The Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) has commenced nationwide strategic meeting with maize farmers and stakeholders on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ loan recovery.
This is contained in a statement by Mr Bello Abubakar, the National President, MAN on Thursday in Abuja.
Abubakar said that the meeting would include those from South-South and South-East geo-political zones of the country.
According to him, the meeting will hold in Port Harcourt, with the objective of reviewing the impact of the loan on food security.
“We will also deliberate on loan repayment strategies and the way forward for maize farmers,” Abubakar said.
He said that the association would ensure that all necessary actions and measures would be taken to compel the farmers who took the loans to pay back.
Abubakar said that to this effect, the association decided to go round the 36 states of the federation starting with the South-South and South-East to come together and meet with stakeholders.
“The meeting will discuss, deliberate and come up with concrete solution to the problem and ensure that farmers pay up their loans.
“We know there are some challenges but loan is a loan, loan is not a grant, loan is not subsidy, therefore we must follow these farmers to make sure they pay back the loan,” he said.
Abubakar said that the loan had encouraged farmers to produce more and encouraged more people to go into farming thereby enhancing food production.
He said that the purchase and disbursement of hybrid seeds and other inputs and extension services made available to maize farmers through the loan had boosted yields per hectare to five metric tons.
Abubakar said that the programme had helped farmers to get quality inputs; right from seed, fertilizer, herbicides and other needed services which made the farmers increase their production.
The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons has commenced the distribution of livelihoods support to 500 internally displaced persons ( IDPs) in Sokoto state.
The National Commissioner, Ms Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, inaugurated the distribution on Thursday in Sokoto.
Sulaiman-Ibrahim said the commission designed a special package that comprised food and non food items for immediate support to displaced persons in various communities.
The commissioner, who was represented by the Deputy Director of Procurement, Mrs Funmilayo Bara, said the exercise was an extension of the commission’s Zero Hunger Project Initiative.
The commissioner said that the initiative was aimed at addressing the nutritional needs of all the persons concerned.
She added that the project was borne out of the necessity to streamline and enhance the distribution and availability of food and non-food- items to all persons of concern ”using our Food Care Packs’.
’ The commissioner stated that the distribution exercise was also in line with the mandate and commitment of the commission to always provide care, succour and maintenance to the beneficiaries.
” This is also in consonance with the humanitarian drive of the Federal Government under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
” As you are aware, there are currently about 4.1 million IDPs in Nigeria, who are victims of both man-made and natural disasters.
” In view of the increasing numbers of IDPs, management of IDPs requires the hands of everyone to be on deck.
” Governments, NGOs, CSOs, Development Partners, Organized Private Sector and individuals must be involved,” Sulaiman-Ibrahim said.
She advocated collective approach in the society in order to mitigate the challenges of managing IDPs in Nigeria.
” We urged Nigerians to key into the idea of helping our brothers’ by contributing to measures that would mitigate the challenges of IDPs, ” the commissioner said.
She lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his unflinching support for strengthening humanitarian policies and interventionist response programmes and projects.
Sulaiman-Ibrahim reiterated that the Nigerian government would continue to support persons of concern in the country.
She also commended Hajiya Sadiya Farouq for leadership and guidance that facilitated excellent coordination efforts of the humanitarian sector that were yielding life changing results.
“To live in dignity, safety and peace does not discriminate against race, skin colour, tribe, social status, placement or class.
It is a fundamental human right ,” she added.
The Sokoto State Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education, Alhaji Bello Abubakar, commended the efforts and urged the beneficiaries to consider their condition and destiny.
Abubakar, who was represented by Director, Quality Assurance in the ministry, Alhaji Aliyu Jodi, assured continued government support to IDPs education and others.
Earlier, Alhaji Nasiru Aliyu, the Director-General, Sokoto State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said beneficiaries were drawn from two IDP camps within Sokoto metropolis.
Aliyu said the state government has been supporting the IDPs and lauded Buhari for recognition and support to displaced persons.
He said, ”an empowerment programme was also designed to make displaced persons more productive beside education, healthcare and other livelihoods support.
” The News Agency of Nigeria reports that beneficiaries were mostly from eastern parts of the state.
NAN also reports that they relocated to the state capital because of banditry and kidnapping activities, while some of them were displaced by Boko Haram insurgency.
A cross section of the beneficiaries expressed excitement over the gesture, as they had spent five years and below residing in the camps.
They were also hopeful of returning back to their respective settlements with such continued government efforts.
