Why I Run ‘Marketplace’ Government – Gov. Wamakko

Interviews

Aliyu Wamakko is the immediate past governor of Sokoto state. He was elected Senator to represent Sokoto North Senatorial District during the last general elections. In this exclusive interview with Newswatch’s Abdallah el-Kurebe, Regional Editor, he spoke on issues including his life, family, stewardship, G5 and the New PDP among others. Excepts:
Writers have tried to define Alu’s childhood life in their own ways. What was the true picture of Aliyu Wamakko’s childhood life, how did he manage life before he became self reliant?

To say the least, my childhood life was that of humbleness, fullness and simplicity, which I learned from my parents and later on from my elder brothers and friends as well. My life began on March 1st 1953 when I was born. At age five, I was enrolled into Arabic school and later primary school. After my secondary school, I took up teaching career where I rose from classroom teacher to headmaster, schools supervisor, area education officer, education officer and then moved to the USA for my first degree in 1977. I came back in 1980 and did my Youth Service and then continued with my work.

But during my childhood, I believed in hard work. I worked hard wherever I found myself. I believed in achieving results and I hated dependency. So, most of my friends then described me as one who related well with others by tying to respect opinions other than mine. I tried to respect views that deferred from mine. These have been my policy from my childhood life till today. Till today, whatever I find myself involved in, I do it to the best of my ability. I also try to accept the human factor – that I have limitations.

My life could be described as that of struggle. From classroom teacher to headmaster; to schools supervisor; to area education officer; to council chairman in the 1980s; to permanent secretary in the state civil service; to deputy governor for seven years and then governor for eight years. Throughout these years, I have tried as much as possible to respect any person or group of persons on any matter. I believe in mutual and reciprocal respect among people. I also believe in showing sympathy for the less privileged by assisting them to the best of my ability. I repeat, I believe in hard work and sincerity. I don’t believe in half-truths or half-trust. It is either truth or none; trust or no trust but not half way.

When you became governor, you kept your family from the purview of the government house, including first ladyship. What informed such decision, especially when that has become the norm in Nigeria’s political terrain?

First of all, the question of first lady is an act of illegality. In the constitution with which we operate and which brought us as governors, presidents and whatever, there is no provision for first lady. It is the military culture – an institution of one man, one wife. It was a military tradition that was brought to the political life of this country. But during the first and second republic in this country, nobody knew any about first lady. During Shagari from 1979 to 1983, there was nothing like that. It was after some military interventions that this happened. Even during Ironsi, there was nothing like that. Gowon’s Victoria did not play any such role. Buhari too did not give room to that. It was Babangida that made the first lady issue very prominent in governance in this country.

I don’t believe that having sworn to the Holy Qur’an to defend what is in the law and avoid anything that is against the law, I should allow the operation of anything first lady. And based on my religion, Islam does not encourage you to get your wife mess up with people at will like some people do. It does not prohibit women from going out but prescribes how she should relate with other men. I am not condemning anybody but as a matter of opinion, it doesn’t comply with the teachings of Islam. Three, as a matter of principle, if you allow your children to mess up in government, people will come through them without you knowing, to mess you up. They will go and see your wife or children to get you influenced to award contracts to them. These are things I tried to avoid. I am not saying that those who are doing it should stop. You asked me why I don’t do it and those are the reasons.

When you sit back to watch curiously as your children grow up, who among them have you seen to thread on your lifestyle?

Well, if you have been following the trend off my family pattern, I am one who believes in absolute discipline. I don’t allow my children to mess up in government. They must listen to me and take my instructions very strictly and seriously. As for threading on my foot-paths, I think all of them are doing well. Both are growing in their chosen careers. I have nine children and some of them have finished their first and second degrees; some read international relations, some Information Technology and some are reading law. They each have taken different ways and preparing themselves for the challenges of life. I am happy they don’t behave proudly as governor’s kids. We are working very hard to see that they are self reliant.

One weighty unofficial legacy you are leaving for your successor is that of ‘marketplace’ governance where your personal house is turned a tourist site. What informed that kind of leadership?

Thank you for coining my style of leadership as “marketplace governance.” Why I run an open government and make people feel belonging is that I believe in mutual and reciprocal respect. It is my conviction that when people feel loved and respected, they in turn love and respect you. Over the years, I have tried it and it has worked. I have realized that what people like most is to be recognized and respected. That is why I run an open door policy and allow people to freely go in and out of my house. Secondly, if you look at how I became governor in 2007, it was the people that showed me unprecedented love and support in the manner they never shown anybody in the political history of the state. Nobody!

I went for election as deputy governor two times I was elected as deputy governor; I went for election three times as governor and three times I was elected as governor; now I have been elected as senator. Anywhere I go to, even if it is for a condolence visit, people troop in to see or even touch their governor. Even when the security try to stop them, they make efforts to see Alu. Although the security see every action as a threat, I see public action towards me as friendly not hostile. I don’t believe in trampling on the rights of the people and that is why if I am traveling, I tell the convoy to maintain one lane. Those who want to be faster must not be delayed. I have demystified governance in two ways. During my tenure as governor, I made people to believe that it is the governor that is people’s servant and not the other way round. Two, during my time, people could come close to the governor, shake hands with me, talk with me and eat with me with molestation. These are two legacies I so much cherish. I believe in human dignity and mutual respect. So, all I am doing is try to reciprocate the kind of love the people of Sokoto state have for me.

Talking about your stewardship is like a TV series, which cannot be done within the purview of this interview. But let’s look at those projects, programmes and policies that, when you sit back in retrospect, you feel fulfilled?

The ones I cherish most is my modest efforts in the area of education, especially what we have done at primary, secondary and tertiary levels; the bursary and scholarship awards both within and abroad. When I came to office the state polytechnic had only two accredited HND courses but now they have more than 17. Shehu Shagari College of Education had not more than three degree courses that were accredited. Now we have about 15. When I came in 2007, 6,905 indigenes of Sokoto state sat for JAMB. That number rose to 15,500 in 2013 because of the efforts we made. As I am talking to you now, I have over 1,000 students overseas – in Europe, America and other parts of the world. I have been able to put in place, five additional tertiary institutions in the state.
In the medical sector, we had only one indigenous medical consultant when I came. I immediately sent 20 state owned doctors to go and qualify as consultants. I have been able to provide a primary health centre in the 244 wards across the state; one general hospital in each of the 23 local government areas; ambulance in each ward in the state. I have provided employment for everyone with medical-related qualification in the state. I have done similar thing in agriculture, youth empowerment, transport, commerce and other sectors.

Of controversy today, is the take-home pay of members of the National Assembly. Do you subscribe to slashing their salaries and allowances?

Well, slashing salaries of members of the National Assembly will not save much. What we should do is to try to fight excessive corruption in this country. We should try to ensure that every revenue that is due to government is remitted to government coffers. Merely slashing salaries of political office holders is like doing nothing to get effort money for provide services for the people. I don’t mind if that is done but the issue is we must fight corruption with full force. We must also diversify our economy. We must shift from mono-economy for better results.

The G7 suffered a setback by the withdrawal of two members (Jigawa and Niger states governors). At what point did you differ that resulted in their withdrawal. How much did G5 stive?

I don’t think they told us why they withdrew. They should be in the best position to say why. But let me start by telling you that we began as G3 – Governors Murtala Nyako, Sule Lamido and my humble self. It was after the election in 2011 that we moved to G5 then G7 and reverted to G5. We went to so many leaders beginning with former President Obasanjo. We told him sir, you brought President Jonathan to the political scene of this country. The way he is going will not augur well for this country. We believed it is very unusual for a president to loose primary election for a sitting governor. We asked him what our plans were for winning elections. He listened to us and felt we were right. He picked his phone and called President Goodluck and said, “Mr. President, can I see you with some of my friends?” We drove to the Villa and met Mr. President. We bared our minds to him, of course taking into account public expectations; the hostile media and many other things we felt stood against us. He listened to us but from the way it went, it seemed he wasn’t convinced and so we left him and came back to Obasanjo’s room in the hotel. Obasanjo cupped his two chic and said, “We are in trouble,” because when the President spoke that day, Obasanjo concluded that this man had a different understand of this country.

We also met people like Adamu Chiroma, T. Y. Danjuma to tell them there was need for their intervention. Nothing much changed. It was at this stage that our number grew to five and then seven. There was discontent among many Nigerians. Government was insensitive to public opinions and views. It felt if you feel differently, you could just leave.

The issue of Governors Forum election also propped up. Some people wrongly advised the government to get involved; the President should appoint our chairman. We felt that what was the business of the President with appointing chairman of Governors Forum? But Jonathan was so hard on it. I personally spoke with Tony Anenih, Sambo Dasuki to advise the President to get out of that. Whoever became chairman of the Forum would be a governor of a country of which he is President. We stood our grounds, went for an election and won. Some so-called elders thought they have a way of overcoming the leadership problem by forming the PDP Governors Forum as a way of crippling Nigerian Governors Forum’s relevance and chances.

One day we were summoned for a meeting in House 7. The meeting was so stage-managed, so funny. The President came in when Anenih, Bamanga, and so on were there. The President then said the PDP was a dominant party and “we are going to have a meeting with PDP Governors. We give you 10 minutes to go and decide and then come back.” They already made up their mind that they were going to appoint Akpabio the chairman. I have never attended the PDP governors Forum because I don’t believe in it. I believed should look more about Nigeria than selfish interest.

When the convention approached, the seven of us decided we should walk out, which we did and after which we formed the New PDP. Atiku came late and when he asked what was happening, he joined.

Nigeria Has No Reason To Import Rice, Says Attajiri

Business

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A rice milling firm has debuted in Sokoto with the managing director of the company, Alhaji Nura Attajiri saying that Nigeria was blessed with fertile land capable of producing all types of crops, including rice and therefore had no reason to import rice.

Attajiri said this during the inauguration of the N30 million mill, which has the capacity of milling 1,250 kilograms of rice per hour in Sokoto on Friday.

According him, “There is no need for Nigeria to import food, especially rice, as such more efforts should be put in to encourage more Nigerians to produce more food.”

He called on the general public to patronize the mill as well as provision of a plot of land by the state government at one of the industrial areas in Sokoto and a dedicated transformer.

Commending Attajiri, governor Aliyu Wamakko, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Arzika Tureta disclosed that the firm received grant of N30 million in two installments of N20 and N10 million from the state government out of the N3 billion loans disbursed to farmers and agro-investors in the state.

The Commissioner for Commerce, Alhaji Aliyu Achida who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed commended Wamakko for implementing programmes that boost food security.
“I must also commend the state government for its sustained support to the company.”

SURE-P: Sokoto Gives Out 115 Buses At 45% Subsidized Rate

News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Under the local government Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), Sokoto state government has procured 115 brand new 18-seater buses at a total cost of over N902,750,000 as loan to the citizens of the state.

Purchased at N7,850,000 each, the buses were loaned out at 45 percent subsidized rate of N3.5 million, with N500,000 initial deposit and subsequent monthly payment of N62,500 for 48 months.

Speaking during the presentation of the buses at Government House on Friday, Governor Aliyu Wamakko said that they would help in “boosting the transportation sector as well as serve as avenue of empowerment of the beneficiaries.

“The cost of each bus stands at N7,850,000, which has been subsidized by 45 percent where each beneficiary will pay N3,500,000 in four years,” the governor said.

He called on beneficiaries to make best use of the opportunity.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Local Government and Rural Development who spoke through the permanent secretary of the Ministry, said that under similar programmes of SURE-P for which a total of N10,046,321,588 had been spent, 11,500 people have been trained on poultry farming with equipment worth N890,000,000; 230 Keke NAPEP were procured and distributed at N152,600,000; five kilometre roads in the headquarters of each local government have been constructed at N6,615,971,588 and water pumps, seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides/herbicides and drilling tube wells were procured at N1,495,000,000.

FRSC To Introduce Air Ambulances

News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Corps Marshal of Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr Boboye Oyeyemi has disclosed that the Commission plans to introduce Air Ambulances in the country through partnership with the Nigerian Air Force.

Oyeyemi said this in Sokoto on Wednesday during the commissioning of a new office block constructed for Sokoto Command of the Commission by Sokoto state government at the cost of N15 million.

According to him, the partnership would provide avenue for the conduct of aerial surveillance and patrol while the air ambulances would facilitate speedy life-saving process where accident victims would swiftly be rescued.

“The Commission is now rated among the best in the world and we are leaving no stone un-turned in making Nigerian roads accident free. We are also trying to be among the safest nations in the world by the year 2020 and this will be by reducing fatalities due to road accident by fifty per cent,” Oyeyemi further said.

He commended Sokoto state government for the structure.

While lamenting the rising cases of road traffic
crashes, which are caused by over-loading by commercial vehicles, Governor Aliyu Wamakko said that his administration recognized performance of the Commission in controlling the nation’s road traffic.

The Sector Commander, Mr Takum Galadima promised to use the office block to improve the efficiency of the officers and men.

Food Insecurity, Unemployment Bane of Nigeria’s Development, Says Sultan Abubakar

News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar has observed that insecurity, unemployment and food insecurity were some of the problems that are retarding the nation’s development.

Receiving the new Emir of Gusau, Alhaji Ibrahim Bello in his Palace in Sokoto on Thursday, the Sultan stressed the need for action towards addressing the current security challenges in Zamfara state and some parts of the country.

While calling on security agencies and other stakeholders to assist in addressing the problems in order to ensure societal development, Abubakar also called on leaders “to be just and fair in the discharge of their responsibilities.

“This is necessary as justice and fairness are prerequisite towards achieving success and to ensure peace and stability as well as understanding in the country.”

Expressing the Sultanate Council’s appreciation for the new Emir’s visit, the Sultan assured of the Council’s “commitment towards sustainable peace, stability and development of the country.”

Earlier, the new Emir said he was at the Sultan Palace to receive royal blessing towards the discharge of his responsibilities as well as concretise the existing relationship between the Sultanate and Gusau Emirate.

UDUS Swears In 52 New Medical Doctors

Health

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS) has sworn in 52 new Medical Doctors that studied for the 2012/2013 academic session.

Accepting the new Medical Doctors into medical practice on behalf of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria on Tuesday, State Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Abdulgafar Jimoh urged them to “lead with decorum, mutual
respect and be advocates of clinical governance.”

The Vice Chancellor (VC) of UDUS, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru called on the Doctors to abide by their professional oath and be good ambassadors of the institution. “What you did in the last six years was to learn and you still need further trainings to specialize.”

