The Kwara chapter of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has mourned the exit of one of its former executive members, Alhaji Ibrahim Salami, popularly known as “Tallest”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ibrahim died in the early hours of Saturday in Ilorin.
SWAN in a statement on Sunday by its Secretary, Mr Olayinka Owolewa, described the deceased as a committed member, who contributed immensely to the upliftment of the association in the state.
According to the statement, Salami died at the age of 75 during a brief illness at his residence.
The association commiserated with his family and associates of the highly experienced photojournalist, who SWAN recalled covered many state and national sporting events during his days with National Pilot Newspaper.
SWAN urged the family and associates to gather the strength to recover from the irreparable loss of Salami.
“Despite the fact that we know death is inevitable, we are saddened by the demise of Tallest, as he’s fondly called.
“He was a gentle and easy going journalist during his active years and a man of peace, who promoted peaceful coexistence among members in Kwara.
“We will surely miss Tallest and we pray Allah to grant him Aljannatul Firdaus,” the statement said.
It also quoted the Kwara SWAN Chairman, Malam Jimoh Bashir, describing Salami as a very nice and fine journalist, who always do his job with finesse.
Bashir said Salami’s death is a huge loss to the sports writing family in Kwara, adding that he will be remembered for always promoting peace among members.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested an ex-convict, Onyeka Madukolu, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja Lagos, for importing 5.90 kilograms of cocaine.
This is contained in a statement by the Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi on Sunday in Abuja.
Babafemi said that the drugs were concealed in cans of deodorants and ladies’ lip gloss and were imported into Nigeria.
He said that the suspect was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in Ethiopia for drug trafficking offences and released from prison in 2020. He added that he was again arrested on Friday at the Lagos Airport on his return from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian Airlines flight.
He also added that a search of his luggage revealed he had concealed 5.90kg cocaine inside cans of deodorants and female lip gloss.
“During preliminary interview, he claimed to have gone into the drug business to raise fresh capital to start a legitimate business after his release from Ethiopian prison in 2020. “The father of two kids, one each from a Nigerian woman and a Brazilian lady, said he was into motor spare parts business before going into the criminal trade.
“The 44-year old indigene of Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra, said he was expecting to be paid N2 million on successful delivery of the illicit drug in Nigeria, ” he said.
Some farmers and experts in agriculture in the South-West zone have identified post-harvest losses as a major factor militating against food security in Nigeria.
The farmers and agricultural experts, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Kwara states, called for urgent actions to address the food scarcity currently ravaging the country.
Mr Segun Dasaolu, Deputy National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), told NAN in Abeokuta that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) needed to be resuscitated.
This, he said, would further re-invigorate the food system and speed up the attainment of food security in the country.
Dasaolu also called on the Federal Government to restore grain reserves and set up additional silos, particularly in the food producing local government areas across the six geo-political zones.
According to him, this will check post-harvest losses and wastages and thus help to salvage the current food crisis before it got out of hands.
Dasaolu who noted that losses could occur at various stages of agricultural chain, including harvest, drying, transportation, storage and market stages, urged government to address the various stages in order to reduce post-harvest losses.
According to him, government should also recover all the leased silos, mop up available crops, add value and store adequately to arrest future food shortages.
Prof. Kolawole Adebayo of Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB), decried what he called abandonment of food reserves in the country.
He said that it was imperative for the country to revive food reserves in form of silos and other storage facilities.
“Only when this is put in place can the country enjoy adequate food security,” he said.
The professor of agricultural extension also advised government to put in place a mechanism where buyers could get commodities directly from farmers during harvest and store the remaining to prevent post-harvest losses.
“Every commodity has a harvesting period during which the products are always available in excess.
“One of the best strategies we can adopt as a nation is to have an arrangement where we can buy up all the excesses during the harvest and process them for storage.
“After the period of harvest, we can then begin to release them gradually from the reserves and this is where the concept of food reserves comes from.
“Over the years, we, as a nation, have abandoned our food reserves and I think this is the time to revive those reserves for every commodity that is produced in this country,” he said.
Corroborating Adebauoyo’s views, Secretary of AFAN, Ogun chapter, Mr Abiodun Ogunjimi, stressed the need for food reserves in the agricultural sector, adding that the few available reserves had been taken over by the private sector and therefore, not beneficial to farmers.
He noted that most farmers did not have access to the few available storage facilities constructed by the federal government, as they had been concession to private operators.
“The private investors are only out to maximise profit and as such, farmers cannot gain much from partnering with them,” he said.
Ogunjimi urged government to provide silos at designated areas close to farmers and revive the few ones that had become moribund.
The Vice Chairman, Rice Farmers’ Association (RIFAN), Ogun chapter, Alhaji Monsuru Adebayo, also opined that food reserves needed to be revitalised in the country.
