“I decided to suspend my academic quest to start grass-cutter farming after completing my Master’s degree in Political Science because I saw some people in my department spending over seven years to acquire doctorate degrees and still struggled to find jobs,” Mr. Chinedu Eluwa told Sunday Telegraph.
Chinedu’s case is a typical example of what many Nigerian graduates go through in searching for jobs after spending years and resources in acquiring university education. He subsequently decided to suspend his quest for a doctorate degree to go into grass cutter farming in Chinedu hails from Awo- Omamma in Oru-East Local Government Area in Imo State.
After graduating with Political Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State in 2018 he went for his M.Sc. also in Political Science at the Madonna University, Okija in Anambra State which he finished in 2014. Once he completed his masters he initially toyed with the idea of securing an office job while he did his doctorate.
But after failing to set a decent job he opted to concentrate on his animal husbandry full time when he became fed up. He explained: “I decided I would be better off if I invest those years trying to secure a doctorate degree growing my grass-cutter farming business, and I haven’t regretted that decision. Yes, I will someday go back for my doctorate degree but not now. I need to spread this gospel of self-reliance so that more youths can take a cue from me. “I want them to see and use me as an example that an individual can start from where he is, with what he has, to where he/she wants to be.
To start a grasscutter farm, you need one colony that comprises one male and four females for N79,000 to breed, cages, drinking and feeding trough, supplementary feed and a farm house, these are the basic needs. “A four decker cage can cost between N50, 000 to N150, 000 depending on the location and welder.
Drinking and feeding trough sell for N1, 000 apiece. Pelletized supplementary feed goes for N250 per kilogramme and for the farm house, an empty room in your house can be used to start off.” The interest to venture into grasscutter farming developed when he visited Ibadan to attend a one-day seminar on the in 2011 after failing to laud a decent job.
“When I first saw them at Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan (FRIN), I realised that not many people were into the business and as such, I could be amongst the leaders in the industry if I started on time.
“Today, I thank God that I have made a big mark in the industry. Today, not only am I the first National President of the Grasscutter Farmers Association in Nigeria (GRAFAN), I am also the Chairman, Board of Trustees,” he enthused.
When he first started the business on March 20, 2012, it was like a hobby, he said: “Sincerely speaking, I didn’t take the time to document my earnings until last year because all along it was more like a hobby to me. From January to November 16, 2016, which coincided with my birthday, I generated over N12, 510, 000 selling breeding stocks, my e-book and my coaching programmes.
“When I came into the business, I didn’t calculate what the industry was worth. What I calculated was the number of people that will go through me as the gateman into the mine to mine the gold I discovered.
But today, the grasscutter farming industry is worth over N1billion bearing in mind that there are only four countries actively involved in the domestication of grasscutters – Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic and Togo.” Speaking on his challenges,
Eluwa said: “We know that the cost of purchasing breeding stock is quite high which is why we are currently working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to access the Anchor Borrower Programme so that our members can get breeding stocks at reduced prices. “The uniqueness of this rodent stems from the fact that it has no religious or cultural discrimination against it.
Both Christians and Muslims consume grasscutters which is a delicacy any day anytime. Grasscutters are doctors’ recommended white meat. Virtually all our health conscious senior citizens have switched to white meat. Imagine the joy of having your own steady supply of white meat at your backyard. “Profits from breeding and selling grasscutters are fascinating. Imagine selling five rodents for N79, 000 when they are less than 2kg. They make good companions.
The value chain of grasscutter provides employment to all participants.” The Director of Research Planning and Protocol of GRAFAN, Mr. Peter Akparanta, enumerated what a young breeder may likely encounter and suggested ways that the government can support Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs).
He said: “SMEs in Nigeria do not have easy access to funds to scale their businesses causing them to stagnate and die or remain perpetually small. Also, it lacks adequate trainings to grow their businesses. Most of them can’t afford these trainings and they are also challenged with adequate and proper staffing.
“The government is trying, but they can do more. Knowing full well that small businesses form the bulk of enterprises in our society, they should bear the responsibility of ensuring that small businesses succeed so that they can keep the money and jobs flowing.”
