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African Iron and steel confident Buhari will resuscitate Ajaokuta steel complex before end of tenure

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African Iron and steel confident Buhari will resuscitate Ajaokuta steel complex before end of tenure

**says no meaningful development without steel in any country

Deputy Secretary general of the African Iron and steel Association (AISA), Solomon Femi Adeyemo has expressed the confidence that Ajaokuta steel Company would be back on track as enunciated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He spoke over the weekend when he recieved a certificate of credence given to him by Public Office Holders Association of Nigeria (POHAN) for excellence.
Adeyemo based his confidence on the believe that the issue is very close to the President’s heart and so he does not have any doubt as to the coming back on stream of the steel complex.

The steel complex which was said to have been 90% completed in 1984 by late 0Nigerian first executive President Alhaji Shehu Shagari had been abandoned by successive administrations and the gigantic project has been lying fallow almost in the shadow of its potentials.
Shehu Shagari and Leonid Brezhnev led Nigeria and Russia when the two countries first started to build the Ajaokuta steel rolling mill in 1979.

Forty years after Nigeria returned to Russia for a bilateral agreement to resuscitate the now derelict steel factory complex.
The accord to revive the Ajaokuta project was reached during a meeting between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia in October last year.
The partnership was meant to help get sections of the factory into production before the end of 2019, according to, the minister of Mines and Steel Development Olamilekan Adegbite.
We are now almost at the close of 2020 the project is yet to be completed.
The deputy secretary general said from the pronouncement of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when he said he has set up committee of professionals who will look into the immediate take off of the Ajaokuta Steel, ‘all we need to do is to keep our fingers crossed and be praying for that committee that has been set up so that they hasten up.’

Adeyemo indicated that the minister at another forum was also quoted as saying that they are making sure that the Ajaokuta steel complex takes effect and seen to be working before the exit if the President Buhari administration. “We can just pray for them that this promises will come to pass.”
On what it means for Nigeria if Ajaokuta is made to be working he said,
“Firstly, Steel is the bedrock of every development in any country, go to China, go to Asian countries where we have Steel industries that are working they put them to use, even the per capita income of China at a time was measured by the Steel that they produce so you see there cannot be any meaningful development in any country without Steel it is not possible.”

We had a committee that was set up by world Steel Association and we called it sustainability study group, I was part of that sustainability study group and we found out that there is nobody who goes out that has no element of Steel on him.
“There is no way any person will dress up and there is no element of Steel on him.
“Check your Biro, your button, some of the designs on your cloths, so Steel is so important that we carry it along with us anytime, anyway and everywhere we are. Imagine that about 200m people in Nigeria are carrying one product of Steel in one form or the order.
“Think of the level of production, think of the products. To come to look at Ajaokuta Steel, you see there are other industries that are tied to this Steel complex.
“It is an integrated Steel complex, that means every other one comes to support it. Look at the downstream effect, is it those that are going to be building or those that are going to be using it for one thing or the other.
“Think of the thousands of products that would be coming out of it just like in the issue of the Petroleum product where Nigerians base their argument on just petrol, what of all other products that are associated with it?
“We are not talking about the black oil, petroleum jelly that we can get out of it, we are just talking about petrol, and that is what we are talking about in the Steel sector.
“In the Steel sector we have so many other things that are attached to it.

He said though non of the African Iron and steel Association members is a member of the committee however
very many of the committee members are engineers adding that they have the confidence they will deliver as promised.

He said on behalf African they have written to the Federal Government to congratulate them for taking that bold step and the committee thank them as they agreed to get back when their inputs are needed.
He expressed the hope that the committee is going to work objectively and call those who knows something about this thing to come and chip in their own knowledge.
The deputy secretary general said the proposed multiple railway projects to achieve Intermodal Transportation in the country as captured in the 2021 budget by the federal Government would easily be achieved as Ajaokuta will be handy in producing that railtracks.

He recalled at a time when Government was about to build the Stadium in Abuja when the association went to the President then, chief obasanjo and told him, the Nigeria steel industries to produce the Steel quantum of the Stadium and the answer was not favourable.
“We should be looking for way forward and that is those who knows the thing should be allowed to do it. We should use our local content to achieve our purpose.”

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Economy

NAQS decries inter agency rivalry leading to sabotage of its mandate

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NAQS decries inter agency rivalry leading to sabotage of its mandate

The Nigeria Agriculture and Quarantine Service (NAQS) has frowned at the tendency of some sister agencies to sabotage its activities.
This is coming against the backdrop that
recent events in the activities and operation of the agency had indicated that for NAQS to continue to deliver on its statutory mandate and contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy, steps must be taken to tackle some bottlenecks that vitiate the operations of the agency.
This was contained in a statement that was signed by its national coordinator Comrade Ben Iguabor and national secretary Silas Modaccai respectively.

