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CBN Governor: Borders Closure is to Frustrate Rice, Egg Smugglers

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor Godwin Emefiele in reactions to criticisms about the borders closure noted that it was done in the best economic interest of the country.

Emefiele also alleged that there are syndicates operating in neighbouring countries that has been leading to Nigeria being the dump sites of processed foods and goods hence a shift away from economic activities in the agriculture sector.

While meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari before departing to Saudi Arabia, the CBN Governor attributed the closure to complains from local rice producers and poultry farmers over their unsold products.

He explained: “You will all recall that in November 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank and some governors went to Kebbi State to launch the wet season rice farming.”

“Since then, we have seen an astronomical growth in the number of farmers who have been going into rice farming and our paddy production has gone up also quite exponentially.”

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“Between 2015 and also now, we have also seen an astronomical rise in the number of companies, corporate organisations and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in the various areas.”

“Recently, and this is the absolute truth about two weeks before the border closure, the chairman of the Rice Processors Association – incidentally he owns Umza Rice in Kano – called me and said that all the rice millers and processors are carrying in their warehouses nothing less than 25,000 metric tons of milled rice.”

“That this rice has been unsold because of the smuggling and dumping of rice through Republic of Benin and other border posts that we have in the country, and that he would want us to do something about it.”

“Secondly, we also have members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria who also complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell, also arising from the problem of smuggling and dumping of poultry products in Nigeria.”

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“I was told also that after some meetings that were held with the president, the border was closed subsequently. A week after the borders were closed, the same rice millers association called to tell us that all the rice that they had in their warehouses had all been sold.”

“Indeed, a lot of people have been depositing money in their accounts and they have been telling them ‘please, hold on, don’t even pay money yet until we finish processing your rice.'”

“The Poultry Association have also come to say that they have also come to say that they have sold all their eggs, they have sold all their processed chickens and that demand is rising.”

“So, when you asked, what is the benefit? The benefit of the border closure on the economy of Nigeria, I just used two products: poultry and rice.”

“The benefit is that it has helped to create jobs for our people. It has helped to bring our integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business and they are making money.”

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Police Arrest Former Lagos Gubernatorial Candidate over Funke Akindele-Bello Party

Former gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Babatunde Gbadamosi, has been detained by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly contravening lockdown order declared by the State Government to curtail coronavirus spread.

Gbadamosi was detained after being spotted in a viral video attending a birthday party organised by Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele-Bello for her husband, Abdul-Rasheed Bello, held in Amen Estate, Ibeju-Lekki axis of the state.

A police source at the command headquarters revealed that Gbadamosi has been detained and may not be released by the law enforcement agency for engaging in an act that was at variance with the law.

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COVID-19: Buhari approves recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the engagement of 774,000 Nigerians on Special Public Works programme in the country to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Ahmed disclosed this at a press conference on fiscal stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic and oil prices fiscal shock, on Monday in Abuja.

She explained that 1, 000 people were expected to be recruited from each of the 774 local government areas in the country.

According to her, the sum of N60 billion for allowances and operational cost has been earmarked from the COVID-19 crisis intervention fund for the initiative.

She disclosed that President Buhari had previously approved a pilot special public works programme in eight states to be implemented by the National Directorate of Employment, NDE.

She added that Buhari had now approved that this programme be extended to all 36 States and the FCT from October to December 2020 and the selected time-frame was to ensure that it was implemented after the planting season.

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“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is also evaluating how best to extend the Special Public Works Programme, to provide modest stipends for itinerant workers to undertake Roads Rehabilitation and Social Housing Construction.

Ahmed said: “And also Urban and Rural Sanitation, Health Extension and other critical services. This intervention will be undertaken in conjunction with the key federal ministries responsible for Agriculture, Environment, Health and Infrastructure, as well as the states, to financially empower individuals who lose their jobs due to the economic crisis.

“Mr. President has approved the establishment of a-N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund. The establishment of the Fund will involve drawing much-needed cash resources from various Special Funds and Accounts, in consultation with and with the approval of the National Assembly.

“The N500 billion is proposed to be utilized to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and approved by Mr. President.

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“This will help to finance the Federal Government’s Interventions to support states in improving healthcare facilities, finance the creation of a Special Public Works programme and Fund any additional interventions that may be approved by Mr. President”.

The minister noted that although similar challenges were experienced in 2008/2009 as well as in 2015/2016, Nigeria had considerably lower fiscal buffers now than in previous economic downturns.

According to her, the decline in international oil prices and domestic production may be magnified if a severe outbreak of COVID-19 occurs, despite ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of the pandemic through compulsory lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the FCT.

The minister said to directly address these health and economic challenges, the president approved the Fiscal Stimulus Package among others as part of an Integrated Policy Framework to ensure that Nigeria’s healthcare system, fiscal position and economy were sufficiently supported to weather these shocks.

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