President Muhammadu Buhari has directed his ministers of agriculture to work with the states to rediscover lost animal grazing routes and reserves as part of measures to curb the frequent outbreak of violence between farmers and herders.
The president said Nigerian farmers stand to reap the benefits of his government’s reforms as he continues to accord the highest priority to agriculture, describing it as the country’s largest employer of labour and engine of growth.
Speaking yesterday at a meeting with Katsina State Elders Forum at the presidential villa, the president rolled out his administration’s plans for farmers, saying he will continue to take steps to enhance output and productivity by ensuring the availability of cheap agricultural credits, farm inputs, fertilizer and the introduction of latest technologies
President Buhari said the choice of practicing farmers as ministers in charge of agriculture, first Chief Audu Ogbe and now Alhaji Sabo Nanono was a reflection of his strong wish to protect the interest of farmers and the attainment of national food self- sufficiency.
He agreed to look into the request of the Katsina elders for the expansion of existing irrigation schemes at Zobe and Sabke dams to enhance employment and profitability in agriculture.
According to him, a situation in which 60 per cent of the state is productive in rain-fed agriculture for three to four months and idle for the rest of the year was unacceptable.
He also pressed the necessity of educating school-age children, saying that once the opportunity of early education is lost, it often turns out very difficult for them to make up.
“This is the best preparation we can give to them. We destroy their lives by denying children education,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted the president as saying.
Buhari also broached the issue of armed banditry and kidnapping that had bedevilled Katsina and other northwestern states, just as he assured that the situation will be overcome in the same way the farmer-herders attacks were subdued.
Leader of the delegation, Alhaji Aliyu Balarabe Saulawa representing the chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi, Maradin Katsina, commended the president for returning peace to most parts of the state and for the various infrastructure projects, including the Kano- Jigawa-Katsina-Maradi rail link.
They welcomed the recent decision by government to elongate the service of teachers and improve their condition of service.
Gombe Gov Meets Pesident, Seeks Speedy Exploration Of Oil In Gongola Basin
Meanwhile, Gombe State governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, has urged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to expedite action on the exploration of crude oil in the Gongola Basin.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that the NNPC had last year announced the discovery of crude oil deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, located in Bauchi and Gombe States in the Northeastern part of the country.
The governor yesterday told President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa that the exploration of oil in the area will trigger economic activities and create employment.
He said the federal government should mount pressure on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to begin the exploitation of oil and gas in the state as well as the whole of Gongola Basin so as to create job opportunities and boost economic activities in the Northeast sub- region.
Yahaya also sought the president’s intervention on the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state, even as he disclosed that about 32,00 families have been displaced by flood in two local government areas of the state.
Biefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of his meeting with Buhari at the presidential villa, the governor said since the discovery of oil and gas in Gombe and Bauchi States and by extension the entire Gongola Basin, the people of the area had been looking forward with high hopes of the commencement of oil exploitation which he said will provide job opportunities for the people, enhance economic activities and create a launching pad for Gombe to join the league of oil producing States in the country.
He stated: “With the discovery of oil and gas in Gombe and Bauchi states, and specifically, in the whole of Gongola Basin, we seek to get the support of the federal government, so the pressure will be mounted on the Nigerian National Petroleum corporation (NNPC) and the DPR for them to see to the fact that the exploitation of oil and gas deposit that is available in Gombe and in fact the wider Gongola Basin is encouraged so that economic activities will be triggered, our people will have jobs and Gombe will join the league of oil producing states.”
He also noted that the Dadin Kowa Hydropower has the potential of generating power to be used by the State and the soon to take off Gombe industrial park as well as for irrigation farming.
He commended the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for recently awarding the contract through the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria, TRIMMING irrigational facilities.
“Mr President is fully aware that Gombe State is putting up an industrial park which is likely going to take off by the end of the year and with this we hope to attract investors who will come and join us and put up agro allied industries so that the whole value Chain of Agriculture can be harnessed for the benefit of the people”, he added.
On his administration’s flagship projects of network eleven hundred and Gombe Goes Green 3G, Governor Yahaya said prior to his assumption into office as Governor of the state, he recognised that one of the fundamental challenges of the people was road inter connectivity to link communities and local government headquarters as well as the state capital.
He said it was for this reason that his administration initiated the ‘network eleven hundred’ to build at least 100 kilometres of road in each local government area of the state so as to open up the state for the free movement of human, goods and services.
He said, “You see, 80 per cent of our people are peasants farmers so if we are able to link them up with the ‘network eleven hundred’ which intends to put up one hundred kilometres of road in each local government area of the state, we would have succeeded in easing the stress of our people and so far I can say we are doing well because at the moment there are projects going on in all the local government areas of the state aimed at achieving the target”.
