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Govs to meet Buhari over insecurity, want varsities reopened

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The 36 state governors have resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on security challenges across the country, following the recent gruesome murder of about 43 rice farmers in Borno State.

The governors, who took the decision at the 22nd meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held on Wednesday, also expressed worry in a communiqué issued on Friday about the prolonged nationwide strike by university lecturers.

The resolve to visit Buhari was after they had been briefed by the delegation they sent to commiserate with Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State on December 1, 2020, over the killing of 43 rice farmers in Garin Kwashebe in Jere Local Government Area of the state.

The NGF in a communiqué also elected to support the necessary reforms that would result in a police force that works for all.

“As an immediate to medium-term measure, members agreed to pay close attention to the conduct of police officers across the country in order to get them and other internal security operatives fully back to work as they have not been functioning to full capacity since the EndSARS protests with the attendant security exposure to the safety of lives and properties of the ordinary citizens,” they said.

The governors asked the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government to urgently resolve their differences to allow for immediate reopening of the nation’s tertiary institutions.

They urged both sides to “hasten the implementation of the truce elements in their resolutions so as to allow schools reopen immediately.”

They faulted the practice where the Federal Government was collecting stamp duties, insisting that stamp duties “belong primarily to states and the various collection platforms are channels of payment to the states; while aligning with the guidance provided by its lawyers and experts.”

The governors endorsed the two proposals canvassing infrastructure development by both the Governor Nasir el Rufai Committee and the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The el-Rufai’s Adhoc Committee Leverage Portion of Accumulated Pension Funds for Investment in Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is proposing the creation of a National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) such that a total sum of N2 trillion at nine per cent interest can be accessed through the NSIA.

The NGF Chairman, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, told the meeting about a similar proposal by the CBN governor to enable states to access N15 trillion naira for national infrastructure funding through INFRACREDIT at a lower interest rate of five per cent.

The governors agreed to keep active and operational the State COVID -19 Task Force Teams and Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) in addition to ensuring the prompt release of funds as outlined in the State Incidence Action Plans (IAP).

They also agreed to keep temporary treatment centres open, ensure ramping up COVID-19 testing across the country and support the planned “COVID-19 Testing Week’ to be launched by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The governors expressed their commitment to achieving the second Eligibility Criteria (EC) requirement of publishing online their approved FY21 Annual State Budget prepared under the National Chart of Accounts by January 31, 2021.

Besides, they restated their commitment to implementing reforms associated with the programme, including the deployment of a Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to support effective land administration and an efficient property tax system and resolved to inaugurate the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER) Steering Committee, whose technical committee is to commence the implementation of the strategic plan, which includes but not limited to the national mapping of sub-national endowments, global mapping of sub-national entities for global competitiveness and development of competitiveness toolkits.

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Total power blackout in Kaduna as Labour unions begin strike

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The Management of Kaduna Electric has said that the current total power blackout in Kaduna State was due to the ongoing five-day warning strike embarked by labour unions.

Abdulazeez Abdullahi, Head of Corporate Communication of the company made the announcement in a statement issued on Sunday in Kaduna.

“In compliance with the NLC directive, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN has knocked off all our 33KV lines in Kaduna State.

“Consequently, we are appealing to all communities, security agencies and vigilante groups to be vigilant so that men of underworld will not cash in on the situation to vandalise power supply installations.

“Any suspicious movement around distribution sub-stations (transformers) should be reported to the relevant security agency”, he said.

He stated that it is the collective responsibility of citizens to protect critical national assets in their neighborhood.

Abdullahi added that the company appeals to both labour unions and Kaduna State Government “to strive at an amicable resolution for normalcy to return”.

NAN

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Osinbajo offers scholarship to Ekiti artist Abosede Okeowo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has offered a gifted physically challenged artist, Ms Abosede Okeowo,  a US online scholarship to enhance her skills.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said the presentation was made recently at the palace of Oba Adekunle Adeagbo, the Oore of Otun-Ekiti in Ekiti.

The 27-year-old artist had presented Osinbajo with his pencil portrait during his courtesy visit to the Ooni of Ife in 2020.

Inspite of her limitations, Okeowo focuses on her artistic skills and has gained recognition because of her talent.

Okeowo, an indigene of Otun Ekiti in Ekiti State, suffered an illness when she was a child which resulted in her current state of health.

The self-taught artist who, nurtured her talent in drawing to her current stage of expertise, is known for making drawings of many dignitaries.

Okeowo first caught the attention of the vice president when she drew a portrait of his wife, Dolapo.

She yet again enthralled Osinbajo with her skills when she drew and presented a lifelike portrait of him.

Osinbajo, the statement said, was represented at the presentation by a team led by Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters.

Also in the team was Dr Ebi Awosika, Senior Technical Assistant to the Vice President on Community Engagement.

In her remarks, Awosika expressed gratitude to God for Okeowo, saying it was just the beginning of greatness for the young artist.

She presented to the talented artiste a special wheelchair, laptop and a scholarship in Hyper-Realistic Portrait Course, a virtual course offered through an American online programme.

“This scholarship will help Okeowo to realise her dreams and desire to own an establishment where she can teach others how to draw and help those who are physically challenged to also fulfill their life ambitions,”the statement quoted her as saying.

In his remarks, Adeagbo, who received the delegation on behalf of Okeowo’s family and Otun Ekiti community expressed gratitude to the vice president and his wife for making life meaningful for the artist and her family

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Ekiti to embark on Rice pyramid project

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Ekiti State Government on Sunday said it intends to produce of over one million metrics tonnes of rice within the next couple of years.

Mr Olabode Adetoyi, Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, made this known in Ado Ekiti at a news conference ahead of the official launch of the ” Ekiti Rice Pyramid Project” and flag off of the 2021 Wet Season Rice Cultivation, scheduled for Tuesday.

According to him, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, would perform the inauguration of the rice pyramid project while Gov. Kayode Fayemi, would be the chief host.

The commissioner said the state was embarking on massive production of rice so as to be able to meet both local demands and for export.

He explained that the state government had brought in investors, who were ready to invest in planting and processing of rice, adding that the product would be of high standards and stone free.

Adetoyi added that the state government was working assiduously towards ensuring that youths ventured into farming by making it more attractive and lucrative, through various agricultural incentives

He assured farmers in the state that the government would not fail in providing adequate security for them to enable them go to their farms anytime without entertaining fears

Adetoyi disclosed that 23 new investors had already been allocated lands to plant rice, cocoa and palm oil, among others, as the government was doing all to attract investors through provision of enabling environment.

“ Top notch rice processing plant like Stallion, Dangote and Jumlar rice have been allocated land in premium location in Ekiti Knowledge Zone for quality rice production.

“ Land clearing and development of over 5,000 hectares of land for commercial agriculture is also on, out of which 1,000 is cleared for swampy rice along the river banks and valleys in the state. Over 40,000 hectares is to be made available as time goes on,” he said.

The commissioner said that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, had conceived the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide easy access to credit for farmers and processors at low interest rate, among others.

He added that the government of Japan had also brought in some equipment such as harvesters to provide high quality rice production in the state.

Adetoyi warned people in the habit of setting fire to bushes while hunting game to desist from such acts to avoid causing damage to peoples’ farms.

According to him, some farms had been destroyed in the process.

The commissioner said that government had approved money to buy seedlings that would be distributed to those farmers who lost their farms in such preventable fire incidences.(NAN

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