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FEC approves $26m for power projects in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa

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The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved about $26 million (N30.77bn) for various power projects in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, made this known to State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting in Abuja.

He said the $1.62 million of the amount ($26m) was the payment of the claims and the variation of onshore and offshore cost of the existing contract for the construction of 1×1 50 MBA three 31, 32, 33 KV sub-stations at Damaturu and 1×330 KV land by extension at Gombi, Adamawa.

He revealed that an additional N102.9 million was approved for the affected project.

The minister also disclosed that the remaining $24.38 million of the total approval was meant for the design, manufacturing and supply of four fabricated sub-stations of 2×100 MBA 132 33 KV power transformers with complete accessories for deployment to Damaturu, Potiskum, Biu, and Maiduguri.

He said, “Today, the Federal Executive Council has graciously approved two memos from the Federal Ministry of Power.

“One, it approved the payment of the claims and the variation of onshore and offshore cost of the existing contract for the construction of 1×1 50 MBA three 31, 32, 33 KV sub-stations at Damaturu and 1×330 KV land by extension at Gombi in favour Msssr Kadlak International Limited in the sum of $1,621,423.88 cents plus N102,905,606.07.

“The other one is the approval of the contract for the design, manufacturing and supply of four fabricated sub-stations of 2×100 MBA 132 33 KV power transformers with complete accessories for deployment to Damaturu, Potiskum, Biu, and Maiduguri for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in favour of Msssr Kidon T Good Electric Company Limited and Incomtel Engineering Limited in the sum of $24,387,850.22 cents plus N1,475,204,584.34. Altogether, it is N10,730,393,742.82.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, also told the correspondents that the Federal Government had budgeted N396 billion for the provision of COVID-19 vaccine in the 2022 Appropriation.

She said: “Sometime in January, the President has, based on the request by the Ministry of Health, given in principle approval for the Ministry of Health to work with the Ministry of Finance, budget and National Planning to prepare and take to the National Assembly a supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccination.

“The submission that was made to Mr. President at that time was in the sum of N399 billion, but included in this N399 billion was a N103 billion for building of primary healthcare centres.

“So we have worked with that and met several times with the ministry, we have agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres, that can wait till later.

“So there is still a provision of 396 billion for COVID-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022.’’

The minister explained that the delay in the submission of the supplementary budget on COVID-19 was because the government wanted to confirm the vaccines donation that Nigeria was expecting from donors.

“There have been some delays because we expected the ministry to confirm the vaccines donation that Nigeria is expecting. We are expecting a total of not less than 43 million doses of vaccines.

“So they are supposed to find out when those ones will come. Because, if we are going to get back the donated vaccines, and at the speed of the current rollout, we have to slow down on what we are buying ourselves.

“So the ministry is working with partners that are donating these vaccines.

“We see the timelines of the donations and see the gap that the government needs to fill in 2021, but we have already provided to the ministry funds to enable them roll out the four million vaccines that have been brought already into the country, and the vaccination process is ongoing.

“So for us, it is still work in progress. We hope in the next couple of days, we will have clarity on the schedule of vaccines expected from donors, and then we will now be able to firm up what government has to provide for in 2021. And therefore the 2021 component we will provide it during the 2022 appropriations.”

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, met on Tuesday and agreed on supplementary budget for COVID19 vaccination and procurement of military hardware.

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Fears over food scarcity as Niger farmers flee

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AS bandits continue to attack and get away with their atrocities without serious challenge from security operatives, many farmers in Niger State have fled their farms and have vowed never to return until security is beefed up around them.

To underscore their seriousness, many of them have already relocated from the farming communities to Minna, the state capital, to escape the brutality of criminals variously described as bandits, kidnappers, hoodlums, cattle rustlers and armed robbers.

Things got to the worst in recent times when the criminals not only attacked and dispossessed the farmers of their possessions, but began to set their houses ablaze as a conquered people, leaving them with nothing to manage their lives with.

The bandits have successfully taken their atrocities to no fewer than 18 of the 25 local government areas of the state and are unwilling to halt their infamy despite threats from security agencies.

They appear to be more daring after being challenged by the security organisations, thereby sending fears into residents of the remaining local government areas.

Farmers whose areas have not yet been visited by the hoodlums now live in fear of possible attack by the daring bandits.

As a result of the unrelenting onslaughts by bandits on farmers, many have since abandoned farming and harvesting of their mature crops, a development that is already forcing an increase in the prices of foodstuff. Many of the farmers interviewed by Arewa Voice said they would not risk their lives by going back to the farms except adequate security is assured.

A yam farmer, Adamu Useni Allawa, who also cultivates maize and millet, lamented that although he was eager to return to his farm, he would only do so when there is improved security in the farms.

He said, “I am eager to go back to my farm but my fear is this insecurity. It troubles my mind to go back because of insecurity. Any time it pricks my heart to go back to the farm, I often have another premonition that going back there might be a journey of no return. I am not in any way preparing now because I don’t have the confidence. I don’t do any other work than farming but I cannot risk my life for farming as it is.

“I have a bitter experience, which is still fresh in my memory. It is about my uncle and his friends who the bandits met in their farms and shot them to death instantly without any sympathy. Some of these bandits after attacking and killing our people even run away with their seedlings and we are left with virtually nothing to start fresh planting. We have relocated to Pandogari and have become refugees in a strange environment, doing nothing.”