Also, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH), Dr. Yakubu Ahmed and the Provost, College of Health Sciences, Dr. Ismaila Mungadi corroborated in urging the new Medical Doctors to display elegance, simplicity and kindness in their practice.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) of Sokoto State University, Prof. Malami Mode who stood in for the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nuhu Yaqoob as chairman of the occasion, called on them to be emphatic as they handle patients.

Deputy Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Prof. Gana Yisa who was the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion commended the University for maintaining high academic excellence.

He also donated the sum of N500,000 to the College of Health Sciences of the University.

Private Orthopedic Hospital Conducts First Hip Replacement in Sokoto

Health

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

For the first time in the whole of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states, the Bone and Joint Orthopedic Hospital, a private entity based in Sokoto has successfully performed a hip replacement on Hajiya Rukayya Muhammad (65) of Wamakko local government area of the state by three surgeons.

The Bone and Joint Orthopedic Hospital has therefore joined other orthopedic hospitals in Abuja, Lagos and other places in the country to perform that kind of surgery.

Dr. Muhammad Oboirien, who is the Medical Director of the Hospital said that the woman had damaged hip, which resulted from severe arthritis,

The surgery that lasted two and half hours, according to Dr. Oboirien corrected the limping posture of the patient.

According to him, “Our patient came here limping and in serious discomfort two months ago and was also finding it difficult to walk because of the problem. We conducted an x-ray of the pelvis and noticed that one of her hip bones was damaged and as such required to be replaced.”

The Doctor further said that it was the first time a joint replacement was done in the whole of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states, adding,
“So, we procured the implant from Lagos and the hip replacement was carried on successfully on April 21. As I am talking to you now, the patient is stable and has started walking with a walker,” Oboirien said.

He explained that the surgery costs between N700,000 and N750,000 including implant, drugs and other things, which is cheaper in Nigeria compared to Dubai, India and other European countries where it costs about N2 million, including airfare and accommodation.

“The implication is that hip replacement surgery and other services are available in Lagos and a few places at a lesser cost than for a patient to travel abroad. Many Nigerian surgeons have undergone training on joint replacement in India, Pakistan and Europe.

“In fact, in the past, nobody thought joint replacement could be carried out in the country but now it is readily available here in Sokoto,” he explained.

Oboirien appealed to the Federal Government to embark on an enlightenment campaign to discourage people from traveling abroad for ailments that could be easily treated in the country.

Polio: 240,000 Children To Receive Injectable Vaccine, Says WHO

Health

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The World Health Organization(WHO) has said that at least, 240,000 children would be immunized during the Injectable and Oral Polio Vaccination campaign scheduled to hold between 2nd and 6th May in Sokoto North, Sokoto South and Wamakko local government areas (LGAs) of the state.

The Supplemental Immunization Officer of WHO, Dr. Ana Elena Chevez disclosed this on Wednesday at a roundtable meeting with members of Journalists Against Polio (JAP) on Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV).

She explained that children living in the three local government areas required higher level of protection because the areas were classified as vulnerable to polio transmission following results from the isolation of the virus in the samples collected from sewages there.

Chevez added that the IPV, to be administered at 411 health camps located not more than half kilometre range from every settlement in the LGAs, would be given to all children at 14 weeks of age as part of the routine immunization in order to boost their immunity against type one, two and three polio virus.

“The Injectable Polio Vaccine works in a way different from the oral polio vaccine. It strengthens a child’s immunity through the blood while polio drops create immunity through a child’s intestines,” she said adding, “In fact, both the injectable and oral vaccines will strengthen the health of a child and provide even better protection against polio.”

Chevez stressed that unlike the oral vaccines, skilled healthcare workers were required to administer the injectable vaccines.

Describing the IPV as very safe and with no complex reactions to the ones administered to children, she also maintained that administering the IPV to the children was the only way to accelerate polio eradication as well as boost their immunity.

“We decided to introduce Injectable Polio Vaccine in high-risk areas due to the fact that a single dose increases bloodstream immunity against polio in children,” Chevez said.

How I Got Converted To GMO Food

Agriculture

By MARK LYNAS
APRIL 24, 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya — Mohammed Rahman doesn’t know it yet, but his small farm in central Bangladesh is globally significant. Mr. Rahman, a smallholder farmer in Krishnapur, about 60 miles northwest of the capital, Dhaka, grows eggplant on his meager acre of waterlogged land.

As we squatted in the muddy field, examining the lush green foliage and shiny purple fruits, he explained how, for the first time this season, he had been able to stop using pesticides. This was thanks to a new pest-resistant variety of eggplant supplied by the government-run Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute.

Despite a recent hailstorm, the weather had been kind, and the new crop flourished. Productivity nearly doubled. Mr. Rahman had already harvested the small plot 10 times, he said, and sold the brinjal (eggplant’s name in the region) labeled “insecticide free” at a small premium in the local market. Now, with increased profits, he looked forward to being able to lift his family further out of poverty. I could see why this was so urgent: Half a dozen shirtless kids gathered around, clamoring for attention. They all looked stunted by malnutrition.

In a rational world, Mr. Rahman would be receiving support from all sides. He is improving the environment and tackling poverty. Yet the visit was rushed, and my escorts from the research institute were nervous about permitting me to speak with him at all.

The new variety had been subjected to incendiary coverage in the local press, and campaign groups based in Dhaka were suing to have the pest-resistant eggplant banned. Activists had visited some of the fields and tried to pressure the farmers to uproot their crops. Our guides from the institute warned that there was a continuing threat of violence — and they were clearly keen to leave.

Why was there such controversy? Because Mr. Rahman’s pest-resistant eggplant was produced using genetic modification. A gene transferred from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (more commonly known by the abbreviation “Bt”), produces a protein that kills the Fruit and Shoot Borer, a species of moth whose larvae feed on the eggplant, without the need for pesticide sprays. (The protein is entirely nontoxic to other insects and indeed humans.)

Conventional eggplant farmers in Bangladesh are forced to spray their crops as many as 140 times during the growing season, and pesticide poisoning is a chronic health problem in rural areas. But because Bt brinjal is a hated G.M.O., or genetically modified organism, it is Public Enemy No.1 to environmental groups everywhere.

The stakes are especially high because Mr. Rahman is one of only 108 farmers in Bangladesh currently permitted to try out the new variety. Moreover, this is among the first genetically modified food crops to be grown by farmers anywhere in the developing world. Virtually every crop, in every other country, has so far been blocked.

In neighboring India, green campaigners managed to secure a nationwide moratorium against the genetically modified eggplant in 2010. In the Philippines, a Greenpeace-led coalition has tied up the variety in litigation for two years. Greenpeace activists took the precaution of wrecking field trials first, by pulling up the plants.

I, too, was once in that activist camp. A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind.

After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.

There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.

In Africa, however, countries have fallen like dominoes to anti-G.M. campaigns. I am writing this at a biotechnology conference in Nairobi, where the government slapped a G.M.O. import ban in 2012 after activists brandished pictures of rats with tumors and claimed that G.M. foods caused cancer.

The origin of the scare was a French scientific paper that was later retracted by the journal in which it was originally published because of numerous flaws in methodology. Yet Kenya’s ban remains, creating a food-trade bottleneck that will raise prices, worsening malnutrition and increasing poverty for millions.

In Uganda, the valuable banana crop is being devastated by a new disease called bacterial wilt, while the starchy cassava, a subsistence staple, has been hit by two deadly viruses. Biotech scientists have produced resistant varieties of both crops using genetic modification, but anti-G.M.O. groups have successfully prevented the Ugandan Parliament from passing a biosafety law necessary for their release.

An eminent Ghanaian scientist whom I met recently had received such a high level of harassment from campaigners that he was considering taking a dossier to the police. Activists in his country have also gone to court to stall progress in biotech development.

The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed a greater gap between scientists and the public on G.M.O.s than on any other scientific controversy: While 88 percent of association scientists agreed it was safe to eat genetically modified foods, only 37 percent of the public did — a gap in perceptions of 51 points. (The gap on climate change was 37 points; on childhood vaccinations, 18 points.)

On genetic engineering, environmentalists have been markedly more successful than climate change deniers or anti-vaccination campaigners in undermining public understanding of science. The scientific community is losing this battle. If you need visual confirmation of that, try a Google Images search for the term “G.M.O.” Scary pictures proliferate, from an archetypal evil scientist injecting tomatoes with a syringe — an utterly inaccurate representation of the real process of genetic engineering — to tumor-riddled rats and ghoulish chimeras like fish-apples.

In Europe, leaders in Brussels propose to empower all member states of the European Union to ban genetically modified crops, if they so wish. Hungary has even written anti-G.M.O. ideology into its Constitution. Peru has enacted a 10-year moratorium.

As someone who participated in the early anti-G.M.O. movement, I feel I owe a debt to Mr. Rahman and other farmers in developing countries who could benefit from this technology. At Cornell, I am working to amplify the voices of farmers and scientists in a more informed conversation about what biotechnology can bring to food security and environmental protection.

No one claims that biotech is a silver bullet. The technology of genetic modification can’t make the rains come on time or ensure that farmers in Africa have stronger land rights. But improved seed genetics can make a contribution in all sorts of ways: It can increase disease resistance and drought tolerance, which are especially important as climate change continues to bite; and it can help tackle hidden malnutritional problems like vitamin A deficiency.

We need this technology. We must not let the green movement stand in its way.

Mark Lynas is a researcher at the Cornell Alliance for Science and the author, most recently, of “The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans.”

Researchers Partner On New African opportunities for sustainable food systems

Agriculture

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Twenty-three (23) African and European research partners are presently collaborating on a long term research and innovation towards a sustainable improvement of food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of African farmers.

A report by the Natural Resources Institute in Finland says that the focus of the research is on sustainable intensification of the agrofood system in Africa.

“The research will understudy the consequences of sustainable intensification of food production to the environment, economy and society.”

It observed that farming practices have impacted negatively on the environment as a result of which many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty.

“Although the current food production systems have enabled a substantial increase in food production, the farming practices have also impacted the environment. In addition, many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty,” the report stated.

The 23 research and innovation institutes from 21 countries will partner in the new initiative, PROIntensAfrica to explore the whole effects of African Agrofood system.

“It is projected that the expected growth in the world population from 7 to 9 billion and the changing diets will require 70% more food by 2050. There is no single solution to production increase, so a diversity of pathways for sustainable intensification needs to be explored and exploited,” says the coordinator of the initiative, Huub Löffler from Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR), explained.

He added that the initiative starts off in a situation where many tailor-made routes towards sustainable food systems have already been advocated in literature.

“The difficulty of sustainable intensification lies in each food system’s requirement to meet their specific supply and demand. As such, high input farming might be suitable for a specific region while organic farming is more suitable for another region,” he further said.

The PROIntensAfrica initiative, according to will go beyond the debate of best systems for sustainable intensification in Africa. We will combine elements of different systems, yielding into innovative systems to optimally meet specific requirements, says Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the from Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

While observing that pooling African and European research resources was perceived as the best way to align existing research and instigate new research initiatives, the statement also stated that “joint programming is one of the main instruments of the European Commission to accomplish more synergy and increase the effectiveness of resources.”

The resources pool for ProintensAfrica therefore, is not only about science, but also about policy and funding. More so, the philosophy of the future IntensAfrica programme is that there is no one model is better than another.

Philippe Petithuguenin from CIRAD says: “There are controversies and we will take them on board but our role will not be to act as a judge. However, the research questions and knowledge generated will serve as fuel to the debate.”

While communication is considered crucial to develop and enhance the interactive dialogue between all stakeholders,
ProIntensAfrica also considers consultation, case studies, stakeholder panel workshops as major parts of its activities.

African partners in the project are: FARA (Ghana); CORAF/WECARD (Senegal); CCARDESA (Botswana); ASARECA (Uganda); AFAAS (Uganda); ARC (South Africa); CSRI-CRI (Ghana) and INERA (Burkina Faso).

European partners are: Wageningen UR (The Netherlands); CIRAD (France); UCL (Belgium); SLU (Sweden); IICT (Portugal); Luke (Finland); University of Copenhagen (Denmark); ZEF (Germany); INIA (Spain); NRI (England); Teagasc (Ireland); BOKU (Austria); University of Life Sciences (Czech Republic); University Szent Istvan (Hungary) and Bioforsk (Norway).

Press Release: Nigeria Gets Biosafety Law

Agriculture, Environment, Health

PRESS RELEASE

By

Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu, Director-General/CEO, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja

Nigeria has finally joined the league of Biotechnology countries

President Goodluck Jonathan has signed the National Biosafety Agency Bill, which is a milestone in the domestication of modern biotechnology in Nigeria a giant stride that will allow the country to join the league of countries advanced in the use of this cutting edge technology as another window to boost economic development in Nigeria. It will create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and alleviate hunger if given good attention by government.

The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of Modern Biotechnology in the country. Modern Biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability while the Biosafety Act will give the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as imported GM crops into the country as well as providing avenue to engage Nigerian scientist s/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges”.

The Biosafety Law also recognizes the complex issues to be addressed by Central Authorities in the judicious application of Modern Biotechnology; it bases the deliberate release of GMO on Advance Informed Agreement (AIA)”.

Biosafety Law:

I. Defines offenses and Penalty for violation of the act

II. Contains powers to authorize release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities.

III. Confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs,

IV. Covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products thereof including food/feed and processing.

V. Covers socio-economic consideration in risk assessment

The Benefits of Modern Biotechnology include among others, the following:

a. Capacity for enhanced food security

b. Environmental protection and conservation through production of stress tolerant planting materials for re-vegetation, re-afforestation, soil binding for erosion control as well as genetically enhanced organisms for bioremediation of oil polluted sites

c. Improvement in plants and animals yields as well as nutritional values

d. Production of new breeds/varieties of animals and plants.

e. Reduction in the use of pesticides

f. Reduction in farming land area with higher yields, facilitates Job and wealth creation, leads to better health facilities,

g. Promotion of bioorganic fertilizer development and industrial growth through feedstock development.

h. Promotion and development of biopharmaceuticals production, Stem Cell technology, biometrics, etc in Nigeria

i. Biodiversity conservation

Purpose of the Law

The Biosafety Law is for an act to provide for the management of Biosafety and other related matters and it seeks to:

a) Harness the potentials modern biotechnology has to offer under a legal regulatory regime.

b) Ensure environmental, human and socio-economic safety while harnessing the benefits associated with the practice of modern biotechnology and its outputs,

c) Exercise the sovereign right over all the nation’s natural resources and authority to regulate access to such resources.

d) Allay the fear of the populace on the socio-economic consequences of modern biotechnology, especially among the small scale farming systems that are prevalent in Nigeria.

e) Reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of the World Trade Organization and to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the goals and objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which Nigeria has signed and ratified.

f) Safe use of modern biotechnology and provide holistic approach to the regulation of modified organisms in Nigeria.

g) Safeguard human health and the environment from any potential; adverse effect of genetically modified organism including food safety.

h) Provide measures for the assessment of genetically modified organism and management of risk in order to ensure safety in the use of genetically modified organisms to human health and the environment.

i) Ensure that the use of the genetically modified organism does not have undesired impact on socio – economic and cultural interest either at the community or National level.

j) Ensure the Law makes provision for the establishment of a competent agency which would work in line with existing institutional bodies to prevent unsafe use of genetically modified organisms as well as develop risk managements plan and strategy for protecting human health, biology diversity, and the environment from potentials risks associated with genetically modified organisms.

k) Ensure that Nigeria will have the opportunity to harness the potentials modern technology has to offer in the field of improved food production, medicine/health, Industrial growth and environmental sustainability, generation of Employment and wealth creation through the Modern Biotechnology industry.

l) Bring about responsible Research and Development in Modern Biotechnology,

m) Ensure that Nigeria will be able to guarantee the purity of its agricultural products for the international market, there by gaining international partners and also foreign earning.

n) Ensure that Nigeria will not serve as a dumping ground for unregulated Genetically Modified Organisms which may have impact on the environment and human health

Nigeria Gets Biosafety Law, Joins League of Biotechnology countries

Agriculture, Environment, Health, Science

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Nigeria has finally joined the league of biotechnology countries with the signing the National Biosafety Agency Bill into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday.

