By Abdullahi M. Gulloma
Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N5.567 billion for the 3rd Quarter Soil Erosion Control Accelerated Intervention in six states, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said yesterday.
Addressing journalists after the weekly FEC meeting chaired by presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, Adesina said the amount would be expended in Kano, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun and Enugu states.
“The 3rd Quarter Soil Erosion Control Accelerated Intervention has been approved in different geo-political zones of the country. This will be in Kano state, Sokoto (Sokoto South Local Government), Ondo, Osun, Enugu and Bayelsa states. So, the total amount for Soil Erosion Control Accelerated Intervention project is N5,567,314,541, 076 only and that is for the third quarter, and you know it is done every quarter,” he said.
Also speaking, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the council also approved N165 million for the production of improved 30,000 tonnes of foundation seeds for maize by the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“One of the problems facing maize production in Nigeria is that we don’t the right quality of seeds and agronomic practices are not very high. So, the yields per hectare are among the lowest in the world. So that research is going on. The whole thing cost N165 million for 30,000 tonnes of foundation to be multiplied to 265,000 of improved seeds which is to be given to seeds’ companies to multiple,’’ he said.
“The delays happen because many of the millers tell me that they can’t mill because of the activities of smugglers. They mill the rice. The smugglers dump them at N12, 500. And the smugglers can dump at N12,500 because they are subsidised from Thailand. They are determined to see that we don’t succeed. We can’t do that because we can’t subsidise to that level.
“We say if everything goes well without the smugglers, our people should be able to sell here at N13, 500 per bag. They agreed, but then the smugglers are coming and the millers are holding back. I alone can’t solve the problem. That was why the president had to say yesterday (during the 2018 budget presentation at National Assembly) that we will come down hard on activities of smugglers because they are doing us a lot of damage. In fact, the World Bank says that they are costing us $5 billion worth of loss per annum. We keep fighting, little here, a little there. We’ll get there,” he said.
Also speaking, Minister of State Transportation (Aviation), Mr. Hadi Sirika, said the said Council approved a bilateral air services agreement with Canada.
“Federal executive council today approved the signing of a bilateral air services agreement with Canada as part of efforts to boost relations between both countries including trade and commerce. It would be a standard agreement to facilitate the movement of people and business transactions,” he said.