FG Unveils Three-Year Road Development Plan

The Federal Government has evolved a three-year plan for ­­­­­­ Federal roads that will ensure that, within the time frame, major road projects are implemented fairly in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.

According to a press release signed and issued by the Special Assistant (SA) to the minister on communications, Mr Hakeem Bello, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, announced the plan at the end of the just concluded meeting of the National Council on Works in Katsina State themed,  “Prioritization and Optimization of Allocated Infrastructure Funds”.

The minister said the plan which will be implemented between 2017 and 2019 was already being shared with the ministry of budget and planning for inclusion in the 2017 budget and future national planning data.

Fashola, who said the plan was meant to connect states within each zone and across the country, however, pointed out that because the government’s resources were limited; it had to make choices which, according to him, border on priority and economic expediency.

The Minister said government would be guided in its choices by such factors as inputs from the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, who, according to him, have provided data of critical roads in each of the six zones that are necessary to help evacuate farm produce to market.

“Also roads leading to and from fuel depots will be high on the priority of choices because of the need to develop mining business and evacuate mining products and petroleum cargo to fuel the nation’s energy need,” the Minister said adding that government has also given priority to roads leading to and from the nation’s major sea and airports because of the need to support the business of traders and importers.

 According to the Minister, government was also giving priority to roads that carry very heavy traffic in order to reach more people with its limited resources because of the need to move large numbers of commuters, adding that while government could not build all roads in one year, a faithful implementation of the plan would ensure equitable delivery of better roads across the country.

He declared, “Therefore, while it is true that we cannot build all roads in one year or even in three years, we are convinced that a faithful implementation of our plan, and the rational basis of our choices will deliver a better road experience, improved journey times and aid economic recovery in the short to medium term”.

Fashola also announced that Government has set in motion moves to form partnership and build synergy with state governments in order to deliver safe and motorable roads across the country adding, however, that success of the moves would depend on a number of factors, some of which were in the control of the states and some of which were in the control of the Federal Government.

He said the Controllers of Works have been challenged to be more effective and responsive to the states and communities they are posted to, adding that they should be held accountable for the quality of federal roads within their states.

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Saraki Challenges MTN, Private Firms to Contribute to Sports Development

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday challenged MTN Nigeria to play an increased role in sports development in the country.

Speaking to reporters after a courtesy call by a delegation of the MTN Group in Nigeria led by Brig. Gen. Sani Bello (Rtd) and Ferdinand Moolman, Saraki emphasised that there was a need for large corporations to play a part in ensuring that Nigerian athletes had the necessary corporate funding to compete at the highest levels on the international stage.

“It would be great for thriving corporations like MTN Nigeria to begin to look at how they can contribute to national sports development in Nigeria,” the Senate President said, “Such endeavours can make up a critical part of the Corporate Social Responsibility contributions of these companies.”

Saraki cited the example of the Delta Airlines which came to the aid of the Nigerian National football team, popularly known as The Dream Team, at the recently concluded Olympic Games in Rio, stating that such interventions in sports should become more commonplace.

“We need to encourage more corporations to set up funding mechanisms like foundations that our athletes can benefit from. Doing this would address the issues of funding that have limited our previous successes in international sporting events.

“All around the world, athletes benefit from private sector sponsorship — Nigerian athletes should not be the exception. Doing this would help with the preparation of our athletes prior to sports outings, and would also contribute to the logistic requirements that are a necessary ingredient for success”, he said.

The Senate President said that moving forward, government across all levels should encourage a private-sector driven approach to sports development, highlighting the fact that the Nigerian entertainment industry, specifically Nollywood and the music industry, are noticeable case studies that demonstrate that the increased participation of private sector actors in the administration of the informal sector leads to more effective results.

“If we take Nollywood and our indigenous music industry as an example, we can see that these sectors have reached a point of global recognition and acceptability. This is because the innovative and competitive approach of the private sector can never be duplicated by the bureaucracy of government. This is why we need to reevaluate how we think about sports and sports development in Nigeria”, Saraki said.

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Ease Of Doing Business, The Nigerian Government And Entreprenurship Development, By Okeke Celestine

I had reason to call a National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control staff yesterday, the 2nd day of September 2016 making enquiry on product certification requirement for a mentee of mine who extracts coconut oil for sale within the FCT whom I felt needed to formalise her operations and move up and before doing same, she had told me not to bother as the cost of obtaining the certification would eat up her working capital and I honestly thought that with the inauguration of the presidential commission on ease of doing business that things would have changed, but alas, like Tupac said “still I see no changes”.

The world over, special considerations are given to MSMEs and steps deliberately taken to ensure they survive beyond their first five years, in the light of this, ease of doing business for MSMEs are taken very seriously and countries that do this are not found on the 169th spot in 2016 or anywhere near it, neither were they found in the 170th spot in 2015 ease of doing business rankings and more importantly, neither did they inaugurate presidential commissions that do not reach out to MSMEs to understand the challenges they face and agree on way forward, in other words, the countries found between 1st to 30th positions on the ease of doing business ranking do not inaugurate “ghost” ease of doing business presidential commissions.

I was told by the NAFDAC official that my mentee needs obtain a trademark for her product first and then come back to NFADAC for counselling, registration and then formal visits will then be made to her production facility before certification would be considered. I will attempt to narrate the frustration of MSMEs with this procedure and how it affects ease of doing business in Nigeria in the following paragraphs below and hope we get our government and its agencies to think twice.

INCORPORATION AT CORPORATE AFFARIS COMMISSION (CAC)

It costs between Fifteen to Twenty Thousand (15,000-20,000) Naira to register a business name at CAC and for over 50% of MSMEs starting up business enterprises; this often is between 3-7% of their capital base. Incorporation of limited liability companies cost between Sixty to Eighty Thousand (60,000-80,000) Naira, this also represents between 4-8% of the capital base of over 50% MSMEs seeking to go formal. (Survey conducted by MSME-ASI)

TRADEMARK REGISTRATION

My first experience at the department handling trademark and patent at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment left me disappointed for a couple of reason chief among them was the absence of a fixed sum for trademark filling, I was told it will cost between Sixty to Eighty (60,000-80,000) Thousand Naira and no fixed turn -around time for the process to be completed.

My mentee choose to register a business name as against a limited liability as she needed to have sufficient working capital to enable her continue her production and having being in the business for over a year and made substantial production and attained significant market acceptance, she was then faced with the challenge of retail outlets not accepting her brand for display on their shelf as she had not yet obtained NAFDAC number.