According to him, farmers need silos close to them to store excess produce so as to prevent post-harvest wastages.
“Farmers don’t need too big silos, but the available ones should be located near them.
Unfortunately, most of the existing ones are very far from the farmers and the roads are bad, thereby making transportation difficult.
“To minimise post-harvest losses, governm should revive all the strategic food reserves across the country because most of them are presently not functional,” he added.
An Economic Analyst, Mr Bright Oleka, blamed Nigeria’s current food crisis on the security challenge currently facing the country.
He warned that if the security challenge was not addressed, it would be difficult to attain food security and improve the economy.
Oleka noted that most of the grains were produced from the northern part of the country where the insecurity was most pronounced.
“Before food can be stored in strategic silos, they have to be harvested from the farms and evacuated to the sites where they are to be stored.
“A situation where the farms and the roads have been taken over by hoodlums will make effective harvest and proper storage difficult to achieve,” the economic analyst said.
The AFAN Chairman in Oyo State, Mr John Olateru, urged the government to strategically beef up food reserves by getting back all the silos that had been sub-leased to private investors, stressing: “this is one of the reasons for food scarcity in the country.
” He noted that some of the silos leased to some private firm were not being used for the desired purpose.
“All those companies do is to mop up all they want to buy.
They don’t care about the prices or other things; they only use their activities to disrupt the market.
“Government must, of necessity, get all its silos back so as to use them to ensure food reserves,” he said.
Olateru, who lauded the government for inaugurating a committee saddled with the responsibilities of purchasing food produce from farmers towards ensuring food reserves, urged the committee to involve farmers’ associations in order to be effective.
“This is a welcome idea because it is during the harvesting period that prices crash due to low demands.
If the committee can do the mop up then, that will help farmers a lot.
“It will also help in stabilising the prices and encourage farmers to continue their business,” he said.
An Ilorin-based commercial farmer, Mr Tope Abolade, said that crops storage and preservation, as a precaution against food scarcity and post-harvest wastages, was a good method to sustain food security.
He advised Nigerians to willingly get involved in farming, with the mindset that the consuming population was high.
Abolade decried situations where farming was still perceived as an occupation for people of low class or the unemployed.
“History has shown that in a typical traditional society, food security used to be at the family level, although it was also seen as a collective responsibility by the community.
“It is believed that the colonial administration introduced the idea of state food security to replace the traditional food security system.
“At independence, government took over the responsibility of feeding the nation to ensure that there was enough food in state granaries to avert hunger”, he said.
Abolade listed other factors undermining the agricultural sector to include: political instability, unfavorable policies, challenges of land tenure system, poor credit facilities, bad roads as well as absence of technical know-how, farming equipment and storage facilities.
“Government must make up for the past and deal with the present, without forgetting the future.
“We must, however, appreciate the federal government for improving the face of agriculture in Nigeria and its efforts at sustaining agricultural processes, especially for commercial farmers.
“We particularly appreciate the loans, the subsidies, the improved farming methods and produces as well as the off-takers scheme, but we still do not have enough storage facilities and enough industries that process farm produces into preserved state.
“It will interest you to know that as much as we have hunger in the country today, there are still lots of wastages in the agricultural chain.
“So, there is the need for government to push out funds for farmers to make storage facilities, shelters as well as pesticides and preservatives available at subsidised rate,” Abolade said.
According to Prof. Olubunmi Omotesho of Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria loses between 30 per cent and 70 per cent of cowpea agricultural yield to post-harvest due to absence of efficient storage system.
Research, he said, had shown that Nigerian farmers were faced with the challenges of production management techniques as well as the extension needs.
He further noted that the adoption of improved technology was a key factor in raising crop productivity.
According to him, research on cowpea production by farmers in Kwara showed that majority of farmers still use the traditional storage techniques, with only a few of them using the improved modern practices, such as cribs and silos.
Omotesho also identified inadequate credit facilities, high cost of and poor access to improved storage facilities as constraints to efficient storage practices in the country.
He emphasised the importance of small-scale farming in the country, describing it as a system of farming characterised by low asset-base, low fixed capital investment, labour intensive practices and small family sizes.
The agricultural expert identified small-scale farming as driver of the rural economy and enhancer of local development, while asserting the multi-dimensional roles of the farmers.
He called for favourable agricultural policy intervention for small-scale farmers in order to produce stable quantity of food for the nation.
The don also advised governments at all levels to help small-scale farmers in providing adequate capital, access to markets information and avoiding spoilage resulting from poor storage system and high cost of transportation for agricultural produce.
Dr Patricia Pessu, the Executive Director of Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, said that the institute had developed several technologies that fits into the scheme, adding that the technology needed to be deployed with a national strategy.
”Storage technologies for crops can be provided in strategic locations where the communities have comparative advantage.
