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Former President Jonathan accepts ambassadorial role

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been accepted as Africa’s Agricultural Technology Ambassador by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

Making the announcement after meeting with the former President in Yenagoa, Bayelsa South-south during the week, the AATF Executive Director, Dr Canisius Kanangire, said the appointment was informed by the former President’s track record of championing agricultural transformation on the continent.

AATF, in a statement by its Communications Officer, Alex Abutu, described Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a Nigerian politician who served as the President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015 and had since been at the forefront of agricultural improvement on the continent.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Jonathan said that as a former Head of State, his interest in serving the continent is driven by the interest he has in driving food security and transformation for a better quality of life in Africa.

Kanangire said: “Dr Jonathan’s commitment to uplift agriculture on the continent was exemplified by the Agricultural Transformation Agenda he pursued and diligently implemented in Nigeria during his tenure as President.

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“The agenda targeted increasing efficiency and profitability in about 12 selected key agricultural commodities, which include: cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum.

“Under the agenda, about 3.5 million new jobs were created based on the selected key products, while many more jobs were created from other value chain activities, with over N300 billion of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers and rural entrepreneurs. In addition, over N60 billion (US$380 million) was injected into the economy from the substitution of 20% of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.

“Another critical element of Dr Goodluck’s agricultural legacy as President of Nigeria was his ability to cut down on the importation of food that can be produced locally, thereby, saving the nation well over N1.3 trillion per annum on the importation of foodstuff.

“Dr Jonathan was able to demonstrate in Nigeria that agriculture should be treated as a business and supported by relevant policies for the improvement of the livelihoods of our growing farming population.”

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AATF’s boss further said that Dr Jonathan is a Pan-Africanist who had stood for the eradication of rural poverty and the peaceful coexistence of the continent, hence his involvement in peaceful conflict resolution on the continent.

“As AATF’s Ambassador, Dr Jonathan will advocate for the advancement of Africa’s agricultural goals and economic growth through the application of innovative technologies and enhanced investment in agriculture. AATF is honoured to have the former president as our Ambassador, whose role will accelerate ongoing efforts to improve our agricultural terrain.”

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Naira Swap: Reps may reconvene before election if crisis continues, says Gbajabiamila

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the lawmakers may reconvene if the hardship occasioned by the naira swap continues.

While the lawmakers are on break and are expected to resume after the general elections, the scarcity of the new naira notes and the attendant consequences may force the House of Representatives to reconvene, according to Gbajabiamila.

“Many have argued on the independence of CBN, the autonomy of CBN. That does not make CBN above the law. The constitution gives the House the power to issue an arrest warrant against anyone, we can summon anybody, and that was exactly what the House was going to do until the CBN governor came,” Lanre Lasisi, his media aide, quoted the Speaker as saying during a town hall meeting with some ethnic groups in Surulere, Lagos, on Sunday.

“So, we are watching, and we are monitoring very closely. If need be, we will reconvene the House, even though we’ve all been away for our elections. I will call the House back if need be.”

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According to him, the House made several efforts to intervene in the naira swap crisis by inviting the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele.

“We summoned the CBN governor the first time and again, but he refused to answer because we had many hard questions for him,” the Speaker added.

“It was until I issued the threat of warrant of arrest before he came, and I would’ve signed that warrant; it would’ve been the first time in the history of the National Assembly that a CBN governor would be arrested. I would’ve done it.”

Gbajabiamila, who lamented the situation, said the development is causing hardship to Nigerians.

“Many are suffering, we have paid your salary, and you cannot withdraw it; people cannot eat, what kind of thing is that?” he wondered.

He hailed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu for voicing out over the hardship triggered by CBN’s move.

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“There’s one man who is running for president of this country, and that man has courage and audacity. This man came out boldly and identified the problem, that the fifth columnists, in cooperation with the PDP, are the ones trying to sabotage this election,” the lawmaker said.

