Category archives for: Banking

Nigeria:Judges, Bankers Caution Against Use of Virtual Currencies

Photo: Bitcoin

Bitcoin

By Kingsley Jeremiah

Abuja — Judges, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) headed by Prof. Segun Ajibola, yesterday in Abuja alerted Nigerians to the danger of transacting business in any of the emerging frontiers in the banking sector, especially virtual currencies.

The experts, who expressed worry over the challenges the development is already posing to orthodox financial intermediation models across the world, called for proactive measures to mitigate the impact of the trend.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had issued a statement earlier in the year, barring deposit money banks and all other financial institutions from the operation of any form of virtual currencies, including bitcoins, ripples, magneto, litecoin, dogecoin, peercoin and one-line, stressing that they are not recognised as legal tenders in Nigeria.

Virtual currency is a medium of exchange that is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community.

At the “17th National Seminar On Banking And Allied Matters For Judges,” which focused on “Emergence of New Frontiers in Banking and its Legal Implications”, Onnoghen restated the commitment of the judiciary to ensuring stability of the banking sector in Nigeria.

According to him, the Nigerian judiciary has an important role to play in the prompt, speedy and just dispensation of cases to protect depositors’ funds in order to shore up public confidence especially as it pertains to the activities of relevant stakeholders in the banking sector.

Onnoghen, who was represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Mahmud Muhammad, stressed the need to sustain public confidence in the judiciary and admonished the judicial officers to be proactive by not allowing technicalities to stand in the way of substantive justice.

Ajibola said the prevailing situation remained a disruption to the orthodox ways of conducting banking and finance in Nigeria, stressing that the country might be taken unawares unless proactive measures were developed to address the implications of the trend.

The professor, who also expressed worry over the growing level of cybercrime in Nigeria, urged the judiciary to help the industry combat the menace.

“One of the side effects of the disruptive technology, artificial intelligence and other new tools is the use of the same technology to undermine the control systems in banks and other financial institutions.

“Unfortunately, fraudsters are usually a step ahead of operators, and operators are usually a step ahead of regulators. This explains why policies and regulations aimed at fighting crimes, albeit cybercrimes, are more reactive than being pro-active.

“We need the judiciary to improve on the speed at which cybercrimes are tried and dispensed with. We need the judiciary to assist in strengthening the statutory framework for fighting cybercrimes in this country,” Ajibola said.

The Chief Executive Officer of First Registrars and Investor Services Limited, Bayo Olugbemi, advised Nigerians to study every innovation before patronising it.

Olugbemi, who is the second Vice President of CIBN, stated there was no legal backing for virtual currency in Nigeria, adding that the National Assembly must take a careful look at the innovations.

He said: “We should see how a new innovation is before we jump into it. A lot of times they defraud people with it, so we need to study it and see its capability before we start operating it.”

Speaking on “The Legal Perspective of Electronic Credit Schemes: Challenges and Solution Options,” a Partner in Aluko & Oyebode, Oludare Senbore, said the use of crypto-currencies as a means of executing transactions (especially cross-border), repatriating foreign investments from Nigeria and an investment asset, has been on the increase in the last couple of years.

According to him, it is pertinent to note that CBN does not currently have any regulation and its official position on virtual/digital currency transactions is to prohibit Nigerian financial intuitions from engaging in such transactions.

Zambia:Crooked Civil Servants Swindle Banks

Photo: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

(File photo).

By Mildred Katongo

Several banks and other money-lenders have been swindled by crooked civil servants who forged pay-slips to obtain loans at different financial institutions, the Office of the President has revealed.

However, the introduction of electronic pay slips by the Government has helped to stop the thieving and will save the government a whopping US$7.2 million spent on printing the pay statements.

More than 100,000 civil servants out of the total 209,000 are now on e-pay slips.

Office of the President e-Government Division Permanent Secretary Martine Mtonga confirmed in an interview in Ndola yesterday the system had enabled the Government to exorcise the payroll of ‘ghost workers’.

