The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has said that Nigeria spends about $22bn a year on food importation.
Lokpobiri made this known on Saturday at a town hall meeting with stakeholders in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Before the town hall meeting which took place at the auditorium of Achievers Farms Limited, the minister and his entourage had visited many farms in the state.
He said the development had led to the astronomical rise in prices of rice and other products, stressing that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the items being imported before December, the price of rice would skyrocket to N40,000.
He said there was a projection that by 2050, Nigeria’s population would be 450 million, wondering what would happen then if the people could not feed themselves now.
Lokpobiri said, “For your information, we spend about $22bn a year importing food into Nigeria. We know how many more dollars they bought and that is why you see the price of rice going up.
“Price of rice was N12,000 some months ago, but it is now about N26,000 and if we don’t start producing, by December, it could be N40,000.
“Rice matures in three months. So, this is a wake-up call for Bayelsa people to take the four farms we have seriously. The Federal Government has four farms in the state. The average land you see in Bayelsa can grow rice, so the colonial masters were not wrong in their assessment when they said Niger Delta could feed not only Nigerians but also the entire people of West African sub-region.
“Unfortunately, agriculture till today is not a priority of the Niger Delta as far as the state governments are concerned because of oil.”
He said the states in the Niger Delta had yet to give priority to agriculture the way the states in the North-West such as Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano as well as other states like Lagos, Ebonyi, Anambra, prioritised it.
He said Anambra State, for instance, was not owing salaries despite the fact that it does not have oil but was raking in money by merely exporting vegetables.
The minister, who decried the destruction of the region’s resources by militants, said agriculture was one sure way of discouraging militancy.
Lokpobiri said, “And the only way we can take our people out of militancy is actually through agriculture and this is also an opportunity to tell our people that the most important resources to any man are land and water resources.
“By the time you are blowing up pipelines, you are actually damaging the water resources. Today, people say it will take 20 years to clean up Ogoni and we are blowing up our pipelines. We are the people suffering from our own decision, from our own wrong action. So, the time has come for change from blowing up pipelines as a way of drawing attention to constructive engagement.”
Abuja to Kaduna Train Service to Resume on Monday, November 28, 2022
Barring any last-minute change, Abuja to Kaduna train service is expected to resume operation on Monday, November 28, 2022.
This is coming after eight months when operation along the route was suspended due to a deadly terrorist attack on the train.
It could be recalled that the attack which happened at night led to the death of no less than eight people while 168 passengers were kidnapped.
Early this month, the minister of transportation, Mu’azu Sambo disclosed during a presidential briefing that Abuja to Kaduna train service will resume operation before the end of this month, Investors King learnt.
Mu’azu noted that following the release of the last badge of those that were held hostage, the ministry has been putting security measures in place to forestall any future occurrence of such a sad experience.
Sources confirmed that contractors were at the Idu rail station to install the tracker and cameras which will enhance security along the train corridor.
Speaking in the same line, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria disclosed that the government has set up a high-level committee that will fine-tune a way to ensure adequate security for both the train passengers and the facilities.
“Government has set up a committee to ensure maximum security for both train passengers and facilities during operation. We believe proper security measures should be put in place and until then, the Federal Government won’t approve the functioning of the train station,” Okhira stated in September.
Meanwhile, the federal government has stated that millions of Nigerians will soon prefer to travel by train as the government is committed to connecting virtually all states in Nigeria to the train services.
The ministers of transportation who disclosed this during a working visit to the train station in Lagos State noted that the ministry has a number of ongoing rail projects which include Lagos to Kano, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, and Kaduna to Kano.
He revealed that at the completion of the rail projects, it will be much easier for Nigeria to commute from one state to another.
Increase in Price of Food is Imminent; Farmers Association Warns
Farmers under the aegis of the Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) have joined a growing list of associations and experts who have warned of food scarcity in Nigeria.
SWOFON noted during an event in Abuja that Nigerians will likely spend more on food if the federal government failed to address the challenges faced by farmers due to flooding.
Investors King had reported that a series of ravaging floods destroyed several houses and farmlands across the country.
According to the National President of SWOFON, Mary Afan, if relevant government agencies failed to give financial aid to farmers and improve security around the country, it could lead to high cost of food which might result in increased hunger for the vulnerable Nigerians.
“The implication of this massive flooding is that the prices of food will rise higher owing to its unavailability.
“This will deal a great blow to the over 90 million Nigerians currently leaving below the poverty line and the over 21 million Nigerians currently experiencing acute hunger,” the president noted.
She noted that small farmers who are women have lost many of their farmlands due to the ravaging floods. She added that members of the association are also short of seeds to plant during the next farming season.
“While some farmers are gradually returning to their homes as the water recedes to pick up whatever is left of the destruction, others cannot go back home or to their farms. Some have lost the courage to start all over and others have totally lost hope,” she lamented.
Also speaking at the event, the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Prof Ben Akabueze admonished the association to seek federal government intervention through the national assembly.
It could be recalled that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq had disclosed that about 123,000 farmlands were partially destroyed while about 392,000 farmlands were totally destroyed due to the devastating floods.
Nigerian Governors Forum Rejects Sale of 10 Power Plants by FG, Considers Legal Action
State governors objected sales of 10 power plants
The 36 state governors in Nigeria under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) have announced their rejection of the sale of 10 power plants in the country.
The governors who issued a communique noted that they going to file a lawsuit against the federal government to stop the privatisation.
According to the communique which was signed by the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, the forum has ordered its lawyers to approach the federal high court to stop the privatisation.
They argued that the power plants which are under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) and managed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) are owned by the three tiers of government. That is the federal, state governments, and local government councils.
Investors King could recall that in 2021, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) approved the adoption of a fast-track strategy for the privatisation of five major power plants. The power plants include Geregu II in Kogi State, Omotosho II in Ondo State, Ihovbor in Edo State, Olorunsogo II in Ogun State, and Calabar power plants.
Other power-generating companies lined up for privatisation include Omoku Generation Company, Ogorode Generation Company, Gbarain Generation Company, Alaoji Generation Company, and Egebma Generation Company.
Although the House of Representatives had also objected to the privatisation, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) nonetheless announced that it has commenced due diligence assessment of the 16 pre-qualified investors shortlisted for the acquisition of the plants. A development that is in contrast to the position of the state governors.
Meanwhile, the governors’ forum also noted that it is working with the federal government to address the issue of flooding which has ravaged many homes and farmlands across the country.
The forum stated that all the affected states are collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, National Emergency Management Agency, the CBN, and the World Bank to ensure emergency interventions to ameliorate the adverse impact of the devastating flood.
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