A 2012 World Bank Enterprise Survey titled “Why are Minimum Capital Requirements a Concern for Entrepreneurs” clearly illustrated how eliminating minimum capital requirements in 5 EU economies made it easier to start small and medium-size enterprises and placed Nigeria amongst one of the few countries still asking MSMEs to deposit as much they presently do before registration can be done.

 

Having spent over 3% of total capital base to register a business name and presently battling with production losses going by her manual production process and unable to obtain financing from Bank of Industry until she obtains her NAFDAC number which she won’t get until she obtains a trademark and with cost of obtaining trademark ranging from Sixty-Eighty Thousand (60,000-80,000) Naira my mentee is seriously reconsidering the business enterprise.

I have tried all means possible to reach the Presidential Commission on ease of doing business and can’t find a lead and beg anyone who knows how to reach the commission to provide their contact details please.

OKEKE CELESTINE

LEAD PARTNER; MSME-ASI

@okekecc @advocacy_msme

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Effective Nigerian Youths A Bane To National Development, By Ifemosu Michael

The importance of youth in the development of any nation cannot be overemphasized. The youth constitutes the backbone and future of any nation, unfortunately, in most countries of the world, the youth are marginalized and excluded from governance and the development process.
This is why it is necessary to focus on the Effectiveness of Nigerian Youths as a bane for National development so that they become productive and contribute to the development of society.

The Youth have great roles to play in the development of nations.
In Nigeria, young people have been relegated to the background.
In the first republic and during the first phase of military rule, young people played active role in the governance of Nigeria. Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri became Federal Ministers in their 20s. Matthew Mbu became an ambassador in his early 20s. Col Yakubu Gowon became head of state at the age of 28.
In 1976, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo became the head of state, I was not yet born then, In 1999, he became the President of Nigeria, I was in primary school then.
Nigerian Youth must reject the cliché of being the leaders of tomorrow, because That tomorrow may never come.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the students under the platform of National Association of Nigerian Students and the Youth under the platform of the Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYMN) were the conscience of the Nation, they fought against the Anglo-Nigeria defence pact that would have mortgaged the independence of Nigeria, they fought against unpopular anti-people and anti-youth policies such as increase of school fees (Ali must Go in 1978 led by Akoogun Segun Okeowo ); structural adjustment programme and increase in the price of petroleum products, but today, student and youth bodies have become specialists in giving awards to politicians especially those with bad public image for a fee ( a case study of the award conferred on Senator Buruji Kashamu as the Golden man of the year earlier this year) if i may ask what is golden about him?….but will save that for another day.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Student Christian Movement (SCM) was one of the major organisations that deepened the spiritual life of Christian Students, inculcated Christian values and built Christian leadership, indeed, many of the Christian leaders today in several denominations are products of the Student Christian Movement e.g Mike Bamiloye Founder mount zion films

In the last few decades, youth in Nigeria have been neglected and relegated to the background, All facets of life including family, schools, religious organisations and government have neglected youth development.

In this paper, we examine the challenges of youth in Nigeria and how to make the Nigerian youth become productive. But first, we explicate the concepts of Youth, youth development and Productivity.

BASIC CLARIFICATIONS

The Youth constitutes the backbone and the future of any nation. The progress and future development of any nation depends to a large extent on the youth. This is why most nations have concrete development programmes for their youth.

The place and importance of the Youth in society cannot be overemphasized. This was adequately captured in Nigeria Youth Policy which stated that:

Youth are one of the greatest assets that any nation can have, Not only are they legitimately regarded as the future leaders, they are potentially and actually the greatest investment for a country’s development, They serve as a good measure of the extent to which a country can reproduce as well as sustain itself, The extent of their vitality, responsible conduct, and roles in society is positively correlated with the development of their country.

There are certain unique characteristics of the Youth which include:

They are the future of any nation and serve as the bridge that link the present to future generations.They constitute the most active and productive part of any nation.
They constitute the largest part of the population of most nations especially the developing nations.They are relatively inexperienced and impatient but their spontaneity, adventure and daring disposition can be put to productive use.
They are very dynamic and can serve as agents of social change especially is societies experiencing moral degeneration.

The persons that fall within the age bracket of Youth is defined differently by different institutions and nations. The United Nations defines the Youth as those within the ages of 15-24 years. The NYSC puts its age bracket as from 18-30 years. But the youth policy defines the youth as all young persons of the ages 18-35 years. It identified the problems confronting the youth in Nigeria to include:

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT/EMANCIPATION

Youth development is the on-going growth process in which all youth are engaged in attempting to meet their basic personal and social needs to be safe, feel cared for, valued, useful and spiritually grounded to build skills and competencies that allow them to function and contribute in their daily lives.

Youth development is a process and requires the support of the family, community and the government. It requires support (motivational, emotional and strategic); creation of opportunities and provision of services (education, health, employment, information etc).

Unfortunately, in the last three decades, youth development has been neglected in Nigeria leading to increase in youth restiveness and crime. The youth has become a reserve army of the unemployed used by irresponsible politicians and religious bigots to perpetuate violence and thuggery. Many of the young people have lost confidence on the elders and institutions of government. For Nigeria to progress, there must be change among the youth to develop themselves and become agents of social action and change. It has been shown that people can develop themselves by continually learning, growing and becoming more capable and competent over the years.

THE NIGERIAN YOUTH

In most societies especially in the developing world, young people constitute the majority of the population. In Guatemala, the youth represent 70 percent of the population.
In Morocco, in 2008 with an estimated population of 31 million, about 36 percent are of the ages between 15 and 34.
In the Russian federation, the youth population is over 20 percent of the estimated 142.5 million in 2006.

In Nigeria, young people account for over 70 percent of the population, those between 10-24 years constitute 33.6 percent. 90% of Nigerians are below 65 years and the average age of Nigerian is 19.2 for male and 19.3 for female. The youth constitute 62.4% of the 73.5 million Nigerians registered to vote in the 2015 general elections. According to the former Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi, 42.2 percent of Nigeria’s youth population are out of job and 80 percent of them do not have more than secondary school certificate which is very high compared to 21 percent in the middle east and 16 percent in the UK.

Despite the large percentage of young population, they are excluded from social, economic and political positions.

BUILDING THE YOUTH TO BECOME PRODUCTIVE

There is the need for urgent refocus on youth development by the family, community, religious organisations and government.