”These appropriate technologies, if deployed with a national strategy, will go a long way in mitigating post-harvest food losses in various communities across the country and providing a reliable buffer for the national food reserve.
”Consequently, this will ensure regular availability of food year-round and eliminate incessant price hikes, which is a common experience in Nigeria,” the executive director said.
According to her, the experience with the government’s response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in providing food as palliatives has shown clearly that the national strategic food reserve is grossly inadequate.
She said that recent reports by National Bureau of Statistics showed that the country had experienced a very serious hike in food prices in the last six months, thus significantly affecting the livelihoods of many families.
”The situation is likely going to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine due to the dependence of many African countries on grains from that part of the world.
“This calls for urgent steps to mitigate fool losses at every point of the food value chain,” Pessu said.
Dr Ola Ajila, of Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, called for collaboration between government and agricultural engineering sector to curb post-harvest losses across in the country.
Ajila said that agricultural engineering sector must be strengthened to develop intermediate storage and processing technology that would be affordable to individual farmers and groups.
To prevent food wastages, she said that there must be an effective storage, especially food bank, for preservation of farm produce.
The don recommended establishment of a farm produce marketing centre in each of geo-political zone, where government could purchase farm produce from farmers for storage during surplus.
“Government can process or preserve the farm produce for the off-season, when they will be selling to the public from the food bank.
“Aside storage, farm produce can be processed so as to add value, while government can also strengthen the agricultural extension advisory agency for effective dissemination of technologies to farmers.
“This is the major organisation that works directly with farmers at the grassroots.
The research institute should also be motivated for effective performance.
“Most importantly, the linkage between extension and research need to be strengthened, monitored and well-coordinated,” she said.
Ajila also said that courses in agriculture must be strengthened at all levels of education and made compulsory.
“Students must also be taught more attractive ways of making agriculture course technology-driven, instead of manually-driven as we have in the schools today.
“If agriculture is practised with the appropriate technology and marketing system, the youth will be further encouraged,” she said.
Ajila advised Nigerians to change what he called their negative attitude toward agriculture Mrs Jumoke Bakare, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ondo State, said it was important for the federal government to beef up strategic food reserves for food to be available and affordable all- year round.
“As the country is fighting insecurity all over, food security is also important for the nation to survive and for economy to grow,” she said.
The director said provision of efficient and affordable food reserves would help in reducing post-harvest loses in the food storage process.
She also said hand-held machines and simple farm equipment, such as dehydrators, could be made available to farmers to preserve some perishable foods, such as vegetables, and would still retain its nutritional value.
Bakare urged the government to provide enabling environment for private investors to invest in food reserves.
She also called on the federal government to make policies that would favour the private sector, as it cannot do it alone.
Chairman of AFAN in Ekiti, Mr Adebola Adeniran, blamed incessant increase in prices of food on lack of preservation of farm produce and grains after harvest.
Other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the state also pointed out that proper handling and secure post-harvest system were crucial to achieving food security in the country.
According to them, lots of human and material resources are being wasted annually due to non-secure post-harvest system.
Mr Oluwashina Damilare, a cash crop farmer, said that failure to safeguard crops after harvest could lead to major losses and wasted efforts during the growing and harvest seasons.
He said that in severe cases of post-harvest food losses, it could cause business failures and loss of income, especially for small-scale business holders.
Damilare noted that one-third of the produced foods for human consumption were lost during post-harvest, adding that this required urgent government attention.
According to him, lack of secure storage facilities remained one of the contributory factors to post-harvest losses, even as he decries dependence of many small- holder farmers on traditional storage practices which damaged their harvests.
He urged the country’s agricultural research institutes to find lasting solutions to post-harvest-induced losses.
Messrs Benjamin Adeoye, Oluropo Dada and Olatunji Ayegbusi, both AFAN chiefs in Ekiti, called for collaboration among the three tiers of government in expanding the nation’s food reserve mechanism for future benefits.
“With such collaboration, relevant government agencies can work together to ensure that we have enough food reserve for any emergency,” he said.
An Agricultural expert, Mr Babajide Oso, appealed to the federal government to intensify efforts at subsidising more food preservatives and processing equipment for farmers.
Oso, who commended government for subsidising farm inputs, called for more efforts to curb wastage of farm produce, especially during the harvest season.
He was of the opinion that many farmers, especially those in rural areas, lacked enough education and awareness on preservation methods.
Oso called for siting of food processing firms in rural areas, which should be accompanied with provision of good roads, for easy access to raw materials.
Retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme across the South-West zone have called for the payment of their pensions and other entitlements immediately after they disengaged from the public service.
In separate interviews on Sunday with the News Agency of Nigeria in the zone, the retirees and other stakeholders said such payments would help in mitigating their hardship and also keep them active for more years before death.