“The system has cut out some of the pay slips which were coming from ‘Matero’. Some workers used to get a pay slip to get a loan from one bank and make another to get a loan from another bank. So banks were being swindled, but through the e-pay slip system we have cut out that tendency,” Dr Mtonga said.

He said the Government had agreed on modalities with the banks to receive pay slips electronically for all workers wanting to access loans.

“We have so far loaded 100,000 workers on the system and by the end of this month we will load about 120,000 workers. By the end of December all Government workers will be on e-pay slips,” Mtonga said.

Dr Mtonga said the system would translate in huge savings for the Government which was spending US$7.2 million paper to print the pay slips.

He said the last pay slips printed manually were in August and their contract obligation with the suppliers of the required paper ended last month. There have since been no more new contracts awarded.

Zambia

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Nigeria:Senate Committee Asks Stanbic, Zenith Banks to Unfreeze Patience Jonathan’s Accounts

By Damilola Oyedele

Abuja — The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has ordered Stanbic IBTC Bank and Zenith Bank Plc to unfreeze the accounts domiciled in their banks linked to former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan do for internal administrative reasons and not by court orders.

The committee also faulted the procedure for freezing the bank accounts through court orders served on the banks by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), instead of through court balliffs.

The lawmakers made the observation while hearing the petition filed on behalf of Mrs. Jonathan by her lawyer, Mr. Charles Ogboli, protesting the freezing of her accounts in seven banks without court orders.

The committee found that while the EFCC had served the banks with the initial court orders, it did not serve the banks with court order vacating the freeze, but rather served them with notice of appeal.

Several members of the committee queried the powers of the EFCC to serve court orders on banks, when the anti-graft agency is not part of the judiciary.

Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi PDP) said simply verifying if the court order is authentic, is not the right procedure for the banks to adopt.

Ogba accused the banks of taking advantage of such orders to do business with customer’s frozen funds.

“EFCC cannot take someone to court, and then be the one to serve the bank. EFCC is not judiciary; judiciary is separate. That is why there are people engaged as court balliffs,” he said.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sam Anyanwu, also faulted the process.

“The court balliff should be the one serving the court order, and the bank should sign for it. It looks like they (banks) are taking advantage. The money is available to you and you are trading with it,” he said.

Anyanwu also faulted the decision of Stanbic IBTC Bank to freeze an account linked to Finley Top Homes, one of the firms affected by the court order, while the account itself was not listed to be frozen.

The account belonging to AM-PM Global Network Ltd has the same signatory as Finley Top Homes, one Ada Amah.

Officials of the bank said the account was frozen because it had not fully complied with the “Know Your Customer” requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Earlier, the Acting Managing Director of Eco bank, Mr. Akin Dada said the personal account of Mrs. Jonathan was not frozen by the bank and was operated just last week.

He however noted that a court order served on the bank by the EFCC caused a freeze on two accounts, one of which has the former first lady listed as trustee: Ariwabai Aruera Reach Out Foundation, and the second; Finley Top Homes, specifically listed in the order.

He added that the bank is not aware of any court order vacating the initial freeze order.

Zimbabwe:Teachers Meet Central Bank Boss Over Cash Shortages

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has met central bank governor John Mangudya, demanding that he addresses cash shortages that have left Zimbabweans, including teachers, losing productive hours on bank queues.

Demands made by the union at the meeting include, making a full salary withdrawal, reduction of transfer fees, preferential treatment in banks and creating an economic framework which addresses the liquidity challenges affecting depositors.

RTUZ accused the central bank boss of lying to Zimbabweans that bond notes would ease the cash shortages without eroding the value of deposits.

“The ARTUZ team also took the governor to task over fruitless promises he made on 16 November 2016 when he proclaimed that the surrogate bond note currency will be redeemable for any other currency within the multi-currency system, that bond notes would also solve the cash shortages among other things,” said the organisation in a statement on Wednesday.

“He accepted the grievances which the union articulated such as the indignity suffered by teachers as they sleep in bank queues, high RTGS charges and the reduction of the pay cheque by up to 30 percent because of pricing regimes which make transactions in electronic money expensive among list of other grievances.