Need for Value Re-orientation

We know that values are deep seated beliefs that influence people’s actions and the rules by which they make decisions within their society. Values determine attitudes which in turn influence behaviour. Every society defines its values and engages in activities that will sustain those set of values. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended)   provides for the motto, social order and national ethics which underpin the values of Nigeria. The Constitution provides that the motto of the country shall be unity and faith, peace and progress. The Constitution also provides that the state social order is founded on the ideals of freedom, equality and justice. Section 23 provides that the national ethics shall be discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance and patriotism.  Section 24 further prescribes duties for citizens of Nigeria to abide by the constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the national flag, the national anthem and legitimate authorities; help to ensure the good name of Nigeria, defend the country and render national service and respect the dignity of other citizens.

However, the lived experience of Nigerians is quite different from the constitutional provisions on ethics and values for the country. There is a lot of indiscipline in every facet of life in the country. Integrity is no longer cherished by many people. The get rich quick syndrome and pursuit of easy money has reduced the dignity of labour. There is high level of religious intolerance and the love for the country is waning. Many Nigerians have no respect for our institutions and national symbols. There is therefore the need for a comprehensive re-orientation through well thought out research; the creation of new compelling stories of Nigeria, the Nigerian dream and with publications, documentaries and slogans that resonate with the Nigerian people while building institutions based on values.

Building the Leadership for the Next Century

It cannot be overemphasized that leadership is one of the most important variables that determine the progress and development of any country. Nigeria came into being by the amalgamation of Southern and Northern protectorates in 1914. By 2014, Nigeria was one hundred years old. There is consensus that Nigeria has not utilized its potentials to the fullest. Indeed, the pervading poverty, insecurity, underdevelopment and poor development indices has been blamed squarely on leadership. For the past one hundred years, Nigeria has not witnessed the kind of dynamic, strategic and visionary leadership that can turn the potentials of the country into real opportunities for the people. This is why it is necessary to build the kind of leadership to accelerate the development of the country in the next one hundred years.

It is very clear that the context of the past one hundred years will be quite different from the context of the next one hundred years. For instance, the amount of information available to leaders is going to continually increase in the next one hundred years. Future leaders will therefore have to develop the ability to access the most relevant information and differentiate them from irrelevant information. Similarly, the market has affected every facet of life in very fundamental ways in the last one hundred years. Future leaders will need to understand clearly the market and how the ideology of free market and deregulation has affected politics, the economy and every facet of life. The world is undergoing rapid changes in every facet. At the beginning of the 21st century, more than half of the workforce in industrial world are self employed or in temporary or part time jobs requiring management in different ways. In Nigeria today, there is a lot of emphasis on entrepreneurial training and the workforce will change in the next one hundred years. It is therefore necessary that future leaders need to find new ways to align people around national agenda and interests especially as it has been shown that laws, rulebooks, training programmes and compliance systems have not worked in all cases.

 

Youth Inclusion in Governance and Development

Participation is a crucial element of democracy. Deepening of democracy requires participation of all social groups and categories. The Youth constitute a majority of the population of most countries and it is a necessity that they participate in the democratic process. It has been argued that youth inclusion should be geared to achieve youth representation; improve policy outcomes for young people; enhance the capacity of political institutions to substantively engage with young people; provide opportunities for young people not merely to be included within consultative and participative structures but for them to be able to change the ‘rules of the game’; and develop young people’s sense of competency to engage as public actors.

Unfortunately, all over the world, the participation of citizens in the political process is decreasing. For instance, whereas in the 1960s roughly 13 percent of the electorate paid their dues as members of political parties, in the 1980s, this proportion shrank to 9 percent and in the 1990s only 6 percent called themselves party members. It has been argued that the decline is more among the younger age cohorts.

The tenets of democracy will be completely destroyed if majority of citizens are left out. This is why efforts must be made to include youth in the political process. Since political parties are the major organs through which political activities for the capture of political power is organized, it is imperative that young people are included in party structures.

It is important that young people are trained so that inclusion in later life is easy. Student politics should be encouraged. Prefects should be elected in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Student Unions should be given an enabling environment to practice democratic politics. In addition, youth organizations should be more interested in politics. Above all, effective steps should be taken by government to ensure youth development.

The development of nations require the crystallization of new ideas. Old people are known to be resistant to new ideas. The young people are the hope of the society because of their capacity to imbibe new ideas and run with them.

Unfortunately, the old people in Nigeria have refused to give young people a chance. In 2012, the youth leader in one of the major parties was reported to be sixty years old. It is clear that the old people in Nigeria will not create avenues for the young people. The young people must therefore improve their knowledge, organize and mobilize for social action and change. Young people should advocate for quota in political party structures and elective and appointive positions for the youth and women. The definition of youth in Nigeria must be in line with the national youth policy of 18-35 years.

In recognition of the importance of youth inclusion, many countries are implementing programmes to include the youth in the economy and political process. In Guatemala in 2008, youth from different political parties presented plans to strengthen and safeguard the inclusion of young people within the structures of party politics. In Morocco, researchers, surveyors, experts and ministerial departments are working on how to include youth in economy and politics. In the Russian federation, efforts are being made by the Youth department to include youth in the economy and in decision making.

Spiritual Revival led by the Youth

There is the need for spiritual revival across the world. The world is increasingly becoming skeptical about anything related to God.  People are grappling with new issues such as evolution. Many are doubting the efficacy of prayers. The old are refusing to give space to the Young.  Meanwhile, young people face enormous peer pressure. Pre-teen, teenage and early adulthood years is a period of strong crave for affirmation from peers.  The standards of the world is confronting young people every minute through the promotion of sinful practices, negative impact of the media, fashion, tastes and depraved  songs. There is the need to build the character of young persons in the formative years so that they can overcome the challenges confronting young people.

Historically, young persons have led revival in the scriptures. Jeremiah was about 17 years old when God called him to minister to the people of Judah (Jer 1:4-8). Samuel would have been around 12 or 13 years when God called him into ministry (Samuel 3:3, 10). David was anointed by Samuel when he was in his teenage years though estimates range from 10 years old to as old as 25. David was probably about 17 years old when he confronted Goliath (1 sam 17).

The world is degenerating. Values are down. Leadership with character and vision is lacking and God is looking for young people who will be faithful to be called to lead the revival in this end time. The Student Christian Movement will have a lot of role to play to actualize this.