The Law seeks to domesticate modern biotechnology used by advanced countries as cutting-edge technology to boost economic development.

A statement signed by the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu stated that the Act would “create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and elevate hunger if given good attention by government.”

According to the statement, “The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of Modern Biotechnology in the country. Modern Biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability.

“The Biosafety Act will provide the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as imported genetically modified crops into the country, including the provision of avenue to engage Nigerian scientists/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges.”

It could be recalled that during Netmapping Workshop organized by Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology at Maizube Farms in Minna, Niger State, former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar observed that “Agricultural Biotechnology has changed the lives of the rural cotton farmers in Burkina Faso. It has also changed the lives for the better of poor farmers in Brazil and Argentina.”

While recognizing the complex issues to be addressed by Central Authorities in the judicious application of Modern Biotechnology, “the Biosafety Law also bases the deliberate release of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) on Advance Informed Agreement (AIA).”

The signed Law addresses the following:
i. Defines offenses and penalty for violation of the act; ii. contains powers to authorize release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities; iii. confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs; iv. covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products thereof including food/feed and processing and
v. covers socioeconomic consideration in risk assessment.

What Nigeria stands to benefit from Modern Biotechnology among others include the following: a. capacity for improved food security; b. environmental protection and conservation through production of stress tolerant planting materials for re-vegetation, re-afforestation, soil binding for erosion control as well as genetically enhanced organisms for bioremediation of oil polluted sites

Others are: c. improvement in plants and animals yields as well as nutritional values; d. production of new breeds/varieties of animals and plants and e. reduction in the use of pesticides.

Also, f. reduction in farming land area with higher yields, facilitates Job and wealth creation, leads to better health facilities; g. promotion of bioorganic fertilizer development and industrial growth through feed-stock development; h. promotion and development of biopharmaceuticals production, Stem Cell technology, biometrics, etc in Nigeria and i. biodiversity conservation.

One thing the law will provide is an accelerated agricultural development for an African giant.

Nairobi ABBC-2015 Declaration: Lift Ban on GMO Imports in Kenya

Agriculture

Delegates from 30 countries from around the world, attending an International Agri-Biotech and Biosafety Communication Conference (ABBC-2015) in Nairobi have called on the Kenya Government to lift a 2-year ban on GMO imports. 

Addressing the delegates comprising of farmers, scientists, policy makers, private sector, the media and science communicators, the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Dr, Wilson Songa emphasized the role of agricultural biotechnology in propelling the country towards prosperity. 

“To harness this potential the GMO import ban must be lifted,” he said.  In addition, he said that Kenya has adequate capacity to develop and ensure safety of GMO products.

Members of Parliament present, called upon the government to release a report by the task force constituted after the ban by the Ministry of Health to look into the safety of GM foods.

The ABBC conference brought together organizations and networks involved in agri-biotech and biosafety communication across the world to take stock of the progress and dynamics of biotech communication over the past two decades.

It was organized by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agricultural Applications (ISAAA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NCSTI), Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) and other partners.

One of the key lessons was that agri-biotech and biosafety communications must be simplified and messages delivered in appropriate languages for different stakeholders to make impact.

The delegates came up with the Nairobi Declaration 2015,  which reads as follows:

We, the participants of the International Conference on Agri-Biotech and Biosafety Communication, held on 12-14 April 2015 in Nairobi, representing the academic and research community, civil society, law makers and policy advisers, the media, farmers and other stakeholders drawn from 30 countries across the world, collectively issue the following statement resulting from this conference:

Whereas:

1. The world faces unique and particular food security challenges in future, as the human population increases towards a likely 9.6 billion by 2050 and climate change raises additional problems for agriculture in terms of water and temperature stress, increased disasters and extreme weather;

2. Some progress has been made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals on extreme poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality and food security. Much work remains to be done to ensure that citizens of all countries enjoy the full opportunity of healthy and sustainable access to food;

3. Biotechnology and genetic engineering, while not being the only solution to these challenges, offers great potential in addressing many specific concerns in food production, including micro-nutrient deficiencies, productivity and yield gaps, pest and disease problems;

4. There exists an international scientific consensus that the “genetic modification” process itself does not raise any risks over conventional breeding approaches

5. The debate around genetically modified  products continues and is often characterized by emotive and misleading information about purported dangers that are not supported by any scientific evidence;

6. Highly restrictive policy and regulatory environments exist in parts of the world, greatly hampering the capacity of farmers to access innovations that will improve farm productivity, household incomes and food security;

We hereby declare our commitment and determination:

i. To work collectively to improve the communications environment, including the use of the latest as well as traditional communication strategies to ensure effectiveness.

ii. To work inclusively, with all stakeholders, including those opposed to this technology, in an effort to build consensus and common understanding.

iii. To promote choice, so that farmers, consumers, and other end-users can make informed decisions that reflect their best interests.

iv. To address the concerns of people at all levels, to ensure the widest participation possible.

v. To demonstrate how agricultural production challenges can be tackled using biotechnology, and how it can directly contribute to food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation, job creation and sustainable economic development.

vi. To support credible scientists who are most trusted by the public and governments, to be effective communicators and to have a closer relationship with media and policymakers to ensure that scientifically-informed messages reach target audiences.

In particular, we gratefully acknowledge the active participation of Members of the Kenya National Assembly (KNA), and many senior government representatives who participated in this conference, and welcome their invaluable inputs to ensure the current ban on importation and consumption of GM foods in Kenya is lifted.

Large Consumption, Impact of Climate Change Will Affect Food Security and Water Supplies – Says FAO

Agriculture, Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said although there would be enough water to produce food for 10 billion people in 2050, consumption rate and the impact of climate change would still threaten food security and water supplies in many regions.

According to the report already, water scarcity already affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population because too much water was being used to produce food.

FAO and the World Water Council (WWC), in the joint report stated that by 2050, 60 percent more food would be needed to feed the world’s people, a situation that would warrant food production, sustainably to ensure future supplies of food. This, the report observed, was because farming remained the largest user of water.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General of Natural Resources further stated: “In an era of accelerated changes, unparalleled in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever.

“Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and under-investment.”

The report added that excessive use and pollution of water resources in key food-producing regions were threatening the sustainability of jobs that depend on water and agriculture.

President of the WWC, Benedito Braga, stated that “Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability.”

FAO and WWC therefore called on governments to provide enabling policies as well as private and public sectors to investment in order to ensure that crops, livestock and fish were produced sustainably, including ways that also protect water resources.

This, they said was essential to reduce poverty, increase people’s incomes and ensure food security, the report said.

Off-grid Smart Villages States key role of mini-hydro schemes in Nepal

Energy

Off-grid Smart Villages States key role of mini-hydro schemes in Nepal
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

As a follow up to the awareness campaign on rural energy for policymakers in Eastern Africa, held in Arusha, Tanzania in June last year, SmartVillages Initiative has launched a Smart Villages and Practical Action off-grid village energy workshop in Nepal.

The Arusha workshop explored the East African/Tanzanian environment for village energy, local case studies, challenges and opportunities, with a view to formulating policy recommendations for policymakers, funders, NGOs and other stakeholders in that region.

The Smart Villages Kathmandu Workshop held on April 10th was directed at learning “from the Nepalese expertise in off-grid energy provision that might help other countries in South Asia and beyond. In particular, mini-hydro was identified as an under-utilized technology with massive global potential,” Communications Officer of SmartVillages, Meredith Thomas said in a release.

The workshop brought together a cross-section of participants in the Nepali off-grid energy sector.

Co-leader of the Initiative, John Holmes stated that “Energy provision is on the agenda for the new Sustainability Goals and both ourselves and Practical Action are looking to provide policy guidance on how best to reach ‘last mile’ remote off-grid communities,” adding,
“Holding workshops in key regions enables us to gain a better understanding of local solutions and experience that might yield broader lessons.”

The workshop’s agenda harped on the necessary conditions that would ensure that development benefits flowed directly from energy access. “It also sought to develop an appreciation of the distinctive challenges encountered in Nepal and how they have been overcome,” the statement added.

The Nepalese Government-run centre, the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, including other stakeholders in the private sector, shared their experiences in promoting off-grid renewable energy projects.

The discussions that followed dwelled on rural electricity access transformation “by use of market mapping to identify barriers to the development of village mini-grid markets and possible interventions.”

The workshop also identified that “small hydroelectric plants installed on naturally occurring rivers and streams, were seen as a promising technology.”

The Nepal Micro Hydropower Development Association said that the technology had successfully generated approximately 28MW of electricity in Nepal, adding that a total of 2,900 micro-hydro plants of different sizes and capacities, had been installed and grants access to 350,000 households.

The workshop provided new insights from the experiences of installing micro-hydro mini-grids in remote villages in Nepal.

“We also received an update on the initiatives being taken to catalyse productive enterprises at the village level enabled by access to electricity”, Holmes explained.

Further, the discussion delved into the mini-grid ownership model and the respective roles of the community and private sector in its implementation as well as the importance of integrating energy access initiatives with the development of local productive enterprises.

Participatory Market System Development, formulated by Practical Action, was proposed as a tool to identify barriers to the development of markets that is able to produce high-value energy-enabled goods and services. “This approach has implications for the future of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who lack access to electricity,” the statement concluded.

Arusha Hosts Post-Durban Dialogue On Climate Change and Agriculture

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A three-day Post-Durban Dialogue on climate change and agriculture, aimed at examining the outcome of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 17) held in Durban in November-December 2011, has opened in Arusha, Tanzania.

Jointly organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the East African Community, (EAC) in collaboration with Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS-EA) and a global programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),

According to a statement, the Dialogue which brought climate change and agriculture experts from nine Eastern Africa countries of Burundi, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda together, will “focus on decisions of agriculture with a view to propose activities that would be considered under the agricultural work programme of Parties (members of UNFCCC).”

Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, Prof. Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe, represented by the Director General of Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), Ms Epiphania Kimaro assured experts at the opening session of the regional governments and Economic Communities’ commitment “to respond to the impacts of climate change collectively through policy and practical measures since the impacts had no boundaries.”

The minister commended COMESA and other partners for the technical support being provided to ensure that developing countries fully benefited from negotiations.

He added that the experts dialogue is an important opportunity for member States to reflect on the outcome of the Conference with the aim of preparing how to implement specific decisions that are of priority to the region and specifically to identify key issues relating to agriculture with a view to prepare a common position for consideration by the subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) during its 36th Session schedule for May 2012.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sector Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, who was represented by EAC Climate Change Coordinator, Mr. Brian Otiende informed the meeting that EAC was in the process of implementing three critical policy documents approved by the EAC Heads of State Summit in April 2011.

The policy documents include EAC Climate Policy (2011); the EAC Food Security Action Plan (2011-2015) and the Heads of States Summit Declaration on Food Security and Climate Change.

Claude reiterated that the EAC, COMESA and other strategic partners were committed to working with stakeholders in Eastern Africa with a view to developing a common position on issues related to agriculture for consideration by SBSTA and other bodies of the COP.

Modern Agric Biotech: Lessons From Brazil For Africa

Agriculture

By Abdallah el-Kurebe 

Journalists, farmers, scientists, biosafety regulators and agribusiness companies from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and the US gathered in Brazil between March 16th and 20th 2015 for the Biotechnology and Science Communication Confidence Building Project.  

This meeting was meant to enable African countries learn about and improve on their food security strategies through confidence building in modern biotechnology as well as optimizing best communication practices and policies to guide in the deployment of biotech/GM crops in Africa.

The choice of Brazil for the meeting was the country’s rating by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agricultural Applications (ISAAA) that it has continued to maintain second position in the adaptation of agricultural biotechnology.

According to 2014 report of ISAAA, Brazil cultivated 42.2 million hectares (ha) of soybean, maize and cotton, next to US, which cultivated 73.1 million ha of Maize, soybean, cotton, canola, sugarbeet, alfalfa, papaya and squash.

One of the lessons learned from the Brazilian study tour is that smallholder farmers in Brazil are those that cultivate between 50 and 100 hectares (ha). These are big-time farmers in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. 

More so, farmers in Brazil belong to cooperatives and 100 percent of Brazilian cooperative farmers plant GM crops. In fact, these cooperatives have been influential in promoting the adopting of agricultural biotechnology. in Brazil, agriculture is a private sector business.

Marcelo Vevancio is a 36 year-old farmer who alone cultivates 262 ha of farmland. He chooses to use GM soybean because of easy management of such crops. “I changed from conventional to transgenic methods of farming because it is easier to manage. It also provides high yields with less cost of production and less stress.”

One of the agro-companies the team visited was Cocamar. It cultivates 500,000 ha of soybean during summer. It also produces 744,000 bottles of soy oil per day (271,560,000 bottles per year), among other food products.   

Renato Hobold Watanabe, an Agronomist and Technical Coordinator of Cocamar, says that the company succeeded through cooperative farming (made up of smallholder farmers) with over 12,000 associate farmers. “Bt crops provide better yields and help in reducing pesticides use. We feel we are eating safer food that contains fewer chemicals,” he said while answering a question on how Brazilians feel when they eat GM foods. 

