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Nigeria can generate 4m jobs, through AGOA — expert



  • As AGRA sets to boost agric in Nigeria with $30m

An American based Nigerian business expert, Fred Oladehinde has counselled the Government to pay quality attention on the development of its Micro, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) sector, stressing that the sector can generate four million jobs annually, through African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) .

A President of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa, a Washington DC based NGO, Oladehinde indicated this on Wednesday in Abuja.

He eulogise the gains of AGOA, a scheme that was initiated by the U.S. government in May 2000 to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa, while improving the economic relations between U.S and the region, explaining that the scheme is to offer tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts towards opening their economies and build free markets.

After completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended in 2015 by a further 10 years, to September 2025.

Oladehinde noted that Nigeria had not maximally benefited from the scheme, adding that his organisation was ready to work with the government and civil society organisations to explore the scheme benefits.

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) expert said that the AGOA plan was to reduce unemployment through creation of 20 million jobs in Africa annually.

“We need to mobilise MSMEs so that we can improve and enhance not only the value chain from supply side but also include their participation in the global supply chain and create the needed jobs.

“As you know there is need for the creation of about 20 million jobs every year in Africa.

“And if you look at the size of Nigeria and the population, it means almost four million of this jobs will have to be created in Nigeria every year,” he said.

The Nigerian born-American said he was in Nigeria to work with some civil society organisations and some of government agencies to utilise the benefits of AGOA to create jobs.

“Civil society has a role to play to ensure that the vibrant policy environment by the federal, states and the local governments is in place to support the development and the nourishment of MSMEs,” he said.

He said that his organisation which is an AGOA network NGO would work with government related agencies to educate MSMEs operators on meeting the standards of AGOA to be able to access U.S. market.

He said that there was need for the government to also create functional clusters for the MSMEs operators where they could harness resources to meet the AGOA standards.

He said that government also needed to provide incentives and increase budgeting for funding the MSMEs sector which he described as the engine room of economy.

“These are the birds that laid the golden eggs and so we should look at the investment in this engine of economic growth as the only way revive economically.

“The is the only way we create jobs for our youth and the only way that we can sustain our democracy,” he said

Oladehide said that there was the need for Nigeria to align its trade policy to its strategic partners especially its AGOA partners.

He said that this would allow Nigeria to optimize the benefit of AGOA.

“This is access to one of the most lucrative markets in the world; in the U.S. you can bring in 6,500 products duty free into the U.S.

“The demand is huge; this is one market in the world that everybody craves for; everybody wants access to the U.S. market.

“And, if Nigeria is able to send our products to these markets that would allow us to create jobs, grow our businesses and pay taxes, it allows our airports to be very busy.

“It will allow us to reduce traditional cost in terms of cost to the citizens, and not only that it would also incentivise direct foreign from the U.S. into Nigeria,” he said.

He said that if Nigeria could key in to the scheme as it ought to, it would have impact on the nation’s socio-economic development and fast track its agenda on industrialisation

He said that the creation of 20 million jobs annually in Africa would keep the youth engaged.

Oladehide also added that it would make them to avoid illegal and painful migration that the continent witnessed in the last seven to 10 years.

In the meantime, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is set to invest $30 million in Nigeria, to boost agriculture, particularly rice, maize and cassava within the next four years.

The Country Team Leader, AGRA, Nigeria, Dr Kehinde Makinde disclosed this in Abuja during a workshop on Economic Impact Assessment of the Micro Reforms for African Agribusiness (MIRA) project, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Dr Makinde who explained that the money would be used to support small holder farmers across the country, also highlighted that the project would last from 2017 to 2021, with Kaduna and Niger serving as pilot states for the project, before being later extended to other states of the country.

The team leader said the project was geared toward agricultural transformation and strengthening the value chain to become more efficient and deliver more impact for the small holder farmers.

Pointing out that the project is to boost the continent’s capacity to be able to feed itself, Makinde maintained that the initiative on cassava, would be achieved through Public Private Partnership (PPP).

“For AGRA, we are working to reach over 30 million small holder farmers across Africa to reduce poverty.

“We are looking toward working across 11 countries in Africa to bring agricultural transformation to support what the governments of the different countries are doing on making sure that Africa is able to feed itself.