NAN recalls that the Pension Reform Act, 2004 established the National Pension Commission (PenCom) as a body to regulate, supervise and ensure effective administration of pension matters in Nigeria.
Its functions include: regulation and supervision of the scheme established under the Act. The main objectives and features of the Pension Reform Act, 2004 are: “To ensure that every person who worked in either the Public Service of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory or Private Sector receives his retirement benefits as and when due.
“To assist individuals by ensuring that they save to cater for their livelihood.
” Commenting, Mr Onah Owoka, the Principal Legal Officer (PLO), National Judicial Council (NJC), said that retirees would definitely prefer to have their lump sum to be paid immediately after leaving the service.
Owoka said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that retirees will definitely prefer a total and final lump sum payment of their pension entitlement as against the monthly payments presently in vogue in both Defined Pension Scheme (DPS) and Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
” According to him, before that is contemplated and enforced, it is necessary that retirement workshop being organised for retirees should be deliberately restructured to take longer period and intensive training.
He said that retirees should be taught relevant productive and creative vocational trainings and when concluded, the money released should be used to buy the needed tools for the trade.
Owoka said the PFA should be mandated to respectfully guide the employees for a certain period before handing over of the project to the retirees.
“There are instances where the employer fails to remit the monthly contributions of both the employer and the employee and when complaints are lodged, the PFA complains of non-remittance by the government either due to inadequate budgetary provisions or late release of funds.
“This equally affects the monthly payments, but if this money is invested by the retiree himself, he will be in charge of his investment.
“Another very important consideration is the compulsion by the government that an individual funds should be managed by another on his behalf consequently, presenting him as unfit to manage his funds.
“This is done regardless of his objection to the unilateral decision, this is socialism in a Capitalist economy,” he said.
Another lawyer, Mr Femi Edema, described the Pension Reform Act, 2004 as “a beautiful piece of legislation”.
Edema said: “If our government could implement the relevant provisions of the Act, with sincerity of purpose, our senior citizens who had laboured for our nation would be better for it.
“However, the level of compliance leaves much to be desired.
“No civilised nation can afford to let its retirees suffer.
We have seen instances where pensioners died before getting their money.
Some waited hopelessly and never get paid.
They should be paid immediately,” he said.
Edema advised the government and leaders at all levels not to play politics with the issues bothering on pension.
“They must go beyond lip service and walk the talk.
“Government at all levels must give priority to pensioners the same way politicians pay themselves life pension after serving their terms in office,” he said.
In Osogbo, Mr Peter Adejuwon, a retiree from the Federal Ministry of Information, told NAN in Osogbo that there had been several calls by retirees on the need for prompt payment of their pension immediately after retirement.
Adejuwon explained that the level of compliance to the Pension Reform Act, 2004, as amended, had not yielded the expected results.
According to him, pensions and gratuities are being delayed for years before payment and such had also led to the death of many retirees.
“When you retired from active service, they delay you for a year or two and some for years before they pay them their entitlements.
“Many among us have died, while some of us need this money for drugs to keep us alive,” he said.
Also, Mrs Mojirade Opadokun, a retiree from Osun Civil Service, said that the state government needed to do more in the prompt payment of pensions and gratuity of retirees.
Opadokun said the idea of paying off retirees immediately after leaving active services would be a great relieve to them.
“We have been clamouring for this every time.
We have embarked on protest over non-payment of our pension arrears and gratuity with no positive results,” she said.
Opadokun, therefore, urged both the Federal and State Governments to always ensure that once civil servants quit active service, they should be settled immediately.
However, Mr Rotimi Omotoye, the Pension Desk Officer, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife, said that the Federal Government’s compliances with Pension Reform Act, 2004, as amended, was 100 per cent perfect.
Omotoye said there had been improvement from the old pension scheme and the contributory pension scheme.
He explained that while the old pension scheme was “pay as you go” and not funded, the new pension scheme is contributory and fully funded.
Omotoye said that government was making concerted efforts to ensure that retirees get their pension as and when due.
He called on retirees to make use of the seminars and training usually organised by government before leaving active service.
In Ilorin, Mrs Grace Idoka, a financial expert, complained to NAN that government had not complied with the Pension Reform Act. Idoka said that retiring civil servants still have to wait for months before getting their money.
“I have a friend who had to ‘tip’ to get her money.
Imagine having to give out tips to collect her hard earned money.
“We are not talking about loans or grants here.
We are talking of pensions.
“As a pensioner myself, I cannot, but say that governments at all levels should be fair in dealing with us.
“I am not being owed, as a federal pensioner, but I feel for my other colleagues, especially those in the state and local governments.
It is not right to suffer with grey hair.
“There should be respect for this group of people, even, the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) should deal with pensioners with respect, consider their age and pay them on time,” she said.