On the other hand, Mr. Ricardo Bergmann of the Argentine Soybean Chain Association (ACSOJA) says that the country is a leading exporter of soybean, cultivating 32 million ha and producing 100 million metric tonnes per year.
According to him, “In Argentina, 100 percent of the surface of soybean and cotton was planted with GM varieties while GM maize accounted for 95 percent of the crop in 2013/14.”

Argentina understands modern biotechnology as an important tool for increasing productivity of its agricultural sector. More so, there is the presence of biotechnology in different productive chains, which plays important role in the country’s agriculture development.

ISAAA reports that Argentina retained third place in the world, with 24.3 million hectares of biotech crops in 2014.
A notable development is that commercial biotech crops so far approved there are soybean, maize and cotton. 100% of soybean and cotton was planted with Genetic Modified (GM) varieties, while GM maize accounted for 95% of the crop. These crops are herbicide tolerant and or insect pest resistance.

While Nigeria is still struggling to put regulatory frameworks in place, Argentina has continued to evolved “simultaneously with scientific development.” Its first commercial approval of glyphosate resistant soybean was in 1996.

Although both Nigeria and Argentina have land availability and climate variability to enable diversification of biotech crops, Argentine farmers, by far show a good reception to new technological developments and innovations. More so, the country is far ahead in the acquisition of mechanisms that promote science and technology, including research, investment and promotion of technology applied to production. In Nigeria, traditional methods of farming still accounts to about 80% of means of food production.

Argentina hopes to develop biotech crops that would solve gaps or problems of national productive chains as well as enhance society awareness of biotechnology and biosafety issues through education.

Moses Limo, a professor of Biochemistry and Biotechnology from Egerton University, Kenya observed that agriculture in Brazil was technology-driven as against other countries, especially in Africa where it is political-driven. “As a scientist, I am now more confident to tell my people that, in practical terms, biotech is working for Brazil and could work for Kenya.” 

Among the 19 biotech mega-countries, three are in Africa. South Africa is ninth and therefore maintains the lead with 2.7 million ha of Maize, soybean, cotton; Burkina Faso is 14th with 0.5 million ha for cotton and Sudan is 19th with 0.1 million ha for cotton. 

“Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda have conducted field trials on the following broad range of staple and orphan crops: rice, maize, wheat, sorghum, bananas, cassava, and sweet potato,” stated the report. While Kenya has banned the importation and use of biotech crops, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania, are pursuing their regulatory approval.

Margaret Karembu, Executive Director of ISAAA said that of the 28 biotech countries, 20 were developing and only South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan have adopted the commercialization of biotech crops in Africa. Other countries like Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Uganda and Nigeria were conducting trials on various crops. 

Karembu posits that Africa’s population would boost from 1.1 billion to four billion in a continent which 65% of her labour workforce is in agriculture. This percentage is declining as a result of aging farmers. But still, “Biotechnology has remained more of a political issue than scientific.” 

The major issues that have continued to evolve around the influence of the adoption and commercialization of biotech crops in Africa include health and environment. It is therefore important for African countries to consider putting in place regulatory frameworks that would allow safety use of the technological advances and developments on agricultural biotechnology.

This will not only ensure that crop species that relate to GM are safe both as food, feed and agro-ecosystem.

African governments are not adequately funding research and therefore the private sector should take ownership of research and development in all research institutions. And, in the best interest of African farmers, the Public Private Peasant Partnership (PPPP) approach should be introduced instead of the PPP which leaves out the farmer from research process.

It is important to note that farmers in all African countries have shown good reception, even without the products, to the new technological developments and innovations. What remains is for governments to see to the need for legal frameworks in order to allow farmers the usage of the products. 

Nigeria’s President should hasten to assent to the Biosafety Bill recently passed by the National Assembly. The Kenyan government should lift the ban on the importation and commercialization of GM crops. The Ugandan parliament should roll up the Bill from the Order Paper and pass it immediately and other African countries should queue in to the agricultural biotechnology.

Climate Change, Adaptation and African Agriculture

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Key Facts

¤ The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” – The board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

¤ Climate Change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter 

¤ Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress

¤ Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution – WHO

Almost all African countries are vulnerable to climate change. This is owing to their low adaptive capacity, including ever-growing dependence to on such resources that are sensitive to changes in climate.

Resulting from this, climate change threatens to inflict suffering on African nations as well as reverse the development gains that have been recorded over the years.

For example, Nigeria’s economic growth is principally based on oil, which is a climate-sensitive sector. Mining and agriculture are some others.

WHO’s projection of an “approximate 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress” as a result of climate change means a retardation of development efforts in Africa.

Nigeria’s population figure as at 2013 173,615,000. The bulk of this number belongs to the poor class many of who are rural farmers.

According to Africa Adaptation Knowledge Network (AAKNet), 96 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture. In some countries, crop yields are predicted to fall by 50 percent by 2050.
Arable land is predicted to decline by six percent, which means that “food security and access to food will be severely compromised by climate change and poor rural communities and poor countries with the least financial, institutional and technological capacity to adapt will face the worst impacts.”

The introduction of agroforestry in agricultural systems will help, in no small measure, in mitigating climate change impact for rural farmers.

Deforestation, land degradation are contributing to trees disappearance from agricultural landscape and AAKNet says that “around 17 percent of all CO2 emissions are caused by deforestation and land degradation.

“An increase of arid and semi-arid land of five-eight percent is projected for Africa by 2080,” is stated.

Although the actual percentage of Nigeria’s land degraded by desertification is not ascertained, it is estimated that 43 percent of the total land area is suffers from the environmental menace.

For example, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states are characterized by sandy soils and low annual rainfall.

It is therefore imperative for “a multi-tier approach to be employed in order to build capacities of governments and communities in Africa to effectively respond to and adapt to climate change.”

The Network recommends that: “the assessment of social and economic vulnerabilities needs to be strengthened so as to inform processes for identifying adaptation priorities

“There is a need for national adaptation policies that provide clear guidelines for integration and implementation of strategies, programmes and activities

“Mainstreaming climate change into economic frameworks and sectoral policies is of paramount importance in order to ensure integrated adaptation responses,” and

“There is a need for increased adaptation funding at local and national levels with priority to such vulnerable groups as smallholder farmers, etc.

CSE Questions US’ Commitment on Climate Targets

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe 
 
The New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has described the United State’s climate action plan – the ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (INDCs) as grossly inadequate. It also sees US, which has a history of being the world’s largest polluter of the environment, as doing less to address climate change.

A release issued by CSE on April 1, 2015, observed that the INDCs was a replication of “its earlier pledge made in November 2014, which is “neither fair nor ambitious, and way short of what is needed to keep global warming under 2 degree centigrade.”
 
According to experts at CSE, “In its mitigation-centric INDC, the US commits to cutting greenhouse gases by 26-28 per cent by 2025 against the 2005 level. What this essentially means is that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the US in 2025 will be 5 billion tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Its per capita emissions would be 14 tonne CO2e in 2025. In comparison, in 2025, India’s total emissions will be about 4 billion tonne and its per capita emissions will be less than 3 tonne.”
 
CSE further observes that although the US mentions Clean Air Act, Energy Policy Act, and Energy Independence and Security Act, “it has no data on sector-wise emissions and the INDC is thin on details on how the target is going to be achieved.
 
“The US INDC is even less ambitious than what was pledged in Copenhagen when the US had said they would be on the pathway to a 30 per cent reduction in 2025 and a 42 per cent reduction in 2030. This pledge falls short of even that weak target. And this is when the world is witnessing extreme weather events and unprecedented calamities attributable to climate change.” Sunita Narain, director general of CSE said of US.
 
The statement compared the 26-28 percent reduction over 2005 as amounting to 15-17 percent over the 1990 levels. “In comparison, the European Union will reduce its emissions by at least 40 percent (by 2030) – more than double that of the US.”

CSE however estimated that to meet the 2°C target, “US emissions should be at least 50-60 per cent below 1990 levels, considering its historical responsibility of causing climate change and its present capability of solving it.”

The Centre observed that the actual reduction of emissions by the US would be much lesser than the 26-28 percent reduction because “the US target involved all greenhouse gases as well as offsets from CO2 absorption from sinks such as forests and land use changes.”
It also lamented the non reference in the INDC as to how the US planned to fund its pledge of USD$3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which is aimed at supporting the climate change plans of developing countries. “The Fund has received less than one percent of the promises made till date.
 
“Ironically, even these shallow commitments on the part of the US lack support domestically and the Republicans are strongly opposed to policies and Acts for climate change; particularly the rules on curbing pollution from power plants and federal policy on renewable energy,” CSE stated. 

It decreed the Republicans and industry groups’ attempt to undercut proposed US Environmental Protection Agency power plant regulations as well as pursuing court challenges and by urging states not to comply.
 
“The shoddy efforts to cut corners on the part of countries historically responsible for and with the maximum capacity and resources to deal with climate change, only mean that it is certain that the world will go over the 2 degree C target. Thanks to countries like the US, the world would be forced to gear up for more catastrophic and irreversible climate change impacts,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE concluded.

Don’t Politicize Security Agencies – Gov. Wamakko Tells FG

News, Security

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto state has cautioned federal government against politicizing the nation’s security agencies.

He spoke in Sokoto on Thursday when he received the new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Salisu Abdullahi recently deployed to the state.

According to Wamakko, “The security agencies have no constituency. They should exhibit patriotism in their work to ensure the safety of lives and properties of Nigerian citizens.”

The governor also called on security agencies in the country to uphold their oaths of office by being diligent and fair to all at all times. “All Nigerians should be treated equally, irrespective of their religious, ethnic or political creeds,” he said adding, “This is crucial especially now that Nigeria is approaching another democratic transition.”

Wamakko promised to continue to assist the agencies in order to complement their efforts in saving lives and properties of all citizens.

The Police commissioner earlier commended Wamakko for his support to the Command and other security agencies. “We will provide level-playing ground for all political parties in the state,” Abdullahi said.

No Bail For Weapon-Holding Thugs – AIG Zone 10

News, Politics, Security

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Following political parties’ failure to prevail on their supporters to stop use of weapons at political rallies, the Zone 10 of Nigeria Police has vowed to grant no bail to any political thug that is arrested holding weapons during electioneering.

The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of the Zone that is comprised of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states, Mr. Bala Hassan made the declaration during a stakeholders’ meeting with leadership of political parties in Sokoto on Thursday.

“Henceforth, any thug arrested with a knife, cutlass or any other type of deadly weapon, will be summarily charged to the court,” adding that the measure was to ensure the protection of lives and properties before, during and after the rescheduled polls.

The new state Police Commissioner, Mr. Salisu Fagge also advised politicians to respect the rules of the game by obeying the laws of the land and the electoral act.

“The police will not allow anybody to trample on the public order act, constitute a breach of peace and unity of the state and Nigeria in general,” he warned.

While commending the police for convening the meeting, the State Secretaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Aminu Bello and Alhaji Kabiru Aliyu, respectively corroborated in advising the Police:

“All the political parties should be treated equally by the police, while all their complaints must be treated fairly and equally.”

The peace accord could not be signed because the governorship candidates of the two major political parties, Sen. Abdallah Wali of the PDP and Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal of the APC were absent at the meeting.

Nigerians Do Not Trust The Military, PDP, Jonathan – UPN Says

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Following the postponement of February elections, the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) has said that Nigerians no longer have confidence on the Military,the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as President Jonathan.

A press statement signed and issued in Sokoto on Monday by the National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi stated in parts that the reasons adduced to the poll shift were laughable, unacceptable and untenable.

It noted that it was only when the reason of voter disenfranchisement were tackled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and the PDP cooked up the security story.

According to the statement, Col. Sambo Dasuki first requested the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift the date of the election on “the assumption that 34 percent of Nigerians would not have collected their PVCs. But when INEC was about to achieve success by producing 96 percent and distributing same across Nigeria, the story changed to non guarantee of security for the polls.”

UPN noted that the Police are known to provide security during election and therefore, the participation of the military in election matters was a new thing. “By the way, the participation of the military in elections is a new thing in this country. What was the norm was that police requested for the deployment of the military in those areas that became volatile during elections.”

The party alleged that Nigerians did not trust the military and the PDP. “The Nigeria’s Military should know that, Nigerians do not trust them neither do they trust the leaders of the PDP. It was the military that told us they knew where Chibok girls were but up till now there is no trace of our girls,” it said.
UPN added that Jonathan could no longer be trusted if he claimed that he was not informed about poll shift, a matter that affected more than 60 million Nigerians.

“This shows that he is not in control. And since he is not in control, he does not deserve to be our president,” it stated.

Poll Shift: Forget Insinuations of Conspiracies, Bishop Kukah Urges Nigerians

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Bishop Hassan Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Diocese has called on Nigerians to regard the postponement of the elections as an act of God, which is aimed at retrospection.

He spoke at a town-hall meeting with the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate organised Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of Sokoto Diocese and held at Giginya Hotel on Monday.

Despite the anxiety and frustration generated by the poll shift, Kukah described the meeting as one of the unintended benefits.

“For those of us who are believers in the supremacy of the word and work of God, we believe that everything has a purpose in the mind of God.

“I therefore call on all of us as citizens to forget the insinuations of conspiracies, motivations and imputation of motif for this, to continue to work hard to ensure that our elections are peaceful and successful,” he said.

Kukah explained that the meeting was to serve as a bridge building effort as well as understanding one another properly.

“Sokoto prides itself as being a state where there are no indigenes and settlers. Let us take up this offer and go beyond seeing ourselves merely as Christians and Muslims or members of ethnic groups,” Kukah reiterated.

He called on the people to ensure that they collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

Electricity Supply: KAEDCO is Owed N36bn Monthly, Says MD

Business

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Managing Director (MD) of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO), Engr. Garba Haruna has disclosed that the company’s customers in Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi state owe it N36 billion monthly.

The MD, who was on inspection tour of KAEDCO installations in Sokoto and Kebbi states addressed Journalists shortly after he inspected the ongoing Sokoto Independent Power Project (IPP) on Sunday.

According to Engr. Haruna, although the projected earnings of the company is put at between N3 and N4 billion monthly, only N1 billion is generated within the same period.

He added that of the company’s customers across the states, only 20 percent were metered. “Part of our major challenge is that of all our customers, only 20 and 25 percent have meters. This is why we are going to provide between 100,000 and 150,000 meters for distribution in the interim.”

On why electricity is heavily rationed, Haruna explained that although the zone requires between 600 and 700 megawatts on daily basis, only megawatts that fluctuates between 100 and 200 is allocated to the whole zone (comprising of Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states).

He underscored the importance of partnering with Sokoto state government in order to get additional supply of electricity from the IPP adding, “We will partner to maximize the utilization of the plant.”