“From the ARTUZ demands, the RBZ chief agreed to look into the reduction of RTGS fees to the same level as cash withdrawal charges and also to consider the issue of giving priority to rural teachers in banking halls upon production a pay slip.

“He was however evasive on the key demand of full salaries on a single withdrawal.”

Although Mangudya insisted that the surrogate currency would solve the biting cash shortages and promised to resign if they failed, access to cash has worsened, leaving many to rely on plastic money in a country where support technologies and infrastructure remains under-developed.

Mangudya blames the cash shortages on financial indiscipline and an underperforming industry.

“Regrettably, Mangudya conceded lack of commitment and capacity in proffering an immediate solution to the current cash shortages but was quick to shoulder the blame to other state actors like the police and judiciary which he blamed for not doing enough to wipe out cash vendors from the streets,” said the organisation.

Legislators have accused the regulators of being accomplices and working in cahoots with the cash barons. Sacked Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa claimed a few currency dealers, including bankers, had been arrested and fined for illegal cash deals.

Zimbabwe

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Nigeria:CBN Releases N501 Bn for Commercial Agric Credit Scheme

By Chika Izuora

Lagos — The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has so far released a total sum of N501.697 billion under the commercial agriculture credit scheme (CACS).

Information obtained from the bank by LEADERSHIP showed that the fund was deployed to boost 526 agriculture projects across the country.

The document also showed that total repayment under the scheme was N251.156 billion in respect of 526 projects, out of which 281 projects had fully been repaid as at the end of September 2017.

It was gathered that outstanding balance with lending banks was N250.541 billion as at September 30, 2017.

The CACS was established by the federal government and is financed from the proceeds of the N200 billion three-year bonds raised by the Debt Management Office (DMO).

The fund is made available to participating banks to finance commercial agricultural enterprises.

Speaking with our correspondent on the sidelines of a three-day workshop for CACS agriculture desks officers of commercial banks in Lagos organised by the Nigeria Agriculture Insurance Corporation (NAIC), project management officer of the CBN, Mr. Ademuyiwa Adeleke, expressed worry about frequent abuse and negligence of laid down policies and CACS guidelines.

Adeleke disclosed that banks have flouted repatriation of loans and often failed to carry out due diligence of projects before disbursement of loans.

He warned that CBN would not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions against banks that fail to observe due process.

In her opening remarks, the managing director of NAIC, Folashade Joseph, said the deposit money banks and other financial institutions have been NAIC’s major distribution channel over the years.

Joseph said the deposit money banks serve as credit providers, while NAIC acts as risk management service provider.

According to her, NAIC as a major stakeholder in the Central Bank of Nigeria CACS’ initiative has repositioned itself to improve on its product offerings and services with a vision of “remaining the pioneer and leader in the agro-investment risk management sphere” in Nigeria.

“Risk management remains an integral part of any modern day agricultural financing model, as such the Central Bank of Nigeria has deemed it fit to ensure that any agricultural investor accessing the CACS facility must have the project insured by NAIC as stated in the current lending guidelines for the CACS loan”, she said.

This, Joseph noted, is to protect the project from failing due to unforeseen risks.

She said, “This capacity building program is to enlighten the agricultural desk officers of banks on how to implement the risk management component of the CACS.

“Furthermore, NAIC is committed to forging the appropriate partnerships with deposit money banks in the fulfillment of their mandate by the provision of the appropriate risk management services to the agricultural investors being financed by the banks”.

Nigeria

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Nigeria:World Bank Denies Disagreeing With Adeosun On Foreign Borrowings

Photo: Premium Times

World Bank

By Mathias Okwe and Chijioke Nelson

The World Bank Group has said that it did not disagree with Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, over the country’s borrowings aimed at stimulating the economy and financing infrastructure projects.

The bank, however, said its Senior Economist for Nigeria, Gloria Joseph-Raji, was rather misrepresented and quoted out of context in his comments at an event in Abuja last week.

