Nigeria, yesterday, intensified it’s bid to recover stolen funds as it signed two economic instruments on relations with the governments of Switzerland and that of the Republic of Singapore.
The special adviser on media to the president, Femi Adesina said one of them was the Instrument of Ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Swiss Federal Council and the International Development Association on the Return, Monitoring and Management of Illegally-Acquired Assets Confiscated by Switzerland and to be Restituted to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The second, he said, was the Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of Singapore for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and Capital Gains.
“With the execution of these instruments, Nigeria’s trade relations with Singapore and income therefrom are expected to rise.
“While the return of illegal assets will not only boost the administration’s anti-corruption drive, but also provide additional funds for critical infrastructure,” he added.
Nigeria Turbulent In Last 3 Years –PMB
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the country’s experience in the last three years as “a very turbulent one.”
He noted, however, that the country’s critical jobs creating sector, which was neglected in the past decades, “is now beginning to yield results.”
Buhari spoke yesterday at the presidential villa, Abuja, when he inaugurated the National Food Security Council which he chairs.
He said: “Two weeks ago, I announced my intention to establish and chair a presidential-level committee that focuses on food security; I am happy that today it has become a reality.
“Nigeria’s journey in the last three years has been a very turbulent one. The country’s need for critical job creating sectors, which had been ignored for decades, is now beginning to yield results.”
According to the president, since the inauguration of his administration in 2015, he had initiated many intervention programmes to facilitate employment and ensure food security in the country.
“These programmes and many more have started yielding results and, if sustained, will transform the lives of millions of Nigerians across the country,” he said.
The president noted, however, that his administration was conscious of the fact that the full results of the programmes would not be felt or seen overnight, adding that “the journey is long.”
“It is therefore our collective duty to ensure the actual and potential positive impacts of these programmes are sustained, improved and expanded,” he said.
According to him, a key mandate of the Food Security Council is to continuously assess and enhance these infant but impactful programmes, thereby guaranteeing they achieve their full potential.
He further disclosed that his administration would develop new programmes and projects that would protect and, indeed, create more jobs in farming, fisheries, animal husbandry and forestry.
Buhari pointed out that any strategy for land and water management must take into consideration the interconnectivity of farming, grazing and forestry to ensure equity and sustainability.
“As we all know, land is used for farming, grazing and forestry. Water is used for irrigation, livestock sustenance and fishing. Therefore, any strategy for land and water management must take into account the interconnectivity of all these key sectors to ensure equity and sustainability. “
According to him, his administration will not lose sight of the other issues that will impact the country’s food production ambitions such as population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation, rural infrastructure development and climate change.
These factors, he noted, would also put pressures on the nation’s land and water resources, adding that the county must invest in research and development to enhance yields and outputs.
The president also pointed out that since Nigeria was not insulated from global and regional issues, it must “develop local programmes, but not lose sight of events from afar and their impact on us, specifically, issues such as smuggling and dumping. It is our responsibility to ensure we develop and enforce strategies to protect Nigeria from these illegal and unhealthy imports.”
Speaking further on the Council’s mandate, Buhari said: “Our deliberations will look into all the issues and our decisions will be implementable and impactful. We shall stay focused, first and foremost, on securing our food requirements and employment for our people, especially the youths. We shall feed ourselves and build an inclusive Nigeria for ourselves and for future generations.”
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, said the president had captured the main objectives of the food security council to include strengthening all existing policies on food security including policies on trade, agronomy, national planning and national security.
According to him, the design was to bring all states together to deliver food security to Nigeria.
On his part, Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, noted that governors were appointed into the council from the six geo-political zones of the country, and said that each governor spoke on food security at it affects his zone during the inauguration.
Okowa remarked that, in the last few years, a lot had been done on rice production which, he said, had reduced the amount of money hitherto spent on rice importation, adding that the trend had given confidence that, in no time, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in rice production.
He also revealed that the council discussed the need to develop oil palm plantations and spend a lot of money on wheat production with a view to achieving self sufficiency in them.
In his own briefing, the chief of defence staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, said the military was aware of security challenges facing the nation and listed such challenges to include farmers-herders’ clashes and militancy, which, he noted, all have direct effects on the food value chain.
Submitting that the job of the military is to ensure that a safe environment is guaranteed for food production, Olonisakin listed measures put in place by the armed forces to achieve such a safe environment to include Operations Lafiya Dole in North East, Nawase in Niger Delta, Sarendaji in North West and Safe Haven in Jos.
On his part, the minister of trade, industry and investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said the newly inaugurated council looked at all dimensions of food security, including the amount of money invested in food production and industry value chain.
The minister said the council would look at the comparative advantage emerging from these and also provide incentives aimed at encouraging local production as well as its sustainability.
For the Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, the inauguration of the council marked the beginning of a paradigm shift in the economy of Nigeria.
He said the decision of the president to personally chair the council marked the commencement of the framework meant to take Nigeria from a monolithic economy to a diversified one.
According to him, the council would address issues bordering on agriculture and national security, just as he stated that everything that will guarantee the security of the nation in all spheres is encapsulated in the council.
On his part, the minister of state for environment, Malam Usman Jubrin, remarked that if Nigeria must move forward, issues bordering on climate change must be addressed, especially as they affect agricultural activities, including pollution in the Niger Delta.