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State to ink agreement with Lagos on rice production: Gov

· 10,000 verified farmers to benefit from subsidy scheme

Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday launched an agricultural input subsidy scheme that would give at least 10,000 farmers access to various inputs at 50% market price, a step he said aligns with the state’s strategic plan for food security and sustainable development.

The Governor told farmers in Ilorin, the state capital, that the intervention became necessary to compensate for their loss to the Covid19 pandemic in the last farming season, and to boost food production in the state.

“This subsidy scheme gives our farmers easy access to certified seeds, assorted fertilisers and herbicides for the 2021 planting season at 50% market price,” he said.

“This initiative is part of the administration’s sustained efforts to use agriculture to drive economic growth and food security in the post Covid-19 pandemic era. I assure you that mechanisms have been put in place, especially reliable data, to ensure that these inputs get only to the intended farmers.

“This programme is basically to improve productivity. We have to bring this subsidy because our farmers went through a lot of hardship last year with COVID-19. So, we needed to step in to enable them to get fertilisers, improved seedlings and herbicides to boost production.

“It is not just about food security in Kwara State but in Nigeria as a whole. Farmers are farming largely without any problem in Kwara. We only need to support them.The aim is to achieve food security in Nigeria, not just Kwara. From animal husbandry to all other facets of agriculture.”

Kwara is also working out a partnership with the Lagos State government on rice production which may see roughly N10bn investments over the next four years, AbdulRazaq said.

“We have the land. We are negotiating with some states, especially Lagos state. Lagos has arguably the biggest rice mill in Nigeria today, but they don’t have land. We want to take advantage of that and we are talking in that direction to have an MOU. And then, the federal government is working with us. We are working on the special agroprocessing zone to be located in Lata which will see the investment of about N10billion going to agriculture in Edu and Patigi local governments alone in the next two to four years; so we need to scale up what we are doing in those areas.”

He urged the farmers to make good use of the opportunity to have a more rewarding farming experience this year, adding that the efforts will lead to better outcomes and improved livelihood across the state.

Kwara State House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Agriculture Hon. Ojo Olayiwola commended the state government for placing high premium on the agricultural sector with several supports to farmers in the state.

Permanent Secretary Kwara State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Hajia Maryam Nurudeen explained that the scheme is designed to enhance and improve the productivity of the farmers.

“This scheme has been conceptualised to enhance the productivity of farmers and it is not only limited to improve the standard of living of thousands of household across the 16 LGAs of the state but also to encourage mass participation of farmers, including women in farming activities most especially among our teeming youth,” she said.

Technical Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture AbdulQuawiy Olododo said the scheme, tagged ‘Beta Yield’, will provide access to farmers to secure certified and improved seedlings and boost production of farmers in the state.

“The flag off of Kwara State Agricultural Inputs Subsidy Scheme today is an offshoot of the Kwara State Agricultural Transformation Plan launched in January this year. At the unveiling, it was stated that the plan will ensure that Kwara State is food secured and we have 27 implementable programmes that will bring farmers out of poverty and boost (food) production in the state,” Olododo said.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday urged all Lagosians to partner with his administration as he continues to deliver good governance and dividends of democracy for the good of the State.

The Governor said his administration in the last two years has delivered substantial parts of his campaign promises with laudable achievements in transportation, health, environment, education, technology, entertainment, tourism, security, governance and other critical sectors as well as making Lagos a 21st Century economy, all which were parts of the THEMES developmental agenda.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 12th edition of the Lagos Architects Forum organised by the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Governor Sanwo-Olu, said his administration is doing everything possible to ensure that Lagos remains safe and secure for all citizens.

Speaking on the theme, “The city of Lagos: The next 25 years” said his aspiration is for Lagos to stand toe-to-toe with other cities in the world.

He said: “I want to assure you that the picture for us is a picture of a Greater Lagos. It is a picture of a Lagos that we want to remain in the comity of great cities. It is Lagos that will not only be resilient but will be livable and improve the qualities of life for its citizens. We believe that it is only by ensuring modern ways of doing business that we would be able to constantly solve some of the problems we currently have.

“You will agree with me that for us to achieve this ‘Greater Lagos’; we certainly cannot do it alone and that is why we are asking each and every one of you to join us in one form or the other. Certainly, you can critique us but also give us ideas and thoughts, challenge us and give us innovative thought process where we can also better serve you going forward.