CONCLUSION AND THE WAY FORWARD

From the above, it is clear that young people are the greatest asset of any nation. They are the future of any nation and serve as the bridge that link the present to future generations. They are active, dynamic, and adventurous and can serve as agents of social action and social change.

Any serious country should devote a lot of energy and resources to building the youth to be productive. Any country that refuses to develop its youth will endanger its future. When the leadership potentials of young people are not developed, the seeds of failure are being sown. We cannot really talk about democracy and development without the participation of citizens including young people.

The development of the youth requires the active participation of the family, community, schools, religious organisations and government. The training of children starts from the family. The Bible makes it clear that when you train a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it (Prov 22:6). There is the need to return to the basics and prioritise family values. God requires parents to rear their children in a God centred way. The primary objective must be that your children know, believe in, love, reverence and serve the Lord. Deut 6: 6-7; John 17:3; Eph 6:4. It is interesting that the father is primarily responsible for child training (Eph 6:4B And Ye Fathers….bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). But we have many absentee fathers in the family. In addition, parents must set godly examples for their children to learn and follow (Deut 6:4-6).

The community has roles to play in youth development. One of the things that make the African society unique is the community spirit which is being eroded by rapacious capitalism, invading western culture and market fundamentalism. There is the need to return to the positive aspects of African society especially those that do not conflict with the scriptures.

The schools have great roles to play in moulding the character of the youth. I personally owe my world outlook today to my university days when I was trained by the progressive movement on commitment, discipline, selflessness, sacrifice and struggle for the common good. There is a great need of reform of the school system.

Government has a great role to play in youth development. It is not enough to formulate a youth policy and do virtually nothing about its systematic implementation at all levels of government.

The religious organisations have great roles to play. Historically Christianity has contributed to moulding youth of character and discipline for leadership. There are several examples in the scripture where young people made monumental contribution to the development of society.

However, there is no doubt that the elders have failed to put in place effective development programmes for the youth. It remains to be seen whether the youth will fail themselves and refuse to develop themselves and become agents of change. It was Frantz Fanon who said “every generation must out of relative obscurity must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.”

Finally, i will urge the Youths also to start listening to themselves, Stop listening to Politicians who are only bent on using the better parts of Youths for their own selfish and canal gain.

The involvement we are all clamouring for will only come when we putin our very best by wearing the very first and best shoes of ours on the battlefield.

When chasing politicians, you are only facing battles played by mediocres, but whenyou start listening to yourselves and work out what it takes to be a Youth, then you start facing War which will eventually turn you out to be a HERO.
Ifemosu Michael Adewale Is the founder of Youth In Good Governance Initiative ( YIGGI )

Follow him on twitter: @elderdacomplex
Instagram : ifemosumichael
Facebook : honourable Michael Adewale.

 

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Continuity As A Necessary Tool For The Development Of Edo State, By Eghosa Igbinóvia

In the face of the new economic challenge we face, we need leadership with fresh and original ideas to take on these new challenges, so that we can build on and deepen the success of the current administration. There is only one course of action- we must be courageous and determined, we must build on and extend the success of the current administration to achieve the aspiration of Edo people (Godwin Obaseki, 2016).

There is no iota of that in the fact that Godwin wants to transform Edo State from its current state to a better one, this is evident in his manifesto delivered on the 16th July, 2016 at the official flag off APC campaign for Edo Governorship election. This foresighted man has held different positions, which he judiciously utilized in implementing his part to the development of the state. He is the wax burning the fire of development in Edo state, leading a team of professionals and technocrats in the progressive government of the Comrade Governor as Chairman, Edo State Economic Team for about eight years.

Some ten years back, Edo state was in comatose in the hands of hind-sighted men, it was indeed a decade of mismanagement and failed promises. Then came in a man of purpose, he was ready to transform things, and that he has been doing with the help of other foresighted men, notable of which is Godwin Obaseki. Godwin doesn’t want the progress of the inland state dragged back, he wants to continue with the good work the present administration has embarked on.

Godwin understands the plight of the people; he has gathered enough experience to control the affairs of Edo State. He has plans of focusing on job creation, which is one of the challenges facing our country today. Within his four-year term he hopes to create 200,000 new jobs across the state, through Agriculture, Entrepreneurship schemes attracting investments for the development of industries, technical and vocational skills development. He believes many Edo people will generate wealth by keying into value chain development of Oil Palm, Cassava, Cocoa, Grains, Rubber, among others.

Currently the electricity demand in Edo State is over 450 megawatts but the Benin Electricity Distribution company is rationing about 150 megawatts of electricity between four States. Attracting more investments in large and small scale electricity generation and partnering with BEDC will ensure that more power is available for domestic and industrial activities, this and many others have been lined out to be worked on.

Also, Godwin plans to see to the empowerment of Women. He plans on providing an enabling environment for them, to help them achieve their highest potential by taking their empowerment beyond the phase of women empowerment. Launching development projects under the leadership of women, improving the access to low interest rate for financing their business among others is what this vision man has envisioned for the progressive women of Edo State.

Exempting the youths from the government is one risk Godwin’s administration wont undertake. He understands the impact of youths in the development of the nation. And as a result he has planned to provide medium and small scale enterprises financing for the young entrepreneurs, he will also focus on the development of the youths through investments in sports, arts and crafts.

Godwin wont also forget to protect the lives and properties of his people. This is paramount to a man who understands what it means to be safe, just as learnt from the administration of the Comrade Governor. He plans to formulate a comprehensive strategy with inputs from all stakeholders with a view to making Edo State safe for the citizens and for investors. He would also implement a pocket friendly tax regime to grow the tax as which will help the state run so many things in times like this.

The plans have been rightly set, execution is what is left, immediately after the collective support for the emergence of the man of purpose. Continuity is what is needed, change is out rightly out of discuss!

