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Minister seeks cooperation of Niger Delta govs to develop region

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Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Fellow Press

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Abubakar Momoh, has solicited the cooperation of State Governors from the region to speed up development of the Niger Delta region.

Momoh said this when he paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom, at Government House, Uyo, on Thursday.

He said his visit to the state was part of his tour of the region to seek synergy with state governors to garner full support from the Federal Government to speed up development in the Niger Delta region.

The minister said that insecurity and infrastructure deficit were the major challenges confronting the Niger Delta region.

He said that there was the need to do away with all sorts of counterproductive power play and conflicts to make room for needed cooperation and collaborations to tackle the problems in the region and country.

Momoh expressed delight over the warm reception accorded him and his entourage in the state during the visit.

In his remarks, Gov. Eno advocated for greater collaborations between the Federal Ministry and States within the region.

Eno said his administration was ready to embrace cooperation and synergy with the federal government to foster positive development in the region.

He commended President Bola Tinubu’s inclusivity disposition in governance, stressing that the President has demonstrated governance beyond party lines.

The governor said that the Minister’s visit to states in the region, particularly Akwa Ibom, was apt, adding that the development plans of the Ministry were already integral in his ARISE Agenda development manual.

“I feel very happy that you really want to see for yourself, the situation of our states and the people you are going to work with.
“Get to meet the governors and look beyond politics and think of how to develop our various states in partnership with the governors.

“I will like to thank the approach of the President for his inclusivity in governance and it is a very welcome approach that this President is working with people across party lines.

“You can see his appointments, there are people from other parties there.

“You could see the things he is doing. He wants to carry everyone along. I always believed that party is a platform to seek election to serve our people.

“And once God has given us the opportunity which only him can do, next is to collaborate and serve the people,” Eno said.

Eno called for regular meetings of the leadership of the Ministry with State governments in the region to explore best ways to approach the peculiar development needs of the area to avoid duplication and conflicts in project execution.

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Food shortage in Southwest will be calamitous– Yoruba Group

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Last Updated on June 16, 2024 by Fellow Press

A Yoruba socio-political group, Yoruba Commitment Forum (YCF) has raised an alarm about the looming food shortage in the South West region of the country.

The group said, though, the impending food insecurity is a national crisis, stressing that its impact on Yorubaland is going to be calamitous.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by Otunba Hon Tayo Onayemi, Barr. Akeem Aponmade, Barr. Femi Mokikan, Otunba Niyi Sodiya, Mrs. Buky Tunde Oshunrinde and Mrs. Sola Maja, and made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

The YCF attributed the looming food shortage to the invasion and destruction of farmlands by rampaging Fulani herders.

The group, while calling for adequate security of farmers and their farmlands, equally appealed to the federal government to adequately compensate whose farmlands were destroyed and as well give them financial incentives, to encourage them to go back to farm.

The statement titled, “Nigeria’s headaches, food insecurity in Yorubaland”, read, “we have observed that for about seven years now, Fulani herdsmen have been engaging in a relentless destruction of farmlands and settlements in Yorubaland. These criminal Fulani elements resorted to kidnapping, raping, maiming and killing of farmers and Yoruba sons and daughters.

“Neither the governments at any level, nor Fulani herdsmen’s apologists would claim ignorance of the atrocious activities of these ruthless people. Video recordings of their wicked actions suffuse the internet. The end result is that farmers began to be scared off their farms gradually until now when farms have been completely abandoned.

“When this started years ago, foresighted individuals raised concerns; they warned about the potential danger of food insecurity beginning with rising food prices and the need to ensure a stable food supply. It appears that Southwest was deliberately targeted and the invasion of our farmlands was the execution of a conscious plan to starve our people to death.

“We, the Yoruba Nation agitators, cried out for help against the brazen onslaught, but none came from the federal government led by a Fulani man.

“Unfortunately, the hens have now come home to roost as the consequences of our action, and inaction, are now here for real with food shortages and very high prices making it increasingly difficult for our people to access the basic necessity of food.

“Before the current situation spirals out of control, we hasten to inform the government that there is no alternative to large scale farming which Fulani herdsmen have destroyed by waging a war against farmers. Subsistence farming through the backyards, as good as it is, cannot serve the purpose of assuring any people of food security. Farmlands in the South West must be made very safe.

“We state emphatically that the situation whereby a basket of tomatoes is sold for #4000 in the North while the same is sold in Yorubaland for #150,000 is callous, ruthless and unacceptable to us.

We also call for assistance to use cheaper rail transport among others to assist our market men and women. Other regions do this, why not here in Yorubaland?

“Secondly, governments must incentivise farmers whose investments have been destroyed during the war of attrition waged against them by Fulani terrorists. Without government’s financial assistance, there is no way most farmers will be able to go back to farming, even if security of their lives and new investments are assured”, the statement concluded.

