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Samson Itodo wins 2018 Future Awards Young Person of the Year





By Mariam Akande and Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos, Dec. 16, 2018 (NNN) The “Not too Young to Rule Bill” sponsor, Samson Itodo on Sunday emerged the winner of 2018 Future Awards  Young Person of the Year, held at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NNN) reports that  Itodo was the co-sponsor of the `Not too Young to Rule bill along with Tony Nwulu of the House of Representatives.

The bill sought to challenge the post-Independence laws that preclude the under-30s  from participation in Federal, State and Local Government election.

Itodo, using lobbying and citizen advocacy, was able to get  the bill passed by the National Assembly  and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In clinching the ultimate prize, Itodo was able to ward off opposition  from the other nominees such as ace musician, David Adeleke (Davido), Dr Mahmoud Maina, a researcher and scientist who discovered the ground breaking research in degenerative the Alzheimer disease in 2018.

There were other nominees such as  Nemiatari Ajienka, the reputable youngest lecturer at the Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom and Tomi Adeyemi a Children Fiction writer.

Another winner  during the gala night was  Ayodele Olalekan, the founder of the LAfrica Integrated Farms and project ozone. He won the Future Prize for Agriculture.

Linus Unah won the  Future Award Prize for Journalism, over  his reportorial duties with the Guardian of U.K., Al-Jazeera and others.

The Prize for Comedy went to the child actor, Mark Angel, a comic chops with the five -year old Emmanuella. The comic has  gathered over one Million subscribers on You Tube..

The Prize for Fashion went to Tosin Ogundadegbe, the Head Stylist, GuarantyTrust Bank.

Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, a visual artist known for her exceptional quilling work, an art that involves the use of strips of coloured papers to create stunning designs got the gong for Creativity,.

Prize for Screen Producer went to Ace actress, Filmmaker and producer Nadine Ibrahim while Prize for Business went  to Chidi Ajaere.

The Prize for Sports was picked up by the Super Eagles Stand-In Captain, Ahmed Musa for his outstanding contributions to the national team during the 2018 World Cup.

After receiving the 2018 Future Awards, Itodo said it  would  spur him for  greater responsibility.

“The journey has not been easy because when we are pursuing the Not too Young to Run bill, we were met with rejection but we stood our ground until it was signed into law.

“I am advising all the youths to come out to vote come 2019 because the future of this country belongs to us, he said.

NNN reports that  the Future Awards Africa has been called the Nobel Prize for Young Africans, and the most important youth awards by Forbes.

It is a set of prizes given annually to celebrate and accelerate innovation, creativity and enterprise amongst young Africans aged 18- 31 and has produced over 150 winners and over 1550 nominees since its first edition in 2006.

It is presented in conjunction with The Future Project, which has a mandate to build empowered citizens across Africa, through (inclusive) enterprise and (active) citizenship.

Its  focus on Human Capital Development is informed by the value proposition that  Africa’s growth needs a generation of young people who are gainfully employed and able to demand and secure better leadership.

The Future projects include, an employability portal presented with Microsoft; the Nigeria Symposium for Young & Emerging Leaders, #StartupsAfrica, Intern4Jobs, presented with National Endowment for Democracy (NED),

The 13th edition of the award according to the organisers have been increased to 20 categories to cater for more outstanding youths  in various fields.



Zamfara secures loan for rice cultivation



Governor Bello Muhammad (Matawallen Maradun) said he has secured a loan of N3. 8 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria for rice farmers in the state.

He disclosed this when Farmers Association of Nigeria paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Gusau today.

Matawalle said his administration will boost the cultivation of rice beginning from this season. Already, a plan has been concluded to allocate free farmlands to those intending to engage in rice cultivation among farmers in the state.

“With the attainment of peace in the state, our concern now is to find ways of improving the economic activities in the state especially farming which is our pride”, Matawalle revealed.

Already, arrangements are in top gear for the introduction of new crop productions such as garlic production. The State government, according to the Governor, will not concentrate on subsistence farming alone, but also the cultivation of cash crops to improve and empower the citizens in the state.

To this end, the Government will resuscitate some abandoned factories such as the vegetable oil production factories in the state.

Governor Matawalle decried the unfortunate incidence of cattle rustling in some parts of the state but assured that this has been successfully contained and the animals will soon be returned to their rightful owners.

He assured that his administration will not rest on Its oars and allow the hard-earned peace achieved to degenerate. He also promised to continue to support investments in economic activities until all parts of the state are engaged in one economic activity or the other.

Zailani Bappa

SSA Media

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Law to ban donkey export, slaughtering coming — Minister



Alhaji Mohammed Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Rural Development, says he is working with the National Assembly on a bill to prohibit the killing and exportation of donkeys or its derivatives.

Nanono said such legislation would prevent donkeys from extinction.

Nanono said this at the Global inauguration of “Under the Skin” the impact of the global trade in donkey skins in West Africa by the Donkey Sanctuary, a UK-based International NGO in collaboration with the Nigeria Now, an NGO, on Thursday in Abuja.

