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The Council of State, yesterday, endorsed $1 billion to boost agriculture and empower livestock farmers, including the Fulani herdsmen. The council also recommended inter-state security joint operations to flush out bandits, especially those operating from the forests.

Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, alongside Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Willy Obiano of Anambra State, stated this while briefing State House correspondents after over six hours Council of State meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja. Former heads of state, Obasanjo, Gowon, Abubakar exchanging pleasantries ahead of the National Council of State Meeting at the State House, The meeting, which was attended by three former heads of state was centred on security, economy and electoral matters.

The governors said the Council of State endorsed the $1 billion to increase agriculture funding from the current $200 million. The financial assistance to cattle farmers, they said, was not designed to support the rich livestock producers but movement of the existing herdsmen causing problems and incessant clashes with farmers.

The fund will be disbursed through Anchor Borrower and Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, CACS Programmes, to encourage diversification of the economy and promote food security. Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State said council deliberated extensively on how to diversify the economy, efforts being made to pull Nigeria out of doldrums, efforts that had been made to move Nigeria out of recession and the progress being made.

He said while council commended efforts that were being made to revive the economy, especially how Nigeria moved from monolithic economy to a diversified one, it advised that agriculture funding should be improved from $200 million to $1 billion. He said: “Council advised that we improve on the funding on agriculture. That the paltry sum of $200 million when compared to what is being pumped into the oil sector is insignificant.

“Council recommended that at least about $1 billion be pumped into agriculture. It noted how Nigeria moved the budget from about N4 trillion to about N8 trillion . It also noted that when this President came in, the prices oil had nose dived from $112 in 2014 to $30 in 2016. Briefing on security, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, said council was briefed by the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Mungonu (retd). He said:

“On the security situation in the country, we received a very long brief from the National Security Adviser, ranging from farmers/herdsmen clashes, Boko Haram, militancy in the Niger Delta, kidnapping and cattle rustling.” He said after deliberations, a lot of suggestions came forward, adding, “Farmers/herdsmen clashes were discussed thoroughly and we learnt that this takes three dimensions. “First is the real farmers/herdsmen clashes, where the normal herdsman moves around with his cattle and get into a farmers land and eats up his crops.

In some situations it’s pure banditry. Some of the pastoralists that are not herders, attack, steal and kidnap and that has to be defined as such. Some of them rustle cattles and move into the deep forests. “And because of the thickness of the forests responds are usually very difficult. That was also discussed today and solutions were proffered on how to get deep into the forests, to check those bandits that hide and continue to commit havoc. “Third aspect usually classified as farmers/herdsmen clashes is also the settlers and indigenes clashes like in the Southern Kaduna.

Some migrant farmers or herders stay in an environment for a very long time and when you have such clashes, they are also classified as farmers/herdsmen classes. “So we understand and acknowledge these three aspects and all have different approaches in solving the whole problem. And from the discussions today, a lot has been done, solutions have been proffered and the government believes solution is near.

“The minister of agriculture also presented a position on how to resolve the first part of the farmers/herdsmen clashes, that is the actual migrating herdsmen that pass through towns and farms, eats up crops in the farms and create a lot of problems. “He proffered a lot of solutions ranging from those states that have already designated cattle routes, grazing reserves and activating the grazing reserves to ensure the farmers and herdsmen live in harmony.

“That is for those states that have the capabilities to do this. And in the states that do not have the capabilities to do this, ranching was proffered and the federal government has promised to support the states and indeed the Fulanis or the livestock producers to settle in one place and do businesses like it is done in the modern way. “Already, Kaduna State has visited Denmark with some Fulani leaders, to study a kind of livestock production with the aim of establishing same in the country.

“We believe it is possible and profitable to do and those states that want to key into this option can do so. Generally, we believe that every state has its own peculiar problem and each state will be analyzed and solutions will be proffered so that these farmers/herdsmen will be a thing of the past. “That is what has been discussed and we believe that with the commitment shown at the council to bring this to an end is so clear and we believe we will put an end to these frequent clashes as most of the Governor were in council.” The Anambra Governor, Willy Obiano said Council approved appointment of two non-legal practitioners to the Federal Judicial Service Commission and a national electoral commissioner for INEC and the 23 members of National Population Commission.

