Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bago has complained that despite Niger being rated as leading producer of paddy rice in the country, the rice mills in the state were nothing to write home about.
The Governor who declared that the era where people take rice paddy out of the state for almost free was over, added that the state government will soon sign a memorandum of understanding with a rice mill factory in Kano State for direct purchase of Paddy Rice produced.
“I went for Peer review yesterday in Kano because Niger state is the largest producer of paddy rice in Nigeria but our rice mills are nothing to write home about. I heard of the largest rice mill in Africa situated in Kano and I went for Peer review and it is something that is massive, he said.
“So how do we take comparative advantage of that? We will first aggregate this paddy and trade them off to these people instead of them coming here to carry it for almost for free and our people are losing.
“We want to empower our local farmers with improved seedlings and inputs so that they can produce more tonnage and also make more money. We are going to have an MOU between Niger State Development Company and Gerawa rice mill for offtake of all rice paddy that we can control so that we are sure that our farmers don’t lose”, he said. ”
Distributes CNG buses
He said the 100 Compressed Natural Gas powered buses purchased will be deployed to ply the Suleja/Abuja route at a subsidised rate for workers, 50 will be left in Minna and the remaining 50 shared between Kontangora and Bida, adding that the 200 buses is in fulfillment of his promise to provide free transportation for students and also for civil servants at a subsidized rate.
Bago who made this known in Minna, the Niger State capital at a dinner organised by the Niger State Government for the House of Representatives Press Corp at the 2-day workshop on the “Role of Media in Mainstreaming Climate Change Policies” organised by Executive Governor of Niger State assured that the state has no business being poor, having been blessed with enormous human and natural resources.
“We are very ambitious as a goverment. We have already purchased about 200 CNG buses to commute for free students going to school and subsidised for civil servants in Niger State. 100 of the buses will commute Abuja and Suleja daily, while 50 will be in Minna and others will be spread between Kontangora and Bida.
“Secondly, we have awarded contracts for construction of roads. That is about 566km of the roads and we have started with groundbreaking. It is unprecedented in this state, we are so ambitious and by the grace of God, we will be there”.
“There is also Zuma rock and a lot more that people don’t know. I have come here today to tell you that with this partnership we are establishing, we need to spread the gospel. Let people understand where we stand. What people understand about Niger state is the issue of insecurity and insurgency.
“Yes, we cannot shy away from insecurity, it is a reality, but what percentage of our land is in that mess? Very insignificant. You cannot underscore the fact that lives are being lost, but we are working assiduously to make sure that everybody lives well in Niger state and in Nigeria at large.
“Niger State is the largest in terms of land mass in Nigeria, with 76, 300 square kilometres of arable land. Niger State also has four Hydropower dams. That is Kianji, Jeba, Shiroro and Zungeru. We have the only white sand beach in West Africa, the shagunu beach” he said.
He assured that under his leadership, the resources would be adequately harnessed for the benefit of citizens, noting that the administration was going to mitigate the hardship occasioned by fuel subsidy removal.
We have developed strategies for fighting insecurity
Speaking on insecurity, Bago confirmed that the state is always in the news for wrong reasons due to protracted insurgency that has claimed lives.
To this end, Bago said his administration has developed strategies to tackle insecurity, saying the menace will not stop the state from making developmental strides, stressing that the state cannot shy away from insecurity, saying they are working assiduously to make sure that everybody lives well in Niger state and in Nigeria at large.
Speaking on the Green Economy Summit to be hosted by the State government on Tuesday, Gov Bago said the summit will provide an opportunity for the state to harness it’s potentials as Nigeria was yet to explore the full benefits of green economy, explaining that
Niger State has the largest congregation of shea trees in the world which has not been explored.
According to him, to avoid the calamitous consequences of climate change in Nigeria and beyond, there was tye need for media and parliamentary correspondents to join the vanguard of mainstreaming climate change policies in Nigeria.
We are holding the first of its kind green economy summit because we have seen the comparative advantage we have in this state. So much money is out there and the only way we can access carbon credits is when we first aggregate our forests, and trade them in exchange for the emission by multi national companies.
“Niger State has the largest congregation of shea trees in the world It is an endowment by God. These things nobody knows about are there but our women are in the farms, cutting them down to make firewoods. We, however need them to understand that we must protect our forest from deforestation and also promote afforestation.