The statement said, a situation where the agency’s activities are being sabotaged by another sister agency like the Nigerian Customs Service or the Nigerian Police is most regrettable.

It indicated that NAQS as a leading agency in ensuring standards and compliance in the export of agricultural products out of the country, insisted on full compliance by exporters, however, the personnel of the customs would be at the backend sabotaging such efforts.

“If properly coordinated, Nigeria has very huge potential of raking in stupendous income through agricultural exports.”

The statement reads in part,”For us as a body, the National Ecosystem Advocates of Nigeria (NEAN), the solution is to get all the sister agencies that work with NAQS to function more collaboratively and patriotically, putting the interest of the nation first before self.                
The statement harped  on the need for inter agency cooperation, adding that it is also imperative to get the full buy-in of the personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service to the operations of NAQS. “For instance, while some foreigners are officially documented by the Nigerian Immigrant personnel for particular job descriptions, such foreigners often resort to activities different from which they were officially listed.
“Chinese nationals are the most criminal culprits of this act. There are several instances where many Chinese nationals come into Nigeria, get documented by the Nigeria Immigration Service as construction workers, only to turn into marauders of our bushes and forests the next day”
It sated that the chinese have the perchance for engaging in criminal hunting and export of illegal crops and animals, including illegal plundering of our timbers with the active cooperation of some unpatriotic Nigerians. “There is need for routine monitoring of these foreigners to ensure that they do not violate their official status of the country.
“Where such foreigners are reported to the Nigeria Immigration, the service must take steps to ensure that the affected foreigners are promptly deported to their countries of origin.”

On the part of the National Assembly, the statement there is the need for the review of the current NAQS act, 2017, with a view to identifying and strengthening the law to ensure that the main objectives of the legislation is fully attained.
The statement explained that NAQS is a regulatory agency under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. “It is tasked with the responsibility of the harmonization of Plants, Veterinary and Aquatic resources (fisheries).
“The agency is to promote and regulate sanitary (animal and fisheries health) and plant health measures in connection with the import and export of agricultural products with a view to minimizing the risk to agricultural economy, food safety and the environment.”

Earlier, NEAN had deplored the criminal activities of some Chinese nationals in the illegal poaching and export of donkeys in the country.

It however, commended the efforts of the current Director General of NAQS Dr. Vincent Isegbe and the staff of the agency in ensuring that the country derives the full benefits for the establishment of the agency by their insistence in the discharge of the agency’s core mandates. 
Amongst others, the main objective of NAQS is to prevent the introduction, establishment and spread of animal and zoonotic diseases as well as pests of plants and fisheries including their products.
NAQS also undertakes emergency protocol to control or manage new pest incursion or disease outbreak in collaboration with key stakeholders. NAQS ensures that our agricultural exports meet with international standards in line with International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Office International des Epizootics (OIE) representing the World Organization for Animal Health, WTO/Sanitary and International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and SPS conditions of the importing countries



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To overcome food insecurity Nigeria needs sixty thousand tractors says FG

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To tackle food insecurity Nigeria needs sixty thousand tractors says FG

The Federal Government on Tuesday indicated that country needs not less than sixty thousand tractors to tackle food insecurity

As part of effort to promote food production, it also reiterated its committement towards tackling food insecurity through mechanization.

This is just as the government said it has establised ties with the Brazilian Government to establish tractor assembly and manufacturing factories in some parts of the country.

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Sabo Nanono stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts to explain in details the purpose for supplementary budget of €995,000,000 million to finance agric project.

The Minister noted that the contract between Nigerian and the Brazilian Government was signed five years ago but worried that it was not implemented.

He expressed worries that Nigeria is currently cultivating less than 30% of its ninety two million arable land mass, which is far bellow what is needed to feed its two hundred million population.

“Obviously, how do we go about feeding this nation. It is very clear that the current method of farming will not do it. So we have to go into mechanization.

“You must know as at today, we have only about seven tractors per 100 square kilometers. A standard is one hundred and twenty tractors per 100 square kilometers He said Nigeria needs an average of “sixty thousand tractors” for the purpose of food security.

According to him, a new programme, the Green Imperative Project which is intended to promote industrialization “would provide ten thousand tractors in the next three years and another ten thousand tractors in another tree years.

He said service centers would be established in all local governments across the country with presence of tractors, hired skills and stores to support local productivity and job creation, to be private sector driven with the government playing a crucial role in key areas.

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Economy

DMO declares Kogi one of the least indebted States in Nigeria as INGRA raises issues

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DMO declares Kogi one of the least indebted States in Nigeria as INGRA raises issues

The Debt Management Office (DMO), has indicated that Kogi State
is one of the least indebted states in the country.
The analyses by the DMO further indicated the debt to GDP ratio of the State is very sound.
To butress its position it indicated that the Gross domestic Product of the State is put at US$4,642,000,000 (Four Billion Six hundred and forty-two million Dollars).
This was contained in a statement that was signed and issued by the Executive director of the Initiative for Grassroot Advancement Commitment to rural development (INGRA) Hamza Aliyu as it observed from the DMO analyses.