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Kwara State Govt To Launch Infrastructure Development Fund

Kwara State Government is set to launch its Infrastructure Development Fund ‘InfraFund Kwara’, (IF-K) with an initial investment of N4.2 Billion in the Energy Sector in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, revealed this during an interaction with community leaders in his office on Friday.  Alhaji Ahmed said  IF-K has been codified into the Kwara State Public Private Partnership Law which he assented to in 2015.
According to him the IF-Kproject is a result of the Kwara Infrastructure  Investment and Finance strategy which he approved following an infrastructure assessment exercise concluded in 2014.
He said the outcomes of the exercise showed an estimated N225 billion deficit value of infrastructure across all the 16 local government areas and spanning all sectors, which required both government and private investment, in order to boost the state’s productivity and wealth creation.
Alhaji Ahmed said the main objectives of IF-K are to provide a guided, systemic and outward facing framework for continuous and consistent infrastructure development, optimally leverage private sector or resources for infrastructures development and maximize the state’s resource allocation policies.
Providing further details of IF-K, the Chief Economic Assistant to Governor Ahmed, Mr. Abayomi Ogunsola said the fund will inculcate confidence in investors and encourage broader and deeper interactions with the Kwara State government from different types of private or non-private partners.
He said it will also promote banking and non-banking financial intermediary participation in infrastructure funding, provide incentives and serve as catalyst to mobilizing appropriate private sector capital, efficiency and expertise for the state’s infrastructure projects.
IFK, according to Ogunsola, also has an expected outcome of attaining stable development of Kwara Residents and businesses.
The Chief Economic Assistant said the IF-K project is one of the avenues for meeting the state’s current infrastructure needs and also a critical vehicle for proactively meeting future infrastructure needs.
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SMEDAN And MSME Development: Reality Vs Expectations By Okeke Celestine

MSME (Micro, Small and Medium, Enterprises) development is taken seriously by countries that truly seek economic development and growth, in saner climes, agencies saddled with responsibility of providing support services for MSMEs receive more detailed scrutiny from government and civil societies but in Nigeria, having left SMEDAN (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency) to thread its own desired paths, it sunk over Ten Billion(10,000,000,000.00) Naira in conducting fictitious training programmes.

SMEDAN is the major government agency established to provide support services that would enable MSMEs thrive and play the essential role it plays in newly industrialised countries, roles that would have included contributing the greatest percentage to GDP and creating the highest number of jobs. This essential objective for which SMEDAN was established would have been achieved to a large extent  if the agency had not resorted to doing the convenient as against the needful; engaging in purposeless, visionless and wasteful trainings.

In SMEDANs understanding of MSME development, in 2014 it conducted three specialised entrepreneurship development scheme trainings in Dekina, Ibaji and Bassa local governments of Kogi state for a total of One Hundred and Twenty Million (120,000,000.00) Naira. Bassa has an area of 1,925 km² and a population of 139,993, Dekina has an area of 2,461 km² and a population of 260,312 and Ibaji has an area of 1,377 km² and a population of 139,993 all at the 2006 census and with a population mix of over 60% above 50 years and subsistence farmers.

SMEDAN also in 2011 conducted a total of Twenty Seven (27) training programmes in Oyo state, allegedly spending a total of Three Hundred and Nineteen Million Eight Hundred and Sixty One Thousand One Hundred and Eighty One Naira Fifty Kobo (319,861,181.50) this figure represents over 50% of its spending’s in the year.

In 2015, SMEDAN spent a total of Two Hundred and Seventy Five Million Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand (275,550,000.00) Naira in Surulere 1 Federal Constituency  of Lagos State for the following programmes; support programme for ailing enterprises, post-seasonal intervention programme ,entrepreneurship development programme, vocational training, other enterprise support services and another other enterprise support services in the same constituency.  This represents over 10% of the total spending’s in the year.

The absence of regulatory oversight of SMEDAN from the Presidency, its parent Ministry and the National Assembly has combined to birth a scramble for the funds allocated for the agency’s activities, a scramble and partitioning largely from National Assembly members who have ensured that political considerations take precedence over economic considerations in determining what projects it will embark upon and what amounts will be allocated to each and most importantly, who benefits from the programmes.

As stated in the opening statement, a government who sincerely wants to drive economic development/ growth would set in place a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the purposes of tracking its spending’s and  deliverables in agency’s saddled with the responsibility of supporting MSMEs. It is however sad to note that neither the Presidency or the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry bothers to evaluate the activities of SMEDAN, the agency operates as it deems fit and reports to no one as the National Assembly members who should have regulatory oversight over it are more concerned with what percentage of the funds allocated to it they can capture, again not for MSME development but to line their pockets.

The task of supporting MSMEs is by no means an easy task neither is it one to be taken lightly, MSME-ASI expects to have a SMEDAN going further that clearly understands that its failure to provide non-financial services beyond organising generic trainings for which it does not scrutinise and or vet the training manuals is an indictment and clear indication it either is unable to support MSMEs or has rather chosen not to. SMEDAN should also take into consideration the development of a blueprint that guides its programme initiation and implementation, such that each succeeding year’s activity will have a direct bearing on shortcomings of the previous year.

MSME-ASI expects to have the Presidency and Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry play more active role(s) in ensuring that SMEDAN moves from traditional generic training exercises to evolving a blueprint that would have it provide the much needed support MSMEs need to contribute positively to the Nigerian Economy. National Assembly members should stop the scramble and partitioning of SMEDAN’s funds along constituency projects that are in most cases, not beneficial to MSMEs and out rightly diverted.

We cannot as a nation continue to delude ourselves that we can achieve economic development doing the same thing over and over again and expect a new result, having spent over Ten Billion (10,000,000,000.00)  Naira in the past five years doing exactly nothing and achieving as expected nothing in return, we need take a deep breath and rethink our strategy.

God Bless Nigeria.

 

OKEKE CELESTINE

LEAD PARTNER -MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES ADVOCACY AND SUPPORT INITIATIVE

@okekecc @advocacy_msme celestine@msme-asi.org

www.msme-asi.org

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How Easy Oil Money Denied Nigeria Of Development – Vice President Osinbajo

Having an easy source of revenues denied Nigeria the opportunity to engage in the critical thinking and prioritization that usually drives development according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo spoke today at the launching of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Port Services Support Portal (PSSP) for Nigerian Ports hosted by the Ministry of Transportation in Abuja on Thursday with other top government and private sector functionaries including Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi in attendance.

He said the country must reduce the current dependence of the federal and the state governments on the ritual sharing of revenues from oil.

According to the Vice President doing so would require alternative revenue sources and diversification of our economic structures in terms of the drivers of our economic activity and sources of foreign exchange, while hailing the Ministry of Transportation for initiating the SOPs and PSSPs, which are electronic-based monitoring which would now govern the entire port operations in the country.