In a statement signed yesterday by the Senior Communications Officer of the World Bank Group, Rachid Benmessaoud and made available to The Guardian, the bank said that at no point did Joseph-Raji mention that the World Bank and the Federal Government disagreed on the need to rebalance the country’s debt portfolio.

“Where expenditures exceed revenue, governments will need to borrow. In doing so, the Federal Government is trying to rebalance its portfolio towards more external borrowings with lower interest rates and longer maturities,” Benmessaoud said.

More on This

World Bank Clarifies Position on Nigeria’s Borrowing


World Bank Explains Stance On Nigerian Govt’s Debt$5.5 Bn Loan – World Bank Has Confirmed Our Fears – PDPWorld Bank Laments Lack of Progress in Tackling PovertyAPC Stop Borrowing in the Interest of Nigeria – PDP

Why Nigerians Should Tolerate Our Borrowings – Govt

Experts Differ Over Govt’s Plan to Continue BorrowingWhy We’re Borrowing More – Finance MinisterNigeria Won’t Be Reckless With Foreign Borrowings – AdeosunWe’ll Not Borrow Recklessly, Nor Bequeath Unserviceable Debts to Nigerians – Adeosun

According to him, what Joseph-Raji said was a commendation of government’s effort to rebalance its portfolio to lower the cost of its borrowing, as outlined in its 2016-2019 medium-term debt management strategy released last year.The bank, therefore, reiterated its commitment to help Nigeria restore macro-economic resilience, as well as strengthen the ongoing economic recovery and achieve sustainable inclusive growth.Meanwhile, Adeosun had reiterated that the choice of increased foreign borrowings, which are at lower interest rates, would not only prevent job losses, but help to reduce huge debt service bill, particularly the local ones.In a mail to The Guardian, signed by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Oluyinka Akintunde, the minister noted that mobilising revenue aggressively was not advisable, or possible in a recessed economy, but as economy reverts to growth, the revenue strategy will be accelerated.”This is being complemented by a medium-term debt strategy that is focusing more on external borrowings to avoid crowding out the private sector.”This would also reduce the cost of debt servicing and shift the balance of our debt portfolio from short-term to longer-term instruments,” she said.She reassured again that government would be very prudent around debt and won’t borrow irresponsibly.More on ThisWorld Bank Explains Stance On Nigerian Govt’s Debt

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Africa:Has the World Bank Become Irrelevant?

opinion

Funding, the creation of jobs, poverty and green issues were all part to the mix at the World Bank summit in Washington. Delegates spoke their minds, spending was slammed and the soothing non-speak of diplomacy was absent. By GEOFF HILL.

One week, 11,507 delegates – including more than 60 from South Africa – a budget in the billions, and hundreds of speeches. Business as usual for the World Bank summit that closed on Sunday in Washington.

Giant banners called for an end to poverty, but the key theme was how aid is vital to end global warming, a reason why donors should up their contribution.

It didn’t go well.

Bank president Jim Yong Kim, had for months lobbied Donald Trump to put in more money. The reply came via the US secretary for finance, Steve Mnunchin: “More capital is not the solution when existing capital is not allocated effectively,” he said.

The bank’s existing money should be used to, “support countries most in need”, a swipe at loans given to China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Mnunchin also called for an end to waste, “especially with respect to compensation and the Executive Board budget”, a reference to the high salaries paid…

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Uganda:Insurance Impact Still Minimal, Says Kasaija

By Martin Luther Oketch

Insurance contributes a lot to the economic growth of society by provides stability to the functioning of process. This is because the insurance industries develop financial institutions and reduce uncertainties by improving financial resources.

Considerable attention has been devoted to evaluating the relationship between economic growth and financial market deepening. Most of what we have learned relates to banking systems and securities markets – with insurance receiving only a passing mention.

Download full magazine on What you need to know about insurance

Yet, while insurance, banking, and securities markets are closely related, insurance fulfils somewhat different economic functions than do other financial services, and in turn requires particular conditions to flourish.