Governor Yahaya said the Gombe Goes Green 3G project was borne out of his administration’s desire to regenerate the environment which is at the mercy of desertification and poor land utilisation.
He said a lot of the state forest reserves have been depleted due to poor agricultural practices which have become incumbent on his administration to provide vegetation cover through reforestation to protect the soil and provide shade for plants and animals.
“With the Gombe Goes Green project, we aim to achieve two to three things. By planting trees we have provided engagement to the youth who are already working in conjunction with YESSO and the economic trees also being planted side by side will be beneficial to the people in the long run”, he noted.
The governor said the state had been playing a comforting role housing those fleeing Boko Haram and other crisis within the Northeast sub-region, describing the development as putting a strain on the state educational, social and environmental standards.
He said his administration had been in constant touch with the federal government on how best to manage issues relating to security in the state in view of its current status which is now home to individuals whose identity and capacity to commit crime is not known.
“Those that have been displaced by insurgency have resettled amongst our people. As far as the issue of displaced persons are concerned, neigbhouring Borno and Yobe, we have an arrangement for them to settle with our people, so we don’t have IDPS camps per say.
So, the people have acclimatized and have gotten used to living with our people and they are doing very well,” he explained.
On the recent flood disaster that ravaged most part of the country, Governor Yahaya described the case of Gombe as unique in view of its geographical location which situates it in a valley.
He appealed to the federal government to come to the aid of Gombe State in tackling the menace of gullies threatening lives and means of livelihood.
He continued: “The issue of recent flood that has been affecting the whole country. Much as we don’t have rivers around Gombe but the flood around the river banks of Gongola, which is covering two of the local government areas, has equally affected us and also resettlement of most of our people.
“But most importantly, because Gombe is situated between valleys and because of poor practices and lack of proper environmental management, gullies have developed.
“You might have seen in the last few weeks the effect of gully erosion in Gombe State. So, erosional upset has really devastated the lives of our people and has really become a problem and there is need for us to seek support from the federal government.
“As at the moment there are 200 active gullies in Gombe which have affected the lives and livelihoods of a lot our people. So, we brought that to the notice to Mr President for him to see how best he could attend and render some help, especially from the ministry of environment, and more importantly, through the federal government’s understanding with the World Bank via the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project which Gombe has keyed into.
“Once we are able to get that, we hope our problem of gully erosions will be solved partially if not fully”, he stated.
On the number of people displaced by flood, the governor remarked that over 3,200 families have been displaced, saying government was trying to provide them with alternatives.
He explained: “Of recent, in two local governments we had about 3,200 families that have been dislocated. But we have been trying to provide alternatives.
“At the moment, we are designing layouts from which we will relocate all resettlements that are on flood planes and on gullies which are normally susceptible to floods.
The Gombe governor said he used his visit to show solidarity to the president over the way he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other state matters.
Dutch Court To Entertain Nigerian Farmers’ Appeal In Suit Against Shell
Meanwhile, a Dutch Court of Appeal sitting in The Hague has begun hearing in an appeal filed by four Nigerian farmers in a case against Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over pollution of the environment and destruction of their farmlands and other sources of livelihood in the Niger Delta region.
The farmers from Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom, Oruma in Bayelsa and Goi in Rivers States, who filed the suit in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie), are urging the court to order Royal Dutch Shell to mandate its subsidiary, SPDC, to remediate and recover the environment that was destroyed by its facilities.
The plaintiffs/appellants/ respondents, Princewill Alali Efanga, Chief Eric Barizaa Dooh, Elder Friday Alfred Akpan and Chief Felix Oguru, however monitored proceedings of the court via YouTube in Port Harcourt, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the court adjourned proceedings, Nigerian counsel to the farmers and acting executive director, Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Chima Williams, said the case wouldn’t have been necessary if all the multinational companies operating in Nigeria had respect for the rights of Nigerians and their environment.
Williams said, “The case is about oil spill caused by facilities of SPDC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell in Ikot Ada Udo in Akwa Ibom State, Oruma in Bayelsa State and Goi in Ogoniland in Rivers State, which affected properties of the plaintiffs.
“The case is challenging the inaction and inactivity of Shell in containing the spill when it occurred and redressing the environment by recovering the environment and also for taking into account that people’s source of livelihood and life sustenance had been destroyed beyond immediate recovery to take case of those persons. This is the essence of the case.
“These types of cases wouldn’t have been necessary assuming all the multinational companies operating in Nigeria had respect for the rights of the Nigerian citizens and their environment or where there were breaches, offered immediate remedies.
“The Nigerian governments should support efforts of her citizens to bring the extractive companies to remedy the harm caused her citizens and their environment to pave way for a healthy relationship between the citizens, companies and government.”
BY JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH AND ANAYO ONUKWUGHA,