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Osun, American Firm sign $450m MoU on Environment

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…As Kaduna State Govt seeks Senate support to access $350m loan***

The Osun State government and an American company, American Green Environmental Global Solutions Nigeria Limited, yesterday signed a $450 million partnership agreement on waste management.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and American firm, which is on turning waste to consumables, took place at the Governor’s Office in Osogbo, the state capital.

The partnership will create jobs, expand the economy, create a new era in tourism and keep the environment clean.

President of Green Environmental Services of America (GESA) and America Green Environmental Solution Nigeria Limited (AGEGS) Patrick Onyeije said the machinery and building on the planned projects will take  between eight and 12 weeks to complete.

The company chief noted that the first phase of the projects will cost $250 million, adding that the company will begin operation soon.

Onyeije, who was represented by Major Samuel Adewumi (retd), said the partnership would help to improve the economy, as waste will be collected from tenants and recycled for valuable products, such as tissue papers, plastics and organic manure (fertiliser) for farmers.

He said: ”Today marks a great and important historical beginning in the epilogue and annals of captivating history of our people in the State of Osun. Accepting the arduous but admirable responsibility to take care of our environment is a lofty ideal to behold and, as such, a new day is born.

“We are here to change the story on the environment with the enunciation of these wonderful projects of garbage and sewage collection.

“It is befitting that the State of Osun has been selected to lead the rest of the country towards an evolutionary approach of reclaiming our environment. One thing we all have taken for granted from the time we were born to the time we die is our environment.

“Today marks a new beginning as we take the solemn commitment to protect our environment. We have to do our little best, not to litter the streets but to recycle everything coming out of our homes and work places. Every household will purchase various containers from AGEGS for different items from the household for which they can recycle.

“These containers will be picked up from your homes on designated days of the week and may include weekends as the need may arise.

“On behalf of Green Environmental Services of America (GESA) and America Green Environmental Global Solution Nigeria Limited (AGEGS), we say a big thank you to the government of the State of Osun.

“It is with great pleasure and gratitude that we have accepted to begin these great projects here in Osun. This amazing state, though small but mighty, has the propensity and foresight to always lead the way in innovations as the cradle of ingenuity, making Osun the pioneering state for the America Green Environmental Global Solutions in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa.

“We are here to create jobs, expand the economy, create a new dynamic economy in tourism and, above all, keep your environment clean. We reiterate our gratitude to all our stakeholders locally and abroad and, most especially, our worthy partners in government who have shown unparalleled commitment to the success of this project since inception.

“With these projects, Osun has accepted to set an international standard in Nigeria for other states in the country to follow.”

Governor Rauf Aregbesola said the partnership would complement his administration’s efforts at keeping the environment clean, safe, green and sustainable.

The governor said his administration never failed in its responsibilities to making Osun the safest state in Nigeria through its consciousness to environmental preservation and maintenance.

He noted that despite the economic challenges confronting the state, his administration remained committed to the environment.

Aregbesola said: “We are not signing this MoU for fun but to ensure that our efforts at maintaining and keeping our environment safe remain non-negotiable.

“It is on record that one thing one cannot take away from our administration is our commitment to the environment. There has been a tremendous improvement from what our environment was before with what we have now.

“We have been very conscious and passionate about the wellbeing of our people and this made us to commit reasonable resources to environmental sanitation to advance the general wellbeing of our people, particularly to enhance healthy living.

“It is evident that very few states could compete with us in environmental cleanliness as our state remains the reference point in avoiding opportunistic environmental and public health challenges.

“We have maintained a remarkable standard in environmental sanitation and public health management.”

In the meantime, the Kaduna State House of Assembly said on Tuesday it had sought the support and approval of the Senate to enable the state government to access 350 million dollars loan.

The Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Alhaji Bello Sani-Gimi, announced this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria.

“Last week, during a retreat to discuss the 2018 Budget, the state governor told us that the loan, being sought by Kaduna State from the World Bank, was subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

“That we should assist in anyway possible to see the actualisation of that loan. After the retreat, some of us met him and asked if we could go to the extent of meeting these people.

“He said why not, in fact, he is ready to do anything to see that the loan is actualised. After the meeting, the speaker set up a committee to meet the senators,” he said.

According to him, Sen. Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna Central) happens to be the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts.

In view of this, Sani-Gimi said Sen. Sani was supposed to be the first person to be met by the committee.

“Therefore, the committee went and met him; it was a fruitful discussion. He gave his words that he is not against the loan and he is not against reconciliation.

“But we should do a lot of homework by bringing everybody on board, while in his own part, he is ready to cooperate so that Kaduna State will excel.

“After the meeting, the committee came back and briefed the speaker and the house,” he said.

Sani-Gimi said another committee was set up to see Sen. Danjuma Laa (PDP-Southern Kaduna), saying that the discussion went the same way with that of Sen. Sani.

The lawmaker added that the committee also went to Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC-Northern Kaduna), who assured of readiness to make a positive input to actualise the loan.

“As you know, Sen. Hunkuyi is a vocal person and he has opened up; we intended to stay for just 30 minutes but we ended up spending more than three hours with him.

“We discussed a lot of issues that had to do with the state, his issues with government and so many other things.

“Finally, he told us that he is also ready for reconciliation and promised that they are going to look at the loan issue and see to the possibility of accessing it,” he said.

Sani-Gimi said during the visits, some of them raised issues that the year was coming to an end and why seeking such huge amount as loan now.

He said being the chairman of finance committee in the house, he was able to explain to them issues they didn’t understand before.

“In Kaduna State, we are running a medium term framework budget, which is about four years budget, 2016 to 2020.

“So, we are talking about breaking this amount to run through these four years; we are not talking about collecting this loan and spend it this year, 2017.

“My explanation cleared some misconceptions about the loan and they were all convinced with the explanation,” he said.

Additional report from Nation

Economy

Troops Destroy 51 Illegal Refining Sites, Recover Stolen Crude Oil – DHQ

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….Destroy 7 dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, one outboard engine, others

The Defence Headquarters says  troops of Operation Delta Safe have  destroyed 51 illegal oil refining sites and recovered stolen crude oil and refined products in the Niger Delta in the last one week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, disclosed  in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also apprehended 58 perpetrators of oil theft and denied them of  estimated sum of N668.7 million

He said the troops destroyed seven dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, 141 cooking ovens, one pumping machine, one outboard engine, one tricycle, one speedboat and one tugboat.

According to him, troops recovered 267,700 litres of stolen crude oil, 567,700 litres of illegally refined AGO and 5,000 litres of DPK.

“Troops has maintained momentum against oil theft and arrested persons involved in oil theft in Bonny and Ikpoba Local Government Areas of Rivers and Edo States respectively.

“Troops also arrested suspected armed robbers and foiled illegal bunkering activities in Oshimili South and Ukwa West of Delta and Abia States respectively,” he said.

In the South East, Buba said  troops of Operation UDO KA arrested 15 suspected criminals and repelled attacks by IPOB/ESN criminals in Anambra, Abia and Imo States.

He said the troops conducted raids and rescued kidnapped hostages in Ishielu and Igbo Eze North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi and Enugu States respectively.

He said the troops neutralised three criminals, rescued five kidnapped hostages and recovered 14 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammo.

In the South West, Buba said  troops of Operation AWATSE foiled armed robbery attacks in Orelope and Olorunsogo Local Government Areas of Oyo State and arrested a gunrunner in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun.

According to him, troops rescued 15 kidnapped hostages and recovered two vehicles.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he added.

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Economy

NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’

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The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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Economy

2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others

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Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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