In an interview with Daily Monitor recently, the Finance minister Matia Kasaija said the contribution of insurance sector in Uganda’s economy is still very minimal because there are very few insurance businesses in the country. Additionally, insurance services are not yet spread in all parts of the country.

“The insurance business in this country is still very small because many organisations/companies and people do not take insurance services,” he said.

Mr Kasaija added: “Few things are being insured because we insure very limited things thus limiting the contribution of the insurance sector in the economy.”

However, Mr Kasaija said the government is promoting the insurance sector in Uganda by providing Agriculture Insurance Scheme in partnership with the commercial banks which is currently doing well because of the subsidies being given out.

In FY 2016/17, Government operationalised the Uganda Agriculture Insurance Scheme. Statistics in the finance ministry show that a number of farmers have benefited and received insurance cover for both crops and animals, and these include; farmers under Nucafe, Centenary Bank, Cairo Bank, Advance Microfinance, Community Funds, Ifish fish farm, Dejolisa Farm, Biyinzika Farm Ltd, Sr Afro Cheeks, Eclof, Muiis Project, Kaweri, SolaceFarm, Feed the Future and FIT Uganda, Individual farmers, among others. The subsidy utilisation projections, for the current season, are as per table 4.4 below.

In FY 2017/18, the Finance ministry said Government will continue implementing the Uganda Agriculture Insurance Scheme as a pilot, to further subsidise agriculture insurance premiums for both small and large scale farmers to guarantee the returns expected from crop and livestock farming. The scheme will cover all regions of the country focusing on strategic crops and animals.

As per the Uganda Insurers Association, the prospects and businesses to be underwritten in the next six months are estimated at Shs8.2b in total premiums before applying the Government subsidy.

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Uganda:Perceptions About Insurance Industry

By Christine Kasemiire

Despite the long existence of insurance in Uganda, the industry still has challenges with getting the public on board. Presently, insurance has only 0.73 per cent penetration in Uganda.

According to Mr Douglas Semakadde, the business development manager at Phoenix of Uganda Assurance Company Limited, their major customers are corporate organisations although, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) clients are more in number but mostly less valued in premiums. He said despite positive perception of clients on fold, lack of awareness especially among the uninsured public is still a challenge.

“With our customers, their perception is positive since they are already in the fold. With the ones approached, the struggle to get them informed still exists. But we are breaking barriers,” he says.

The fears

According to Ms Cynthia Nakowa, a risk assessor at Equity bank and former employee at UAP insurance company, people have a perception that the insurance companies do not pay claims which guarantees lack of trust from the claimants hence averting progress.

Download full magazine on What you need to know about insurance

She also reveals that people in Uganda see no reason to partake in insuring themselves or their properties because of the low disposable income.

“The public members I have interacted with are of the view that insurance companies do not pay claims. But I believe if people do not have enough disposable income, they will never think about getting an insurance policy,” she says.

Reiterating Ms Nakowa’s statements is Ms Ann Muhangi, the managing director at Wholesome consult, saying it is sad that Ugandans do not take insurance important yet for business, it is rather paramount for growth and sustainability.

The business consultant says reluctance in investing in insurance for most SMEs is only an issue of poor planning, they only tend to the now and not future plans. The proprietors merely get money and start up a business without thought of risk control, which could prove detrimental to a business, a major difference with the larger corporations.

Ms Muhangi says Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are scared and use excuses of inadequate funds which limit them from venturing into the insurance industry, a statement she dismisses, saying if someone can afford to start up a business, they can also get involved in insuring them because it is affordable.

Furthermore, she says people do not believe in insurance because they think it will be too tiresome to demand for claims after demise of property. They believe they will get lost in demanding, losing more time and money.

“People are scared of it yet it is the future. They do not believe in it because they have a feeling it will be tiresome. They also blame the small capital base which keeps them maintaining a short-term business plan and not the long-term, they say, if I don’t have enough money for my business, where will I get the one for insurance?” she says.