By adopting the new technology-based monitoring, the ministry had set the nation on the path of enhancing its ports capacity of ensuring free flow of import and export, reducing corruption in port procedures and adopting the global best practice, Prof. Osinbajo said. He advised all port operators to support the new system for effectiveness of ports operations, increased revenue, enhancement of diversification programme of government and curbing corruption.

The Vice President observed that using technology-driven products is the way forward in enhancing service delivery in both private and public sectors. “Everyone in the private and public sector must invest their commitment in the successful implementation of the SOPs and PSSPs by following the procedure, not engaging in corrupt practices and putting an extra effort to ensure that the objectives are accomplished.

“We must understand and accept that nation-building is a collective responsibility and that the private sector has an important role to play in supporting every effort of government to achieve the building of a strong nation,’’ Osinbajo added.

He pledged the administration’s resolve to continue encouraging a competitive business environment characterized by sufficient and efficient policies to sustain economic growth to further retain and attract local and foreign investments in Nigeria.

Prof Osinbajo  said that a key component of this administration’s change agenda lay in the development of a diversified non-oil economy  adding that to achieve the target, the ports must play their role in making it easier to trade across borders as well as drive Nigeria’s trade policy.

The Vice President remarked that many countries in the world had proved that without natural resources, the efficient management of import and export activities could greatly improve national economies. “Many countries have proven that without depending on any natural resources, but simply relying on efficient procedures for undertaking Port activities, any nation can position itself as a major hub and can earn significant resources by just being more efficient,“ he noted.

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Enhancing Economic Development Through Water Supply In Zamfara State, By Adamu Mustapha

From time immemorial, philosophers and scientists have linked development to the presence of safe and clean drinking water. In fact, the availability of and access to potable water is one of the strongest indicators for development in any society. It is therefore not surprising that 37 percent of the 884 million people in the world who lack access to safe water supplies live in Sub-Saharan Africa. As water is linked to development, so is it linked to poverty and almost 2 in 3 people who need safe drinking water survive on less than $2 a day.

Not only are people living without access to clean water burdened with poverty and underdevelopment, their health and education are also adversely affected. Worldwide nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 is due to a water-related disease and in developing countries, as much as 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease, leading to more than 840,000 deaths each year.
With these searing statistics in mind, it becomes almost impossible to not view what Dr Abdul’aziz Yari Abubakar has achieved in improving access to potable water in Zamfara State over the last five years as a revolution. Most state governments in Nigeria pay close to zero attention to provision of potable water. It is one of those issues politicians rarely campaign with or give any promises about. Whatever is done in that sector is hardly regarded as an achievement. But Governor Yari Abubakar has spent a great deal of time and resources over the last five years bringing lasting solution and succour to Zamfara State.

 

When his administration assumed office in 2011, Yari Abubakar wasted no time in giving the strongest possible hint that water provision would be of the highest priority to his government. The Governor kicked off efforts in the regard by ensuring the speedy completion of the N636million Kaura-Namoda water treatment plant in order to ease the persistent problem of water scarcity in Kaura-Namoda Local Government. He personally inspected the project, which was inherited from the previous administration but was curiously omitted from the handing over notes.
One year into office, the administration of Yari Abubakar awarded a N6.7 billion contract for the construction of a water treatment plant at Talata Mafara. The project at its completion was expected to provide five million gallons of treated water to Talata Mafara, Maradun, Bakura and Maru Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state. The true test of Yari Abubakar’s leadership ethos came when while he was away, the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Ibrahim Wakkala, in acting capacity inspected this monumental project and ordered the demolition of part of the water treatment plant over non-adherence to contract specifications. The engineering consultants handling the projects had raised observations over the contractor’s violation of contract agreement, and the Deputy Governor, being well grounded in the administration’s vision said the government would not compromise quality and standard in any job awarded in line with its principle of transparency and accountability.
In 2013, Yari Abubakar continued with his vision of executing at least one major water project each year to improve access to clean and safe drinking water in Zamfara State. The dredging of the Gusau water barrage and the provision of two underground fresh water plants and reservoirs to complement the barrage in an effort to ensure consistent water supply in the state capital were classified as priority projects. Two years in, the Yari Abubakar administration had spent N7 billion to improve water supply in all parts of the state with the rehabilitation and expansion of Kaura Namoda and Talata Mafara water works as achievements.
Seeing the dedication and commitment of the Zamfara State government under the leadership of Dr Yari Abubakar to the provision of adequate water supply, international organizations in 2015 partnered with the government to achieve even more. The governor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) in conjunction with the Department For International Development (DFID) in effort to enhance the provision of water and sanitation in the state. He also immediately approved the release of N85 million counterpart funding for the projects to be executed under the MoU. Birnin Magaji, Tsafe and Gusau were selected as piloting local government areas to immediately benefit from the projects, before expanding to all the other local government areas.
So far in 2016, N111 million has been committed by the government, through the Ministry of Water Resources, to tackle water shortage usually experienced during dry season by residents in Gusau, Zamfara State capital and its environs. The expansion of water pipelines from Koramar Wanke and Yarkusa reservoir directly to the water board is almost completed. Similar projects are executed in all the 14 local councils of the state before 2019 to ensure that the acute water shortage being experienced by the communities is addressed.

 

Travelling through Zamfara State there is a recurring theme, from one local government to the other, giant water supply plants powered by solar energy. From Kasuwar Daji, to Gora in Maradu local government, to Rini in Bagura local government, these water schemes have gone a long way in improving the economic development of the communities where they are sited. And there is perhaps no greater form of economic empowerment, albeit indirectly, for the women in these communities. Almost two-thirds of households rely on women to get the family’s water when there is no water source in the home and in many developing countries, millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources. The United Nations estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water; the same as an entire year’s labour in all of France.
For Yari Abubakar, no policy decision or investment is in isolation, and there is a nexus, driven by innovation and thoughtfulness, between education and water supply in Zamfara. As government embarked on wide rehabilitation of old structures and construction of new ones in schools across the state, they were also equipped with their own solar-powered water supply schemes. The ingenuity behind this is fully appreciate when you learn that more than half of all primary schools in developing countries don’t have adequate water facilities and 443 million school days are as a result.
According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34. Haven committed N26 billion over the last five years to the establishment of an efficient system of production and distribution of clean and safe drinking water, Yari Abubakar has undoubtedly set Zamfara State on the path of economic prosperity while alleviating the sufferings of the people.

