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FOREIGN NEWS

Envoy: US Has Invested $200 Million In Nigeria’s Food Security Over Last Five Years

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US Envoy

The United States government stated that it has invested $200 million in Nigerian food security over the last five years.

The US government also announced that another $150 million in grants had been awarded to 33 Nigerian private sector companies.

The revelation was made by the US Acting Ambassador to Nigeria, David Greene at the 2024-2029 Global Food Security Strategy Launch.

He also announced that an additional $22 million has been invested in Nigeria’s cocoa value chain, which spans seven states.

The implementation of Nigeria’s Global Food Security Strategy is expected to boost agricultural productivity and drive agriculture-led economic growth over the next five years.

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The envoy however said despite the support of the US government, Nigerians are best placed to solve the issues that affect them.

He said: “The U.S. government is providing broad assistance across Nigeria to support agriculture development. As Melissa mentioned, USAID invested almost $200 million in agriculture for the last five years to improve food security and build household resilience to shocks in Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, and Yobe states.

” We also provided modest grants to 33 private-sector companies to leverage over $150 million in private-sector development, generated $306 million in domestic sales, and created over 23,000 jobs.”

“USAID is one of many U.S. government agencies promoting agricultural development in Nigeria. The implementation of Nigeria’s Global Food Security Strategy is expected to boost agricultural productivity and drive agriculture-led economic growth over the next five years.

“The investment improves rural livelihoods by increasing cocoa productivity, trade capacity, and traceability.

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He lamented that “Nigeria is currently experiencing a severe food crisis due to insecurity, inflation, currency devaluation, the increased cost of inputs, trade restrictions, climate change, and post-harvest loss.

” In January 2024, Nigeria recorded an over thirty-five (35) percent increase in food prices, making it difficult for the 84 million Nigerians living below the poverty line to buy food. If we project out into the future, global food demand will double by 2050, and yet at the same time key staple crops are showing a decrease of up to 30 percent.

“Furthermore, while climate change is causing extreme weather conditions like drought and floods, it is even more challenging for smallholder farmers to increase yields and incomes.”

He said: “Ranked the sixth least prepared globally to confront climate change, Nigeria must focus on adaptation if food security is to be achieved.”

The envoy also noted that US and Nigeria are engaged in exchange programmes and fellowship which aimed at equiping Nigerians, adding that: “In the last two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also sponsored more than a dozen scientific exchange fellows to study at U.S. agricultural universities and 30 private sector stakeholders to visit the United States, all so they can come back to improve Nigeria’s crop production, animal breeding, efficient pesticide use, and trade capacity. ”

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He cited the case of one Agada Blessing, a Ph.D. student from the Joshua Sarwuan Tarka University in Benue State, a soil scientist that USAID supported to attend Michigan State University and develop her research on climate change and fertilizer use.

He stated that Blessing returned to Nigeria and has been sharing her research findings and organising training programmes on the importance of soil management for agricultural productivity, as well as training graduate students and government staff on soil management for maize production across Benue State and using her research to support the development of the first-ever state-level climate change policy in Kebbi and Ebonyi states.

He noted that: “Nigeria is a country of immense talent and potential. The potential to drive agriculture-led economic growth is endless. While the U.S. government and other partners are here to support Nigeria, Nigerians are best placed to solve the issues that affect them.

“However, for ideas to grow and drive economic development, the Nigerian government must create an enabling environment that supports private sector-led growth and entrepreneurship. U.S. companies and other U.S. private sector stakeholders are eager to help Nigeria improve agricultural productivity, trade, and food security. However, clear and transparent tax and investment rules are needed for meaningful growth.

“Food must be available to buy, and prices must be affordable for all Nigerians. The Nigerian government should embrace the adoption of genetically modified crops to boost the productivity and income of smallholder farmers while removing trade restrictions, including food and agricultural import bans. Competition and free trade fosters creativity and efficiency.

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“Helping Nigerians to put food on the table can go a long way in rebuilding the reputation of the Nigerian government in the eyes of Nigerians.”

USAID Nigeria Deputy Mission Director, Sara Werth said Nigeria, like many nations, is grappling with the growing challenge of food insecurity.

She believes Nigeria’s diverse ecological zones and vibrant young population hold the key to a prosperous future.