Another farmer, Umaru Adamu Allawa, said his hope rested on government to provide more security to enable him and others go back to their various farms.

Allawa said, “If the banditry situation continues like this, there is no hope for us to go back to the farm. Our yearly turnover is massive and even if we cannot feed the state or the entire nation, we can feed our zone that comprises eight wards in Shiroro Local government effectively.”

Bala Usman, a public servant who also is also a farmer, said, “With the present insecurity in my area-comprising Lakpma, Munyan and Rafi local government areas, the farmers are no longer able to go to their farms. The implication is that it will surely affect the economy of the areas concerned, the state and the country in general. That is why we call on government at all levels to intervene immediately in order to enable farmers go back to their farms.

“Even if we are supplied the necessary farming inputs like fertilisers, seedlings, among others, it will be difficult to transport them to the affected areas because of these bandits. Also, we will find it difficult to start all over again because apart from killing our people, the bandits also steal and burn down our seedlings and we are now left with virtually nothing to take off again.”

Shuaibu Yusuf, who is from Manta, one of the ravaged areas by bandits, said from the look of things, it will be very difficult for farmers in the troubled communities to farm this year.

The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Idris Usman Gbogan, however, assured the farmers that the Niger State government was aware of the security challenges and has taken steps to further protect lives and property of its people, especially those areas constantly raided by the bandits.

Gbogan told Arewa Voice in an interview that the state government has procured farming inputs in preparation for the coming planting season.

He said, “The step taken by the state government is to cushion the effect of transportation cost for the agro input companies as a way of reducing the cost of agricultural inputs.

By the first week of next month, the state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, will launch the 2021 farming season and, thereafter, all these agricultural inputs will be ferried to all parts of the state under tight security.

“As at now, we have one extension worker to about 5000 farm families which is not acceptable because the ideal situation is to have one extension worker to between 800 and 1,000 farm families so in each of our stores presently across all the 25 local government areas, we are going to position extension workers so that as the farmers come to buy their inputs, we have the extension workers who will educate them and give them necessary extension knowledge on the inputs they are buying from the stores.

Gbogan said despite the insecurity and other challenges, there is still hope for bumper harvest in the state and this is why government is ensuring that they get the necessary inputs they need.

The state Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Niger State Chapter, Alhaji Shehu Galadima, told Arewa Voice that banditry was a bad omen for the state and its people and should be tackled with immediate effect.

He said, “Last year, it was not easy for farmers because many of them could not conclude their farming processes. Some of them who fled their ancestral homes because of the bandits cannot even go back to their homes to get their seedlings and other property in readiness for this planting season.

“Just about two days ago, in Kuchi Town in Sarkin Pawa Local Government Area of the state, the entire community was sacked and the people had to run for their lives.

“Other places having similar problems are Shiroro, Mariga, Munyan and parts of Paikoro, Rijau, Mashegu local government areas, just to mention a few. They are all overwhelmed with this type of problem.

“We are afraid that this year’s farming is being seriously threatened and it is not going to be easy for our farmers in the state because of the security issues. If the lives and properties of people are not secured, nobody will be able to do anything.”

-Vanguard

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NLC plans strike over Kaduna workers sacking

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The Nigeria Labour Congress says it will withdraw services from both public and private organisations in Kaduna State for five days to protest mass sacking of workers by the state government.

The decision to withdraw the services of workers was taken by the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the NLC at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the five-day withdrawal of service by workers in the state will become total if there is no remorse from the state government.

He condemned the decision of Governor Nasir el-Rufai to sack close to 4,000 workers who are mostly from the 23 local government areas in the state.

Wabba said: “CWC has decided and has also recommended to the National Executive Council, that labour will withdraw all services from either public or private. This means all services for all sectors of the economy for five days in the first instance and where there is no remorse, it is going to be a total action.

“We thought that workers should not be allowed to die in silence because thousands of them that have been sacked have not been paid in line with the provisions of the law.

“More worrisome is the policy targeted at workers that have spent more than 30 years in service or some more than 20 years in service.

“In fact, the policy said that once you are up to 50 years in service, you will be disengaged and be sent off without any entitlement.

Wabba noted that the governor violated all the known laws that regulate labour and industrial relation in Nigeria.

He stated that some teachers disengaged by the state government were yet to receive their entitlements till date.

He added, “The entire working class in Nigeria has condemned the sack of thousands of workers in Kaduna. The CWC condemns the conversion of workers to casuals by the Kaduna State government under the pretext of paucity of funds or drop in revenue.”

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FAAC shares N680bn to FG, states, LGs for April

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The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee on Thursday shared the sum of N680 billion among the three tiers of government.

The money was from the revenue that accrued to the federation in the month of March, which has been distributed to enable government meet its financial obligations for the month of April.

An official of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning who disclosed the amount distributed, did not provide details of what each tier of government received.

He said that top officials of the ministry and the FAAC were preparing the communique/statement.

The general declining revenue profile of the nation has generated tension between the federal and state governments, of recent. The disagreement between officials of the two tiers of government over the poor revenue led to a stalemate at last month’s FAAC meeting, as learnt.

Those who are knowledgeable about the FAAC said the disagreement was responsible for the failure of the ministry to issue any communique last month.

The debate generated by Edo State Governor Godwin Obadeki’s claim that the federal government printed N60 billion to augment March Federation Accounts Allocations, has continued to generate reactions from different quarters.

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