“Agriculture can be a business. We have clear strategy on how to bring about agricultural transformation in Africa.

“AGRA is working with the government of different countries that will lead to agricultural transformation and strengthen agricultural value chain so that they become more efficient and deliver more impact for the small holder farmers.

“In Nigeria, we are focusing on three crops, we are looking at rice, maize and cassava.

“We have selected two states to roll out this intervention. We are working to cumulate investments by other partners,’’ he said.

AGRA was founded in 2006 to reduce poverty and hunger in Africa.

It works across the continent to help millions of smallholder farmers who make up 70 per cent of Africa’s population to boost their farm productivity and incomes.

AGRA has supported more than 400 projects, including efforts to develop and deliver better seeds, increase farm yields, improve soil fertility, upgrade storage facilities, improve market information systems, strengthen farmers’ associations.

It aims to play a central role in transforming the agricultural sector in Africa and its food system in a way that is tailored to place a strong emphasis on safeguarding the environment.

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Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges



Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has called for the use of innovative technologies in resolving the economic and social challenges of the country.

Sanwo-Olu said this on Wednesday during the pioneer graduation of the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy (LJLA) at Konga Place in Lekki.

He said that the new platform of globalisation and Internet of things must be significantly employed to resolve new challenges encountered in the course of improving the living standards of citizens.

30 students, 15 men and 15 women, between 18 and 35 years, graduated from the academy after a one-year course and mentorship in leadership.

The Lagos Leadership Summit (LLS) is a pivotal platform dedicated to empowering Nigeria’s young professionals with the skills and insights essential for success in various leadership roles.

With a focus on leadership excellence, ethical governance, and youth inclusion in governance, the summit offers a unique opportunity for participants to engage with renowned leaders and industry experts.

” You have to be able to innovate for us, you are here as leaders of not tomorrow but today. Proffer solutions that the government can use as a tool, to solve the challenges that we are facing today but more importantly to solve global issues.

“And that is why we started the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy. For us as a government, we felt how well can we honour a man than for us in public sector to set up a cream of new leaders.

“So we set up this school that has the first set, the one-year fellowship, who indeed have not only shown us that we took the right step, they have been outstanding individuals,” the governor said.

The guest speaker and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, noted that it was important for followers to trust their leaders for a successful outcome.

“The people need to trust the government, they must know the capability of their leaders so that when issues beyond human expectations happen, the followers can show empathy to the plight of their leaders.

” I have always been an advocate that believes that the process is as important as the result, the end shouldn’t justify the means, the process is crucial, it serves as a blueprint for others coming behind,” he said.

Similarly, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Governor, who spoke on “Leadership And Community Engagement”, stated that to achieve effective leadership in Nigeria, there was the need to navigate complex political, economic and social landscapes.

Hamzat urged the citizens to be involved in governance while stressing the need for collaborations with private stakeholders and the public sector.

According to him, community engagement with government at all levels is pivotal to the nation’s development.

In her address, Mrs Ayisat Agbaje-Okunade, LIJA’s Executive Secretary, noted that the challenges faced required leaders who are not only capable but compassionate, visionary, and adaptable.

According to her, leadership must transcend rhetoric and manifest tangible outcomes.

“We need leaders who inspire confidence, foster unity, and drive transformation.”

Agbaje-Okunade urged the participants to embrace the responsibility that comes with leadership and pave the way for a generation of new leaders.

The keynote speaker, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank, said that leadership is about leading people on a new purposeful journey.

Suleiman said being a strategic thinker and a transformational leader was what makes leadership different from management, adding that the future is being crafted in leadership.

“In essence, as a leader, you must be able to lead people to the future hence, you must be convincing for people to be bold to follow you, able to trust and believe in you.

“For one to be a leader, the people must be able to believe and trust you to take them to the future where you have never been to,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Tunbosun Alake, Commissioner, Innovation, Science and Technology, stressed that leadership had nothing to do with being young or old but having good values and character.

The commissioner advised the participants to pursue excellence in their various career paths to succeed in life.

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Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu Urges Sacrifice, Integrity For National Rebirth



Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu urges sacrifice, integrity for national rebirth

 President Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices and exhibit integrity for national development.