“If nothing changes, we will intervene again, but be sure of one thing: that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stands with you and stands with Nigerians in their suffering. He was the first to shout what is going on? He has cried, he has begged, he has screamed that people are suffering…”

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CBN deceived Buhari over Naira redesign to stop election, Says Oshiomhole

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Adams Oshiomhole has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of deceiving President Muhammadu Buhari over the redesign of the naira notes.

President Buhari last year approved the redesign of the N1,000, N500, and N200 notes. The move, has, however, created hardship among Nigerians who battle to lay hands on the new notes as the February 10th deadline for the currency swap inches closer. In the wake of the naira swap crisis, the CBN maintained it won’t extend the deadline.

But Oshiomhole has faulted the policy, describing it as senseless and a plot by the apex bank to scuttle the general elections. According to him, the bank sold an anti-corruption motive to the President which made him approve the policy.

“So, I can guess – I was not there – that in obtaining the approval, I believe the CBN deceived the President by amplifying the need to have corruption-free electioneering as if election is the only project this President has a responsibility for,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s election programme The 2023 Verdict on Sunday.

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He claimed that the CBN sold to the President that a redesigning of the naira notes would curb vote buying and thus catch corrupt politicians off guard.

“The President Buhari that I know will have no difficulty in agreeing,” he said, arguing that the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele “knows better than that”.

Away from this, Oshiomhole claimed the apex bank had other motives.

“You could see that the intention of the Bank is not to eliminate abuses but to stop the elections from taking place,” he said.

According to him, the move was meant to cause unrest, shift the government’s attention and ultimately make the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) lose the elections.

“If you have riots like you had in Ibadan and Benin – I don’t know anywhere else – and they were taking place simultaneously, and you are now dealing with the issue of protecting lives and properties, will elections become a priority?” the APC chieftain quizzed.

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“So, it is in that context that whoever scuttles the elections would have scuttled the chances of the APC winning the election.”

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Naira scarcity: Bear with FG, CBN, Peter Obi pleads with Nigerians

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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has urged Nigerians to bear with the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the redesigned naira notes.

Following the introduction of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes by the apex bank, Nigerians have continued to experience nationwide scarcity of the naira.

But taking to his Twitter handle on Sunday, Obi called for patience, saying he hopes the masses will harvest the gains that will come with the reforms.

He stated that currency redesign is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that the policy comes with some pains but has benefits in the long-term.

“The currency redesign is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is an exercise that comes with some inconvenience and pain but it has significant long term economic and social benefits. Even though there are improvements that can be made,” he tweeted.

“I urge Nigerians to bear with the CBN and Federal Government with the hope that the general populace and Nigeria will harvest the gains that will come with the reforms.

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“We equally implore the CBN and the banks to expedite efforts to make the new currency available to small depositors and the unbanked in order to reduce the pains of my fellow Nigerians, especially the underprivileged and those living far away from banks in the rural areas.”

‘No Extension On Deadline’
Amid the calls for an extension, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele has insisted that the apex bank will not extend the deadline for swapping old naira notes with the newly redesigned ones.

Emefiele who briefed journalists on Friday at the CBN office in Lagos, said that the apex bank and other stakeholders are already looking addressing areas where there are pressures.

“I would say no. I am sure that people are going to say only last week I said no, but I want to say unfortunately again, this time we will not be looking at extension of deadline because we as the central bank, deposit money banks and other important stakeholders, we are looking at areas where there is pressure and we are doing everything possible to address those areas of pressure.

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“We have had cases where some bank branches have some cash in their vaults and because there was no demand for them and we asked central bank officials when reported to move those monies away and move them to areas where there is pressure. So those are some of the logistical challenges that we faced and we are doing everything possible to address them. So I am not going to make any promise to anyone that there would be any further extension of this deadline,” Emefiele said.

Emefiele also said that the apex bank acknowledged the pains Nigerians are facing in accessing the new naira notes.

According to the CBN governor, the apex bank will extend cash swaps to microfinance banks and engage 30,000 super agents in the hinterlands as part of new measures to accelerate the circulation of new naira notes.

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