Explaining on the way the money should be utilised, Governor Amosun said, And the way this money is to be disbursed is through what CBN has been doing and what the minister of agric is doing. There is this CACS program. there is ANCHOR Borrower, a lot of program they are bringing up such that people are guaranteed that as a farmer, whatever you grow somebody is there to take it from you, to process it and turn it to money. “Besides that, it is good for us to have food security.

Imagine if we cannot feed ourselves that is what is happening. But these days now the story is changing and positive too. So it is not that somebody is just going yo take money like that. You will do the application, you will go to your state assembly they have to approve, procedures and conditions must be met, nobody is just going to give you money to go and throw away. “CBN in collaboration with the ministry of agriculture and trade and investment all of them are putting heads together to help our small and medium scale enterprises.

All these our small holder farmers, we are helping them now. “Indeed it was even mentioned that the $1 billion may not be okay, we are looking at maybe $2 billion, but of course, one billion dollars will be the starting point as against in two years now it was about $200 whereas if you compare what is being pumped to subsidies our oil and all of that it runs to even trillion.” Speaking on the details on how to arrest insecurity in the labd, Governor Badaru said, “There are so many discussions on this ranting from how do we reduce out of school children, how do we create more employment, how do we bring youths to agriculture and other trades.

“The social intervention, how do we use it to create more employments, to create more jobs, to create self employment so that the level of youths in the States that might be used for one crime or the other will be reduced. “And also we discussed the issue on those bandits that attack and go back to the forest. Usually before each state operates on a state by state basis. But because the forests are long and covers so many place, if operation is being taking place for instance in Kaduna, they move through the forest to Zamfara or Katsina.

“So it is advised now to have joint and sustained operation so that they will be flushed out of those forests, after that, see how best to create activities in the forests to prevent people from either kidnapping or rustling or stealing and run back to the forest and hide there. “The challenges being faced by the military and other security agencies have been discussed and even the proliferation of different agencies that are not inter connected working together was discussed, all solutions were preferred and I believe those solutions will turn into almost permanent solution to the security challenges in the country and so also in the Niger Delta.”

On why government should support rich livestock producers, he said, “For those States that have grazing reserve, they will have support to provide veterinary services and other small services for the already existing herdsmen. “For those States that have not enough land to do that, there will be some solution if they so desire by the federal government to create those ranches and the same group of Fulani will be there and not new livestock producers will be invited and be given support to develop new businesses. “But we are just saying that $1 billion will be used to support agriculture. Livestock is part of that and I am sure these monies are being given as credit to the farmers to develop their own businesses and it is done for two reasons. “First to boost the economy, second to act as import substitution mechanism so that we will stop to import milk, beef, chicken and all those things that come into the country. “So it is not purely designed to support the rich livestock producers but to support the movement of those existing herdsmen that cause this problem and these clashes.”

BUSINESS

Customers To Access Up to N3M, Pay As Low As 10% Monthly With New UBA Credit Card

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Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has introduced the new UBA Naira Credit Card to its teeming customers in fulfillment of its promise to ease accessibility to funds and improve the overall standard of living.

With the new UBA Naira Credit Card, customers whose salary accounts have been domiciled with the bank for a minimum of three months and are employees of corporates under UBA’s approved counterparty list with a minimum net monthly income of N250,000 are in for a stress-free business and personal lifestyle. They will be qualified to access up to N3m credit, with extremely flexible repayment plans of as low as 10% of their monthly outstanding due.

Specifically, these customers aged between 18 and 57years who apply for the UBA credit card will also enjoy easy access to funds with a revolving line of credit and up to 45 days interest-free credit, flexible repayment options; amazing discounts at select merchant locations including Restaurants, Boutiques, among other mouth-watering benefits.

The UBA credit card also allows ATM withdrawals in Nigeria or abroad wherever the Visa logo is displayed while allowing ease of payment of goods and services locally and Internationally on POS/WEB terminals where the Visa logo is displayed.