Akparanta, who is also the editor of the Nigerian Yellow Pages, added: “Government needs to create and run more free business trainings and encourage the SME’s to go through these trainings. They should make certificates from these seminars collaterals for accessing customised individual SME loans. Government needs to seriously encourage small businesses to access funds to scale their businesses.”
According to him, the market is huge in the sense that people want grasscutters, “But the market is not coordinated and that is what we have come to achieve, saying that people need to know where to go to, when they need grasscutter meat.”
Akparanta, who has been in the business for a very long time, also warned of its health hazards for those that patronise road side grasscutter sellers. “There is the problem of buying from the roadside; it is not hygienic, it is not properly processed, it could be deadlier in the body than you think, but because people need it, they still go for it anyway.
“So we are doing something that can be scientifically accepted, hygienically prepared, trying to produce what people can be sure of. We want to provide more viable and important alternative, how it is properly processed and then create awareness. The market is there but the market does not know where to go for it.
So, we want the market to know where we are. “Grass-cutter is a popular delicacy in Nigeria, apart from its popularity as a delicacy in Nigeria amongst all the rodents that are domesticated, grass cutter stands as the most profitable.
Now imagine where you sell a male and four female grasscutters for N79, 000 per colony after three months for female and four months for male. I don’t think there is any rodent that is sold at that price. “Apart from it being a popular delicacy, which we locally know as bush meat, it is the most profitable rodent that is being domesticated in Nigeria and West Africa.”
Mr. Peter Adegoke, who is GRAFAN’s National Treasurer, spoke on the sheer size of the value chain: “We want to grow, process and export, there is value gain to it. The skin is also something that is highly in demand in the market, the skin and bones are raw materials for other pharmaceutical products. It can be processed into all these chains of products like shoes, bags and other leather items.”
Like Ademola, Tokode, like Uzokwe, Orji
TUNDE OYESINA and AKEEM NAFIU write that two Justices of Abia State judiciary, Theresa Uzokwe and Obisike Orji, have joined the league of judges axed by the judiciary highest hierarchy, the National Judicial Council (NJC) for misconduct days after Justices A. F. A. Ademola and O. O. Tokode of the Federal High Court were given the kick
Days after Justices A.F.A Ademola and O.O.Tokode of the Federal High Court were kick out of the Bench for an alleged misconduct by the judiciary highest hierarchy, the National Judicial Council (NJC), two judges of the Abia state judiciary have suffered the same fate. They are; Justices Theresa Uzokwe and Obisike Orji.
Uzokwe was recommended for compulsory retirement following the findings of two investigative committees set up by the Council.
“The committees investigated petitions against her by Umeh Kalu, SAN, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Abia state, alleging illegal constitution and working with a parallel Judicial Service Commission instead of the one constituted by the state Governor and confirmed by the House of Assembly.
“Justice Uzokwe was also found to have misconducted herself in Suit No. HU/131/2005, wherein she delivered judgement in the sum of N825,000 only in favour of a litigant but subsequently signed a garnishee order of N109, 612, 500.
For Justice Obisike Orji, the Council noted that he was earlier queried by the Council for allowing himself to be sworn-in as acting Chief Judge and thereby colluding in, and aiding an unconstitutional process.
“His reply was unsatisfactory and the Council recommended his compulsory retirement.”
Uzokwe and Orji have, however, joined the league of judges who were booted out of the Bench by the NJC for misconduct.
About two months ago, NJC had sacked Justices A. F. A. Ademola and O. O. Tokode, both of the Federal High Court for misconduct.
Although Justice Ademola had on December 6, 2017 written a letter notifying the NJC of his decision to voluntarily retire from the Bench, Ademola was due for retirement on April 9, 2018, when he would have attained the mandatory retirement age of 65 years.
However, the council said its decision to sack Ademola despite his letter was pursuant to its findings on an allegation in a petition written against him by a Committee of Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party House of Representatives Members-Elect.
The NJC said the petition had alleged gross misconduct in the handling of a matter it filed before Ademola.
NJC further said that Justice Tokode was also recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari for compulsory retirement with immediate effect.
It said this followed its findings on an allegation contained in petitions forwarded by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Miss Abimbola Awogboro.