Haruna listed poor infrastructure, personnel training and non serviceable transformers as some of the challenges of the company since it took over in December last year.

“KAEDCO must restructure in order to operate in tune with the international standards,” he assured.
Haruna also called on the media to assist the company in providing the desired service for the public.

APC WINNING AMBIENCE IN SOKOTO

Opinion

By Muhammed Kabir Hassan

The All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign trail in Sokoto gathered tumultuous reception of Sokoto masses. In every local government people line up enthusiastically to welcome the campaign team in appreciation of the development impacts of Governor Wamakko, the leader of the Party in the State.

The team includes known weights in Sokoto politics like Ummarun Kwabo A.A, Maigari Dingyadi among others that incorporate major businessmen who benefited from the business revolving loan of Governor Wamakko. At every point people eagerly join APC they believe shall bring positive change at all levels of governance in this country. There is ubiquitous hope for continuity in the line of the party’s government. It is a government that has provided basic necessities of life to reduce poverty. Farmers have enormously been empowered through provision of implement and input. They have been given loan to improve their capacity to increase acreage cultivation and production output.

The youth and women have been empowered through education and vocational skills. They are now major contributors to the growth of the economy. Governor Wamakko’s administration is credited as the most progressive in the provision of critical infrastructure that target the youth in all ramifications. A close look at the focus of development strategies of the government readily reveals projects that are modern oriented geared towards stimulation of youth vibrancy.

Education is very pivotal in employment generation for the youth who are future leaders. APC government in Sokoto has given piquant attention to this sector by establishment of tertiary institutions. These institutions include a functional university and rehabilitation of schools across the state. Efforts of the administration have boosted huge increase in school enrollment in the State to the chagrin of critics.

Governor Wamakko’s administration is an exception in allegation of non performing governors in the country. He exceedingly outpaced his predecessors in road construction, provision of electricity that includes 30 megawatts independent power plant (IPP), urban and rural water supply, massive housing provision, motivation of the civil service and teachers in every desirable aspect, welfare packages for the vulnerable, health care delivery services, including environmental management. Indeed, it is an administration that touched every aspect of human needs within available resources.

Governor Wamakko’s administration set a pace which the next governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal shall expand for more services. It’s a development template Sokoto electorate anxiously wait to vote for. They have seen, felt and trust the crop of leadership thick in APC. Undoubtedly, APC campaigns are empirically tailored. Issues prominent dominate marketability of the Party to the people. When a programme has mass appeal there is consequent conscientious conviction that material inducement is essentially inconsequential. The change chorus of APC is to reflect such exemplary performance of Governor Wamakko in Sokoto State at the federal level.

Sokoto political watchers affirm that APC shall coast to easy victory during the coming elections. PDP elements in their campaign of calumny descend to base issues that are laughable in content. They resort to personality disparaging and material inducement which elongate corruption character at the central government, soon to be tackled head on by the incoming president, Muhammadu Buhari whose victory is a done deal with the current nation-wide mantra for change through due democratic process. Under the co-ordinating capacity and capability of Governor Wamakko the entire northwest of the country is a sure delivery to APC. This is the phobia and finger biting desperation of PDP in this zone. Governor Wamakko shall rubbish arrogant boast of self-styled political strategists to ruffle the feathers of APC in Sokoto.

On every forum APC drums peace in spite of unnecessary provocation of PDP supporters. Reasonable people have often drawn appropriate attentions to that crude politicking that does not augur well for the development of democracy in Sokoto State. APC remains decorous in language articulation to focus on issues. It is expected PDP should muster civil means to showcase their programme if they are not impulsively vendetta wish. But the masses of Sokoto State are weary of personality cult that believes in ‘throw me corn’ or chickens and grains. They want leaders that provide competitive capacity and capability to fuse into the fast evolving world of the 21st century.

It is our strong resolve to continue to sensitize voters in the northwest zone to the importance and desirability to line up behind leaders that shall protect their values in effective representation and good governance. Such persons must be homely to grasp the yearnings of the masses. They must shun ambitious personalities that pitch their tent to places of personal comfort at the detriment of the development of their people. This is the change APC stands for.

Muhammed Kabir Hassan is of North-West Coalition of Professional Patriots, Sokoto

PDP receives 6,000 Defectors in Sokoto

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it received 6,000 people that defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Wamakko local government of Sokoto state on Thursday.

They were received by the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma.

Speaking on behalf of other defectors, Alhaji Abubakar Gedawa said that they joined the PDP in quest of “justice, equity as well as to ensure success of the PDP at all levels in the forthcoming general elections.”

Also speaking, former governor Attahiru Bafarawa called on the people of the area to massively vote for the PDP. “I did my best to develop the local government when I was the governor of the state and if elected, Wali will continue from where I stopped.”

While the governorship candidate, Sen. Abdallah Wali promised to ensure justice and equity amongst the people of the state if elected, the state party chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma vowed that the APC government would be voted out of office.

“The PDP will win the forthcoming elections across Nigeria,” Milgoma assured.

The Academia are better partners in policy formulation, Says APC Northwest

Education, News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in charge of Northwest zone, Barr. Inuwa Abdulkadir has said that in formulating government policies as well as implementing its programmes, the academia is important.

He said this at the occasion of an interactive session of members of the academic community drawn from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University; Sokoto State University, The Polytechnic of Sokoto State, Sokoto State College of Education, School of Islamic and Legal Studies, etc with the APC governorship candidate, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in Sokoto on Tuesday.

According to Abdulkadir, for any society to be developed, there must be synergy between members of the academic circle and policy-makers. “In the formulation of policies, the academia is important,” he said.

Abdulkadir added that the session was organized in order to rub minds with the intelligentsia to suggest ways by which meaningful development could be attained in Sokoto state.

Responding to contributions and questions, Speaker Tambuwal said that if elected as governor, he would ensure that public-trained manpower was put in place by working with the academia in the state.

He assured that his administration would “seek the understanding of bureaucrats to block leakages so that, other than a few individuals, the larger society would benefit from state resources.”

While saying that he would put emphasis on the development of agricultural potentials as a strategy to diversify from oil, Tambuwal further stressed the need to make Sokoto a hub for medical services by way of providing the best medical facilities as well as creating a faculty of medicine at the Sokoto state University.

We Have Tangible Reasons To Yearn For Change, Says UPN National Chairman

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The acting National Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Dr. Manzo Abubakar has said that Nigerians have all it takes to effect change of political leadership in the country.

He told Newsdiaryonline in an exclusive interview in Sokoto on Sunday that the present leadership in the Peoples Democratic Party under President Goodluck Jonathan had failed the people of Nigeria in all aspects of socioeconomic development.

“The ingredients for concrete, tangible change are there for the people of Nigeria to work on for change,” Abubakar said adding that the technical and material conditions that warrant leadership change under a different political platform in this country now existed. “You can see that from the South, West, east and North, Nigerians are yearning for change.”

He commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the improved quality of electoral process but quickly warned that the electoral umpire must not bow to any pressure to postpone the February 14th election.

“INEC national chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega has substantially improved the quality of the electoral process. This will eventuate in checking the excesses of electoral officers and politicians.

“However, under no circumstances should INEC bow to pressure from some quarters for postponement of February election. It is disastrous for the country, especially that the international community was watching us with rapt attention,” Abubakar said.

He called on Nigerian masses, especially at states and local government levels to elect UPN candidates in order to ensure equity in the distribution of resources.

Kano UPN Condemns Clash Between Supporters

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Kano state governorship candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Alhaji Yahaya Kyabo, has condemned recent political clashes between supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those of the All Progressive Congress (APC), which took place in Kano.

Kyabo who spoke with Newsdiaryonline through a telephone conversation on Sunday said that the clash between APC and PDP supporters along Hadeja road in Nasarawa local government of the state was a deliberate attempt to destabilize democratic processes.

He added that if leaders of the APC and the PDP were not capable of controlling their supporters, “It means that it is disastrous to entrust power in their hands because they cannot control a simple group of irate supporters.”

Kyabo stressed that the used of weapons, including guns during electioneering is not for any political process. “The act is unrealistic, undemocratic and it sends dangerous signal to the future of this country.”

Alleging that the two parties had failed to provide democratic dividends in the state in the last 15 years, he called on the people of Kano state to elect candidates of the UPN in this month’s election.

Kyabo said that the UPN would will meet the expectations of the people by ensuring good democratic governance. “The party will create job opportunities for our teeming youths through skills acquisitions programmes.”

“The UPN will implement people-oriented programs that would enhance their well-being. Our party has humane agenda geared at improving our human lot.”

Youths Are Catalyst For Political Development, Says Kano UPN Guber Candidate

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The governorship candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in Kano state, Alhaji Abubakar Kyado has said that the youths are a global catalyst for political development.

He said during the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the party in Sokoto Thursday that while the youths, who are the leaders of tomorrow, should be properly groomed, they also should rise to the needed political change.
According to Kyado, the national political space should see to the proper grooming of the youths, who in turn would ensure a developed nation, he said adding that “the youths in Kano state should rise up for the needed political change of leadership in order to ensure quality democratic governance.”

He observed that they remained the largest single class of people capable of being used to ensure massive political growth in Kano state.

Kyado promised to strengthen the agricultural sector by introducing thorough-bred mechanization throughout the state, if elected as governor.

Assuring that the youth would be actively engaged in modern agriculture, he added that a master plan on how to ensure the provision of modern farming inputs at government-controlled price had been worked.

Kyado called on those that were yet to obtain their PVCs to do so for the overall political growth of Kano state.

Court Rules Against Deployment of Military For Elections

Judiciary/Courts, News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Federal High Court sitting in Sokoto on Thursday ruled against the deployment of the military for elections security.

Judgement in the suit instituted against the Attorney General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was delivered upon an Originating Summons dated October 22, 2014.

Justice Rilwan Mohammed granted the reliefs sought by Hon. Bello Goronyo and Hon. Umar Mode who are plaintiffs in the suit.

According to the ruling, the issues raised by the plaintiffs in the suit revolve around whether pursuant to sections 217(2), 218(1),(3),(4)(a) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and section 8(1)(3) of the Armed Forces Act, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can order the use of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the security supervision of elections in Nigeria without a legislation by the National Assembly.

Justice Mohammed further held that it is necessity for an existence of an act of the National Assembly that seeks to empower the president to deployment armed forces in any election process because such is a miscellaneous function.

The Judge held that since the principal functions of the Nigerian armed forces is clearly spelt out in section 217(2) of the constitution, “which are to maintain the territorial integrity of Nigeria and defend her from external aggression as well as securing its borders and to suppress insurrection, it is a usurpation of the functions of the police, which is the security outfit charged with maintenance of law and order in Nigeria.”

Delivering judgement, Justice Mohammed stated: “I hereby declare that in view of the combined provisions of sections 217(2) and 218(1) and (4) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) any person holding the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot, in the absence of an act of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria unilaterally order the engagement of armed forces in the security supervision of elections in Nigeria.

“I hereby declare that any purported engagement of the Nigerian armed forces in the security supervision of elections in the federal republic of Nigeria by any person holding the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria without an act of the National Assembly shall be unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

“I hereby declare that the use of the word “officers” in section 29(1)(2) of the electoral act 2010 (as amended) does not entail the use of the officers of the armed forces by the 2nd defendant.

“I hereby make an order restraining any person holding the office of the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria and the 2nd defendant from engaging or permitting the service of the Nigerian armed forces in the security supervision of elections in any manner whatsoever in any part of Nigeria, without an act of the National Assembly,” he ruled.

It’s Unconstitutional To Deploy Military For Elections – Court

Judiciary/Courts, News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Justice Mohammed Rilwan of Federal High Court Sokoto has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the military to be deployed for election purpose.

Delivering the Judgement today, he stressed that other than for the purposes of protecting the Nigeria’s territorial integrity, there is no constitutional provision that allows for the deployment of the military for elections.

Justice Rilwan added that the federal government to do so, it must have recourse to the National Assembly, which would enact such law.

The suit challenging the deployment of military for election duties was instituted by the Deputy Speaker of the Sokoto state House of Assembly, who also represents Goronyo constituency, Barrister Bello Goronyo.
Details later

Vigilante Group Invades Five Sokoto Villages, Kills 16 People

Crime, News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A Vigilante Group allegedly from Zamfara state, on Sunday invaded five villages in Rabah local government of Sokoto state.

Briefing news men at the headquarters of the Police Command on Monday, the Commissioner of Police (CP), Shuaibu Lawal Gambo the group were allegedly invited by the communities because some people there were suspected to be thieves and cattle rustlers.

According to him, members of the group invaded Tambula, Gwazzai, Gandi, Danbawai and Maradi villages in Rabah and Wurno local government of the state and killed a total of 16 people.

He explained that some Vigilante groups have turned as police, prosecutors and judges where they arrest, interrogate, prosecute and even kill people.

“Although we appreciate people’s readiness for partnership in community policing, the Police cannot condone the processes that the vigilante are recruited and the way they are used,” he said.

Gambo warned that any community that wants to establish an arm of community policing, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and the Local government council chairman must be informed.

“The recruitment process must be conducted by the DPO with the knowledge of the council chairman. Their activities too must be under the supervision of the DPO,” he warned adding, “Anyone or community caught violating this order would be dealt with.”

Disclosing that 10 of the vigilante members were in Police custody, the CP said that perpetrators of the act would be hunted down, arrested and charged to court for murder.

Retract Your Violent Steps, Tambuwal Tells Politicians

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Speaker of the House of Representatives and All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Sokoto state said that the current scale of violence introduced by politicians in the country must stop.

He stated this at an interactive session with the leadership of students of all tertiary institutions in the state in Sokoto on Monday.

“The culture of violence that is being introduced in this country is alien to our tradition. I don’t believe in violence and those who are into it should reconsider their steps.

“What you should do as politicians is to convince people on what you intend to do for them. Tell them why you should be elected. You must not lead unscrupulous people to unleash mayhem on people you perceive as not your supporters,” Tambuwal said.

He stressed further that it is only when politicians imbibed the culture of electioneering that is devoid of violence, that the youths would take a cue of issue-based politicking.

The Speaker also pleaded with the people of Sokoto state to obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) because according to him, “Obtaining PVCs is the only by which you can elect the candidates of your choice.”

He said that governments should invest in the youths so that the country would have vibrant future. “We must invest in the youths for a better tomorrow because they represent today and the future.”

Tambuwal said that his number one priority if elected as governor of Sokoto state would be education in which majority beneficiaries are the youths.

DPR Seals Two Filling Stations in Sokoto

Business, Energy, News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed two filling stations who are major marketers in Sokoto for defying the directives issued by the Federal government for filling stations to reduce pump prices of petroleum products from N97 to N87 per litre.