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Innovative Use of Technology for Agricultural Development in Nigeria By Olawale Rotimi

(A conference delivered by Olawale Rotimi Opeyemi at Landmark University, Nigeria on Tuesday 31st of May, 2016)

-Protocols-

This important conference and discourse on E-Agriculture is coming at a time when Nigeria is desperate about investing in a gainful sector that will rapidly restore the nation’s economy which is currently swimming through rough water. Due to the global oil crisis, Nigeria’s oil revenue has shrunk, thereby creating the need for diversification into agriculture and some other sectors.

Prior to the discovery of oil, Nigeria’s economy flourished through agriculture. Of course, agriculture isn’t new to the Nigerian economy, during the pre-crude oil era when Nigeria economy totally dependent on agriculture; the sector has offered vast opportunities and employed over seventy percent (70%) of the Nigerian labour force. Agricultural sector has provided food requirements for the country and raw materials for local industries, as well revenue from exportation of cash crops. Agriculture can not only be a major source of revenue for Nigeria’s economy, it is also the bedrock of Africa’s economy as a continent.

The sector accounts for about 20% of Africa’s GDP, 60% of its labor force and 20% of the total merchandise exports. Agriculture is the main source of income for 90% of rural population in Africa. Agriculture represents a great part of the Africa’s share in world trade. On the list of 20 top agricultural and food commodity importers in 2004, 60% are from Sub-Saharan Africa. African countries represent also 50% of top 20 countries, in terms of the share of total agriculture/ total exported merchandise in the world.

However, discovery of crude oil weakened the priority given to agriculture in Nigeria, and Nigeria slide into a mono-economic nation. With the recent global oil crisis which has affected Nigeria’s economy severely, once again Nigeria is faced with a mandatory need to diversify the economy, particularly to agriculture. Beyond planting of crops, harvesting, processing and selling, there are investment opportunities in agriculture in Nigeria, for example, cashew nut exportation. Nigeria has huge deposit of cashew nuts, in Kwara, Oyo, Kogi, Benue, and Osun among other states. In 2015, N1bn export deal was made with cashew growers in Nigeria which is driven by the rise in demand from China, India and other fast-growing economies; the global cashew boom has generated profits at most trading houses.

According to a news report, some cashew exporters in Nigeria are worth millions of dollars in annual revenue. There’s an on-going campaign to grow more cashews to meet global demands in coming years with  the  government  and the  private  sector  campaigning  to  farmers  to increase local  cultivation , cashew exports could  be inching closer to a new peak of 400,000 tonnes.

Why Technology and Agriculture?

-Technology is an integral part of this century, any sector that wants to grow must be technology driven.

-To modernize agricultural practices and expose farmers to global trends in Agriculture

-To ensure accountability in agriculture funding

-To connect farmers with market.

Problems Facing Agriculture in Nigeria and the Place of Technology

For the purpose of this conference, we shall discuss three major problems confronting agricultural sector in Nigeria and how technology can be used to resolve them. In order to help farmers thrive, it is important not to only develop technologies that target specific needs of farmers but also to educate the farmers so they can embrace new ways and utilize them efficiently. For students of Computer Science here today, as we discuss these problems facing agriculture in Nigeria, the onus of proffering tech-driven solutions is on you. We shall be discussing three major problems confronting the agricultural sector in Nigeria and how technology can used in resolving them.

1.    Middle Men Hostage

In Nigeria, farmers and consumers are squeezed by middle men. Middle men have held both farmers and consumers hostage. Farmers have no control over the market price of farm products, usually, the prices of farm products are largely determined by the middle man, and this makes the middle men more profitable at the expense of the farmer and the consumer. The middle men have disconnected farmers from consumers and ensured the major profits are captured, they dictate the market price of farm produce.

It is important to note that the profitability of farmers is essential to the sustainability of agriculture in Nigeria. Food items are unnecessarily costly because middle men dictate the market price. To safeguard the future of Agriculture in Nigeria, linking the retailers/consumers to farmers is very important. Nigeria is not the first nations to be faced with this problem, India among others are faced with similar problem.

Technological Solution

Today, E-commerce is fast growing in Nigeria. E-Commerce is gaining more popularity with the increasing number of people who are gaining internet access and are becoming IT literate, with the number of mobile phones surpassing the population of the country. The most common online activities of Nigerians in percentage are browsing and searching, 74 per cent, selection of a product, 56 per cent, paying online, 15 per cent, paying offline, 82 per cent and online checking of results, 43 per cent. This implies that, Nigerians are actively engaged in e-commerce.

However, on many of the e-commerce platforms where e-merchandise is done, clothing items and electronic gadgets are usually on display for sale. There is a need for a shift into sales of agricultural produce online in Nigeria; technological platforms should be developed to connect farmers directly with retailers/consumers. Initiative such as the local mobile application- Hojah (www.hojah.com), which is a platform for cooked and raw food items to be sold should be encouraged. More of such platforms should be developed, and farmers should be encouraged and trained to use such platforms to display their produce in order to connect the market directly.

2.    Farm Security

Insecurity in farms in rural Nigeria is increasingly alarming, particularly with the widespread of Fulani herdsmen attack on farmers and their farms. Even though the tension between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria has been in existence for many years, the tension is taking a more severe dimension with increasing and constant attacks on farms and farmers. In April 2016, among others, news reported that Fulani herdsmen invaded farm settlements in Ibadan destroying crops and injuring farmers. Similar attacks were launched against farmers in Benue, Ekiti and Ondo states.

The Nigerian government at all levels has started suggesting solutions to the on-going attacks on farms by Fulani herdsmen who take their cattle to graze on farm lands. One of the suggested solutions is creating grazing area. Creating grazing area is a fantastic way to resolve this, since the cattle will only move within the grazing area. However, the need to answer the following questions:

i.              How will this grazing area be demarcated?

ii.            How will herdsmen know when “they” and the cattle are out of boundaries?

iii.           How can the government track movement of cattle in order to spot any cattle out grazing area?

Technological Solution

During President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the idea of distributing mobile phones for local farmers was raised. In order to ensure monitoring of grazing area for Fulani herdsmen and their cattle, and security for farmers, the following can be introduced:

i.              Toll Free Emergency Call Line for Farmers:  Since majority of the farmers use mobile phones, a toll free emergency number for farmers to connect security operatives is very important. Inability to report attacks early enough downplays tendencies of intervention by security operatives.

ii.            Tracking Devices/Surveillance: More also, tracking devices and surveillance can be used in tracking movement of herdsmen and cattle; this will enable the government and the security agents to identify herdsmen who have crossed the grazing area into farm lands.