In a similar way, the Council had in 2016 sacked Justice O. Gbaja-Biamila of the Lagos State High Court and Justice Idris M. J. Evuti of the Niger State High Court.
Aside recommending their compulsory retirement, NJC, said it had in exercise of its power under Paragraph 21 Sub-Paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, suspended the two Justices from office with immediate effect.
NJC okayed Justice Gbaja-Biamila’s sack after it found out that he delivered judgment in a matter that was before him, twenty-two months after written addresses were adopted by all the parties and thirty-five months after the close of evidence in the suit.
Similarly, NJC found two other judges of the High Court of Niger State, Justices Evuti and Tanko Yusuf Usman guilty of allegations that they falsified their dates of birth.
Meanwhile, some senior lawyers at the weekend said the disciplinary measures meted out to some judges by the National Judicial Council (NJC) would help in cleaning up the rot in the nation’s judiciary.
The NJC had at its 85th Meeting held on March 14, among other landmark decisions, recommended compulsory retirement of the suspended Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzokwe.
The Council also described as judicial rascality a role played by Justice Obisike Orji for allowing himself to be sworn in by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as acting Chief Judge of the state.
He was, however, compulsorily retired for judicial misconduct for taking over the state’s judiciary in acting capacity after Justice Uzokwe was suspended from office.
Reacting to the development, the lawyers; Chief Mike Ahamba, Adekunle Ojo and Wale Ogunade, hailed the NJC’s action, saying it was in tandem with the rule of law.
In his submissions, Ahamba noted that the NJC’s action would help in bringing sanity to the third arm of government.
He said: “I believe that the National Judicial Council (NJC) was seized of the facts of the matter. The action will surely help in bringing some sanity to the judiciary.”
In his own comments, a former vice-president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Adekunle Ojo, also hailed the NJC’s action, saying it’s in line with the Council’s mandate.
“I think the NJC was fair enough on the issue. The action is in line with its mandate and I believe it will clean up the judiciary.
“A petition was written against the Chief Judge and she was made to respond to it. Investigations carried out by the NJC borders on what was regarded as misconducts.
“However, it was the other man’s case that was worrisome. What he has done is capable of diminishing the integrity of the judiciary. Incident like this has happened in the past.
The same scenario played itself out in Rivers State. I think what has happened called for caution on the part of judges. They should not allow themselves to be used by politicians because when the chips are down, they would not be to defend them.
“People must learn from history. If the man has not done that, definitely he might have escaped the NJC’s hammer. So, I blame the man for accepting the job and I think he is the architect of his own misfortune.”
Ogunade called for more sanctions against erring judges to serve as a deterrent to others with bad intentions.
He said: “I think the rule of law has prevailed. There are procedures to be followed in some of these things and once these are flouted, then sanctions must follow.
“It is because punishment are not usually meted out that laws are flouted with reckless abandon and some people think they are above the law. So, I think the NJC’s action is in order. I look to seeing more of this soon in order to sanitize the nation’s judiciary.”
Mapping out SDPs for Osun
ADEOLU ADEYEMO writes on a-two day capacity building programme organised for stakeholders in Osun State to fashion out ways of ensuring the need for a State Development Plan (SDP) among state agencies.
Technocrats, experts from different fields and policy formulators from all walks of life, last month gathered for a two-day capacity building programme organised for stakeholders in Osun State to add values and fashion out ways of ensuring the need for a State Development Plan (SDP), which is the overall planning document and guide for all state agencies to develop plans, programs, and projects within the ambit of available resources. The programme, which was held on February 27th and 28th at the Western Sun Hotel, Ede was electric, heart-rubbing, and brain-cracking as speakers contributed their points.
The programme is said to be a deep reflection of the government’s desire to ensure continuity in its planned, orderly and coherent development of the state across all sectors, ensure its timely implementation through the annual budget, put a stop to project abandonment and stick to budget commitments.
The hall of the event which was packed full, hours before the scheduled time, saw instructors and great men rolling into action of knowledge impartation to tower shoulder high above other states in the nation. Speaking at the venue of the programme to create a foundation for sustainable governance in Osun State, the Rauf Aregbesola government through the state Ministry of Economic Planning, Budget and Development said it is currently preparing a Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) for an all-encompassing State Development Plan, to ensure that the development of the state continues seamlessly even after the 2018 elections. On the efforts of the government in establishing set medium term goals for the state, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development, Dr. Lekan Yinusa, hinted that, “the programme is designed as part of the comprehensive efforts at institutionalizing development programmes and project in Osun.”