According to Salihu Moriki, the Operations Controller of DPR in charge of Sokoto and Kebbi states, who spoke in Sokoto on Monday, of the 49 stations visited by the DPR in the last one weeks, only the two were found to be selling the commodity above the N87 pump price.

He added that the remaining 45 stations made of major and independent marketers and NNPC Mega stations had complied and therefore allowed to continue with their sales.

While assuring to continue with routine visits in order to ensure compliance, the Controller added that the DPR “the two filling stations will remain sealed until they comply with the order and each of them will be fined N100,000.”

He cautioned operators of the filling stations against flaunting the directives of the federal government in that line.

“We will not spare any filling station that hoards the product
or sells it above the new pump price of N87,” Moriki said.

Disappoint Prophets of Doom, UN tells FG

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mohammed Ibn Chambas has called on the local, state, federal governments and all Nigerians to be mindful of their roles and ensure the conduct of credible elections.

He spoke during a courtesy visit on Governor Aliyu Wamakko at his residence in Sokoto on Saturday.

According to Chambas, “Nigeria must conduct credible and transparent elections and as such we must be mindful of our roles both as leaders and citizens. As leaders, we should disappoint the prophets of doom by not allowing violence.”

He stressed that Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa with more than 80 percent of the GDP of West Africa must set and maintain good record.

“Nigeria should be seen conducting a peaceful and violent-free elections. And for this to happen, you must act responsibly. INEC must manage the electoral processes well; the security agencies must ensure that they operate in unbiased way. Leaders must send the right messages,” Chambas said.

He said that the UN was concerned about the February election and insurgency. “Nigeria is confronted with the Boko Haram Monster about which the UN is concerned.”

Responding, Governor Wamakko expressed his happiness for the international community’s concern for Nigeria. “Nigeria is too big a country to be ignored by the international community.”

He however said that the UN should prevail on the federal government to ensure that election was conducted as scheduled.

“Speak loudly to prevail on the FG to conduct not only free and fair elections but also for the elections to be conducted as scheduled. As it is now, FG has sent emissary to tell Emirs to support postponement of the elections,” Wamakko disclosed, visibly angry.

On security, the governor the main problem of Nigeria was bad leadership, “which informed the formation of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

“For about four years since Boko Haram struck, only last week did the President deemed it fit to visit Borno. This is a sign of bad governance,” he said.

He advised that neighbouring countries should continue with the alliance that they had formed in order to fight Boko Haram.

JOHESU Strike: Leave Us Out, UDUTH CMD tells Union

Health, News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The management of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH) has lamented that the Hospital should not be part of the ongoing national strike of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).

The Chief Managing Director (CMD) of the Hospital, Dr. Yakubu Ahmed told news men in his office on Saturday that far as the management of UDUTH was concerned, all demands of the Union had been met.

“UDUTH should not be part of the strike. We should not be part of the strike in any case. This is because we have met all the demands of the Union. We have promoted 61 senior and 48 junior workers up to 2014; we have paid all arrears to the tune of N200 million,” Dr. Ahmed said.

He added that when in 2013 the management of the Hospital got a circular from the Federal Ministry of Health instructing them to implement the demands of the Union, UDUTH included that in the budget.

“We are being punished for fault that is not ours. We shouldn’t be part of it in all fairness. Everything has stopped; all schools have been affected. If we don’t have problem with JUHESU, why should we be part of the strike?” Dr. Ahmed asked.

He observed that if the UDUTH branch of JUHESU is on strike based on solidarity, that should not have taken this long.

Dr. Ahmed appealed to medical workers in UDUTH and by extension across the country to call off the strike in the spirit of humanity.

“Based on merit, UDUTH should be exonerated. Besides in general, human life is important. Nothing should be between us and our patients. We should honour our Oath to protect human life,” he added.

APC Rejects Dasuki’s Proposal to Postpone Election

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The All Progressive Party (APC) has rejected the proposal made by the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Col. Sambo Dasuki for the postponement of the February general elections.

Communicating the rejection through Governor Aliyu Wamakko during the Presidential campaign of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Sokoto on Thursday, the party said neither should the election be postponed nor an interim government be formed.

According to Wamakko, the generality of Nigerians were ready for the election and there was no excuse that would be given for the postponement.

“The people of the state and Nigerians in general are ready for the
elections and they must hold as scheduled,” he maintained adding that the PDP-led government was bent on doing anything possible to scuttle the scheduled election because “they have seen the clear hand writing on the wall.

“We are ready for the election; the people of Sokoto state are ready for the election and Nigerians are ready for the election. No political party can manoeuvre to get the elections postponed,” Wamakko stressed.

Gov. Wamakko, Sokoto Police Draw Battle Line

News, Politics, Security

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The rosy relationship that exists between Sokoto State Command of the Nigeria Police and Sokoto state government seem to be strained with the recent exchange of bitterness against each other.

The stained relationship got worse when on Tuesday at the Police Command, the Commissioner of Police (CP), Shuaibu Lawal Gambo responded before Journalists, allegations published on the Sun newspaper of 18th January, 2015 and credited to Governor Aliyu Wamakko that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) broke the Peace Accord signed recently signed by leaders and candidates of political parties in Abuja.

In a statement signed and read out by the CP titled: “IGP DID NOT BREAK ANY PEACE ACCORD” and made available to Journalists, Gambo stated that all the accusations allegedly made by the governor were unfounded.

“It has come to the attention of the Sokoto State Police Command, comments attributed to the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji (Dr) Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko in the Sunday Sun Newspaper of 18/01/2015, to the effect that, the ‘IGP broke the peace accord’ signed between the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari [Rtd] both Presidential candidates of their respective political parties in the forth-coming elections.

“The Sokoto Police Command wishes to put on record that, all the accusations made by the Governor of Sokoto State are unfounded. It is on record that both political parties have been accused of attacking each other at different parts of the State and the Police have always lived up to its mandate and ensured that arrests of both sides are promptly carried out and suspects charged to court as the case may be,” the statement read in parts.

Gambo further stated that it was untrue to allege that the Police arrests the opposition on trumped up charges, adding that in all cases of arrests, there were complainants and victims of brutality, which made it easy for the Police to treat such cases with dispatch.

The CP alleged that “Both parties are guilty of allowing their supporters to attack each other’s offices and in all occasion, Police have promptly arrested the culprits and charged them to court.”

He cited a recent case that occurred on Thursday, 15th January 2015 where supporters of both parties clashed, leading to the death of an APC supporter against which “nine suspects were arrested and are helping the Police in its investigation.”

Gambo stressed that the IGP never interfered with the discharge of the duties of the. Command. “I wish to emphatically state that, at no time has the IGP interfered with the discharge of my duties as Commissioner of Police, Sokoto Command. It is therefore strange that, his Excellency would make such an unfounded statement concerning ‘breaking of peace accord’.

“It is feared that Governor Wamakko does not believe in the peace accord, hence he is laying the foundation for perpetrating violence in the State by accusing the Police in order to legitimize his actions in the forthcoming elections,” the CP retorted.

He added that of the more than two years he had been in the Sokoto, the Police Command had proven itself to be impartial in the discharge of its responsibilities.

“The Police shall not spare or consort with any trouble-maker, no matter his or her standing in society,” the CP stated.

However, a swift reaction by the Sokoto State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) described the Police statement as unfortunate. “It is unfortunate that statement issued by the Police sought to exonerate the IGP, Suleiman Abba for not giving the proper order to Police to ensure law and order in Sokoto,” the party said.

The Zonal National Vice Chairman (Northwest) of the APC, Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir in the reaction observed that the Police statement only “portrayed unbridled bias towards the PDP in Sokoto State.”

He further recalled that a top PDP chieftain recently told a rally in Sokoto that “the PDP has Police, Department of State Security (DSS), soldiers’ as such they will deploy everything they can to capture Sokoto,” adding, “We have already started seeing the result of that threat.”

It further cited the concern of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar expressed before President Jonathan on Monday for “the need to ensure law and order and peaceful polls in the state.”

“It should be noted however that the Sokoto State Government, and all men of goodwill within the state and outside, will not tolerate any affront on their dignity from the Police or the PDP.

“The Police must respect all constituted authorities, desist from aiding the PDP to achieve cheap political vendetta and must double their efforts to end impunity as the campaign season continues,” APC’s statement added.

The party stated that “Sokoto State Government and the APC would work closely with all security agencies to ensure that law and order was maintained before, during and after the 2015 elections.”

Charlie Hebdo: Our Position, – Says Da’wah Council

News, Religion

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Da’wah Coordination Council of Nigeria, a conglomeration of 47 Muslim organisations in the country has condemned in strong terms, the recent publication of a cartoon by a French magazine.

In a statement issued to Journalists in Sokoto on Monday, the President of the Council, Mohammad Lawal Maidoki observed that the magazine was bent on using its pen to promote destructions of lives and properties in the name of Journalism.

According to the President, “Although we believe in the freedom of speech; freedom of association; freedom of religion and all other rights such as right of protection; right to security of life and property among others, we in strong terms, express our anger and total objection and hereby condemn the publication of the new cartoon by the French magazine.”

Maidoki stressed that the Muslim world and the non-Muslims, who respect the personality of Prophet Muhammad were not happy “with the action of the magazine, the French government and the UN.”

He observed that in spite of freedom of speech, there is freedom as well as laws that protect not only dignitaries but also ordinary persons, “not to talk of a prophet who is a part of the symbol of our faith.”

Maidoki added that much as Muslims were enjoined to believe and respect all prophets, “we believe that no doctrine of any religion enjoins insults on other people’s belief.”

He further stressed that although Muslims were not in support of any violence that could lead to destructions of lives and properties, they do not joke with the person of prophet Muhammad “and we do not take it lightly or fold our arms while he is being ridiculed, abused or even disrespected by anybody.”

Acknowledging that Journalism was not about creating confusion, promoting crisis or encouraging hate between communities , countries or regions, Maidoki added that “We believe that the ethics of the profession is against character assassination, libel or slander.

“How many journalists are now in detention or prisons in different countries simply because they wrote articles that are considered to incite people against governments,” he said asking that if such could not be tolerated, why should the Muslims support the magazine for publishing a cartoon that defame or radicle the prophet?

He emphasised that the western world should not take Muslims as “impatient, fundamentalists or fanatics simply for reacting to actions that ridicule our religion and the prophet.”

The Council condemned the actions of individuals, groups, governments or organisations that participated in any rally which supported Charlie Hebdo. “Islam is a religion of peace and certainly history will never forgive them.”

Da’wah Council Reacts to Bishops’ Claim on Boko Haram

Religion

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Da’wah Coordination Council of Nigeria, an umbrella body of 47 different Islamic organisations in Sokoto on Monday reacted to the claim of Prelate Samuel Uche that the Fulani/Kanuri that are desperate to get power were behind the Boko Haram insurgency in the North.

Addressing Journalists at the office of Sokoto state Zakkat and Endowment Committee, the President of the Council, Muhammad Lawal Maidoki described the entire claim contained in a national daily as “full of contradictions, false allegations and ethnic bigotry.”

According to him, as Islamic organisations that preach religious harmony and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria, “It is imperative on us to draw the attention of the good citizens of Nigeria on the dangers of the allegations made by Samuel Uche and the need for people who claim to be religious leaders to guard their utterances in a trying period of this nature in our country.”

The Council alleged quoted Prelate Uche to have said in the daily that, “Let me reveal to you this evening and at this important service at this juncture that some of our soldiers, because you know we Bishops have impact in the society; we relate with soldiers and all manner of people. And some of the people in war front have confided in us that, apart from some mercenaries from Chad, Libya as well as Somalia, 95 percent of those fighting our country are of Fulani and Kanuri origin. The second is that they want to Islamatise Nigeria and build a parallel Caliphate different from the one we know in Sokoto.”

The Council therefore asked to know the soldiers that confided in the Bishops; to know the composition of the other Bishops and where the location of the “war front” that he alleged the Bishops visited.

“Does Bishop Samuel really understand the meanings of “Islamise Nigeria” and “Parallel caliphate” and it is part of your religious preaching to use provocative words such as “enemies of Nigeria,” “shameless individuals,” and “disgruntled elements?” The Council asked.

The statement also registered apprehension that the Bishop was bold enough to make such claims before President Jonathan. “What influence has the Bishop to have made such statement in the presence of President Jonathan, David Mark and military top-brass?” It asked.

Maidoki said that the Council was aware of statements by government officials and community and opinion leaders against the Muslims and Hausa Fulani but were only being tolerant.

“We wish to categorically state that it is not out of cowardice or helplessness that northerners are accommodating all sorts of rubbish said against us. It is rather out of our religious tolerance and belief for peaceful coexistence and unity of this country,” the Council stated.

Maidoki referred Bishop Uche to verse 12 of chapter 49 of the Qur’an which states: “O you who believe, avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins and spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the one who accepts repentance, most merciful.”

Sultan To Jonathan: Don’t Disenfranchise Eligible Voters • I Have No PVC

News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that every eligible voter in Nigeria was allowed to vote.

He made the call when the President paid homage to the Sultan at his Palace in Sokoto on Monday.

According to Abubakar, there is the tendency that many Nigerians would be disenfranchised from the February 2015 election because, according to him, millions had not obtained their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

He added that if he was unable to obtain his PVC till now, he wondered how an ordinary Nigerian could obtain his between now and February 14th.

“Millions of Nigerians are likely to be disenfranchised for not obtaining their PVCs. I am one of those who, up till now, has not received the PVC,” the Sultan lamented.

He stressed that since Nigerians could only vote with the PVCs, it was only realistic for INEC to ensure that all Nigerians obtained their cards before elections.

Don’t Fight Campaigns Wars, Fight Insurgency, – Sultan Tells Jonathan

News

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar bared his mind to President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday when the later paid courtesy visit at his palace.

The Sultan told Jonathan that the time to end the current insurgency was now when the nation needed peace.

According to him, “The timeline to immediately bring an end to the current insurgency in the country is now. The problem of insurgency must be brought to an end,” Abubakar told Jonathan adding, “And as a President, you should ensure peace and stability in the country.

“There is rot in almost all sectors of the Nigerian economy, including education and the trend of insecurity among others. So, we should address issues that could bring succour to an average Nigerian,” he said.

Expressing his concern over the use of religion and ethnicity instead of issue-based campaigns by politicians at rallies, the Sultan cautioned politicians against discouraging national unity among Nigerians.

“Politicians should not encourage sentiments against patriotism and national unity among Nigerians,” he cautioned.