She however said: “But to unlock this potential, we must join hands. t

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FOREIGN NEWS

ECOWAS Parliament Elects Ibrahima First Female Speaker

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Speaker Ibrahima

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has elected the first female speaker in its history.

Memounatou Ibrahima of Togo was elected as the new Speaker of the Community Parliament at the 2024 Second Extraordinary Session of the Sixth Legislature of the Community Parliament held in Kano.

She became speaker after the Speakership of the Community Parliament was ratified in alphabetical order in accordance with the provisions of the Supplementary Act on Enhancement of Power.

Sierra Leone served as the fifth ECOWAS Parliament Legislature.

Ibrahima served as the third Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament’s fifth Legislature, and she has been a member since 2021.

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She is taking up the baton from the Nigerian leader of delegation, Senator Barau Jubrin, who was elected the First Deputy Speaker at the inauguration of the Sixth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament on April 4th 2024, and had to act as the Speaker to avoid creating a leadership vacuum at the Community Parliament.

The Republic of Togo delegation was not present at the inauguration of the Sixth ECOWAS Legislature on April 4th, 2024, because the country had not held elections to send representatives to the Community Parliament.

Ibrahima was named Speaker after her Togo parliamentary colleagues proposed her as their country’s candidate. She was elected after being returned unopposed.

The Acting Speaker, Nigerian Senator Barau Jibrin, immediately presented Ibrahima with the instrument of authority, the gavel.

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Gender Balance: ECOWAS Parliament Set To Elect First Female Speaker

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament will elect its first female speaker.

Togo’s ECOWAS Parliamentarians have already arrived at the location where the 2024 Extraordinary Session of the Sixth Legislature of the Community Parliament is being held.

The Togo delegation is expected to be sworn in on Thursday, and the new Speaker will be chosen from among them, as the position has been allotted based on the parliament’s rotational system.

Statements emerging from the floor of the Parliament revealed that a female parliamentarian, Memounatou Ibrahima, will emerge as the speaker.

Ibrahima served as the third Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament’s fifth Legislature, and she has been a member since 2021.

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She is poised to take up the baton from the Nigerian leader of delegation, Senator Barau Jubrin, who was elected the First Deputy Speaker at the inauguration of the Sixth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament on April 4th 2024, had to act as the Speaker to avoid creating a leadership vacuum at the Community Parliament.

The Republic of Togo delegation was not present at the inauguration of the Sixth ECOWAS Legislature on April 4th, 2024, because the country had not held elections to send representatives to the Community Parliament.

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FOREIGN NEWS

ECOWAS Parliament Proposes Mediation Committee For Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger

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Tuggar, Nigeria's Foreign Minister

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has proposed the formation of an Adhoc Mediation Committee to persuade Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, the region’s three member states, to reverse their actions and rejoin other member nations.

Barau Jibrin, the Acting Speaker of Parliament and Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate stated that the machinery has been set in motion to accomplish this.

Jibrin, speaking at the start of the 2024 Second Extraordinary Session of the Sixth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament in Kano State on Tuesday, stated that a strong united regional bloc is the only option.

He stated, “I will, in consultation with my colleagues on the Bureau, propose the appointment of an Ad hoc Mediation Committee whose mandate will be to work with all stakeholders in getting our brothers to rescind their decision and come home and work towards promoting dialogue to resolve conflicts in the region.” We are undoubtedly stronger, and there is no alternative to our collective aspirations for a united, peaceful, and secure ECOWAS.

Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in January of this year.

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The junta-led countries had been suspended from the regional bloc for coups and were urged to return to democracy.

However, in response to the suspension, the three governments decided to withdraw from ECOWAS, claiming that doing so was a “sovereign decision.”

Jubrin stated that the session will also allow the Community Parliament to deliberate and provide new perspectives on pressing issues in the ECOWAS region, as well as make recommendations on how to achieve peace, security, and stability.

“As the Parliament seeks to promote democracy, checks and balances, and accountability in the ECOWAS Community, a strong ECOWAS Parliament is essential. I have had the honour of leading this Parliament for only two months, and I have concluded that much more needs to be done to assert the Parliament’s independence in carrying out its important roles of parliamentary oversight and representation.

“There is also an urgent need to strengthen collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and launch joint initiatives aimed at bolstering regional security and advancing development. While each institution has unique responsibilities, the fact remains that there are cross-cutting issues that are best addressed through increased collaboration among community institutions.”