“The whole essence is first to develop a long term plan for the state, meaning that in the next three years, what do you expect Osun to be and from this particular long term plan, we need to develop a sector strategy which will lead into actualizing some of the goals of our identified deliverables from the State Development Plan.”
“We believe that if we develop a State Development Plan, we know it will be implemented by the sector champions and the sector champions are the one to develop the sector strategies. So we believe that it is pertinent for us to give the stakeholders the technical details of what they need to know on how to deliver the strategies that will be spelt out in the SDP.”
“So following the retreat we held in January on envisioning the SDP, we planned a sector planning team training which is the one we are doing now to basically leverage on the experience that we have had at the state level in January and now bring all those things we said we will achieve down to the sectorial level,” he said.
“The essence of the capacity building is that projects and programmes will be identified and cost put to it to form the basis upon which the state budget will be developed and the advantage is that there will be a connection between policies and programmes and the budget being developed as when policies is not linked with sector strategies and budget, there will be a mismatch.”
“That is what we are trying to do, to make sure that by the time our budget is prepared, it captures the overall intentions of government. ” “And with this programme, that vision will be fulfilled because when you develop a plan, there is a need for you to have the required human resources to deliver the implementation.
So it is one thing to have everything down, it is another thing to have the needed human resources to implement it because you must make sure the plan is not only accepted but implemented well and all stakeholders have the knowledge behind the content of the goal,” the commissioner submitted. However, the training covered various aspects of MTSS which includes; conceptual framework of MTSS, review of high level policy documents, sector situation analysis, introduction to strategy session; developing sector mission, vision, core values, objectives, programmes and outcomes, syndicate session and presentations, project development and prioritisation, cross cutting issues in MTSS development, introduction to projects and costing, Roles of SPT in MTSS process and MTSS documentation.
The stakeholders were taught the cardinals of MTSS to give them a clear understanding of government’s policies and goals as contained in the SDP, set medium term sector objectives broken down into programmes, link them to SDP and identify key projects that need to be executed to achieve sector objectives.
The capacity building also said to primarily meant to empower sector leaders for their roles in the preparation of the Osun SDP and aid their understanding of the scope of their responsibilities is a warm up to an upcoming strategy workshop which is also a critical part of the process as that is where far reaching decisions on the MTSS for all sectors will be taken.
The capacity training programme according to governor Rauf Aregbesola administration is that, if effective production and implementation on the SDP are well carried out, “it will not only help the state economy to grow, provide essential services to achieve the desired development goals of the state, objective prioritization of projects and adequate allocation of resources towards specific strategic state goals and programmes within the constraints implied by the overall fiscal targets over a three-year period. Emphasis was further laid on ensuring a linkage between government expenditures and state goals and programmes that will be articulated in the SDP, ensuring that government’s expenditure reflects priorities, promotion of transparency and accountability in expenditure.
Badagry residents groan under military, police harassment
In what now look like a war-torn zone, the Gbaji-Owode-Apa Road in Badagry West area of Lagos State has come under heavy siege of security personnel whose daily routine had become a hellish situation for residents of the area. To a visitor plying the road, it looks more of a restricted area, but to the residents, it has become an everyday nightmare. Resident and workers shuttling the road consider the attitude and action of the uniform men as ‘above the law’ while some staffers of Badagry West LCDA located along the road, Lagos State Model College, Kankon and many public and private schools along the route who spoke with Saturday Telegraph, bemoaned the undue harassment, extortion and the exorbitant thoroughfares occasioned by the hostile activities of the uniform visitors. An investigative visit to the area, discovered stern looking soldiers, naval officers, mobile policemen, SARS, Customs and Immigration officers in their makeshift huts waiting for the next vehicle.
