…As Borno farmers count losses, after flood submerges 4,000 hectares rice fields***
The Minister of Mines and Solid Minerals Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite has assured that the Federal Government partner the Russian government to revive Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The Minister stated this at an interactive session with Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy in Abuja on Friday, noting that the main feature of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Russia next week is to discuss the reviving of the steel company.
According to the minister, the Russians have shown interest to help Nigeria revive Ajaokuta with their own money.
“They want to put Ajaokuta back and we are looking at different methods to engage them.
“Because it is almost completed, they bring in some money to finish what is there and operate it for a while; realise their investment, profit and transfer it back to Nigeria.
“I think this is the best path to revive Ajaokuta and I believe within the tenure of our time, we will achieve this,” Adegbite said.
The minister said that Ajaokuta Company was never vandalised contrary to reports but it was concessioned to a particular firm.
Adegbite, however, noted that invasion of the mining industry by foreign nationals was being encouraged by some state governments.
“A lot of effort is going on to check illegal mining in the country,” he said.
Chairman of the committee Sen. Tanko Almakura, said that efforts must be made structurally and legally to encourage states and local governments not to participate in illegal mining activities.
“If you look at the mining, it is in the exclusive list.
“There is the need for us to come together; the Senate, House of Representatives, ministry and stakeholders.
“Let’s get down and unbundle this to give every tier of government some level of participation without usurping the exclusive legislative right.
“We can have the concurrent with the exclusive running side by side,” Almakura said.
Almakura who is the immediate past governor of Nasarawa State urged the ministry to identify very important and lucrative solid minerals wherever they are in the country to help in diversifying the economy.
“Unless we take the approach that was used in the ministry of agriculture in diversification, we may not be in a position to fast track development and diversification in the solid mineral sector.
“With the support of the Senate, we can cause the Presidency to bring about a presidential committee dedicated to the different kinds of solid minerals varieties.
“They include limestone, tin, columbite etc to boost the economic development of the country,” the lawmaker said.
In the meantime, rice farmers in Borno on Friday, recounted ordeals as 4,000 hectares of rice farms were submerged following the release of excess water from the Aloa Dam located in the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Already, thousands of hectares of rice fields wilted due to flood at Dusuman, Zabalmari, Kachallari, Bulatamari, and Gongolon illages.
Some of the affected farmers at Dusuman and Zabalmari rice fields in Jere Local Government Area of the state said they were still counting their losses and trying to come to terms with the situation.
The farmers called on the Federal and Borno State Governments to assist them salvage what was left and guard against further losses.
Malam Usman Lawan, a rice grower, said that he had cultivated his three hectares of rice field in July, lamenting that water from the dam submerged the field, making it difficult for the plants to yield.
Lawan said that he had received support of farm inputs under the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), and spent so much on farm clearing and planting during the cropping season.
“As you can see, my entire farm and adjourning farmlands were submerged by water following released of excess water from the Aloa Dam.
“The plants germinated well and we anticipated high yields but water from the river submerged the farmlands due to the release of excess water from the dam.
“We lost our investments because the plants wilted and could not yield in a flooded field,” lawan lamented.
Yerima Bunu and Bulama Bana, who narrates same ordeal, said that their rice farms and other crops, planted in low land areas, were also submerged by the water.
Bana said that he lost three out of the four hectares of farmlands cultivated at Zabalmari plantation to the flood.
He noted that the trend had forced farmers to relocate and plant on high level plains in far distant areas, risking attacks by Boko Haram insurgents.
Alhaji Bulama Dalori, the Ward Head of Dusuman farming community, disclosed that the disaster affected about 2,000 hectares of farmlands, cultivated by over 1,000 farmers in the community.
Dalori added that the affected farmers were earlier displaced from their homes as a result of insurgency and had to be resettled at Dususman.
While lauding the military and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) over their protection of farmers, Dalori called for the deployment of additional troops to enable them cultivate farmlands at higher altitude fields.
Also, Alhaji Lawan Mohammed, the District Head of Dususman, described the damaged caused by the flood as “colossal”, and called on the authorities at all levels of government to assist the affected farmers
Mohammed also urged government to enhance distribution of fertiliser and other farm inputs to farmers, to enable them engage in dry season activities to boost food production and achieve national food security.
Mr Bulama Shu’aibu, the Supervisor of the Koila Prime Anchor, one of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN), certified agent of the ABP, revealed that 10, 430 farmers were supported under the programme this cropping season in Jere Local Government Area of the state alone.
Shuaibu explained that each of the benefiting farmers received fertilser, seeds and chemicals, while the company provided tractor services and money for farm labour activities.
He said that the farmers cultivated about 11, 000 hectares of rice fields, lamenting that over 4, 000 hectares of rice farms were submerged by flood.
“We supported farmers in Jere where there is peace, unfortunately flood submerged the plantations.
“We have sent report to the CBN and Bank of Agriculture (BOA) over the flood disaster ravaging rice fields,” he added.