UBA’s Group Head, Digital Banking, Sampson Aneke, said that as a bank that is interested in the welfare of Nigerians, UBA is always on the forefront of developing products and services aimed at creating wealth, easing living conditions and meeting the needs of its customers all over the world.

He said, “At UBA, we recognize that access to credit is fundamental to the creation of wealth and value in the economy. Unfortunately, the country has been challenged in this regard with only about 2% of the population presently having access to bank loans.

“It is in addressing these developmental and household challenges that the bank has in recent times developed and introduced a number of unique lending products to the market, with the latest being the innovative UBA credit card.”

Aneke who spoke glowingly about all the benefits that the banks’ customers stand to enjoy from the credit card explained that the UBA Credit card is currently available as Visa Gold card with a card limit of between N75,000 to N1,000,000 and Visa Platinum card with a limit of between N1,000,001 to N3,000,000 and can be used locally and internationally at any ATM or POS outlet which has the Visa logo, WEB (online), and POS terminals.

“There is an interest-free period of 45 days on POS/Web transactions provided 100% repayment is made on the repayment due date and customers are entitled to 30% (annualized) of their monthly salary as credit card limit subject to the existing Debt Service Ratio (DSR). The monthly repayment cycle will run from the 15th of every month to the 15th of the next month and the credit card statement showing transaction details within the period and the amount due for repayment will be sent to the cardholders’ registered email address,” Aneke said.

He explained that to get the card, customers can walk into any UBA branch or visit the bank’s website at www.ubagroup.com to download the credit card application form, fill it and submit to the Customer Service Officer at any UBA branch nationwide.

United Bank for Africa is a leading pan-African financial institution offering banking services to more than twenty million customers globally. With a footprint in 20 African countries and presence globally in the United Kingdom, the USA, and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross border payments and remittances, trade finance, and ancillary banking services.

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BIG STORY

D’Banj Rape Saga: Former Manager Franklin Amudo Speaks…. My Truth According To What I Know

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Renowned artiste management executive and former manager of music star, D’Banj, Mr. Franklin Amudo has come out to clear the air on what he knew about the controversial rape allegation involving the Afro-pop singer and a lady called Seyitan Babatayo.

In a lengthy narrative released Sunday and made available to PorscheClassy News, Franklin explained his relationship with the lady in question and his role in the entire saga.

His full statement reads:

“I have read and observed the events of the past few weeks concerning the rape allegation made by Miss Seyitan against D’banj, who I used to work with as an artiste manager. For the record, I worked with D’banj for three years and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and his craft.

“I chose to be silent on the matter initially as I try as much as possible to avoid meddling in issues in the public domain. More so, I deliberately refrained from making any statement or joining issues with anyone because the narration of my involvement as contained in Miss Seyitan’s petition was as far as I was involved.

“I am, however, shocked when I was alleged to have colluded with Miss Seyitan to blackmail D’banj with the rape accusation, especially with the consequent defamation of my reputation and character by a phantom investigative journalist and other social media proxies. It has become imperative to narrate my own side of the story on the event that occurred 30th of December, 2018, at Glee Hotel, Lagos.

“On that fateful day, I invited Seyitan amongst other people to an All-White-Event at Eko Atlantic Hotel. Seyitan and I were seated in a table at this event with Ajia Mohammed and Oyinda, who are friends of D’banj.

“D’banj was billed to perform at the event and he had accommodation for the night at Eko Atlantic Towers, the venue of the event. I had my hotel accommodation at Glee Hotel, Victoria Island. Ajia also had accommodation at the same hotel. Please, note that Dbanj performed at this event and never sat with us on the table.

“After the event, Seyitan told me that it was too late for her to go home and I offered her my hotel room at Glee Hotel as I already made plans to leave for home because I had an early flight to Accra by 7:00am of the 31st December 2018. I gave Seyitan the Key-card to the room at the car park of the hotel and left.

“Upon my arrival in Accra, Seyitan called, saying that D’banj gained access into her hotel room at Glee Hotel by 3 am and raped her. I was shocked at this allegation because I wondered how D’banj gained access into this room knowing full well that I did not disclose my room number to him and he was not lodged at the hotel.

