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Food security: Heritage Bank restates commitment to deepen Agro-business funding

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Heritage Bank Plc has reiterated its commitment to further deepen the drive to support agribusiness value chain in order to fast track food security and sufficiency in the country.

The MD/CEO of the bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, who disclosed this, stated that in a bid to support food sufficiency, Heritage Bank would not relent in boosting the agric base of the nation and; making farming profitable to stakeholders and attractive to the youth.

Specifically, he affirmed that the bank would focus in supporting the agric space via financing farmers to purchase modern technology; as the funding will bring about transformative development in the sector.

According to him, the bank would support the drive for cash crop commodities that would boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, which the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has always been cautious given the dangers the continuous reliance on imported food items pose to its efforts to create jobs as well as develop and diversify the economy.

The bank’s Group Head, Agriculture Finance, Mr Olugbenga Awe, also disclosed that Heritage Bank is committed to the development of agribusiness and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Our support cuts across the entire value chain with focus on large corporates and small holder farmers.  We encourage value addition and ultimately export,” he said.

He, however, noted that the bank’s support goes beyond food sufficiency to increasing cash crop commodities that would boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

He hinted that Heritage Bank is effectively tackling the bottlenecks since it has long identified the opportunities in agribusiness, thereby offering solutions to ease of doing business in the sector.

“For ease of financing, we would be better off with functional commodity exchanges as a country. We can start by refinancing commodities through a warehousing receipt systems, gradually we will move to crop receipt. With commodities exchange, the value-chain is strengthened and the whole system is structured. Exchange helps in reducing the long marketing chain, it helps in enforcement of commodity standards, it provides price certainty and in some cases storage and warehousing facilities,” Awe suggested.

He further noted, “if we sustain the current momentum on rice, we shall surely export rice in the nearest future, and the operative word here is sustaining the momentum. However, there is need for strategic alignment on objectives. The current focus by government is on small holders’ farmers using the instrumentality of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) by Central Bank of Nigeria.”

The Group Head, Agriculture Finance, said to hasten the export drive, commercial farmers will have to step in and drive the process using mechanization on thousands of hectares of farmland with vast irrigation networks and all year round farming as most importers need large quantities delivered on schedule.

Meanwhile, he noted that with the Heritage Bank strategic partnership, CBN had continued to provide lot of supports through various on-lending scheme, as ABP has made visible and measurable impact especially in rice, while hoping other commodities especially grains would follow.

Awe explained that via the strategic partnerships Heritage Bank have achieved vast footprints in agribusiness.

For example, through our partnership with Triton Aqua Africa Limited and on-lending support from CBN, Heritage Bank have provided N2billion for fishery to reduce our heavy reliance on fish import.  Nigeria’s current annual demand for fish is estimated at 2.7million metric tonnes and we currently produces about 800,000metric tonnes. With support from CBN through Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme CACS, Triton is now producing about 27,000metric tonnes and their projection is to reach 100,000 metric tonnes in five years. From recent forecast, they will meet that projection easily. The bank is also supporting rice farmers under the ABP in Bakolori, Zamfara, Sanga in Kaduna and Soyabeans farmers in Rijana, Kaduna. Heritage Bank also have ongoing projects across the country.

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Police Deploy More Personnel To Seaports In Lagos Over Nigerian Students, NANS’ Protest

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Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.

The Nigeria Police Force has announced that it has deployed personnel to adequately secure seaports across the nation following a threat by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shut down commercial activities at the nation’s busiest seaports ¬¬¬¬¬¬- the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in protest over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.
The aggrieved students who protested on Monday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport also reportedly threatened to ground commercial activities at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos State.
Disclosing the security beef up to Daily Trust, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Western Port Authority Command, Jonathan Towuru, said security was tightened around the Western Ports to avoid any breakdown of law and order although the student body did not show up as threatened.
The commissioner said, “People went about their businesses while operations at the terminals went on seamlessly, without any hindrance. But if the students eventually turn up, we will engage them in discussions. I must say that they conducted themselves well on Monday at the airport even though you still saw police monitoring the protest.”

 

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Evans The Billionaire Kidnapper Bags 21 Year Imprisonment

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Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday sentenced kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, and his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, to 21 years imprisonment for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia.

They were accused of conspiring and kidnapping Sylvanus Ahanonu Hafia at about 5:30 pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin in Lagos and were alleged to have captured and detained Hafia and demanded a ransom of $2m.

But they pleaded not guilty to the four charges.

The judge held that the sentence would serve as a deterrent to other aspiring kidnappers

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Poverty, Hunger in the Country, Okowa Blames APC

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…says Delta healthcare will curb medical tourism

Delta State Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa, weekend, said that poor management of the nation’s economy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) caused the rising hunger and poverty in the country.

He stated this at an empowerment programme for the people of Ika Federal Constituency at Boji-Boji Owa, Ika North Council by the member representing the constituency at the House of Representatives, Mr. Victor Nwokolo.

The governor, who commended Nwokolo for his gesture, described the event as “empowerment programme with a difference. He said Nigeria was troubled because people were hungry and out of job due to mismanagement of the nation’s economy.

He added that even students were having lots of challenges because their parents could not meet their needs owing to the level of poverty resulting from ineptitude of the APC-led Federal Government.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to support the PDP, saying it was the only party with clear understanding of the nation’s challenges and had clear solution to rescue the nation.

Earlier, Nwokolo said his motive for the empowerment was to restore hope to the hopeless amid rising hunger and poverty in the land.

MEANWHILE, Okowa, also at the different forum, said the huge investment being made by his administration in the health sector was to improve healthcare delivery and reduce medical tourism in the country.

He disclosed this in an interview with journalists shortly after inspecting facilities at the Advanced Diagnostic Medical Centre and Mother and Child Hospital, Owa-Alero in Ika Council of the state.

He said the twin medical facilities would, on completion, reduce medical tourism as it would provide first-class medical services to people who would have sought medical treatment abroad.

“I am glad we have gotten to this stage. I had high hopes that by today, we would have inaugurated these projects.

“The equipment are fully on site and we are trying to get things fully sorted out and I am sure that in the next one month, it should be ready and opened to the public for use.

“The two projects are obviously very important. The Mother and Child, as it is so stated, is supposed to take care of every illness concerning our women and children,” he said.

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