- Thai Rice Poisonous, Ogbeh Warns
The Federal Government has issued stern warning against consumption of Thailand rice, saying it is poisonous.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who gave the warning yesterday when he met with youths during The Guardians of the Nations International (GOTNI) Leadership Clinic in Abuja, said “some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison.”
His words: “There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water. If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase, and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.”
He said land borders will soon be permanently shut in order to prevent smuggling of foreign rice and other toxic materials into the country.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing. They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy, he stated, stressing, “I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut. We are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy.
“You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet. Let me tell you why we need to shut the border; I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice,” he said.
Ogbeh lamented that the friendly relationship that existed between Nigeria and her neighbouring African countries was adversely affecting the nation’s economy, hence the decision to shut the borders.
He said the Federal Government in the past two years, has succeeded in reducing rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers.
He said states such as Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa have taken advantage of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Federal Government to upscale rice production, and such achievements will not be allowed to fizzle out through smuggling activities.
Domestic Airlines Increase Fares Ahead of Flight Resumption
Domestic Airlines Raise Ticket Fares Ahead of Flight Resumption
The nation’s airline companies raised ticket fares to compensate for lack of bailout from the Federal Government and about 100 percent increase in service charges.
Last month, the Federal Government directed all domestic airlines to begin flight operations on July 8th following the March 30th suspension of all operations.
However, checks by our correspondent showed that domestic airlines have increased fares on all classes of tickets from Lagos to Abuja.
For a Dana Air flight from Lagos to Abuja, Economy Discount tickets are sold for N30,000 for a one-way ticket while the Economy Flexible ticket goes for N70,500.
Similarly, Air Peace Economy-Flexi Domestic Plan ticket goes for N33,001 for a one-way flight from Lagos to Abuja. The company sold its business class ticket for N80,000.
While potential passengers of Azman Air would need to part with N33,000 for an economy ticket from Lagos-Abuja. For a business class ticket, the company charges N60,000.
Arik Air, however, charges the lowest for economy plan. Passengers are required to pay just N29,189 for economy tickets and N71,532 for business tickets for a one-way trip from Lagos to Abuja.
Allen Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer, Air Peace, who was present at the simulation exercise conducted two weeks ago, had called for a bailout to help the sector protect jobs.
He said “Palliatives, bailout, rollout, intervention funds or whatever we call it is necessary. All over the world, the government is giving palliatives, bailout funds to their airlines.
“Even the strongest of airlines all over the world asked for this. What bothers us more in Air Peace is the retention of the workforce.
“COVID-19 has brought about immense loss of jobs worldwide. We must begin to think of ways of curbing the losses in Nigeria.”
However, it doesn’t seem like the Federal Government that is presently battling possible recession is willing to bail out airlines whose services are mainly required by high net worth individuals. This further highlighted why the service charges on flight tickets were raised by 100 percent.
The average cost of one way air flight from Lagos to Abuja was between N15,000 to N40,000 before the lockdown.
IATA Says Nigerian Airlines Loses $2.09bn in April and June
Airlines in Nigeria Loses $2.09 Billion in April and June
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that Nigerian airlines lost about $2.09 billion in the month of April and June due to COVID-19 lockdown.
In its report titled ‘Quarantine measures threaten aviation restart in Africa and the Middle East,’ IATA stated that the aviation sector in Africa and the Middle East was the worst-hit.
According to the report, the aviation sector in the two regions provides over 8.6 million direct and indirect jobs.
While the report did not provide data for the month of May, it stated that the number of Nigerian passengers declined by 4.7 million in April and 5.32 million in June when compared with the same period of 2019.
Similarly, the report said 125,400 jobs were at risk in April and 139,500 jobs were at risk in the month of June.
Muhammad Albakri, the Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, IATA, said governments in Africa and the Middle East must devise alternative methods to the current quarantine measures in place, saying the two regions have the highest number of government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.
He said, “It is critical that AME governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.
“The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods.”
Oando Partners Oilserv to Build Ajaokuta-Kaduna Portion of AKK Project
Oando, Oilserv to Construct Ajaokuta-Kaduna Portion of AKK Project
Oando Plc has partnered Oilserve Limited to construct a 303.4km linear pipeline system for the Ajaokuta to Kaduna portion of the $2.8 billion, 40 inch by 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project, the AKK Pipeline.
According to a statement released by Oando through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the construction of the AKK Pipeline Project approved in 2018 has commenced on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
The statement reads “Oando PLC (referred to as “Oando” or the “the Company”), is pleased to announce to the Company’s attendance as a consortium partner at the flag-off ceremony for the construction of the $2.8billion, 40 inch by 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project (the “AKK Pipeline”), by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
“The AKK Pipeline Project, championed by two consortia comprising select indigenous and international companies commenced in 2013 with the announcement for tenders by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In April 2018, the Company announced that following an extensive due diligence and bid process, the Oilserv-Oando PLC consortium was awarded the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) mandate for segment 1, accounting for 40” by 303.4km linear pipeline system for the Ajaokuta to Kaduna portion of the AKK Pipeline Project by the NNPC.”
Speaking on the project, Jubril Adewale Tinubu, the Group Chief Executive, Oando PLC, said: “As a proudly Nigerian company, focused on driving indigenous participation we have always been proponents of public private partnership in accelerating the actualization of the nation’s goals.
“We have aspired to play an integral role in the building out of the National Gas Infrastructure and Pipeline Grid, as evidenced by our efforts in 2009, post the Nigerian Gas Masterplan when we participated in the unrealized Calabar- Ajaokuta- Abuja-Kano (CAAK) line.
“We have developed strategic partnerships with both private sector players and the NNPC in bringing sustainable solutions to spur the development of the country via our numerous gas development and distribution projects. We commend the NNPC for spearheading projects that will soften the headwinds occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are proud to be active participants in driving the country’s industrialization and actualization of the Gas Master Plan which will undoubtedly create employment opportunities and ultimately generate as well as enhance value for the nation.”
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