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FG targets April 2023 to conduct national census

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government has said it is targeting to hold a national census on April 2023 after the general election, slated for February and March 2023.

The National Population Commission is to conduct a Pilot Census in June after political parties’ primary elections.

The last census was held in August 2006.

The Director-General of Nigeria Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Isa-Kwarra, made the disclosure at the end of the Council of State meeting, Presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The NPC boss disclosed that the commission will deploy high technology in conducting the National Census.

He said through census data is generated for planning, noting that the data currently being used are mere projections and obsolete.

Isa-Kwarra said: “It is very crucial because I have highlighted that the census is a very important exercise for the nation. Because through census we generate the data that we use for policymaking, planning, for development, by the three tiers of government, and the private sector, they all need this.

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‘If you are a private sector, you’re producing something, certainly, you need to know the population of an area if you want to create a market there.

‘So census data is very crucial, very important. Because, the data we’ve been using are just projections, and estimation and are sort of obsolete, we need the actual census data to use for our planning.’

The Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru, on his part disclosed that Buhari will meet security chiefs on Tuesday next week over the worsening security situation following recommendations and comments by the council of state.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on his part said the Council of State approve 159 out of 162 applications presented for consideration for the prerogative of mercy for convicts and inmates in correctional centres.

The council, he said, rejected a proposal to grant a pardon to one of the prisoners sentenced to 120 years for stealing over N25 billion. The reason for seeking pardon was because of a life-threatening illness.

Although the AGF didn’t mention the name of the convict, a source privy meeting said, the person in question is the former MD of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche.

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The second person was converted for forgery, sentenced to 14 years and has stayed in prison for a year and six months.

The third person was obtaining money by false pretence and was sentenced to seven years.

The Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, on his part, said the council approved the conferment of the National Honours Award on 434 Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavours.

Earlier, the meeting observed a minute silence in honour of the former head of the Interim Government, Ernest Shonekan who died on January 11 2022.

This is the fourth time the President will preside over the meeting, with the first being held on October 21, 2015, and the second on September 7, 2016, and the third was held virtually in August 2020.

The Council of State is an organ of the Federal Government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy-making matters.

Members of the council include the Vice President, past presidents, Senate President, House of Reps Speaker Chief Justice of Nigeria, serving and past.

Others are the Attorney General of the Federation, all State Governors and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Those in attendance at the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, and Chief of Staff to the President Prof Ibrahim Gambari.

Former heads of state physically in attendance were Gen Yakubu Gowon, Gen Abdusalami Abubakar and Goodluck Jonathan.

Others attended the meeting virtually from their various locations.

State governors in attendance are Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), and Nasir El Rufai (Kaduna), amongst others.

Other Governors attended virtually.

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Actionaid proffers solutions to Nigeria’s food crisis

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Sequel to food insufficiency in the country, Actionaid Nigeria, has advised the three tiers of government to commit 10% of their annual budget to agriculture, focus on strategic areas of extension services, and to provide credit for women.

The organization also advised government to provide labour-saving technologies, inputs, post-harvest losses reduction supports like training, market access, processing and storage facilities.

Its Country Director, Ene Obi, gave the counseling at the National Dialogue and Dissemination on Nigeria’s Performance at the 3rd Biennial Review Exercise on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP), yesterday in Abuja.

She said: “For Nigeria to be on track in meeting the 2014 Malabo Declaration Commitments, going forward, we hope that the three tiers of government would commit 10% of their annual budget to the agriculture sector required to support at least 6% growth rate for the sector as postulated in the CAADP framework.

“And investments should focus on strategic areas of extension services, access to credit, women in agriculture, youth in agriculture, appropriate labour-saving technologies, inputs, post-harvest losses reduction supports (processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, market access, etc.), Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology, Research and Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as Coordination.”

Obi pointed out that Actionaid conducted a research and the data through the VABKIT reflected the realities of smallholder women farmers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which “shows that nationwide, smallholder women farmers currently have only 18% access to processing facilities, 16.60% access to storage facilities, 13.50% access to off-takers/access to markets, 9.60% access to transportation for agricultural produce, and 42.30% access to trainings.

“On Extension Services, smallholder women farmers have access to only 5.26% farm demonstrations and 19.47% farmers field schools.

“On agricultural credit, they have access to less than 23% of existing credit facilities, and only 4.77% access to agricultural insurance.

“On access to and control over land, about 59% of them have access to land, 29.77% have control, while only 11.23% are engaged in land governance discussions.”

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhine, said the ministry has begun the process of strengthening evidence based data for effective policy formulation and tracking of performance.

Represented by the Director, Agric Land and Climate Change Management Service, Oshatidiya Olanikun, he said: “In the Ministry, evidence based data for effective policy formulation and tracking of performance is being strengthened with the concept of the National Agricultural Data Management Information System (NADMIS).

“It is to facilitate quality data collection, analysis, harmonization and storage for overall planning, monitoring, evaluating and reporting initiatives, programmes and projects at the global, continental, regional and national levels.”

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Insecurity: Advocacy group condemns renewed attack in Kaduna

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From Okwe Obi, Abuja

An advocacy group, Southern Kaduna Peace Practitioners Network (SOKIPEP) has deplored a renewed attack in Gora Gan Community of Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, by bandits.

The group noted that the inhumane act was carried out disrupt the level of peace achieved by internal military outfit, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in the area.

SOKIPEP National President, Dauda Fadia, in a statement, yesterday sympathized with families of the deceased, the people of Southern Kaduna, and Kaduna State Government over the development.

Fadia charged security agencies to remain resolute and go all out in fishing out the culprits and their sponsors with a view to facing the law.

Aside calling on the people to remain calm with the assurance that security agencies were capable of unraveling the culprits, he appealed for immediate deployment of relief materials to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

“As a peace advocacy group working with both security agencies and stakeholders in Southern Kaduna to bring lasting peace to our area, we note with concern the latest attack on Gora Gan Community of Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

“We condemn in the strongest terms yet another attack by some mindless and senseless criminals in Gora Gan village which claimed the lives of six persons.

“This attack by some suspected cattle rustlers whose mission was to steal some bulls being used by the locals for farming is unfortunate and must be condemned by all.

We condole with the government and people of Southern Kaduna over the lost of six in the attack, our heart is with them,” he said.

The cleric, however, commended the leadership of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), for the prompt and effective intervention of the situation from escalating.

“We wish to acknowledge the prompt response of OPSH in quelling the Gora Gan village attack.

“Worthy of commendation is the timely and quick response of the men of Operation Safe Haven who gave the attackers hot chase  and as a result killed  four of the attackers who invaded the community.

“We are full of thanks to God Almighty and officers and men of Operation Safe Haven for their responsive actions not only in the Gora Gan village attack but also the various others in the entire Southern Kaduna in the past in general.

“But for the prompt response of the gallant security men, our community would have been completely brought down considering the intimidating number of the attackers and sophistication.

“This gallantry of the security men has given us more grounds to continue to support the special military outfit and other security agencies working in Southern Kaduna to restore peace.

In addition, he called for support from both authorities and the stakeholders for the military outfit.

“All that is needed for them (OPSH) to succeed and return Southern kaduna to part of peace and progress is for all stakeholders to come together and speak truth to ourselves by calling a spade a spade, criminals for criminals rather than unjustly acting the script of some desperate people working against the efforts of OPSH and its Commander to restore peace in our area,just all for their selfish gain,” he added.

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