Also, Alhaji Saidu Oladimeji, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Kwara chapter, appealed to the government at all levels to comply with the Pension Reform Act, 2004 as amended by the Federal Government.
Oladimeji explained that “Kwara Government is to be commended as it complies with some aspects of the reform Act. “The government conformed in some aspects, in others, it doesn’t even touch it.
“So, we are just managing ourselves with the Kwara Government.
It sees us as beggars, forgetting that we are the state’s founding fathers.
“We are the ones who prepared the ground for them to become what they are today,” he said.
However, the Kwara NUP Chairman observed that compliance to the Pension Reform Act varies from states to states across the federation.
He explained further that pensioners needed to get their money immediately after retirement, saying that such feats are possible with the help of God and the political will from the government.
Oladimeji reminded those at the helm of affairs that they equally have a stake in the issues of complying with the 2004 Reform Act. He said the union had been pushing for an increase in the minimum pension for retirees for the past three years, adding that they were still on it without any development.
“It only got to the Senate once and most of these committee members are retired officers like us, yet because they have other sources of living, they don’t take it as a duty to do the needful,” he said.
Oladimeji appealed to Nigerians still active in service to support them in their quests for implementation of the 2004 Reform Act, saying “whoever refuses and works against the union will soon face what we are facing”.
In his contributions, Mr Mathias Fafeyiwa, who retired as a Headmaster in 2019, told NAN in Okitipupa, Ondo State, that he was still collecting his pension monthly from the state government.
Fafeyiwa said he was not aware of any pension reform that makes it mandatory to receive pension shortly after disengagement from the service.
He added that only his gratuity was worked on and paid in a lump shortly after disengagement from the service.
Fafeyiwa said: “I don’t think the Ondo State Government is aware of any pension reform or perhaps it is just acting against the law.
“Some of my colleagues and I, who retired in 2019 did not collect our pension immediately after disengagement from service, except our gratuities.
“The government releases the pension to us monthly according to the percentage it feel it’s okay for it.
“If such pension reform is implemented, I believe pensioners will not be dying in the process of collecting their entitlement.
“The Federal Government needs to act fast on enforcing implementation of the pension reform to ensure that pensioners get what belongs to them as and when due and thereby save many lives,” Fafeyiwa said.
Contributing, some pensioners and civil servants in Ogun decried the poor level of compliance by the state government with the 2004 Pension Reform, Act as amended.
In their responses, they scored the state government very low.
One of them, Mr Bola Lawal, the Secretary, Ogun chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), claimed that Ogun Government has not complied with the Pension Reform Act. Lawal told NAN that every state was supposed to key into the law, saying, “reverse is the case with the Ogun Government”.
According to him, at the initial stage, the state complied, but somewhere along the line around 2006, it made another law to prolong implementation of the Pension Reform Act, 2004 till 2025,” he said.
“The state is currently owing 200 months unremitted pension deductions from the workers’ salaries.
“A major benefit of that 2004 Act is that pensioners will not be suffering as it is the case now, because it is sure that the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) will manage the fund well.
“By the time they are going on retirement, they will have their benefits and have their pension paid regularly,” he said.
The secretary recalled that the Act stipulated that pension must be reviewed anytime workers’ salaries were increased.
He expressed concern that the state government had reviewed salaries about six times since the Act became operational, without recourse to pensioners, adding that some pensioners still earn as low as N5,000. Lawal, who commended the Federal Government for strictly adhering to the provisions of the Act, appealed to the state government to do the needful as soon as possible.
Also, Mr Sikiru Ayilara, the State Chairman, Local Government Pensioners Association of Nigeria (LOGPAN), said that the state government had not performed well in complying with the 2004 Pension Reform Act. Ayilara explained that there was initial compliance with the Reform Act during the Gbenga Daniel-led administration.
“The Ibikunle Amosun-led administration, which came after, threw everything into the dustbin and postponed the implementation till 2025,” he said.
Ayilara explained that the present government led by Gov. Dapo Abiodun, has not done anything regarding the reform.
He said that the money being deducted from the service now was not remitted to the pension administrators, saying, “when the workers retired, there will be nothing to rest upon”.
According to him, they are deducting money; they do not remit it to the pension administrators.
“I do not even restrict myself to the Pension Act of 2004; the provisions of the Constitution are being breached when it gets to pensioners.
“I don’t want to talk about this reform again because the government is not ready to do what is right,” he said.
In his reactions, Mr Akeem Lasisi, the State Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), described the level of compliance by the state government as zero.
Lasisi said that the state government was owing “several months” of deductions from workers’ salaries, while it has also failed to contribute its portion.
He added that the law stipulated that the remittance must be effected seven days after deductions from workers’ salary.
“The implementation was faulty from inception.