In all, there were no less than 22 points as at 11.a.m on the said day, even as villagers claimed that the numbers could triple once it is dark and that it is usually pay as you go routine by both commercial motorists and private car owners. Further investigation shows that these ‘unwanted visitors’ include soldiers from the 243 Recce Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Iberecko Badagry, naval officers from Forward Operations Base in Topo, the police from the Special Anti–Robbery Squad (SARS) who now referred to themselves as Federal SARS as well as mobile policemen from Badagry and Seme police stations.
Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from Seme Command and Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Ikeja Lagos, men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and those of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) are not left out of the list of security personnel on the ‘failed’ road. Aparrt from the farming and commercial activities going on in the area, the Gbaji Owode Apa Road is the only trunk road that connects over 40 rural communities in the Badagry West Local Council Development Area, among which is Kese, a village whose waterway leads to the oil rich Tongeji Island in Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The road is also one of the most frequently used yet it remains the most unattended to in the Badagry axis despite heavy vehicular movements, as such; it had remained perpetually neglected by successive governments, a situation that had become worrisome to residents and commuters. According to a commercial motorist based at Owode Motor Park, Mr. Segun Dende, a journey of less than 25 minutes to Badagry roundabout could take over two hours due to two main reasons; bad portions and endless checkpoints. “We go through with fare of N500 instead of N200 and sometimes they could charge as mush as N800 during fuel scarcity”,
he said, asking the government to “construct a new road for us and chase all the soldiers and policemen away from our place”. Also speaking on the matter, the Iya Oloja of Owode market, Chief Hasana Ashimi, said the indiscriminate checkpoints and total disrespect for residents and passengers has affected both patronage and prices of goods at the market owing to the hike in transport fares and police extortion. Explaining that the situation has also led to increase in the price of foodstuffs, the market leader pleaded with the state and federal governments to come to their aid by rehabilitating the bad road and reduce the number of checkpoints. On his part, the President of Badagry Communities Youth Association, Comrade Shaanu Dominic, appealed to both governments to reduce their hardship in moving in and out from their homes, offices, farms and schools by returning sanity to the road, while calling on the military authorities, the police, Customs, Navy and Immigration commands to remove illegal checkpoints. In the same vein, the President of Apa Youth Forum (AYF), Comrade Adeniran Cosmas, equally condemned what he called act of provocation.
“Immigration officers could arrest you on the way to work or school and say that you are not a Nigerian even in your own backyard and demand for money before releasing you”, saying not many tribes in Nigeria could tolerate that affronts and act of discrimination calling on the authorities to do something before it gets out of hand. Secretary, Asheri Youth Association (AYA), Metonme John, said the military and police have turned their communities to war zone where movement is now restricted.
“Our wives and children are being harassed every day. The road had been neglected over the years; all these are signs of insensitivity and leadership failure in the country”. Saturday Telegraph also discovered that the Army accounts for about six checkpoints, Customs has six, regular Police maintain five points, Immigration officers are in charge of two points, SARS has one and the civil defence has one hidden point, where gun trotting officials collect “kola” from tanker drivers. It is however surprising that the Nigeria Air Force and the Department State Services (DSS) were not seen in the area as residents claim that the duo remained the only agencies that does not operate any checkpoint on the Gbaji Pwode Apa Road. Efforts by our correspondents to have an audience with the Commanding Officer (CO) of 243 Reccee Battalion, Col. Hamad UY, met brick wall as Saturday Telegraph was denied access into the barracks. A visit to Area ‘K’ Police Command at Oko Afo on the Lagos Badagry expressway to meet with the Commander, ACP Hope Okafor was equally not fruitful as she was said to be attending a meeting at CP Imohimi Edgar at Ikeja.
News13 hours ago
PDP asks Northern leaders for two ‘acceptable’ aspirants
News13 hours ago
Kukah: Northern Nigeria remains poorest region
News13 hours ago
Third Force: Soyinka, Nwabueze, Ciroma, others meet
News13 hours ago
2019: PDP has no candidate to match Buhari – Oyegun
News13 hours ago
Presidency: Why Buhari aborted Rwanda trip
Politics13 hours ago
The Durotoye, Moghalu challenge
Top Stories22 hours ago
US envoy backs Governor Ortom on ranching
Metro and Crime16 hours ago
LUC: Don’t block Third Mainland Bridge, police warn protesters