Furthermore, owing to the future direction of business, in particular equity financing, she says insurance is the new future because it gives an investor confidence and buffer to recognise that even in calamities or any unavoidable circumstances, his or her investment could be compensated and reinstated.

Ms Muhangi says in future, it could be a requirement from investors before investing huge sums of money in a business.

That is why she advises SMEs to invest in insurance, lest they face losses when danger strikes.

However, Ms Nakowa believes that unless insurance companies introduce products for low-income earners, who make up a big portion of the country, insurance will maintain the challenge of low penetration in Uganda.

Contrary to Ms Nakowa, the chief executive officer of Insurance Regulatory Authority, Mr Alhaji Ibrahim Lubega Kaddunnabbi, says insurance should not be a balance remained expense. He said Ugandans should move from that mindset and prioritise insurance because it safeguards the property they buy with alot of money and they should value it too by insuring and protecting it.

Why Insure?

Mr Parag Shah, the chief finance officer at Madhvani Group Limited, says the company insures with East African underwriters because it is inevitable to have risks. The insurance they pay for is a guarantee of compensation in case of any risks. The Group has vast policies such as Marine insurance, cash insurance, fidelity insurance, buildings and medical insurance, among others.

He said: “We take all opportunity to mitigate risk of uncertainty which is part of any business.”

Mr Patrick Lubwama, the marketing manager at Hass Petroleum, says they insure their company with UAP to transfer risk to the risk takers (insurance company).

Nigeria:Senate Urges Govt, States to Adopt CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme

By Ahuraka Isah and Solomon Ayado

Abuja — Senate yesterday urged government at all levels to adopt Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in order to address the problem of food security and poverty eradication in the country.

It, however, mandated its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to investigate the circumstances surrounding the delay in extending this laudable intervention programme to other states and the FCT.

Similarly, the upper legislative chamber directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Presidential Committee on Rice Production and other agencies concerned to sustain the momentum in states where the programme is already launched.

These were sequel to a motion, titled, “The Anchor Borrowers Programme and its benefits to farmers”, sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi (APC Kwara North).

Senator Lafiagi said the senate was aware that “the CBN in line with its developmental function established the Anchor Borrowers Programme which is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in processing of key agricultural commodities and small holders farmers.”

He expressed worry about the unpredictable price of crude oil and its resultant effect on the revenue profile of the country, and therefore stressed the need to boost agricultural production and non-oil exports in order to diversify the economy from solely depending on oil revenue.

The lawmaker further said, “There is need to create economic linkage between small holder farmers and reputable large processors with a view to increasing agricultural output.”

Similarly, he said it was important to assist rural smallholder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production in order to reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserve and also increase capital utilization of agricultural firms.

According to him, “The thrust of the programme is the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to small holder farmers to boost production of these selected commodities, stabilize inputs to agro-processors and create a new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs thereby assuring employment.”

Senator Lafiagi added that “loans granted to the smallholder farmers under this programme are to be repaid with harvested produce delivered to the anchor and must cover the loan principal and interest which must not be above 9 per cent per annum.”

He noted that the CBN and the Presidential Committee on Rice Production launched the programme in some states like Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Imo and Cross River which has led to massive production and exportation of rice in 2017.

The former Kwara State governor also stated that “the programme has led to massive cultivation, self- sufficiency in food production and job creation for the unemployed youth through farming in the selected states where the programme is being practiced.”

In his contribution, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan maintained that agriculture remains the surest way to fight poverty and ensure peace and security in the country.

He, therefore, advised that the Anchor Borrowers Programme should be targeted at smallholder farmers across the country, saying that “if this is done, there will be employment to better the lives of various families.”

Senator Lawan added that the programme should be left for farmers who have no access to loans and funds to embark on commercial farming so that its impact could be felt in the country.

Also contributing, Senator Barau Jibril (APC Kano North) said apart from food security, the problem of inadequate raw materials for industries in the country would become a thing of the past if the programme is extended to every state.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, in his remarks said agriculture could still become the mainstay of the nation’s economy if given top priority.

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