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On Togo’s delegation to parliament, Jibrin stated that the delegation from that country, to which the speakership of the sixth legislature has been zoned, is expected to be sworn in as members of parliament before the session ends.

“I would also like to inform this house that a Parliamentary Fact-finding Mission has been dispatched to the Republic of Togo. The delegation investigated the circumstances surrounding the notable absence of the Togolese delegation, which is entitled to the Speakership under the Supplementary Act on the Enhancement of the Powers of the Parliament, and met with national stakeholders to discuss other political issues. I am pleased to report that we have received a very positive response from the Togolese authorities and that our Togo brothers will be inaugurated as soon as possible.

He stated that since the sixth legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament was inaugurated on Thursday, April 20, 2024, it has been able to achieve some notable accomplishments and participate in various regional, continental, and international programmes.

“Within this short period, the ECOWAS Parliament participated in the Third Parliamentary Policy Dialogue on the Protection of Vulnerable Targets against terrorism, which was hosted by the United Nations Office on Counter-Terrorism, a Capacity Building Training on Labour Migration Governance under the auspices of the African Union Commission, and the International Conference on enhancing the role, relevance, and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the strain

“In addition, the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies invited members of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarian Association to share their experience with the National Assembly of Nigeria on the modalities for establishing a multi-party women’s caucus in the Nigerian National Assembly. We look forward to more such engagements, particularly with our counterparts at the national level, to advance regional integration.”

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In an interview with journalists, Sen. Ali Ndume, perhaps the longest-serving member of the regional parliament, stated that the departing members’ time out is over now, as everything needed to bring them back into the fold has been completed.

He stated that the decision to leave the bloc if it could be recalled came after the Niger coup was condemned by all members, particularly Nigeria.

He insisted that the bad blood that led to the decision to leave has been drained and that Niger is no longer irritated by sister West African countries, particularly Nigeria, and that the country is, by all indications, ready to return.

In his speech, Kano State Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf emphasised the importance of addressing citizenship issues among ECOWAS member countries, regional security, integration, environmental and natural resource challenges, higher education, employment, poverty, and democratic volatility.

He warned against global powers using the region as a dumping ground for finished goods, emphasising that Africa is not a dumping ground for global markets.

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The Kano Governor urged the Regional Parliament to reconsider the idea of a common currency and passports, which would improve the region’s economic viability and global competitiveness.

Yusuf expressed concern about the spread of illegal drugs, arms, and light weapons, calling for a concerted effort to combat these threats.

He stated that, despite challenges, the West African regional GDP stood at $633 billion in 2023, highlighting the region’s potential to become a significant global economic player.

In a message, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, assured the community of his government’s continued support while highlighting the ECOWAS Parliament as a critical institution in fostering regional integration.

Tuggar, represented by Ambassador Musa Nuhu, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, emphasised the importance of strengthening the ECOWAS Community’s democratic institutions for the region’s benefit.

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He stated, “We must collaborate with all ECOWAS organs and institutions. You have so many tools at your disposal to help you achieve this.”

The Minister urged the ECOWAS Parliament to use its various mechanisms to engage member countries that are currently undergoing unconstitutional political changes.

Tuggar stated, “As regional Parliamentarians, you have a role to play in harnessing our people’s cooperation.” Parliamentarians are closer to our people, which is why you must emphasise the importance of the role you play today, particularly in this period when our sub-regional organisation is facing numerous challenges.”

He emphasised the significance of hosting the regional meeting in Kano, stating that it would greatly bridge the gap between citizens and the regional community.

During this session, the regional parliament is expected to deliberate and adopt three critical instruments that will have a significant impact on the progress and effectiveness of our mandate.

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They are the Sixth Legislature’s Rules of Procedure, which were postponed from our inaugural session. The Sixth Legislature’s Strategic Plan, as well as the 2024 Work Plan.

The Rules of Procedure serve as a guide and direction for the parliament in identifying procedural flaws.

The Strategic Plan, on the other hand, is an essential tool for ensuring that the parliament’s programmes and activities are directly linked to ECOWAS’s overall strategic institutional objectives, whereas the Work Plan establishes the agenda for the year’s engagements.

Senator Jibrin, the acting speaker of the parliament, swore in five members of the regional parliament at the start of the session.

The ceremony was attended by the Emir of Kano, Allhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, the Emir of Karaye, Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar II, and the Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim.

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