The combine effect of the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, escalation of Ukraine-Russia war and the rising number of internally displaced persons has made food insecurity in the country a growing problem, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, disclosed in Benin yesterday.
The FidelinfoNews gathered that he stated this in a keynote address he delivered at the maiden roll out of agricultural inputs and equipment, as special intervention support for small-holder farmers in Edo State.
Dr. Umakhihe stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, worsened poverty and food insecurity in the country, pointing out that the reduction of economic activities due to the pandemic led to food price hike, as high as 120 per cent across markets nationwide.
“The inputs’ distribution is targeted at small-holder farmers, who form about 70 per cent of the food producing populace. For the past seven years, issues relating to food security have constituted a major focus of the policy thrust of the Nigerian government. It formed part of the major goals, which the world leaders initially agreed to devote resources to actualise by 2015, but now by 2030. These goals are aimed at ensuring no poverty and zero hunger by 2030, as one of the SDGs.
“To address the food insecurity occasioned by the crises of national insecurity and COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian government, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, came up with strategic policies such as the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), the Green Imperative, Agricultural Promotion Policy, NATIP, and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), among others.
“These policies are aimed at ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially during this post COVID-19 era.
“Smallholders are the most vulnerable in times of crisis. It becomes imperative for the government to support them with the much-needed inputs, especially seeds, the most important factor that influences farmers’ yield, in order to enable them to recover quickly from the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the insecurity.”
The Permanent Secretary who listed the farming inputs as food dehydrator, motorised oil palm harvester, cashew cracker, 3 HP water pump, knapsack sprayers, agro chemicals, growth enhancers, power tillers, cassava stems, planters and cassava processing equipment, as well as seed yams, maize, cashew and groundnut seeds, coconut, oil palm and cocoa seedlings, said the items were given free of charge to the farmers.
He explained ed that the support would open up investment opportunities, create jobs for stakeholders, and facilitate increased production, as well as food and nutrition security.
“In this inputs’ distribution effort, 35 per cent are targeted at women farmers and processors, in line with the target set in our national gender plan and policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women.
“Similarly, 10 per cent is targeted at persons with special needs, and this has been communicated to the farmers’ associations, to act accordingly.
“It should be noted that this year alone, the ministry, in its effort to support smallholder farmers, has distributed different equipment, improved seeds and seedlings of various crops to farmers in Osun, Plateau, Kaduna and Taraba States. The next major input and equipment distribution will be in Katsina state”, Dr. Umakhihe further disclosed.
In his welcome address, Edo Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Stephen Ideheren, said Governor Godwin Obaseki was committed to agricultural development, with the administration also fully supporting farmers in the state, in order to ensure food security.
On his part, the National President of All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Rabiu Mudi, who was represented by the association’s National Legal Adviser, Lukman Mohammed, hailed the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for the initiative, assuring that the members would fully support it since agriculture held the ace in Nigeria’s development, and to diversify the economy.
In his speech, Edo Chairman of AFAN, Alhaji Bako Dogwo, lamented that the state, the food basket of the nation, did not have single tractor. He, therefore, called on the Federal Government for assistance, in order to boost agricultural production and ensure optimal yield.
Gov Adeleke’s First Day In Office Off To A Violent Start
On Monday morning, hoodlums unleashed indiscriminate attacks on various auto parks throughout the metropolis, terrifying residents of Osogbo, the capital of Osun state.
Fidel Info reports that Members of the transport unions were attacked at the parks in a coordinated attack that began at 8 a.m. at Oke-Baale, Old-Garage, Ilesa Garage, and Aregbe Garage.
Leaders who supported the state government, which was governed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and just finished its term, dominated the parks.
Gunshots could be heard throughout the area as union members at Old-Garage were pursued from the park toward Ayetoro.
One of the union members managed to flee from Ayetoro with matchstick cuts, but his car caught fire.
In an effort to stop the attacks from spreading, business owners quickly closed their doors.
At Oke-Baale, Aregbe Garage, and Ilesa Garage, union members were also the targets of attacks.
In the meantime, Governor Ademola Adeleke issued a directive to union leaders to uphold peace in all parks and issued a warning against violence in a statement through his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed.
“The Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke has warned against violence among transport workers’ unions in the State, directing security agencies to maintain status quo across the motor parks.
“All union leaders and their supporters are, hereby, directed to remain calm and bring any grievances to the dtate government for resolution.”
“Security agencies are consequently directly to maintain law and order,” it reads.”
Meanwhile policemen have been stationed at strategic areas in the state, including the motor parks.
NIS Instructs Passport Offices To Work On Saturdays
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has ordered passport offices all across the nation to open on Saturdays in order to process the backlog of passport applications.
Fidel Info reports that This information may be found in a statement that the Service’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Akuneme, made accessible in Abuja on Saturday.
According to Akuneme, the Comptroller-General, Mr. Isa Jere, who issued the direction, also gave his approval for the transfer of the Ondo Passport Controller to the NIS Zonal Office in Ibadan and the deployment of the Ekiti Passport Controller to Jigawa.