“Subsequently, I made a call to Ajia to narrate Seyitan’s accusation and he told me not to worry about it that he had given Seyitan $100, though he never told me what the money was for. I called Seyitan back to ask why she was given $100 and why she would claim she was raped by D’banj and she angrily replied in a series of voice notes reiterating the accusation and that she was told not to tell me because they assumed she was my girlfriend.

“She said she had left everything in God’s hands and made it clear that she was not interested in taking the matter to the public. I chose not to discuss this matter with D’banj because he and his wife were also in Accra as this was supposed to be a healing trip to recover from the loss of their son. I thought it was insensitive to discuss such an issue on this trip, as Seyitan had even mentioned that she didn’t want the matter escalated further.

“Fast forward to the series of events of the last few weeks. I received several calls bringing my attention to the allegation of rape by Seyitan on D’banj. Thereafter, I got a WhatsApp message from Seyitan saying that D’banj did not have the right to say “ No To Rape” when he was culpable of such act, which was a reaction to a post D’banj had made on Instagram about rape. At the time, I believed that the two parties would address the issue appropriately.

“A week after the allegation broke, I started receiving calls from strange numbers and messages from social media making spurious accusations as the mastermind behind the whole rape saga. Most confounding was that Kemi Olunloyo, who never called me to hear my side of the narration, claimed that I was in the habit of arranging girls for artistes and that I was being ungrateful to D’banj by setting him up in collusion with Seyitan. I find this act of defamation very unscrupulous, malicious, mischievous, and very damaging to my name and brand. My legal team has initiated moves to earnestly seek redress. The last, of course, has not been heard of this.

“I was invited by the IGP RT team to make a statement in respect of the allegations and I have since done that. The following week, I was invited by a team from the FCID ABUJA to the SFU station at Milverton, Ikoyi. I have since gone there and made my statement as requested. I was re-invited again to come in for certain clarifications on some aspects of the investigation, which I have also done. I was put on the phone with the ACP from the DIG’s office in Abuja and she put me through the entire questioning process again for hours. This experience has been very traumatic and demonstrates a sheer show of power, wealth, and influence, considering that I have gone for questioning more than the accused or accuser.

“I have been harassed, scrutinized, and invited several times by the police. My wife and young kids have known no sleep for the past three weeks due to this unwholesome situation. It has put a strain on my mental health, physical, financial, and the general wellbeing of my family.

“As a father and husband, I condemn rape and as a business owner, I know the devastating effect of false accusations. It is my sincere hope that the police would be honourable enough to thoroughly investigate this matter and clarify the situation.

“Finally, let me use this opportunity to thank my family, especially my wife and kids for their support and understanding, and my dear friends who have stood by me through this arduous time. Thank you and God bless.”

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BUSINESS

Access Bank Celebrates Recognition Of Tracy Batta As Forbes Africa’s 2020 30 Under 30

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Helping female businesses grow through discounted access to finance is one of the many unique value propositions under the Access Bank’s W Initiative. Tracy Batta, co-founder, SmoothieExpress and a W Power Loan beneficiary recently emerged on Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 lists.

Tracy Batta co-owns Smoothie Express, a healthy focused brand known for providing consumers with healthy fast foods. Prior to her recognition under the 2020 class of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30, Tracy was recognized under Business Day’s Top100 Fastest Growing SMEs. She has since grown to become a household name in Lagos.

Since its launch in 2018, the W Power loan has impacted the businesses of growing female entrepreneurs with N14bn for expansion whilst seeking opportunities and exposure to the global market.

Speaking on the impact of the W Power Loan on female-owned businesses, Ada Udechukwu, Head, Women Banking at Access Bank says, “Ensuring access to affordable finance for SMEs and opportunities to access new markets is an integral part of Access Bank’s economic ecosystem for SMEs. Since the introduction of the W Power Loan, more women can now sit at the helm of entrepreneurial affairs and grow their businesses to be internationally recognized.  We strengthen female-owned SMEs in Nigeria by being a pillar for them to lean on for growth and expansion”.

Access Bank’s support for female-owned home-grown businesses is undeniable and this is evident in the resultant benefits from its discounted financing initiative, The W Power Loan.

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