The minister represented by Dr Bello Umar, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, noted that the bill when passed would further complement the import and export of raw animal skins and hides especially donkey currently on the Customs Prohibition List.

He specifically noted that the export of donkey skin had increased in recent years due to increased demand and utilisation of donkey skin in Chinese health products that had been assumed as effective in the management of some health conditions.

Nanono identified the assumed  health conditions as preventing aging and increasing libido.

He, however, noted that “the indiscriminate slaughtering of this species of animals if not controlled will lead to extinction of donkey population in Nigeria.

“In addition, recent research has revealed a worrying trend in the growing trade and demand of donkey skin and its potential effects to global donkey populations and their welfare.

“As part of measures to check these unethical practices, the Federal Government through the  Ministry of Agriculture in the 42nd Regular Session of the National Council of Agriculture in 2017 noted the need to preserve donkey and re-classified it as endangered species to prevent its extinction.

“The government at the meeting also encouraged research on the development of donkeys and a sustainable breeding programme for donkey species.”

The minister identified the donkey as playing vital roles in the livelihood support of rural smallholder farmers that could not afford mechanised equipment.

According to him, due to such challenge of mechanisation they use donkeys for heavy lifting needed for cultivating land, transporting hay and silage, hauling water as well as firewood.

Nanono emphasised that the significance of donkeys in West Africa region especially in Northern Nigeria could not be overlooked describing them as playing important roles in the sociocultural and economic life of most rural populace.

“They also use their donkeys which have been shown to be more resilient during droughts than other livestock like cattle as an extra source of income, using them to carry goods from one location to another,” Sabo said.

Earlier, Mike Baker, the Chief Executive Officer, the Donkey Sanctuary, frowned at the global crisis affecting donkeys.

Baker emphasised that never before had donkeys faced ”this level of threat, as their local populations in some countries collapse due to relentless demand for their skins.

“It is a crisis that demands immediate action and we are calling for urgent halt to the global trade in donkey skins,” he said.

Edited by Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Don calls for revival of research institutes on West African Dwarf Goat



Prof. Francis Ahamefule has called on Federal Government to take urgent measures to resuscitate the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), Zaria and the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Jos to discharge their mandate.

Ahamefule, a professor of Animal Production at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Umuahia on Thursday.

He said that the institutes were saddled with the responsibilities of small ruminant research and training in the country.

He said that the inability of the institutes to rise up to their responsibilities had affected the country’s production of West African Dwarf (WAD) goat.

“NAPRI had the initial mandate to breed, select and supply improved males to interested farmers. Not much progress has been made in this direction.

“NVRI researches into sheep and goat diseases and develops appropriate diagnostic and investigatory services as well as producing vaccine for disease control.

“Unfortunately, the services and influence of these institutes are hardly felt at the rural environment where the WAD goat is reared,’’ he said.

The lecturer, who said that he had carried out an extensive research on WAD goat, disclosed that the small ruminant breed had staggering potentials capable of meeting the animal protein needs of over 60 million Nigerians.

According to him, the WAD goat milk can be higher in protein relative to milk of other goat breeds and their milk yield higher than other species, with the possible exception of camels.

He said, “Until research findings concerning the WAD goat and other livestock species begin to find expression in our smallholder animal units, mixed farm enterprises and integrated animal farms, the food security we clamour for, would continue to remain a mirage.’’

(Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Sam Oditah) (NAN)

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FGN/IFAD -VCDP to support 9, 000 farmers in Anambra in 2020



The Federal Government/International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD)-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), says it plans to support over 9,000 farmers in Anambra in 2020 under the additional financing.

Mr Nnamdi Agwuncha, the State Programme Coordinator, -VCDP disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Awka on Wednesday.

Agwuncha, who expressed satisfaction with the programme, said it had spent over N300 million as at Oct. 31, in encouraging rice and cassava production during the 2019 farming season.

According to him, VCDP added three new Local Government Areas namely: Ihiala, Ogbaru and Orumba South this year that now benefit from our services and farm inputs support in both rice and cassava crops.

He gave the previous benefitting Local Government Areas as Orumba North, Awka North, Ayamelum, Anambra East and Anambra West.

“This year, 1, 670 farmers have so far benefitted as against 1, 001 farmers in 2018.

“We have got approval for additional financing, which will commence next year. This was as a result of the improvement in the programme and performance by farmers,’’ he said.

He said the N300 million was spent on input/seedling and agro-chemical disbursement, land development/preparation, building of aggregation and cassava bulking centres, provision of water schemes and rice processing mills.

Other areas of support include building of market stalls, construction of small bridges to provide access roads to farm lands as well as provision of solar powered borehole, among others.

“In terms of yield, average yield of six tons of rice was recorded in 2019 as against 5.5 tons in 2018, while an average yield of 35 tons per hectare was recorded in 2019 as against 30 tons for cassava.