According to the NIS spokeswoman, for forward, the CG will hold passport officers responsible for any acts of indiscretion committed by officers working under their supervision.
The directive, he said, was intended to help the Service lessen the backlog brought on by the lengthy lockdown that would occur in 2020 and 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The C-G has directed that Passport offices across the country with high volume of pending applications to work on Saturdays.
“The period for this exercise is expected to be every Saturday commrencing from Dec. 3, 2022 to Jan. 28, 2023 between the period of 10 am to 2 pm.”
“This is to enhance our service delivery to out esteemed clients.”
“The Saturday proceding the Christmas and New Year holidays are exempted, ” he said.
The spokesman said passport offices that fall within this category should contact him by Monday for further details.
Akuneme reiterated the resolve of the C-G to make passport services available and stress free to the traveling public, especially during the festive season.
Biden’s Granddaughter Weds At White House
Trailed by a lengthy, flowing veil, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden walked across the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday toward an altar of shrubs and flowers to marry her longtime boyfriend Peter Neal in a rare wedding on the grounds.
Fidel Info reports that Theirs was just the 19th wedding in 200-plus years of White House history.
Under a sunny, blue sky paired with unseasonably crisp 40-degree temperatures, the bride and groom, both dressed by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, exchanged “I do’s” as 250 family members and friends watched as they were united in a nearly hourlong ceremony.
Naomi Biden, 28, wore a long-sleeved, high-neck gown and veil covering hair that had been styled behind her head. Neal, 25, chose a navy blue, three-piece suit with a double-breasted vest.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted the wedding of their eldest grandchild.
“It has been a joy to watch Naomi grow, discover who she is, and carve out such an incredible life for herself,” they said in a statement announcing the marriage of Naomi King Biden and Peter George Heermann Neal.
“Now, we are filled with pride to see her choose Peter as her husband and we are honored to welcome him to our family,” they said. “We wish them days full of laughter and a love that grows deeper with every passing year.”
The south side of the White House, facing the lawn and Washington Monument, was decorated with wreaths and garland bearing white flowers. The bride walked down an aisle that led from the Diplomatic Reception Room to the altar of shrubs and white flowers.
Guests began arriving at the security checkpoint hours before the ceremony, including women in open-toed shoes despite the chill. Some guests were given hand warmers. Most wore coats, and some topped off with hats and scarves.
It is the first White House wedding with a president’s granddaughter as the bride, and the first one ever on the South Lawn.
Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to ordinary pedestrians before and during the ceremony, as was a sidewalk bordering the Ellipse, the park just south of the White House.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds, their families and the wedding party had lunch in the White House. A reception with dessert and dancing was planned for later Saturday. President Biden went to church in Washington in between events.
Unlike some past White House weddings, Naomi Biden and Neal barred journalists, although the ceremony was outdoors on the grounds of what the president and first lady call the “people’s house.” The White House released a photo, and others were posted on the wedding planner’s social media account.
Naomi Biden is a lawyer in Washington. She is the daughter of Hunter Biden and his first wife, Kathleen Buhle.
Neal, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania law school. He works at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. His parents are Drs. Mary C. and William “Bill” C. Neal of Jackson Hole.
The couple, who have been living at the White House, was set up by a mutual friend about four years ago in New York City and have been together ever since, the White House said. Neal proposed in September 2021 near his childhood home in Jackson Hole with a ring that repurposed the band of his grandmother’s engagement ring, according to the White House.
The White House has released few other details about the wedding, citing the couple’s desire for privacy. The Biden family will pay for all wedding activities, officials have said.
“Naomi and Peter have asked that their wedding be closed to the media and we are respecting their wishes,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.
White House weddings are rare. There have been 18 documented weddings in the 200-plus-year history of the White House. Nine involved a president’s daughter, most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 and Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Lynda in 1967.
But nieces, a grandniece, a son and first ladies’ siblings have also gotten married there. One president, Grover Cleveland, tied the knot at the White House, too, while in office.
Some of the weddings were open to coverage by the news media, while others weren’t at all.
Journalists were allowed into Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Ed Cox, the first wedding held in the Rose Garden. Her wedding planner — a three-ring black binder in the offices of the White House Historical Association — includes extensive notes on the media plan.
But the May 1994 wedding of a brother of then-first lady Hillary Clinton and the daughter of then-U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer — the first since Tricia Nixon’s marriage — was closed to the press. Clinton’s spokesperson commented afterward and the White House released a photo.
It was the same for the October 2013 wedding of Pete Souza, President Barack Obama’s official photographer, and his longtime partner, Patti Lease. The White House announced the wedding in a statement following the small, private wedding in the Rose Garden.
The White House Correspondents Association, which advocates for press access to the White House and the president, said it was “deeply disappointed” that the White House declined its request for press coverage of Naomi Biden’s wedding.
“White House weddings have been covered by the press throughout history and the first family’s wish for privacy must be balanced against the public’s interest in an event occurring at the People’s House with the president as a participant,” the WHCA board said in a statement.
Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said it’s important to remember that first families are families first.
“Their privacy should be respected, their wishes should be respected,” he said.
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