluama-Uru ring road and Lokpaukwu, Umuchieze Ndi Oji Abam-Atan road.
“Others are Okafia-Ozuitem-Bende and Ozu-Amuru-Abam roads.
“The contractors have completed and delivered these roads long time ago except Abam-Atani road, which I learnt from the contractors was slowed down due to rain but still ongoing.
“Meanwhile, the contractors who built these roads have not been paid any dime.
“I am much concerned about roads because I understand the economic importance of good roads.
“As a community leader, I do not intend to stop my interventions on roads in NDDC states because all the states need good roads.
“Good roads help to drive the economy,’’ Kalu said.
He, however, urged the commission to focus on paying contractors that delivered their jobs.
Edited Obike Ukoh