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Nigeria’s maize import hits N146.8bn

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…as pests ravage farmlands

 

A total of N146.8billion ($407.8 million) was spent by shippers to import 1.05 million tons of maize into the country in the last two years due to pests, which has led to drop in local production.

 

Currently, demand for the grain is 15.5million metric tons but total output as at 2017 is 10.5 million tons as the local price of maize jumped to between N120,000 and N135,000 per ton from N80,000 in 2016. Statistics gathered from the Nigerian Ports Authority’s (NPAs) shipping position revealed that the country imported 400,000 tons of the grain in 2017.

 

Also, 650,000 tons were brought into the country in 2016 to meet domestic and industrial demand. It was gathered that the price of the grain in the country is now competing with the global price of N138,240 ($388.4) per ton.

 

Already, the Federal Government is charging five per cent as tariff to enable poultry farmers and feed millers to bring the grain to the country.

 

According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s statistics, the country’s domestic demand for maize is estimated at 15.5 million metric tons.

 

Also, a study by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained that maize production in the country had been increased to 12.1million tons in 2017. However, there is fear this year that the production of the grain may further drop by 700,000 tons from 12.1million output recorded last year.

 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Nigeria is the biggest corn producer in Africa after South Africa, whose 2017-18 output is estimated at 12 million tons.

 

However, apart from the scourge of armyworm, incessant imports of the grain have become a major challenge to maize production in Nigeria. It would be recalled that in the last quarter of 2017, Nigeria imported 649,943 tons of corn due to shortfall in local production.

 

The huge importation was traced to the invasion of armyworms, which have been ravaging the crop since 2015.

 

Last October, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping position revealed that some 195,443 metric tons of corn where brought to the country through Lagos, Rivers Port, Calabar and Tincan ports. Also, 269,500 tons and 185,000 tons were imported last November and December respectively through the Lagos and Tincan ports.

 

Last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rescued maize farmers through its Anchor Borrowers Programme following the invasion of armyworms in the country.

 

Already, farmers under the umbrella of Maize Growers, Processors and Markets Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN) had complained that they were facing a lot of challenges relating to armyworm, which had led to importation of corn to meet local demands.

 

Its President, Dr Edwin Uche, disclosed at the stakeholders meeting in Abuja that there would be adequate supply of corn to support market demands in 2018.

 

He said: “As an association, we are doing all we can to ensure that in 2018, maize farmers are able to grow enough maize to support the market.

 

That is why we are holding the stakeholders’ meeting. “Most private companies started importing corn to support their production because they all have production targets.”

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Yobe plans verification for retirees

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The Government of Yobe State is mapping out arrangement to verify workers, who retired from January 2018 till date to enable it pay the appropriate retirement benefits. Disclosing this in a statement, Director-General, Press Affairs to the Governor, Abdullahi Bego, also revealed that the Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, approved the payment of N670.73 million gratuities to 364 retirees and civil servants that died in the course of service.

He said Gaidam approved N670.73 million as gratuity payments to a total of 364 civil servants who have retired from the services of the state government. According to him, the approval covers the civil servants who have retired (or died) between August and December 2017.It could be recalled that in early January 2018, the governor had approved N1, 097, 896, 058.43 as gratuities to 631 workers who have retired from the services of the state government between January and July 2017.

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AIB re-analyses crashes with resuscitated $5.8m lab

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Nigeria, through the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), has resumed the downloading and analysis of black boxes of aircraft involved in accident in the country. This is seen as a positive development as the agency would save foreign resources that would have been used to take the important equipment to the U.S. or UK for the exercise.

The $5.8 million unserviceable Flight Safety Laboratory equipment at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, which was resuscitated last year, was put into use for the analysis of Dana MD 83 airplane that skidded off the runway while landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State, on February 21, 2018. The laboratories were equally used to decode and analyse the Gulfstream accident in Abuja and that of Delta that happened recently.

The laboratory was designed to download information from Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) among others, which are necessary requirements for a thorough and accurate accident investigation.

The facility was used to download the flight recorders of Associated Airlines’ aircraft crash of October 2013 with the assistance of the manufacturers of the laboratory despite the fact that the agency had not effected full payment.

However, since the single usage in 2013, the facility had not been put to proper use due to lack of personnel to manage the laboratory. There were also challenges from the manufacturer’s end. The summary of the matter is that the laboratory was not working when the Commissioner, AIB, Akin Olateru, took over leadership of the agency, January last year. Speaking to New Telegraph at the weekend, Olateru, an aircraft engineer, said lack of funds almost hampered activities at the agency when he was appointed last year to head the agency.

He disclosed that AIB does not charge for anything it does unlike the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT)that charge for their services. Olateru further disclosed that under United Nations charter, AIB is not allowed to charge for its services, forcing the agency to be creative in funding its projects.

Worried by the situation of the agency, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, caused FAAN to cede five per cent of its revenue to AIB from its Passengers Service Charge (PSC). “In terms of funding, this is where I really thank the minister of state for aviation, the National Assembly for their extreme support to make sure AIB delivers on its core mandate and that, we have achieved with their support,” he added. Speaking on common factor of human error or human factor that usually lead to air fatality, the AIB chief said majority of crashes usually happened as a result of human errors. “Human beings all over the world are the most complex machine on earth. Anything that has got to do with human is bound to fail someday. This is why there is nowhere in the world that is not accident prone.

There is no airline today that you can say that does not have serious incident. There is no perfect system anywhere, but all we can do as a nation, responsible people and responsible agency is to ensure we step up the game in human factor.

“Human factor has been identified as the cause of accidents all over the world to and it is recommended that operators, service providers invest in that training to avoid or minimise human factor,” he said. Asked if the age of aircraft operating in the country’s airspace is responsible for the frequent incidents recorded in recent times, Olateru noted that age of aircraft had got nothing to do with airworthiness of the airplane.

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FBN General Insurance grosses N3.51bn premium in 2017

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FBN General Insurance recorded a gross premium of N3.51 billion in 2017. According to the firm, the account, which has been approved by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), revealed a 60 per cent growth in premium, moving from N2.2 billion in 2016 to N3.51 billion, while claims expenses also rose by 180 per cent from N270 million to N756 million. Profit Before Tax (PBT) closed at N322 million, also representing a year-on-year growth rate of 66 per cent.

The firm noted that the profitable growth was partly driven by improved asset and investment portfolio management, resulting in an investment income growth of 112 per cent. Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Bode Opadokun, said: “2017 was the year we consolidated on the strategic restructuring across key business functions.

This has inspired a profitable performance exemplified by our total assets recording an appreciable growth of 27% at year-end from NGN6.06bn achieved in 2016 to NGN7.72 billion in 2017. With our strategic marketing drive and the support of our dedicated staff, we are hopeful of sustaining our growth in 2018.” FBN General Insurance is a wholly owned subsidiary of FBNInsurance Limited, an FBNHoldings company associated with the Sanlam Group South Africa.

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