While commending the violent-free pact signed by presidential candidates of political parties, the Sultan however observed that “signing the pact was not enough to address the situation. It has to translate to the lower level Nigerians who should be cautioned against the use of thugs and weapons before, during and after elections.”

Also wondering why politicking had turned to war in the country, Abubakar observed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) both has Christians and Muslims as members who must respect each other’s religious belief.

He recalled that what was happening today in Nigeria “Even in 2011, we did not face such challenges.

“We should know that both parties have significant number of Christians and Muslims as members and God knows why he created us to live together as Nigerians.

“We should respect our individual religious tenets otherwise one will be turning against his or her own religious tenets”, he stressed.

Abubakar called on Nigerian leaders to continue to dialogue on matters affecting the country “by preserving and encouraging the love for one another.”

The Sultan noted with concern the serious global crisis in Paris, France and called on Nigerians not to be dragged into it.

“Nigeria must not allow foreign happenings to creep into our domain. That does not concern us because it did not happen here. We must condemn same in order to safeguard our territory.

President Jonathan had told the Sultan that his visit was to seek his blessings as a mark of respect for the Sultanate.

Citing the Almajiri Integrated Model School inaugurated a few years back in Sokoto, Jonathan said: “I am particularly concerned about the education of the Nigerian child who should access same for a sound foundation for self and nation building.

Sokoto 2015: Tambuwal tasks supporters on peaceful electioneering

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The governorship candidate of the All Progressive Party (APC) in Sokoto state, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal has called on the people of the state, to resist all kinds of violence during the implementation of the electoral processes.

He made the call during the party’s electioneering, which took place on Sunday at Tureta town in Tureta local government of Sokoto state.

“As progressives, all hands must be geared towards promoting peaceful atmosphere for peaceful conduct of the elections. I therefore urge you to conduct yourselves in peaceful manner so that the whole process could be rancour-free,” Tambuwal said.

Promising to build upon the existing structures put in place by Governor Aliyu Wamakko, he assured the people of rapid socio-political and economic development of the state if elected.

Also speaking, Governor Wamakko told party members to safeguard their permanent voter cards (PVCs) against misuse.

Receiving 1,700 people that defected to the APC in Tureta town, he advised: “Don’t sell your voter card as it remains the weapon needed to ensure a positive democratic change in Nigeria.

“Anyone that offers you money collect it but make sure you cast your votes for APC candidates in the forthcoming general elections,” Wamakko said.

The Governor also called on the people to shun all kinds of provocative statement “from the opposition to ensure peaceful conduct of all electoral  processes. As progressives, we should always promote political tolerance and understanding.”

“If You Have Security, We Have God,” Gov. Wamakko Replies Pres. Jonathan

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto state has reacted to an alleged threat by President Goodluck Jonathan that the ruling party would use the power of security agencies in the state to win the February election.

He reacted to the threat during the All Progressive Congress (APC) campaign rally on Thursday at Shagari town in Shagari local government area of the state.

According to Wamakko, “I listened to someone who spoke on behalf of the President that they are the ruling party; that they control the security agencies and that they would use these to win election. Let me tell them loud and clear that if they control the security agencies, we have God on our side.”

He stressed that neither the APC nor any of its members or supporters would be intimidated into succumbing to the threats of the Presidency.

Wamakko warned that at this time when decorum was being employed in the conduct of electioneering in Nigeria, some stooges were still being employed to make comments that lacked civility in a democratic setting like ours.

While describing such threats as “empty,” the Governor called on party supporters to disregard such and tirelessly for the success of the party at the polls.

Wamakko added however that for the APC to utilize the support it was now enjoying in the state, “every eligible voter must ensure that he has acquired his voters’ card, without which your support. Is meaningless.”

President Jonathan, through the former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Haliru Muhammad had said on Wednesday in Sokoto during the PDP governorship campaign rally that the party would leave nothing to chance to win election in February.

“Nothing will be left to chance in securing victory. We have the power because we are the ruling party; we have the strength; we have the Soldiers; we have the Police; we have the Civil Defense; indeed, we have all security apparatuses and power at our disposal to deal with the opposition,” Dr. Muhammed had said.

Sokoto PDP Rally: Jonathan intimidates the opposition

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Intimidation is was when on Wednesday during the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship campaign flag-off in Sokoto, President Goodluck Jonathan threatened that the ruling party had all it takes to win the February election.

Speaking through the former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Bello Haliru Muhammad, President Jonathan boasted He stressed further that since the PDP was in control of government and all security agencies, “nothing will be left to chance in securing victory.”

According to him, “We have the power because we are the ruling party; we have the strength; we have the Soldiers; we have the Police; we have the Civil Defense; indeed, we have all security apparatuses and power at our disposal to deal with the opposition.”

While calling on PDP supporters not to compromise their direction, Jonathan also assured that the party would not succumb to any form of political intimidation by the opposition.

The President added that “PDP is working tirelessly to ensure credible representations at all levels come February.

“We are offering Nigerians our best. All we need is your mandate to consolidate on national peace, stability and development where our teeming youth will smile.”

Sokoto PDP: Shagari, Suleiman, Sen. Gada shun PDP campaign launch • As Wali receives flag

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The campaign launch of the Sokoto Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday failed to have in attendance the trio of aggrieved governorship aspirants, Mukhtari Shagari, Yusuf. Suleiman and Sen. Abubakar Gada.

The governorship candidate of the party, Abdallah Wali received the PDP flag as the standard governorship candidate for the February 2015 election from the Northwest Zonal Vice Chairman, Amb. Ibrahim Kazaure.

Although no explanations were given for their absence, feelers have it that it might not be unconnected to the fallout from the December 8th, 2014 gubernatorial primary election result.

Former governor Attahiru Bafarawa said that it was time for Governor Aliyu Wamakko to prepare to hand-over power to Sen. Abdallah Wali because according to him, the PDP would win next month’s general election.

Building his assurances on the large turnout of supporters at the rally, Bafarawa said: “Wamakko should get ready to hand over to Wali. If you look at this mammoth crowd here and compare it with the one at the APC rally few days ago, you will come to the conclusion that victory is ours in the forthcoming governorship election.”

The former governor further said that, against the falsehood that was being spread, he had no plans to work against the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.

Former National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bello Haliru called on the people to vote for Wali whom he assured would bring the desired change in Sokoto state.

The Supervising Minister of Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan called on the people to ensure that Sokoto got back to the PDP. “All hands must be on deck in order to get Sokoto back to mainstream politics in the country.”

Sen. Abdallah Wali, in his acceptance speech said that he was determined to bring Sokoto back to its past glory. “Sokoto is said to be the poorest state in the country. Therefore the task before PDP is enormous in order to redress the ugly trend the state has been dragged into.”

He pledged to give priority to education, health, infrastructure and youth empowerment if given the mandate come 2015.

2015 Polls: Tambuwal Alleges PDP Plans To Form Interim Govt

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Speaker of House of Representatives and Sokoto state candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has chided the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for making plans to postpone the February general elections by forming an interim government.

He said during the official flag-off campaign ceremony for the 2015 general elections, which took place in Sokoto on Sunday.

Apparently referring to suggestions by certain Nigerians that President Jonathan could postpone elections in view of the ongoing insurgency, Tambuwal warned that there is no such provision in Nigerian constitution.

“You cannot postpone elections. There is no such provision in the constitution. You cannot form an interim government,” he said adding, “The only option is to conduct election; an election that must be free, fair and credible.”

Tambuwal claimed that under a credible election, the APC would be seen sweeping all positions in the February elections. “They fear to conduct the election because they know that if there is a free, fair and credible election, General Buhari and indeed, all other categories of APC candidates will win the elections,” he said.

Governor Aliyu Wamakko urged the people of the state to expose anyone that approached them to sell Permanent Voters Cards (PVC). “They are planning to approach you to buy your PVCs. Would you sell it to them?” He asked.

The governor, who is APC’s candidate for Sokoto North Senatorial District appealed to those who have not claimed their PVCs, to do so as “it is only with that, that you can elect people of your choice.”

Those in attendance at the flag-off included the National chairman, John Oyegun; interim chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande; APC party chieftain, Ahmed Tinubu; Governors of Edo and Kwara states, Adams Oshiomhole and Abdulfatai Ahmed; Senators Adamu Aliero, Ahmed Sani Yerima and Atiku Bagudu, who is also APC governorship candidate in Kebbi state.

Sokoto 2015: Return To APC – Dingyadi tells Bafarawa

News, Politics

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

In the buildup to the February 14th general election in Sokoto state, the All Progressive Congress (APC) has called on Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa to rethink and return to the party.

The Director General of the party campaign in the state, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, who was strong political ally to the former governor made the call while briefing Journalists on the preparations for Sunday’s flag off of the governorship campaign of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in Sokoto.

Dingyadi wondered why Bafarawa left the party that he was a party to its formation and joined crisis-ridden PDP “that is characterised by impunity and injustice.”

“So my appeal to my boss is to rethink and rejoin APC because his political group is in the APC,” he said.

He said that the APC only fielded credible candidates for the February elections, “a situation that would give the party advantage over other political parties.”

According to Dingyadi, “Politics is about people and development and the only hope we have is in the APC,” Dingyadi said adding that the chances of APC to win the February elections was bright because people were tired of bad leadership, corruption and insecurity.

Dingyadi contested Sokoto governorship elections against Governor Wamakko three times under the platform of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and during which time Bafarawa was
party leader.

Governor Wamakko Vindicated

Opinion

By Abdullahi Usman

The Nigerian political landscape is now active with frenzy of campaigns leading up to next month’s elections. Two political parties, All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominate the jostling to capture voters’ attention. The voters are citizens of Nigeria whose fate is at stake. Since 1999 when the country returned to democratic dispensation PDP has remained at the saddle of power. Power appurtenances enabled the party to swallow or destabilize other parties to maintain absolute power. And like Lord Akton observed that absolute now tends to corrupt absolutely. This has metamorphosed to that level where dictatorship assumed unprecedented proportion.

The death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua suddenly opened up the rumps of PDP. There emerged power vacuum that threw opportunists into power game. Completion of Yar’Adua’s tenure was well managed by eminent Nigerians that were determined to sustain the sacrifice of our past heroes for a vibrant, virile and great country; a country of hope for every black man. Though in cognizance of rotational arrangement the power vacuum as a result of the demise of late President Yar’Adua placed a disadvantage against the geographical zone he represented. Compromise was reached to allow constitutional procedure to supersede every other consideration to maintain status quo in order of succession for the Vice President to complete PDP presidency as party that won the 2007 general elections.

However, the confusion once again arose when it came to issues of 2011 general elections. The same eminent Nigerians rallied to douse the tensions on a gentleman agreement of just one term that would give President Jonathan a total of six years in office. It was a firm commitment as chronicled in video clippings from his speeches from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and within Nigeria with commendations at Eagle Square, Abuja by former president Obasanjo.

Personalities like Governors Aliyu Wamakko, Sokoto State, Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako were tireless in concerted efforts to broker understanding with northern stakeholders to support President Jonathan for the 2011 election. These gentlemen drew odium from their people for what they saw as betrayal. But their efforts were seen in wider spectrum as a means to peaceful resolution of constitutional crisis that Nigeria suddenly got entangled. The country eventually smarted out of it. These gentlemen succeeded as patriots. However, events soon unfolded in bitter and unpalatable reciprocation where PDP leadership resorted to antics of use and dump. It reached climax under the chairmanship of Bamanga Tukur.

Reform is desirable process to keep a system in tune with current realities. These realities emanated from the pulse of the grassroots which recurred with public opinion of the electorate at the baseline. Frequently, the governors of PDP nudged the national headquarters to listen and reason in the interest of the party and country. Governor Wamakko was an active mover in the voices for reform. But he became a target of vilification, orchestrated by some PDP members from Sokoto State that found permanent abode in Abuja. They are still the spoilers in Sokoto State structure of the party. They seemed more inclined towards their personal ambitions than welfare of the masses. In fact that character reflected in the travails of other patriotic governors. In spite of their effrontery the governors continued to work towards amicable resolutions of issues. The national headquarters sabotaged these efforts at every stage. The presidency fed with enormous false insinuations was aloof and arrogant to address issues in the interest of the country.

Expectedly, the alternative became abandoning the unwilling horse for a movable one ready to continue the race to rescue Nigerians from downward slide into poverty and continuous carnage. APC emerged as a national formidable party for realization of that mission. It should not be surprising that the hitherto amorphous size of PDP has resulted into degeneration to complacency towards the plight of the masses. Unfortunately, parochial sentiments are now the sing song of the party to harangue Nigerians into deceptive promises of fixing the economy at the expense of innocuous shrinking opportunities.

A few days ago the national chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mua’azu, ruefully alerted President Jonathan on imminent collapse of the party due to what he called use and dump policy of the party. And that is exactly what caused the massive desertion of personalities from PDP to other parties. The present chairman of PDP made the very observation Alhaji Bamanga Tukur shunned from those patriots now in APC. They are vindicated. It is the carelessness that has plunged Nigeria into a rudderless state.

The current situation has blossomed into general negligence to provide security for the citizens, ubiquitous uncertainties, unemployment, economic disarray and huge corruption nurtured and sustained by sycophants of the administration that position as perpetual beneficiaries of the common wealth. Their faces manifested in donations towards bankrolling PDP campaigns. But certainly, the country cannot continue this way.

APC has provided alternative platform for progressives to converge and work assiduously to enthrone a government that shall rescue the drifting ship of nation. The party kicked off its campaigns from the southern part of the country as a demonstration that contrary to PDP insinuation, APC is truly a national party that transcends every jaundiced sentiment. It is a grassroots party as envisaged for PDP by Governor Wamakko and other governors that found their way into APC. PDP is now a cabal that protects interests of a few at the detriment of the Nigerian masses.

CBN to push tomato, cocoa, palm oil production in 2018 – Emefiele

Agriculture

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has said that the Apex bank would push for the production of tomato, cocoa and palm oil across the country in 2018.

He stated this when he visited the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh in his office on Wednesday.

The CBN governor said that the move was aimed at supporting government’s effort to ensure self-sufficiency and reduce food importation.

He added that he was at the ministry with a view to work out strategies that would actualise President Buhari’s pronouncement that rice importation would end by 2018.

He stressed that “We will galvanise Nigerians, the private sector and big companies to join us in this assignment. We have supported cassava production in some southern states and we are going to aggressively push tomatoes this year. We are working with the South Western States and the ministry toward pushing cocoa this year.

“The Development Finance Department of CBN has concluded its framework for palm oil in the south eastern and mid-western parts of the country. These are the things we are going to roll out this year, and I am sure that the kind of success we will see this year will be better than ever seen.”