“Gov. Daniel’s administration owed 25 months before he left.
Gov. Ibikunle Amosun only paid six months throughout his tenure, while Gov. Dapo Abiodun has not paid a dime during his administration since the implementation has been faulty right from inception,” he said.
Lasisi appealed to the state government, as a matter of urgency, to pay the backlog of the deductions and commence remittance of pension deductions as and when due.
“We all believe the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme is the best,” he said.
However, Mr Seun Babalola, the Executive Director, Nigerian Life and Provident Consultant (NLPC), said there had been an appreciable level of compliance with the Act by the private sector and Federal Government establishments.
Babalola said that the adoption of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Systems (IPPIS) by the Federal Government had enhanced timely deduction and remittance of the pension fund of federal civil servants to the appropriate quarters.
He added that Lagos, Jigawa, Delta, Kaduna and some other state governments had also continued to comply very well with the pension reform.
The pension expert explained that the Act, among others, stipulated that any establishment which had three or more employees must comply with the pension law.
Babalola said that some private sector establishments were still not complying with the Act because of “unfavourable business environment”.
He said that the high level of compliance had made fund available to the government, because many of the pension custodians and administrators had continued to invest in the government Treasury Bills, which had proven to be safe investment, in spite of the low returns.
The pension expert also noted that the development had also helped to provide job opportunities for many Nigerians.
Babalola blamed the delay in payment of pension benefits at retirement on faulty documentation.
He said that many employees failed to notify PFAs about their retirement early enough to help the firm’s process the benefits.
“Employees should have no problems getting their pension benefits at retirement, because the law stipulated that it should be paid within five days upon approval by the National Pension Commission (NPC).
“One of the causes of delay, however, is that many employees failed to provide some of the necessary documents such as letter of employment, letter of resignation or retirement and the National Identification Number (NIN) to process their benefits.
“In some cases, delayed payment has been as a result of non-remittance of deducted pension funds by the employer.
“By arrangement, an employee is supposed to have notified the PFA six months before retirement for an easy process of the benefit, but many will come only at the last day.
“We, at the NLPC, have a culture of payment of pensions within 48 hours of approval by the NPC,” he said.
In Ekiti, stakeholders decried the untold hardship being experienced by most pensioners in getting their benefits after retirements.
They were of the opinion that the pensioners, having served meritoriously for 35 years or attained the mandatory 60 years, should get their terminal benefits immediately after retirement.
A Federal pensioner, Mr Samuel Sangotade, said most pensioners have turned into beggars as a result of non-payment of their benefits after retirement.
Sangotade, who claimed to have retired from a federal agency in 2019, said it took two years before his entitlement was paid, “but, before then, I resorted to selling off my properties as means of survival”.
“I went through a lot of difficulties during that period; I had to dispose some of my properties when things got out of hands,” he said.
Sangotade said the issue of late payment of benefits still remained a nightmare which requires urgent stakeholders’ attention.
Also, Mr Bode Afolayan, another retiree, said that the pension regulatory agencies saddled with pension responsibility, need to work extra mile in tackling the menace of corruption in the nation’s pension regime.
“There are lots of sharp and fraudulent practices being perpetrated in the pension system, most of which are reported dailies.
“For the system to work effectively, there is need to rid it of bad eggs so that the aims and objectives of the pension reform would be met to better the lots of pensioners,” he said.
Afolayan noted that funds meant and allocated for pension payments should be used judiciously so as to ensure adequate, timely and prompt clearance of entitlements.
In her views, Mrs Bisi Adeyemi, the Coordinator, Toward a Sustainable Livelihood for Pensioners, an NGO, said the bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with pension payment remained a stumbling block.
“Most pensioners go through rigorous tasks as regards documentations and verifications which ought to have been done years back, preparatory to retirement.
“There are situations whereby many pensioners lost their lives in the name of going through the stress associated with documentations and verifications,” Adeyemi said.
She urged government at all levels to emulate what was obtainable in civilised countries, such as U.
S and Canada, in fashioning out a workable and sustainable retirement regime for pensioners.
A retired Principal, Mr Mathew Ogunlade, said the National Assembly should, as a matter urgent national importance, looked into the difficulties associated with the payment of pensions with the aim of addressing it squarely.
Ogunlade said: “There is need for them to beam their searchlights on the operations of Pension Fund Administrators and the relevant bodies involved in pension to know their weaknesses and challenges and the way forward.
” Also, a 70-year-old retired teacher, Mr David Ajayi, called on the Federal Government to ensure strict compliance to the 2004 Pension Reforms.
Ajayi suggested that pensioners should get at least 70 per cent of their accrued money at the point of disengagement.
He decried a situation whereby pensioners would die sometimes before the large chunks of their pension was paid, describing it as disheartening.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested an alleged notable producer of new psychoactive substance, popularly called Akuskura with 26,600 bottles of the illicit substances.
The Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi, said in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, that the suspect was arrested on Sept. 13. Babafemi said the suspect, Qasim Ademola, was arrested by anti-narcotic officers with the Akuskura substances meant for distribution across Northern states.
He said that the consignment was seized on Sept.15 along Zaria-Kano road, Gadar Tamburawa, Kano. He added that the 39-year old proprietor from Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State and three of his distributors, were arrested in follow-up operations.
In another development, NDLEA operatives intercepted a drug trafficker, Chukwu Kingsley on his way to Rome, Italy on an Asky Airline Flight.
Babafemi said that a search on his luggage showed he had concealed among food condiments 11,460 tablets of tramadol 225mg with a gross weight of 5.7kg and 39 bottles of Codeine Syrup.
He said that the 49-year old suspect was a known haulage agent who hailed from Oru West Local Government Area of Imo. Also at the Lagos airport, a freight agent, Lawal Adeyemi, was arrested same day for attempting to export some sachets of lexotan, among other non-controlled drugs to Liberia.
Babafemi said that the NDLEA operatives however, equally seized 593.90 kilograms of khat leaf at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) import shed of the airport on Sept. 15. This he said, was after a joint examination of the cargo by a combined team of security agencies.
Babafemi said the Chairman, NDLEA, retired, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, commended the officers and men of the command and their counterparts in Lagos and Kano for their vigilance and resilience.
Marwa charged them and others across the country, to remain focussed as they daily discharge their responsibilities.
The Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST) Zaria, says it is proposing a legislation to ban the consumption of animal skin, locally known as Pomo, in the country Prof. Muhammad Yakubu, Director-General of institute, told News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja that the legislation was necessary to revive the comatose leather industry in the country.
According to him, the habit of eating animals skin, which has no nutritional value, should be stopped in order to save the industry and boost the nation’s economy.
“To the best of my knowledge, Nigerians are the only people in the world that over value skin as food, after all Pomo has no nutritional value,“ he said.
The D-G said the institute, in collaboration with stakeholders in the industry, would approach National Assembly and state governments to bring out legislation banning Pomo consumption.
“At a point, there was a motion before the two chambers of the National Assembly, it was debated, but I don`t know how the matter was thrown away“ he said.
According to him, the consumption of animals skin is partly responsible for the present comatose state of tanneries in Nigeria.
“If we get our tanneries, our footwear and leather production working well in Nigeria, people will hardly get Pomo to buy and eat,’’ Yakubu said.
The D-G also said that the current National Leather Policy had addressed some fundamental problems of the sector.
“When implemented fully, it would turn around most of the comatose tanneries and ginger greater output in production,’’ he said.
He appealed to stakeholders to support the legislation and the national leather policy to revive to revive the sector.
NAN reports that NILEST was set up to promote leather production as provided in the Agricultural Research Institute Act of 1975. It conducts research into all aspects of production and products of leather and utilization of local tanning materials in the country.
Dr Aliyu Umar, the Executive Director (ED), National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, said he had prioritised staff welfare and Infrastructure development in his last three years in office.
Dr Umar disclosed while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Bida on Sunday He expressed satisfaction with his performance and pledged to sustain the tempo in the areas of infrastructure development, research, staff welfare and health, among others.
“This is to create an enabling environment for the staff and others to discharge their duties without hitches and to take the institute to greater heights.
“We have developed and still developing infrastructure.
You can see the network of roads that we built in the last three years.
“It is not just road construction, you can see street lights, solar, standard staff clinic, international conference hall, among others.
“The International Conference Centre has 600 seats capacity with modern state of arts facilities.
“Before now it was one-bed staff clinic but we thank God that my administration expanded it from one bed structure to 10- bed health centre for patients.
“Qualified health personnel such as doctors, nurses, among others, are engaged and this is for staff, students and other people usage for their improved health status.
“We also have improved and rehabilitated control structure where experiments are conducted.
The NCRI boss explained also that under his watch, they built a cold room to store seeds and for seeds to last longer for years.
“We have resuscitated NCRI News Letter through which we report our activities,” he said.
He added that his administration expanded the Staff Guest House for the institute and visitors accommodation needs.
“This and other infrastructure development embarked upon by me has generated revenue to the coffers of our institute,” he said.
Dr Aliyu further said that his administration placed premium on staff welfare for optimal productivity.
“We have regularised staff promotions.
There is no more stagnation in staff promotion and other welfare packages,” he explained.
Besides, he said that he had reviewed the institute’s security architecture for the purpose of peace and security in the institute.
“We kitted our security men, we have CCTV to monitor the movement of people and others.
“We have sought for the service of vigilante group to complement the efforts of our security,” he said.