The DMO is the statutory body responsible for coordinating the debt management for Nigeria and all its sub national entities.

According to the office the external debt profile of Kogi State as at 31 December 2020, stood at US$30,157,822.27 (thirty million one hundred and fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and twenty-two dollars twenty seven cents ).
Going by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rate of N380/$1, this translates to N 11,459,972,462.6 ( Eleven Billion four hundred and fifty-nine million nine hundred and seven-two thousand four hundred and sixty-two Naira Sixty Kobo).
At the same time, the domestic debt it said stood at N68,092,548,068.84 (Sixty-eight Billion Ninety-two Million five hundred and forty-eight thousand Sixty-eight Naira eighty-four Kobo).
However, the Initiative for Grassroot Advancement Commitment to rural development (INGRA) is not amused as it picked some holes in the data.
According to the Executive director of INGRA Mr. Aliyu, “A cursory look at the data from the Debt Management Office showed that the External debt of the state has been flat (no significant external borrowings since January 2016
“The total Domestic debt as at December 2015 stood at N42,034,626,226.84 (Fortytwo billion thirty-four million six hundred and twenty-six thousand two hundred and twenty-six naira eighty-four kobo)
“By 31st December 2016, the debt had risen by over 69% to N71,381,258,449.39 ( Seventy-one Billion three hundred and eighty-one million two hundred and fiftyeight thousand four hundred and forty-nine Naira thirty-nine Kobo).
As at 31st December 2017, Aliyu said the domestic debt had jumped to N102, 359,193,069.66 (
one hundred and two Billion three hundred and fifty- nine million one hundred and
ninety-three thousand six-nine naira six-six kobo). An increase of almost N31b.
He added that by 30th June 2018, the debt saw another rise of over N11B to N114,332,341,233.39
“This figure dropped to N84,922,376,449.78 by 31st December 2018. The year 2019 saw a spike in domestic borrowings resulting in N47,542,285,710.34
added to the debt which stood at N 132,464,662,160.12 (one hundred and thirty-two
Billion four hundred and sixty-four million six hundred and sixty-two thousand one
hundred and sixty naira twelve kobo).
“This was the highest single year borrowings for the state.”
According to him, data showed that in 2020, there began a series of reduction in the domestic debt which climaxed in June 2020 with single largest reduction between March and June 2020 by N55,602,708,599.62

He said there is a disturbing issue from the records obtained from approved State Budgets especially information from the Governors
Budget Speeches on the performances of the Budgets from 2016-2020.
He said it has consistently shown that the actual revenue has always been above the
Actual expenditure thus giving a surplus Budget.
This he said calls for questioning as to the need for borrowings.
Aliyu said it is surprising that in the very first 2 years of the present administration (2016-2017), there
was an almost N60B rise in the Domestic debts.
“This is despite the fact that there should have been a surplus in Budgets. What were the borrowings for and
from whom were these borrowings made?
“Were there Public Hearings by the Kogi State House of Assembly to provide information to the citizens on the need for these borrowings”
Again, he observed that in 2019 which was an election year, the State witnessed the highest borrowings during the incumbent administration.
“This is strange as the tradition had always been for Banks not to give loans until
after elections saying that the borrowings were almost two-third of the state total of revenue.
“Repayment of borrowings in 2020 was extra ordinary with the March-June 2020
representing the largest single repayment period in the history of this
administration.
“A whooping N64Billion was paid back in 2020 alone. Thats more
than what all the Ministries Departments and Agencies spent on Capital in the
last 2 previous years
“These domestic borrowing are huge despite the near absence of infrastructure in
the state”
He recommended that the Ministry of Finance Budget and Planning to urgently provide
clarifications on the issues raised as he alleged that there is limited transparency in the debt management of the State.
Continuing, he said,
“There must be a
consistent effort by the Government to provide platforms for discussions about the State Debt profile adding that the House of Assembly Committee on Public Accounts must live up to its Constitutional obligations of effective oversight to ensure that Kogi State citizens
get value for money.
“There must be a document from the Ministry of Finance budget and Planning
stating the borrowing and what the funds were used for and the status of the projects.
“With no roads, water, light and food insecurity staring us in the face, it is urgent for the government to
show what these funds were used for and why the state should be making repayments for funds not used.
The director concluded that since the State Government in recent times has been proactive in making public Financial
management information public, there is need for trent to continue especially in the
area of domestic debt management.
“Citizens must know why borrowings are taken on their behald, what projects these funds
will be used for and what payment conditions are attached to them”.

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