“We have two major Rivers. One, on the left side, River Niger and to the right side, River Kaduna. Niger is the only state with this endowment. You can navigate from Baro until you get to the Atlantic.
The Governor stressed the importance of collaboration in promoting accurate reportage and projection of a positive image of Niger, maintaining that “Niger story must be told and heard and the only way people understand our aims and objectives is when we speak our stories ourself.”
“Your acceptance to hold this retreat in Minna, Niger State is fulfilling. Your coming to Minna has rejig the economy. Our hotelier and food vendors are happy. This retreat by the grace of God will hold annually in Niger.
“We cannot take for granted the relationship we have enjoined with national assembly press corp, especially the house of representatives. I was there for 12years and I know the stewardship of this corps” he noted.
Speaking on climate change, a former member of the House of Representatives, Sam Onuigbo, Uche Anunne, Abubakar Sulaiman, the Director-General of National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Assistant Editor-in-Chief in the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
This is even as they affirmed that Nigeria lost $6 billion to the 2022 flood, following the devastation of farm lands, farmer/harder clashes as a result of climate change, food and national security is challenged.
In his paper presentation on “The Media, Parliament and Climate Change”, the former member, Sam Onuigbo who sponsored the Climate Change Bill now an Act, said, if special actions are not taken, Nigeria economy will be devastated and it will be too difficult to recover.
The Lawmaker informed that monies that would have been used to develop the country is being put into recovering from the effects of climate change.
He tasked journalists to engage and seek funding from donor agencies for the required empowerment to put climate change issues on the front burner and cause appropriate actions.
Onuigbo laud Nigeria for being among three countries that passed the Climate Change Act out of fifty four countries in the world and also established the National Council for Climate Change (NCCC).
Also, Abubakar Sulaiman, the Director-General of National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) said mainstreaming climate change policies is the only way the parliamentarians, parliament including the Executive arm and other professionals expected to be both the driver or and regulator of climate change issues and policies to realise the goals and achieve the stated climate change policies of the United Nations.
“Therefore, to avoid the calamitous consequences of climate change in Nigeria and beyond, it behoves the media and indeed parliamentary correspondents and in this case, the House Representatives Press corps to join the vanguard of mainstreaming climate change policies in Nigeria,” he said.
In another paper presentation titled ‘Effective Reporting of Green Economy: the Prospects and Challenges by Uche Anunne, Assistant Editor-in-Chief in the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted a study by Brookings Institute, saying to implement a green transition, Nigeria will need to tackle three main obstacles of inadequate financing, fiscal and job consequences of a just transition, and imperfect project implementation capacities.
He lamented on the challenges on mainstreaming climate change such lack of political will, lack of policies, dearth of data and information, lack of funding among others and charged media practicers to ensure the obstacles are removed and to hold policy makers accountable to the people.
“As National Assembly reporters it is important that you hold lawmakers accountable for legislations on green economy. Are they demonstrating enough commitment to green economy? It is also imperative that you track green economy- related public budgets and financing.
“Are we paying a lip service to it or properly budgeting for it? What per cent of what is proposed in the budget was approved and what per cent was released.
“What is the budget performance? What are the related agencies of government doing to ensure the implementation of green economy-related laws? How about Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and development partners,” he noted.
Grace Ike, the Chairperson of the House of Representatives Press Corps maintained that the innovative ideas in the area of economy, policies and security of the governor is indeed novel and an indication that Bago is at home with contemporary developmental issues.
She called on media to utilize the opportunity presented by the training, saying it is our responsibility as Reporters to communicate and properly disseminate the information.
“I want to place it on record that since 1999, no governor and particularly, any former member of the House who became governor of a state has had the courtesy to host the Press Corp to a training workshop. This is the first of its kind. It is not an indictment but it is a fact. Your Excellency, we are grateful.
“The media as we are all aware plays a significant role in the development of the society. Yes, the media critiques, sets agenda and puts public officials on their toes. And if you do not have the tenacity of purpose, you will shy away from the media.
“And any public or elected official who knows his or her onions and wants to succeed always courts the media because no matter how well you perform, if the media does not tell your story, you achievements will remain elusive and anonymous.
Grace Ike, who presented the award to the governor, said the medal was in recognition of the governor’s excellent service, dedication and unparalleled contribution to the development of the Nigerian economy.
The event, which signified the end of a two-day retreat on climate change organised by the state government for the press corps, had the governor honoured with the ‘most innovative governor’ of the year award.