The NCRI boss commended the Federal Government for funding the institute and called for its sustenance.
NDLEA impounded a Peugeot J5 vehicle loaded with 18 pieces of pump action rifles and 1,300 cartridges in Kogi on Saturday.
The vehicle took off from Onitsha in Anambra and was heading to Zaria in Kaduna State when it was intercepted on the Okene-Abuja Highway.
NDLEA spokesman, Mr Femi Babafemi stated on Sunday in Abuja that two suspects found in the vehicle, Chukwudi Aronu, 51, and Shuaibu Gambo, 23, were arrested.
He added that also on Saturday, one Anthony Agada, 37, conveying 1,000 ammunition cartridges to Abuja from Onitsha was nabbed in a bus.
He stated also that 1,404 bottles of codeine syrup and 2,040 ampoules of pentazocine injection were seized from another vehicle which also took off from Onitsha and was heading to Sokoto.
Babafemi added that the arranged receiver of the drugs, Stanley Raymond, 39, was arrested in Sokoto, while the sender, Shadrack Ifediora, 46, was simultaneously arrested in Onitsha.
Meanwhile, in Kaduna State, a drug dealer, Mohammed Dalhatu aka Dawa, was arrested at Sabon Gari, Zaria with eight bags of Indian hemp weighing 67kg.
Another suspect, Maikudi Hassan, was arrested at Gubuci village in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State also with five bags of Indian hemp weighing 54.2kg.
“On Thursday Sept. 15, operatives also arrested Mary Ugwu and Hawwa Idi, at Anchau town in Kubau Local Government Area of Kaduna State with 721 ampoules of pentazocine injection; 37,000 tablets of Exol-5 and nine ampoules of diazepam injection as well as 6.8kg of rubber solution.
“In Edo, NDLEA recovered 285kg of Indian hemp in two raids at Okpuje, Owan West Local Government Area, on Friday Sept. 16. “In Lagos, 972.5kg of Indian hemp was recovered from an electronics shop at Alaba Market and one of the suspects, Mrs Ebere Aja, 38, was arrested.
“Not less than 335.1kg of Indian hemp was also seized in a raid at Kwanar Kundum area of Bauchi town, where two suspects, Usman Garba and Najib Ibrahim, were arrested,’’ Babafemi stated.
Babafemi quoted NDLEA Chairman, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa as directing that the arms and ammunition impounded in Kogi be hand over to the police for further investigation.
The death has been announced of Mrs Paulina Akabueze, mother of a former Sports Editor in the News Agency of Nigeria , Chief Austin Akabueze.
Lolo Akabueze, a former school teacher and headmistress, was a community and religious leader in Ubakwuekwem community in the Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra.
She was honored with an award as a life member of the Catholic Women Organisation by the archbishop of Onitsha and also bestowed with an award as Nne-Ife by St. Gregory’s Catholic Church, Ubahuekwem also in Ihiala.
The late Akabueze, who died at 92, is survived by nine children, 38 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
Among her survivors are Chief Austin Akabueze, a veteran journalist, based in the U.
S., who is currently a business consultant.
Others are Mrs Josephine Ngobili, Mrs Evangeline Okolie, both retired directors at the Anambra State Ministry of Education and Mrs Genevieve Ujubuonyi, a school headmistress.
The others are Chief Emmanuel Akabueze, an Ihiala-based businessman, Mr D.
D. Akabueze, a London-based businessman and Mr Ugochukwu Akabueze, also based in the U.
S. Lolo Akabueze is also survived by four daughters’ in-laws, including Mrs Vivian Akabueze, a U.
S.-based nursing practioner.
The funeral arrangements of the late community leader will be announced in due course by the family.
TP Mazembe women’s football team of Democratic Republic of Congo have qualified for their maiden appearance in the CAF Women’s Champions League.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the competition is billed for Morocco from Oct. 30 to Nov. 13.The DR Congo side join Nigeria’s Bayelsa Queens in Group B of the competition’s group stage.
They had defeated Cameroon’s AS AWA FC 2-1 in the final match of the UNIFFAC competition which served as the zonal qualifiers.
Goals from Justine Onderumbu Bousu and Merveille Kanjinga in the 31st and 82nd minutes respectively earned them victory over the the Cameroonian team.
Farida Machia had drawn AS AWA level in the 52nd minute to raise hopes of a possible stalemate.
TP Mazembe’s qualification now means all the eight clubs which will participate in the final competition in Morocco are confirmed.
NAN reports that the competition’s draw had earlier seen them grouped together with defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies of South Africa, Bayelsa Queens and Wadi Degla of Egypt.
Hosts ASFAR FC of Morocco, bronze medalists in last year’s WCL, are in Group A alongside Simba Queens of Tanzania, Green Buffaloes of Zambia and Determine Girls of Liberia.