Stakeholders in Northwest are demanding the stipulation of a binding legal time-frame within which entitlements of retired civil servants must be paid by the relevant authorities.
Making the proposal in their contributions to a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria , they observed that the long period of between one and two years it often took the authorities to settle gratuities, was inhuman.
The stakeholders, mostly serving and retired civil servants, lamented that the unwarranted delay in the payment of entitlements had resulted in untold hardship to retirees, and in many cases, even death.
They also lamented that under the current Federal Pension Scheme, a major factor contributing to the delay, was the late receipt of Federal share of the allocation, a development they described as avoidable.
They therefore advocated that the Pension Reform law be reviewed to set a time-frame for payment, and a provision enclosed to criminalise the violation of the payment period, arguing that hitches being experienced were mainly due to acts of dereliction of duty on the part of some implementors.
Others advocated the complete scrapping of the current pension scheme and a reversion to the old arrangement, should measures aimed at averting the delayed payment fail to address the challenge.
In Kaduna, respondents described as extremely pathetic, the delay in payment of retirees’ entitlements and pension in the country.
They said it was sad that people put in their productive years into service, only to go hungry immediately they retired.
Malam Abdu Magaji, who retired from Kaduna State local government service about 15 years ago, told NAN that it took about seven months before he received his gratuity.
Magaji, who is the Deputy Chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Soba Local Government Area, said that his pension was initially N14,000 a month, but was increased to N30,000 in line with the national minimum wage.
He added that sometimes it took 12 months before his pension was paid, saying that he relied solely on his pension.
Hauwau Evelyn-Yusuf, a Professor of Criminology and Gender Studies, Kaduna State University, said that some retirees died without being paid their entitlements.
Evelyn-Yusuf, who is also the Director, Centre for Gender Studies in the university, urged government at all levels to make necessary preparations to pay workers their benefits the moment they retired.
“You need to see how some people that were hitherto living very well while working, but could not feed their family the moment they retire.
“Government officials and pension administrators need to remember that they may be working and earning salaries today, but a time shall come when they will also retire and become pensioners,” she said.
Also, a legal practitioner, Mrs Rebecca Sako-John, urged government and the pension administrators to be humane and always consider the plight of retirees.
Sako-John stressed that most retirees did not save anything before retirement because the salary was barely enough to get through a month.
“The little amount that is being deducted every month from their salaries and kept for them, should be made available almost immediately they retire.
“The break between when their salary stops and when they should receive their benefits, should not exceed three months.
“Inflation has already made the money so meagre that they can barely survive on it, but no matter how little the money is, it should be given to them immediately, to cushion their suffering,” she said.
On her part, Prof. Salamatu Isah, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Pension Bureau, said that the state government was up to date in remittances to Pension Fund Administrators under the State Contributory Pension Scheme.
She said that the state government had in August, approved the sum of N860 million for the payment of gratuity and death benefits to retirees and families of deceased.
“The payment is both for state and local government retirees under the Defined Benefit Scheme,” she said.
Also contributing to the survey, Chairman, Kano State Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Kabir Ado, called for immediate payment of entitlement of civil servants upon retirement.
He explained that Kano State Government was operating a different contributory pension scheme from that of the Federal Government.
According to him, payment of entitlements in the state had been timely and hitch-free, until recently when payments of outstanding gratuity, death benefits and pension arrears became an issue due to non-remittance of the 17 per cent contributions by some ministries and parastatals.
“The Kano State Government and the Pension Fund Trustees should do everything possible to ensure that pensioners continue to smile by paying their entitlements immediately they retire from service,” he emphasised.
On his part, the Public Relations Officer, Kano State Pension Board, Alhaji Umar Kurmawa, called on the relevant authority to conduct screening of retirees on time whenever the need arose, to enable early settlement of entitlements.
Malam Shehu Abdullahi, a civil servant in Kano, who spoke to NAN, said the current situation of delayed payment of entitlement of pensioners after retirement, needed to be addressed.
“It is worrisome that most pensioners find themselves in a situation of unbearable hardship, which in some cases, lead to their death.
“Government need to sit up and make retirement a thing of joy and rest of mind, not a thing of sadness,” he said.
Some retirees in Kano who spoke to NAN said they had been waiting for years without getting their entitlements.
Fatima Musa, a civil servant who retired two years ago, said she had not been paid her gratuity.
“I am a widow; I have been waiting for two years to get my entitlement and purchase a house, as well as investing the remaining amount; I am appealing to the state government to please come to our aid and pay our money; we are really suffering”, she said.