3.    Lack of Access to Research Development

To make farming the backbone of Nigerian economy, it must be made viable. If the sector is not revamped, viability is impossible. There are developments in agriculture, such as improved seedlings and stems which grow faster with more yields, pest, weed and erosion control, new fertilizers e.t.c. but many farmers are unaware, particularly in rural areas. If farmers learn about new developments in agriculture, they are able to implement in their farms and increase productivity, hereby ensuring food security in the country.

Exposing the farming population to improved ways of farming will move farming out of traditional practices. Lack of access to research development in agriculture among rural farmers has continued to limit productivity. Many of these rural farmers cannot read English, but they are able to read local languages.

Technological Solution

An online farmers’ community where farmers connect, read and discuss developments in local languages is crucial. Just like social networking, farmers networking should be encouraged, to expose farmers to new practices, developments and trends in the farming profession.

Such platform should be developed, and farmers should be trained to take advantage of it for agricultural development in the country.

Conclusion

Dear audience, like I said earlier, above are the three major problems I consider very important, these problems need speedy technological solution. However, there are other problems confronting agriculture in Nigeria that needs technological solution, such as record keeping in farms, lack of access to funding opportunities e.t.c. The key focus of introducing technology to agriculture in Nigeria is to ease the practice of agriculture in Nigeria, increase viability of agriculture and ensure food security in Nigeria.

I urge Computer Scientists in Landmark University and other Universities across Nigeria to proffer solutions to these problems confronting agriculture in Nigeria through technology. The next set of billionaires in Africa will emerge from agricultural sector; let’s join hands to make agriculture a more lucrative venture.

Thank you!

Olawale Rotimi is a Writer/Journalists. He can be reached via +2348105508224 or olawalerotty@gmail.com Twitter: @RotimiLawale

 

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Northern Nigeria Development Company To Establish Bank, Commends Governor Ganduje

Northern Nigeria Development Company, NNDC, is set to establish a strong and viable bank, the chairman of its board, Alh. Bashir Dalhatu has announced.

The chairman, who disclosed this during a visit to the governor of Kano state, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in Kano, on Wednesday, explained that the Northern governors have already given approval to the company to lead a move to actualize the plan.

He said the company has already approached several Northern business people on the matter with a view to establishing what he described as “a very viable and strong Northern bank”, since the nine banks hitherto owned by the some Northern states are no more.

The chairman stated that the company is also vigorously pursuing the search for oil and gas in the Lake Chad Basin and the Niger-Benue trough, pointing out that a British company has already being engaged to assist the NNDC towards realization of the ambition to exploit the oil and gas potential especially in the Lake Chad region.

Alh. Bashir also announced plans to establish an Agricultural Commodity Board, to guarantee market, quality and more farm produce in states in the region as well as the establishment of a multi faceted Agricultural Industrial park that will assist in fast tracking economic productivity.

The chairman who restated commitment of the NNDC to establish a strong foundation for Northern Nigeria to be self sufficient in food production, financial services and other sectors thanked the government of Kano state, under Dr. Ganduje for its unrelenting support, being the largest share holder in the company.

In his remarks, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje lamented that the region, which used to be the nucleus of economic activities in the country has declined significantly due to dependence on oil.

He said governors of the Northern states have resolved to step u collective political will to put the region ahead of others in terms of socio-economic growth.

Governor Ganduje stated that governors from the region are also determined to improve agriculture, consistent with the Federal government’s resolve to transform the sector.

He, therefore, described the Commodity Marketing agency floated by the NNDC as a step in the right direction, pointing out Kano state is already taking the lead to revamp the production of rice and wheat.

 

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Illegal Call For Street Protest By Labour Over Tariff Threatens Power Sector Development –  Experts

… As lawyers describe move by NLC, TUC as illegal, anti-development

Industry experts at the weekend expressed concern that the call by organized labour to shut down the Power Distribution and Generation companies over the Multi Year Tariff Order that came into effect in February would impact negatively on the Power Sector and the nation’s economy.

According to the experts , the planned disruption of the operations may have more severe consequences than the new Tariff which is aimed at ensuring cost recovery in the power sector value chain, removal of the fixed charge , encouraging power conservation by focusing on metering before billing and insisting that consumers are billed for only what they consumed.

Some of the experts argued that any disruptions at this time would negatively affect the steady progress being made in the sector in spite of challenges posed by gas pipeline vandalism and other acts of sabotage recently being recorded in the petroleum and power sector.

It would be recalled that on February 2, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry sent out a peak of 5,074MW at 2130hrs – a record setting figure that displays significant improvement in the capacity of the transmission system. This is the highest figure ever recorded by the industry in recent times.

The total energy sent out on February 2, 2016 was also a record setting figure of 109,372.01MWH (an average of 4447.88MWh/h).

According to industry statistics, the past three months has seen a series of record setting figures and incremental growth in spite of very challenging operational environment, with the previous peak figure achieved being 4,883MW on 21:15h on November 24 2015, and the previous maximum total energy sent out achieved on January 27,  2016 being 107,142.32MWH.

The experts noted that though a lot of work remains to be done, such record breaking figures are only achievable due  to the coordinated efforts of all stakeholders in the country, from gas suppliers, generating plants, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, distribution companies and all citizens who have been patient with the industry as  work towards improving the sector has been intensified under the leadership of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN.

The progress and the fresh  investment drive into the sector being aimed at with the tariff order may be jeopardized by any poorly considered call for street protests or shut down of operations rather than dialogue , an Energy expert noted.

Legal practitioners who also spoke with our correspondents expressed the view that the subject of change in tariff was not a matter for labour agitation. According to them, the statutory objective of a trade union recognised under the Trade Unions Act is to regulate the terms and conditions of employment of workers. Price determination is a product of market forces. Electricity is like any other product and its price reflects its cost of production.

Following the privatisation of the electricity sector, the distribution and generation aspects of the industry are now in the hands of private investors. Consequently, price is now determined by market forces in accordance with the provisions of applicable laws.

The law that regulates changes in tariff is the Electric Power Sector Reforms Act and it empowers  the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to allow a licencee to recover the “costs of its business activities, including a reasonable return on the capital invested in the business” and “provide incentives for the continued improvement of quality of services” in the country.

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