Tinubu said this after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Eid Ground at Dodon Barracks on Wednesday in Lagos.

The President also called on Nigerians to continue to have faith in his government and remain patriotic citizens.

Tinubu said that the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration, aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigerians, was being diligently implemented.

Encouraging Muslims to extend the values of sacrifice and resilience beyond the fasting period, Tinubu emphasised the need for Nigerians to prioritise the exhibition of love for their country.

‘’The resilience and sacrifice that we have shown and made during these months should be preserved.

“Be a kind and cheerful giver. We must love our country more than any other country because this is the only one we have.

‘’We must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The Renewed Hope Agenda is alive, well and fine, and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful. Without hope, there is no salvation.

“Without hope, there is no development. Without hope, there is no life. Eid Mubarak,’’ the President said at the end of the prayers led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla.

Earlier in his sermon, the Chief Imam urged Nigerians to shun all acts of violence, ensure peaceful co-existence, and continue to have faith in the country.

He asked those in leadership positions to remain faithful to their oaths of office and work towards alleviating the suffering of the less privileged.

‘‘Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Gaza and other areas of conflict,’’ the Chief Imam said.

He offered prayers of God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for the President and the Lagos State government, as well as for peace and stability in the country.

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Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta



Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta), on Wednesday, disclosed that he had secured the release of four family members involved in manufacturing arms at the Onicha-Olona Illegal Arms Factory in Delta.

Nwoko representing Delta North Senatorial District, who disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, said that the release of the four persons was through collaborative efforts.

On March 12, troops of 63 Brigade, Asaba, uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Onicha-Olona, Delta North Senatorial District and arrested eight family members in connection with the crime.

Nwoko disclosed that efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“Following my recent visit to the headquarters of 63 Brigade, Asaba and productive discussions with the Brigade Commander, I am pleased to announce progress in addressing the situation regarding the illegal arms factory discovered in the Onicha-Olona community, Delta.

“Efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“I am pleased to reveal that through collaborative efforts, I have successfully secured the release of four family members implicated in the illegal activity.

“However, our commitment to upholding the law remains unwavering, and endeavours continue for fair judgment and potential pardon for the remaining four individuals,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed that the underlying issue highlighted by the discovery, however, remained of paramount importance.

“We must seize the opportunity to redirect the talents demonstrated by those involved towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“The young man in the family, known for his passion and ability to build drones, exemplifies this potential.

“His skills should be harnessed and put to good use,” he said.

Nwoko added that the Industrial Revolution served as a pertinent historical precedent where individual efforts catalysed transformative change and made possible by governments that created conducive environments.

“We can emulate this model here. We can provide support and opportunities for talented individuals like the young drone builder, and stimulate a new wave of innovation and economic growth in Nigeria.

“As previously stated, Nigeria’s economy faces significant challenges exacerbated by escalating imports, particularly in the realm of arms and weaponry.

“Therefore, we must harness our indigenous talents for the greater good and bolster our local industries,” he said.

Nwoko further said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, have crucial roles to play in this regard.

According to him, by engaging with individuals possessing such skills, we can offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish.

“The aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms or other weapons manufacturing but also to channel these talents towards legitimate industries for national development.

“I reiterate the need for the government to support and integrate such offenders with specialised skills and talents into the formal economy.

“This initiative should focus on recognising their capabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to the development of our local indigenous technology.

“As noted earlier, an individual capable of modifying an AK-47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, holds immense potential for greater achievements.

”Such individual can do more with proper legal support and access to adequate resources.”

He disclosed that he was committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partnering with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.

“I am committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partner with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.”

“They have the intelligence and insights of the potential beneficiaries of this “amnesty” drive towards creating a new cadre of indigenous technologists.

“This law would establish an agency dedicated to providing government support and resources to rehabilitate and engage these individuals in legal and productive activities.

“I tentatively suggest naming this proposed law the “National Talent Rehabilitation and Integration Act”.

“This legislation will not only focus on rehabilitation but also on harnessing the skills and talents of offenders for the benefit of society.

“By providing a structured environment and necessary support, this agency will facilitate the transition of individuals from illicit activities to lawful and productive ventures.

”And they will be contributing to both their personal rehabilitation and national development,” Nwoko added.

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