Malam Saminu Isa, a retired Federal civil servant in Kano, also appealed to the appropriate authorities to settle entitlement of civil servants immediately they retired from service.
“I spent over a year before my gratuity and pension was paid; I had to venture into another work to cater for my family,” he said.
In Zamfara, stakeholders also appealed to governments at all levels to ensure immediate payment of benefits of civil servants as soon as they disengaged from service.
A cross section of retirees who spoke to NAN urged policy implementors to ensure compliance to the Pension Reform Act of 2014 as amended.
Comrade Ibrahim Kanoma, former State Secretary of the NLC in the state said after spending years in service, retirees should be given their entitlements immediately, for them to invest and continue taking care of their families.
He also suggested that delay in payment of gratuities of retirees be criminalised.
“Many retirees are suffering due to delay in payment of their entitlements, some of them get frustrated, resulting in their untimely death.
“As I am speaking to you now,I know a retiree who retired from service since 2015 and has not been paid his benefits till date.
“We are appealing to government at all levels to review their policy on payment of pension and gratuities to safeguard the lives of senior citizens of this country,” Kanoma said.
Also speaking to NAN, a retired Permanent Secretary, Shehu Isma’il, lamented the poor condition of retired civil servants.
“Majority of workers depend on their retirement benefits to build houses; some use the money to set up businesses and take care of their families”, he said.
A retired teacher, Zainab Abba, urged political office holders to respect and comply with 2014 Pension Reform Act, as amended.
“Both I and my late husband retired from the state civil service since 2016, but as I am talking to you now, none of us has been paid his or her entitlements”, she said.
Meanwhile, some Federal civil servants in Katsina State have called on government to revert to the old pension system to end the suffering faced by retirees in accessing their benefits under the present scheme.
One of them, Malam Adamu Abdullahi, said the suffering faced by retirees in accessing their benefits under the present scheme, was becoming too unbearable.
“The recent proposed payment of 75 per cent of lump-sum to retirees by the National Assembly would have reduced the tension of pensioners.
“But since it is yet to become reality, I think its better for the Federal Government to scrap the present pension scheme and return to the old system so that pensioners can access their benefit immediately they retire”, he said.
Also, Alhaji Bello Abubakar, another Federal civil servant, said the issue of returning to the old system should be considered by both the Federal Government and National Assembly.
He said that civil servants encountered financial challenges when they retired from service, because the arrangement under the present pension scheme deprived them of something tangible as pension upon retirement.
In Sokoto State, however, Secretary of Nigerian Union of Pensioners in the state, Alhaji Muhammadu Nasiru, said no pensioner was being owed a dime.
Nasiru told NAN that the state government tried to ensure that pensioners were paid their entitlements immediately they retired.
He said that the matters bordering on gratuity were handled through a different channel, saying a certain amount had been agreed with the state government to be released for payment of gratuities.
Speaking also, the state Chairman of NLC in the State, Mr Aminu Umar, also commended the state government for giving priority to welfare of workers and retirees in the state.
Former Commissioner of Finance in Sokoto state, Alhaji Abdussamad Dasuki, also said that to the best of his knowledge, there was no pension and salary arrears in owed to workers and retirees in the state.
Dasuki explained that payment of gratuity was being implemented based on a schedule of ‘first to retire’ arrangement.
But a pensioner in the state, Malam Adamu Muhammad, said he started receiving pension some months after retirement and urged authorities to readjust the payment to be seamless.
Muhammad lamented that some workers started to benefit earlier than others, citing an example with retirees from Local Government service whose payments were often delayed.
United Nations Children and Education Fund (UNICEF) has facilitated the enrolment of 964,325 out of school children from 2012 till date in Sokoto and Zamfara states.
UNICEF’s Chief Field Officer in Sokoto, Dr Maryam Darwesh-Said, said this at a three-day Media Dialogue on Girls’ Education Project (GEP3), on Tuesday in Sokoto.
Darwesh-Said said that the figure represented 44 per cent in Sokoto and 62 per cent in Zamfara, based on progressive annual school census data.
She said that during the period, the capacities of no fewer than 11,593 teachers were enhanced, out of whom 486 were females in the two states.
The UNICEF chief field officer said that 1,280 Integrated Qur’anic School (IQS) facilitators were trained in the two states, out of whom 92 were females.
He said that the project was targeted at supporting efficient and effective governance, where no fewer than 13,094 school management committee members underwent relevant capacity trainings in both states.