Commenting on farmers-herdsmen clashes across the country, Omefiele said it was important for Nigerians to work together. “What is important is that we are Nigerians and there is the need for us to co-exist, work together and live together’’.

Emefiele said that the bank was working to make access to finance easy for citizens, especially farmers.

While appreciating the Apex bank for its support to farmers across the country, Ogbeh added that without the CBN, the successes recorded in the ministry in the last two years would not have been made.

He assured that in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), would ensure that farmers who collected loans from CBN repaid them to enable others to benefit.

“The backing of the CBN is so crucial because we have to move forward. Our country has to survive. Once we end rice and eventually wheat importation, we will begin to drive other crops. We are going to re-launch cocoa this year in Ondo State, and revive the old trees with new fertiliser which has an inclusion of boron,’’ he said.

 

ARMTI trains 40 youths in cassava value chain

Agriculture

The Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) in conjunction with McGeorge Consulting, Ilorin has trained 40 youths in cassava value chain in Ilofa, Oke-Ero local government area of Kwara state.

Aimed at boosting food security in the week long agripreneurship training, the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr. Olufemi Oladunni said on Wednesday that the empowerment scheme was designed to educate the youths on cassava production and processing.

Represented by the Head of Women and Youth Division, Mrs. Abigael Eyilade explained that the participants comprised of 32 males and eight females drawn from the 10 wards of the local council.

Oladunni stressed that the Institute poised to organise capacity building programmes for youths in the society in all sectors of the national economy.

“It is our hope that at the end of this intensive training, the participants would have gathered enough experience that would be profitable in their activities and wealth generation,’’ he said.

The Lead Consultant of McGeorge Consulting, Dr Olusola Ogunjirin said that the training was prompted by the desire to equip the youth with relevant skills in agribusiness development and management.

While describing the training as a platform to empower restive youths as well as reduce unemployment the country, he added that the skills were needed to develop and transform agriculture in the country.

The traditional ruler of Ilofa, Oba Samuel Dada urged the participants to take advantage of the training in order to become self-reliant.

The Chairman of Oke-Ero Local Government Council, Mr Joseph Oni commended the organisers of the training for their foresight.

Courses learned at the training include Concepts of Agricultural Commodity and Value Chain Development in Nigeria; Agripreneurship Skills Development; Agricultural Land Development for Increased Yield; Gender Mainstreaming in Cassava Value Chain Development and Cassava Production Techniques to obtain High and Sustainable Yield.

 

FADAMA commends Anambra state on food security programmes

Agriculture

The state Coordinator of FADAMA III Additional Financing (AFII) programme in Anambra, Chukwuka Egbueh has commended the state government for working on agricultural programmes targetted at boosting food security in the state.

He said in Awka on Wednesday that Governor Willie Obiano had embarked on progrannes that would impact positively on the people of the state.

“Governor Obiano has done well by promptly paying the state’s counterpart funds for the FADAMA III projects. This has been attested to by international donors,” he said.

Egbueh explained that the governor had compelted irrigation projects as well as construction of roads to connect rural areas in the state.

“First is the completion of the five irrigation projects at Ogboji, Ihiala 1, 2, Ogbaru and Ifite-Ogwari by the first quarter of this year to facilitate all-season farming and the construction of 44.5km roads to open up the rural areas.

“The second is the use of technology to revolutionalise agriculture and attain greater yield in the state, with the aid of standard laboratory facilities that are put in place,” he further said.

He disclosed that the state government was planning to disburse grants to 240 graduates already shortlisted to start various agricultural projects.

“240 graduates were shortlisted for financial support which will make them go into full-scale farming. These individuals were chosen from those that applied, after going through various stages of interview. So, their seriousness was not in doubt. They have been sent text messages, informing them to get ready for their financial mobilisation,” he said.

Agriculturist urges gradual implementation of open grazing law

Agriculture

The Manager of Yobe Pilot Livestock Development Programme, Dr Mustapha Gaidam has called for intensive sensitisation and mobilisation of stakeholders before the enforcement of the ban on open grazing.

Mustapha who gave the advice in Damaturu on Tuesday said, “There is the absolute need for dialogue, intensive education, sensitisation and mobilisation for both crop and livestock farmers to appreciate the advantages.

“So far, the anti-open grazing law enacted by Benue, Taraba, Ekiti and Edo states has failed to serve the purposes for which it was established, considering the unfortunate incidences in Benue and Taraba.

“The law was intended to provide solution to farmers/grazers conflicts but unfortunately, the two groups have lost many lives and property,” he said.

He suggested that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the ECOWAS protocol must be considered in the formulation and implementation of laws including the anti-open grazing law.

The manager argued that civil and traditional authorities must work towards establishing mutual trust and mutual agreement among stakeholders on systematic and gradual enforcement of the anti-open grazing law in the states contemplating the idea.

He expressed fear that the rising tension between farmers and herders in the affected states of the Federation will soon translate into low crop and livestock farming activities in the country with threat to food and protein security.

Mustapha also described the demarcation and protection of stock routes as“ imperative” to facilitate movement of cattle across the country, provision of health facilities and water points to avert encroachment on farmlands by the animals.

He explained that cattle-ranching has many advantages to both herders and farmers considering the peculiarities of the occupation of the two groups.

“In Yobe, we enjoy a very long peaceful co-existence between farmers and cattle breeders because government has provided incentives to livestock farmers just as it subsidises fertiliser and other inputs to farmers.

“Government has also demarcated over 1,500 kilometres of cattle routes, provided water points, mass vaccination of animals and food supplement among others and there was no conflict for close to 10 years, now,” Mustapha said. (NAN)

FADAMA III spends N437m on road construction, dams rehabilitation in Niger–Official

Agriculture

The FADAMA III Additional Financing (AF) Programme in Niger says it has spent N437 million on constructing a road and rehabilitating two dams in three local government areas of the state.

Alhaji Baba Shaba, the Communication Officer of FADAMA III (AF) Programme in Niger, said this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna on Tuesday.

He said that N270 million was spent on the nine- kilometre road in Edozhigi community of Gbako Local Government Area to facilitate the efforts of farmers to transport their produce to the markets.

“The newly constructed road covers about nine kilometres and each kilometre costs N30 million. This road is very important to farmers in the area, particularly because we are encouraging them to adopt all-year round farming. The irrigation dam is located along the road, hence the need to construct the road to make the dams accessible to the farmers,’’ he said.

Shaba appealed to farmers in the area to take due advantage of the road to increase their productivity, while shunning middlemen who were always interested in buying their crops at giveaway prices.

In a related development, the communication officer said that the FADAMA III (AF) programme had rehabilitated an irrigation dam in Edu, Lapai Local Government Area at the cost of N70 million.

Besides, Shaba said that N97 million was spent on construction of an irrigation dam in Loguma, Agaie Local Government Area of the state.

He said that the rehabilitation and construction of the irrigation dams were aimed at facilitating the efforts of the farmers to engage in dry-season farming and boost food security in the country. (NAN)

Farmers seek support for UN’s Zero Hunger Programme in Nigeria

Agriculture

Farmers in Nigeria under the Zero Hunger Commodity Associations, has urged governments at all levels to support the the Zero Hunger Nigeria Programme to achieve its targets and objectives particularly through farmer-friendly programmes.

The association, a subsidiary of the United Nations Committee – Zero Hunger Nigeria Forum – made the appeal in a communique issued to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin on Sunday.

The communique came after its meeting held in Abuja.

It was signed by the National Coordinator of the association, Dr Tunde Arosanyin.

The farmers’ group sought a collaboration with the Commodity Exchange Market of Nigeria and the Nigeria Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) so as to guarantee good returns on farm produce locally and internationally.

It also urged that Research Institutions and Extension Services be adequately funded by the Federal Government and State Governments for effective performance of the Agricultural sector.

It said the meeting affirmed the association’s belief in the Agricultural Revolution Programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari through Green Alternative Roadmap as a veritable channel to improve agricultural production in Nigeria .

The association, however, resolved that government should encourage appropriate implementation strategy that would be all inclusive.

The body said that it appreciated the leadership qualities of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chairman of the Zero Hunger Nigeria Forum, toward the development of the agricultural sector of the country’s economy.

NAN reports that Zero Hunger programme is the brainchild of the United Nations toward actualising the Substainable Development Goals from 2016 – 2030. (NAN)

Kogi: Agriculture to generate 15% of income in 2018 – Gov. Bello

Agriculture

Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Monday said the state agricultural sector, through its Agricultural Revolution Programme (ARP), would generate about 15 per cent of the state internally generated income in 2018.

“Kogi is working hard to upstage its internally generated revenue from its exploits in agriculture to generate at least 15% of its income from the sector by the close of 2018,” Bello said.

Bello, who disclosed this in s state-wide broadcast to mark the New Year in Okene, said the state had made tremendous progress in agriculture as alternative income generation and employment for the teeming population.

He said the first harvest from the state experimental rice farm at Omi Dam was a huge success, against the backdrop that it was an initial effort.

“The first batch of Confluence Rice hit the market in December, 2017. This is a source of income we hope to nurture from domestic sales, and if there is a surplus, distribution to other parts of the country and even overseas export will be donr,” he said.

The governor said that the rice renaissance in the state was traceable to the Agricultural Revolution Programme (ARP) launched early in 2017 and on which the government had been working.

Bello said Cashew, cassava, sugarcane and sesame seeds were other crops the government was planning big time production.

“We have made advanced progress with possible investors to cultivate these on an industrial scale in 2018. By the end of year, we should be able to attribute at least 15 per cent of our income to earnings from the agricultural sector”, he said.

He added that the New Direction Blueprint of the government was programmed to start earning income for the state from direct investments in solid minerals.

“We have not neglected the potentials of this rich source of Internally Generated Revenue. Our state-owned solid minerals production company has been undergoing revitalisation to give it a corporate structure which is more responsive to the current realities.”

The governor stated that the company should be ready to handle transactions from early this year.

He noted that the government also created a programme for social welfare to touch many citizens at the grassroots level.

“While this may not have reached every person and every household, I am aware that it has reached every ward. This direct distribution of foodstuff, particularly rice, has put food on tables which would have otherwise be empty, especially during festive seasons.” he said.

The stressed that efforts would be intensified to grow the Food Direct Programme in 2018 and expand the scope to include other essential commodities like medicines.

Bello noted that the government owed the citizens and residents a sacred duty to provide good governance.

“It is therefore our unfailing duty in 2018 to do so by keeping pace with your yearnings and aspirations for Kogi state. There is hope in every new beginning, and every New Year’s Day is a new beginning, so today I celebrate hope with you. Hope for today, hope for the year and hope for the future beyond this year. Kogi is rising.” (NAN)

Association to engage 500,000 farmers in maize cultivation in 2018

Agriculture

The National President, Maize Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Bello Abubakar-Annur, says the union is planning to engage 500, 000 farmers in maize cultivation in the 2018 farming season across the country.

Abubakar-Annur told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Sokoto that the figure was part of the target set by the association to complement the efforts of the Buhari Administration at reviving agriculture for food security and employment.

He commended the Federal Government for facilitating different farmer support schemes which included the Anchor Borrower loan scheme, buying back and other incentives.

He described government’s intervention as a success as it aided mass cultivation and harvest in 2017.

“The association has received good reactions from benefiting farmers as inputs valued at about N123, 000 was allocated to farmers per each hectare of land and farmers obtained between 35 to 40 bags on each hectare cultivated.

“With the present situation, benefiting farmers can pay back loans with between 14 to 15 bags of maize.

“Our target to engage more farmers was set out in recognition of the success recorded in maize cultivation in 2017 and the appreciable price of the commodity is another motivation for real practicing farmers,’’ he said.

He said seeds would be provided to various categories of farmers suitable for climatic conditions of all the regions across the 36 states of the federation.

Abubakar-Annur said guides on inputs application modalities and other farming practices were designed by experts.

According to him, the association will partner with indigenous and foreign firms to provide small scale machines and other farming inputs at affordable prices that will argument farming activities. (NAN)

IFAD-CASP to support women, youths in 7 states in enterprise devept

Agriculture

Climate Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme (CASP), a programme of International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD), says it will undertake enterprise development initiatives for women and youths in seven states.

Mr Abdullahi Surajo, the Communication Officer of IFAD-CASP, said this on Friday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

He said that the programme would support women and youths in enterprise development projects, aimed at creating job opportunities in 727 rural communities across the seven participating states.

“We have organised the candidates’ screening to select the best beneficiaries, and two, out of the four candidates who were screened in each participating village, were selected.

“The successful candidates will be empowered with farm inputs and agricultural equipment, depending on the kind of enterprise which the individual would venture into, to boost agricultural production in their communities.

“The support will be focused on enterprises and activities that are linked to value addition in crop production, processing, packaging and marketing, while tackling constraints to production,’’ he said.

Surajo said that the enterprises that would be supported included village-based farm inputs supply enterprises, post-harvest handling enterprises, crop processing enterprises and produce marketing enterprises.

He said that the agricultural machinery that would be provided included land preparation and development machines such as tractors, power tillers, ox teams, crop processing machines for threshing and dehiscing and oil extractors.

“The farm inputs include seeds, fertilisers and agro-chemicals, while produce marketing materials include bags as well as sorting and grading machines. In addition to these, the programme will build the capacity of the beneficiaries in business plan development operations and management. The programme will also provide starter packs and working instruments to launch their businesses through matching grants,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the development objectives of IFAD-CASP include increased incomes, enhanced food security and reduced vulnerability for smallholder farmers, particularly women and youths, in the participating states.

Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara are currently participating in the six-year programme, which started in 2015. (NAN)

NBMA, SON sign MoU on regulation of GMOs

Agriculture

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on proper regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

According to a statement issued in Abuja, the Director-General of NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba said that there was the need for government agencies to work together to that GMOs are well analysed to ascertain that there is no risk to Nigerians or the Nigerian environment before they are commercialised.

He said NBMA was established to ensure that the practice of Modern Biotechnology that resulted in GMOs was safe for both humans and the environment.

“Risk assessment is a pillar of the agency and NBMA is interested in the gene of insert.

In his response, the Director-General, SON, Mr Osita Aboloma who was represented by the Director Legal Services, Mr Umaru Kawu, expressed happiness over the MoU, saying that SON is ready to partner with NBMA to actualise its mandate.

He stressed the need for government agencies to synergise in order to facilitate the set goals of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“This MoU is a good one and I am happy that NBMA has signed MoUs with other major government agencies that will contribute to the effectiveness of its mandate”.

This collaborative MOU is  fifth that NBMA signed with sister agencies in the bid to ensure that genetically modified products are safely deployed for the benefit of Nigerians. (NAN)wp-1479414238960.jpeg