“We are all partners in progress. It is just that we are on different sides of the coin but we all have the same objectives at ensuring that where we are, where we live and work is better than what it is today. I strongly believe that it is possible and achievable if all of us work in collaboration going forward.

“I want to say to you without any fear or doubt that the 25 years I see ahead is 25 years of hope. It is 25 years of belief. It is 25 years that indeed Lagos will stand toe-to-toe with other cities in the world.”

Also speaking at the event, the Oniru of Iruland, His Royal Majesty, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal (Abisogun II), said necessary measures should be put in place to make Lagos better for the inhabitants by investing in public places to make it habitable for people to live, work and play.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, also received an award from the State chapter of the NIA for his immense contributions to Lagos State.

While presenting the award to Governor Sanwo-Olu, the first female President of Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. (Mrs) Bukola Ejiwunmi commended the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for quality leadership and delivery of good governance and dividends of democracy to the people.

She said the association will join hands with Governor Sanwo-Olu to ensure that his dreams and aspirations for Lagos State are achieved.


Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday signed an MOU that will facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable Frequency Spectrum band(s) for early deployment of fifth Generation Network (5G) services in Nigeria.


Speaking at the ceremony the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. U. G. Danbatta commended the move by the two agencies.


According to him, amongst the Frequency Spectrum bands allocated to 5G by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.


“The C-band is most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60-70% of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized” he said.


On the reason behind the MOU, he explained that “For optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an Operator. However in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites.”


Adding that, “The Commission initiated negotiation with NIGCOMSAT whom in our estimate could make some adjustment to its satellite operation and release part of its Spectrum holding in the band to facilitate the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.”


 He commended the Management of the NigComSat under the leadership of Dr. Abimbola Alale for demonstrating that the interest of our dear country is paramount to our organizational or personal interest.


The NCC boss noted that “The two agencies have been in discussions on how to relocate the operations of NG-1R to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) potion of the band, which is more suitable in terms of Satellite service offering because end user terminal are cheaper there, while leaving the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use. The cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G Spectrum.”


On his part Chairman Board of Commissioners, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Adeolu Akande highlighted the enormous benefits of the 5G network.


According to him, “Telecommunication evolution from inception to date has led to improvement in user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G. The global impact of 4G brought about increases in mobile usage and network performance. 5G will build on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities. In doing so, it enables new use cases and applications that will positively impact different sectors and improve efforts towards achieving Digital Economies. It does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-low, ultra-reliable latency communications but also provide massive machine type communications, where a lot of devices will seamlessly connect and independently interact with the internet without human intervention. Thus, enabling several Smart City initiatives.”


Prof. Adeolu added that “Spectrum plays a critical role in realising the full extent of
these new capabilities. Thus, 5G’s full socio-economic impact is dependent on access to a variety of spectrum resources. These Spectrum will play a key role in meeting the demand for many enhanced mobile data services as well as new wireless broadband use cases such as remote object manipulation, industrial automation, virtual and augmented reality and next-generation connectivity for vehicles. These use cases will continue to increase the impact that mobile services have on societies and economies.”


“In China, UAE, Europe, Africa, India, Brazil and Australia, the 3.5GHz band glaringly featured amongst the spectrum that has been prioritized for 5G with prospects for early deployment.”


He concluded that, “the Management of NigComSat and NCC have taken a bold step in the right direction to release contagious quantum of Spectrum in the 3.5GHz band for early deployment of 5G. This type of collaboration seeks to ensure synergy amongst agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.”


Entertainment, FEATURES, Tourism
  • RMD, Tunde Kelani, Kunle Afolayan on 9-Man Team to Drive Lagos’ Film Tourism


Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu initiated an intervention project that will jump-start the transformation of the Entertainment and Tourism sector.


The Governor, on Wednesday, inaugurated the Committee on Film Production Empowerment at the State House, Marina to fund youth creativity and entertainment activities in the State, following the disruption caused by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) that impacted negatively on entertainment and tourism in the State.


Richard Mofe-Damijo – a veteran filmmaker and Nollywood actor – is the chairman of the nine-member committee, comprising five industry practitioners and four Government officials. They are selected to drive the Governor’s vision to actively support youth creativity and entrepreneurship in the sector.