Darwesh-Said said that the project ensured three outputs comprising increased enrolment and retention of girls in basic education, improved capacity of teachers to deliver effective learning for girls and improved governance to strengthen girls’ education.
“In recognition of the benefits from GEP, a sustainability strategy document was developed by the states.
“I urge the states to ensure full implementation of the sustainability plan by incorporating it into their budget to capture required funding contributions for UNICEF supported interventions to facilitate strategic sustainability,” she said.
Darwesh-Said said that only continuity could ensure that those young girls and boys who had been provided with the opportunity of enjoying their rights to education continue to thrive and learn to become responsible citizens.
She reinstated UNICEF’s commitment to continue providing technical support to the implementation agencies in the states toward a common vision of ensuring that all school girls and boys were in school and learning.
Earlier, Sokoto State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Alhaji Bello Abubakar, commended UNICEF and other supporting partners, noting that the state had achieved a lot in the growth of education.
Abubakar said that government had put in place better school management, provided habitable learning environment, improved teachers’ methodology and promoted women-teacher model initiative, among others.
Also speaking, Chairman of Sokoto State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Altine Kajiji, said that the state government had established 76 post-basic literacy centres.
According to Kajiji, there are two of such centres in each local government area, with one allocated to boys and one to girls, to promote formal learning.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the participants included: UNICEF and government officials as well as journalists from the two states.
The Nigerian Maize Farmers Association said in Katsina on Monday that Nigerian farmers produced no less than 20 million tonnes of maize in 2021.
The association's national president, Alhaji Bello Abubakar, revealed this when he led members on a courtesy visit to the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumin Kabir.
He said that before he returned to his post in 2015, Nigerian maize farmers produced just eight million tonnes.
"However, between 2015 and now, production has increased by around 12 million tons, making it 20 million tons," Abubakar said.
With this development, he said that the production of corn in the country increased, adding that this was achieved through the introduction of farmers to the modern agricultural system.
"They have learned what is called mechanization, from the beginning to the cultivation, through the use of machines," he said.
Abubakar explained that as many as 500,000 maize farmers had benefited from the Anchor Borrower Programme, adding that as many as 80,000 had benefited from Katsina.
He said the visit to the palace was to seek more support from the emir and also to engage traditional leaders in the anchor borrower program so grassroots farmers could benefit.
In his response, the emir praised the association's support for Nigerian farmers, asking them to be formidable and not let politicians spoil the programme.
He also advised the association not to allow people of dubious character to infiltrate their ranks and prevent real farmers from benefiting from their activities, especially now that insecurity has become a major threat to farmers in the northeast.
By Oluwafunke Ishola
Mr. Olayinka Subair, Country Manager and Cluster Lead of Pfizer Nigeria, West Africa, says advocating for patients 'rights in pharmaceutical work is essential to ensure the safety of patients' lives.
Subair made this known in a statement by Ms. Oluwayemisi Mafe, Pfizer's corporate affairs and communications manager for West Africa, Monday in Lagos.
According to him, Pfizer, a biopharmaceutical company, is deploying resources to provide treatments that prolong and improve the lives of patients.
He said the company is constantly seeking to collaborate with stakeholders to support and expand access to reliable and affordable health care in global communities.
“Patients in Focus is an opportunity for Pfizer to strengthen its ongoing commitment to patients by ensuring that all Pfizer employees have the knowledge and resources to integrate the patient voice into their work.
"This effort, led by the global patient advocacy team, brings Pfizer closer to its goal of being the most patient-centered company and achieving equity in health," he said. he declares.
Subair said that in Nigeria, the company will demonstrate its commitment to patients through an interactive discussion on health care disparities and other barriers to care.
The national director said the company launched a global “Patients in Focus” event between October 4 and 8 to recognize the influence patients have on its work.
“We are made up of many local markets and different functions, but our focus at Pfizer is global: to develop breakthroughs that change the lives of patients.
“For our work to be meaningful, every function at Pfizer must understand the importance of involving patients, caregivers and advocates in our work.
“The Patients in Focus week will show where we have had an impact on patients' lives; enable colleagues to learn from each other and continue to put the patient first in everything we do, ”said Subair.
He said the week will provide a platform to share global success stories and best practices that have empowered and inspired them.
“It will also highlight the benefits of global resources such as the Global Patient Advocacy team and its new Patient Centricity Hub,” said Subair.
He said the panel speakers were: Dr Bello Abubakar, Consultant Oncologist and President, African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) and Ms Mary Gloria Orji, Network of People Affected by Cancer in Nigeria ( NePICiN).