“In our 2020 annual work plan and budget, we have planned to support 3, 000 (2, 000 and 1, 000) farmers for rice and cassava production respectively.

“Other 6, 000 VCDP profiled farmers would benefit in all the VCDP training and extension services,” he said.

On border closure by the Federal Government, Agwuncha said it was long overdue, and urged farmers to seize the opportunity to excel in providing food and employment for the country.

“As a matter of fact, I had expected that to have happened a long time because there is no basis to make Nigeria a dumping ground.

“When the team visited the state in 2015, they went round and concluded that Anambra had the potential to feed Nigeria in terms of rice.

“If you open the borders, it affects the efforts of farmers. I expect the Federal Government to close the borders so we look inwards because we have the human and natural endowment to produce rice that will feed Africa,” he said.

The programme coordinator, however, advised the Federal Government to improve its support to agriculture by constructing rural roads and subsidising inputs, among other supports.

Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Jigawa women farmers solicit farm inputs, gender-friendly equipment



The Jigawa State Chapter of Smallholder Women Farmers in Nigeria (SWOFON), on Wednesday solicited for farm inputs and gender friendly equipment from government.

Hajiya Hadiza Abdulwahab, SWOFON State Coordinator, who presented a list of the requests to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, described it as a progressive step for communities where farming was their main occupation.

Abdulwahab said the provision of gender friendly equipment according to the needs and strength of women would go a long way to relieve women of fatigue.

The Coordinator solicited for 67, 915 bags of fertiliser, 10, 000 bags of rice seed, 3, 583 bags of maize seed, 2, 718 power tillers and 2, 718 hand planters.

She said the move had become imperative because the backbone of any agricultural revolution was farmers’ access to modern agricultural inputs.

The Coordinator noted that the gesture would directly improve the output of small-scale women farmers in the state and would also make them more productive, as well as ensure increased income for them.

She added that in the long run, there would be an improvement in the livelihoods of the women farmers, as they would be able to provide for themselves, their families and communities.

Abdulwahab said women were determined to end hunger; and it was a known fact that if women had equal access to productive resources, they would increase their yields and feed more hungry people.

According to her, though women make up to half of the agricultural labour force, barriers to credit, inputs and extension services, as well as land ownership and rights, limit their production.

“It is certain that women are more likely to reinvest their income into their families to improve education, nutrition and health; when women flourish, families and communities do too.

Abdulwahab disclosed that the move was an ongoing exercise in five selected states across the country and the FCT, where the priority demands of 500, 000 smallholder women farmers would be submitted.

“The five states are Jigawa, Niger, Nassarawa, Anambra and Oyo.

“Currently, we have over 500,000 rural farmers working in different communities across the 36 states of the federation,’’ she said.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that SWOFON is a coalition of women farmers associations and groups across Nigeria with the goal of advocating for and supporting women farmers, especially those in rural areas.

Edited by Hawa lawal/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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Association canvasses more investments in coconut plantation



Mrs Okoroginma Ogechukwu, the President, National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), has called for more investments in coconut plantation in the country.

Ogechukwu made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on Wednesday.

She said that the potential of the sector had remained untapped due to lack of adequate investments.

She said the available coconut plantation in the country could not produce the needed quantity for the increasing demand of the cash crop.

Ogechukwu said that the Federal, State and Local Governments, foreign investors as well as the Diaspora communities should invest more in coconut.

NACOPPMAN is an apex body, established to nurture and authorised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, to coordinate the activities of the coconut industry in Nigeria and globally.

The association was inaugurated in September 2019 in Abuja.

She said that Nigeria was faced with the challenge of going back to its own coconut plantations with the recent closure of land borders by the Federal Government.

She said the country could not promote what it did not have, saying that government must pay attention to the coconut industry by establishing more plantations.

“Thank God for the closure of land borders because we have been exposed to the reality that 90 per cent of coconuts consumed in Nigeria is coming from other African countries.

“We import coconuts from Ghana, Togo, Seme borders and other African countries.

“Now, with the closure of borders, we are faced with the reality of going back to our plantations, ’’ Ogechukwu said.

She said governments at all levels and investors should take advantage of the opportunities presented by the closure to invest in coconut plantation and its value chain.

She said the closure of land borders had exposed the reality that 90 per cent of coconuts consumed in the country were imported.

“We have to consciously invest in coconut plantations in Nigeria and that’s the only way out. We cannot promote what we don’t have.

“How can we be promoting other countries when we have the arable land for the plantation. A crop that can grow in the 36 states of the country; it is advisable to invest in it,” Ogechukwu said.

She urged Federal, States and Local Governments as well as the diaspora communities to tap into the huge market by investing in the industry.

She described the coconut industry as a good retirement benefit for investors.

“I want to call on the government, investors and those in the diaspora to invest in coconut.

“With coconut investment, you can be making 80 per cent return on investment and the coconut continues producing until the next 60 years.

“It is the best retirement benefits and investments you can imagine and with that, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow and there will be employment opportunities for our youths.’’ Ogechukwu said.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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