The committee’s inauguration came months after the Governor set aside N1 billion seed capital to unlock the potential in hospitality and tourism businesses.


The scheme is to support creative ideas of movie and entertainment producers who are constrained by funds to bring their concepts into reality. Applicants are to be supported with funding based on the financial plans of their projects. The grant may be as much as N40 million for each beneficiary.


Entertainment and Tourism form a key pillar of the Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S. Agenda being implemented to drive inclusive growth and socio-economic development across sectors of the State’s economy.


Sanwo-Olu described the entertainment and tourism as enablers of growth with huge potential for employment opportunities. The sector, he said, is critical to achieving his administration’s youth development objectives, given its high rate of absorption of creative young people in its supply chains.


He said: “This is a signpost of all pockets of intervention we have created for development of creativity and tourism sector. Aside the N1 billion set aside for hospitality industry, this scheme is specifically targeted at our movie industry which is known all over the world. This is with the belief that we can further raise the status of our creative output and commercialise the returns to a level it can compete with Hollywood and Bollywood.


 “We realised most of our film production experts and directors face a lot of funding impediments. We are intervening to close this gap and bring credible veterans who have knowledge and have demonstrated capacity in the industry to drive this project. That is why we carefully selected five key practitioners in the industry to lead. The Committee will be supported by four Government officials to limit bureaucracy for the Committee to achieve its objectives.”


The Governor made it known that the scheme sought to leverage idea and talent development to transform Nollywood into a brand that would compete favourably with advanced film industries, such as America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood.


Sanwo-Olu said the committee had been given the authority to disburse the support grants to movie producers who have fresh ideas and those whose stories are yet to be completed.


He charged the committee to work out its engagement modalities and administrative responsibility of selecting the beneficiaries of the scheme.


He said: “As we roll out this scheme, we want to be able to help the industry around job creation and bring youths out of unemployment, using the creative industry. We also want to create entrepreneurs that will use their creativity to enhance the market shares of the sector.


 “We want to support industry practitioners to raise capacity, support development of local content and discourage the action of taking proceeds from the industry out of the country, thereby denying local practitioners the benefits of their talents. We will not restrict your (committee’s) ability; we will give you leeway to do your job.”


Sanwo-Olu said the intervention would galvanise the private sector into committing more funding to the industry for accelerated growth. He expressed optimism that the scheme would unlock the potential of the Lagos coastline and turn it into a destination of choice in African tourism.


Commissioner for Tourism, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, said the committee members would set the conditions for accessing this fund, determine eligibility of applicants and decide on the amount that could be given to an individual applicant or group at a particular time.


She said: “This intervention will make Lagos State to continue to retain its position as the hub of film making in Nigeria and as a city for the creative minds.”


Mofe-Damijo described the committee’s appointment as “a big honour”, describing members as passionate practitioners in the Entertainment industry.


 “We don’t have any excuse not to perform in this assignment. We will do everything in our capacity to ensure that result which the Governor has envisioned comes to reality,” he said.


Other industry veterans in the committee include ace cinematographer, Tunde Kelani, a Film and Television Producer, Ms. Mo Abudu, movie director, Mr. Kunle Afolayan, and Mrs. Peace Anyim-Osigwe


The Government officials in the committee are Adebukola Agbaminoja, Ferdinand Tinubu, Taju Olajumoke and Mrs Funke Avoseh (Secretary).


Education, Government

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill seeking to establish the Nigeria Steel University, Ajaokuta, Kogi State.


Also passed were the Agricultural Research Council Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and the Federal Medical Centre Mubi, Adamawa State (Establishment) Bill, 2021.


The three bills were passed following consideration of three separate reports by the Committees on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND; and Agriculture and Rural Development.


Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North), who presented the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on behalf of the Chairman, Ahmed Baba Kaita, said the Nigeria Steel University, when established, would provide the required manpower needs of Nigerians in the areas of metallurgical and technological advancement.


He added that the institution would provide specialized services in engineering and training in every aspect of education and fields of applied learning.


In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the growth and stability of the Nigerian economy would be largely impacted by the revival of the steel industry.


According to him, the establishment of the Nigeria Steel University would provide the required manpower for the industry to thrive successfully.


He said, “Our way to growth, development and stability is to have our steel industries functioning. [And] this university, if and when established, will definitely provide the necessary and needed manpower for the steel industry in our country.”