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After 25 years, Nigerians yet to enjoy dividends of democracy — Northern Groups

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Last Updated on June 15, 2024 by Fellow Press

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has called for sober reflection on Nigeria’s democracy and democratisation process as Nigeria marks 2024 Democracy Day and 25 years of unbroken democracy.

The CNG, in a statement by its national coordinator, Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday, claimed that democracy as it is being practised in Nigeria has failed to provide its dividends to the people after two and a half decades of its practise.

The pro-northern groups contended that despite the nation’s richness in natural and human resources, Nigerians continue to suffer from abject poverty and economic instability, which were not recorded even during military dictatorships.

It said that it is important to note that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the poverty rate in Nigeria stands at an alarming 63%, with over 133 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty.

“Similarly, the NBS disclosed that unemployment has reached a stunning 33.3% in the country, while youth unemployment is at an unprecedented over 50%, leaving young Nigerians devoid of decent jobs or sustainable means of livelihood.

“In the same vein, before returning to democracy, Nigeria’s inflation was just 10%, while now in a free democratic setting, inflation has risen to an all-time high of 33.69%, depleting people’s purchasing power and weakening their standard of living; whereas interest rate has sharply risen from 6.05% in 1999 to 26.25% in 2024, suggesting tighter monetary policy in the midst of high inflation and economic challenges.

“It is on record that the number of out-of-school children has increased from 7.4 million in 1999 to 18.5 million in 2024, highlighting a severe decline in educational accessibility over the past 25 years of our democratic engagements.

“Disgustingly, job racketeering to the highest bidder, inflating contracts, and kickback collection by political elites and senior civil servants have irrevocably decayed our civil service at all levels, resulting in the destruction of the fabric of Nigeria as a country with a lot of potential,” it said.

The CNG argued that these economic challenges are a direct result of years of mismanagement, corruption, and lack of genuine commitment to the development of the Nigerian economy by those who have sworn by the holy scriptures to promote good governance.

It said that unfortunately, over the years, the Nigerian economy has been bastardized and surrendered to the Bretton Wood institutions of the IMF and World Bank through the removal of subsidies in healthcare, education, energy, etc, adding that consequently, unpatriotic leaders and capitalist-backed technocrats who continued to propagate a free-market economy devoid of government interventions suddenly lose their voices and relevance.

It noted that the minimum wage has drastically decreased in value from the equivalent of $195 in 1981 to only $21.22 today, indicating a substantial erosion of purchasing power and economic hardship for low-income workers.

It also noted that fuel prices have seen a dramatic increase from N20 per liter in 1999 to N701.24 per liter in 2024, reflecting severe inflation and apparent antipeople economic policies from the beneficiaries of democracy since 1999, adding that diesel prices have surged to N1415.06 in 2024, which is significantly higher than in 1999, indicating a steep rise in energy costs.

“It is evident, therefore, that democracy in Nigeria only works for politicians and senior civil servants, while Nigerians continue to languish in poverty and misery.

“Suffice it to say that politicians, senior civil servants, and top defense and security heads have not only cornered the country to serve them but also are deploying their amassed wealth to restrict the dividends of democracy in Nigeria.

“It is regrettable that under democratic dispensation, destitution and pauperization have been deliberately entrenched in Nigeria due to the relegation of our economic planning and strategies to the dictates of capitalist, neoliberal, racist, and imperial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The CNG observed that the exchange rate of our Naira against the US dollar has depreciated drastically from N84.70 in 1999 to N1,479.69 in 2024, pointing to severe devaluation of the currency; public debt has escalated from around N3 trillion in 1999 to N97.34 trillion in 2024, highlighting a significant increase in the country’s borrowing and debt burden.

“Also, prior to our return to democracy in 1999, oil production has decreased from 2.21 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.28 million bpd in 2024, indicating a decline in one of our major source of revenue.

“Tragically, according to the United Nations, over 35,000 have been killed in the North East insurgency under the watchful eyes of the leaders that claim to promote democracy. In the same vein, Global Observatory said about 15,000 have been killed in the North West alone.

“Additionally, millions of people, including women and children, have been rendered internally displaced persons (IDPs). This unprecedented catastrophe has been normalized in Nigeria’s democracy,” it said.

The CNG said it is rather despicable that our democracy in Nigeria has been hijacked by a select few who prioritize their personal gain over the collective good of the nation, noting that corruption is endemic, and accountability is almost non-existent, deeply entrenched in our political system.

“As we observe this Democracy Day, the CNG calls on all Nigerians to reflect on the state of our nation and question the effectiveness of our democratic system. It is evident that democracy, in its current form, has failed to deliver on its promises of development, security, and prosperity for all Nigerians, as only a select few politicians and senior civil servants amass questionable wealth while bequeathing depravity to the masses.

“Therefore, as Nigeria marks 25 years of continuous democratic sojourn, we must engage in a candid reflection to domesticate this democracy or design a system that aligns with our tradition, culture, and history, which is capable of providing security, promoting economic development, and fostering true people’s participation,” it said.

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