Paris Club Refund Not A Favor Done To States – Edevbie

The State Commissioner for Finance, Olorogun David Edevbie, has explained that the Paris Club refund was not a favour being done to state by the Federal Government.

Olorogun Edevbie stated this today at a post budget presentation press briefing, coordinated by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Patrick Ukah, at the Press Centr, Government House, Asaba.

The Finance Commissioner noted that the refund was the over deduction the Federal Government made to the Paris Club beginning from 1995, saying interest ought to have been paid for it.

Explaining further the deduction, he said the Federal Government used the funds meant for the three tiers of government to pay for foreign debts owed by the federal government, disclosing that N33 billion had so far been released in tranches.

He said that while the first tranche was N14.5 billion, the seconded one amounted to N8 billion and the third N10 billion, indicating that out of the N33, billion, the sum of N7 billion was for Local Government Councils while N12.6 billion was spent on salary and N14 billion went to capital expenditure.

On whether the President of the Country, Muhammadu Buhari directed the State Governors on how to spend the Paris Club refund, Olorogun Edevbie said there was no such directive, explaining that constitutionally, the President had no such power to issue directive on how States should spend their funds.

He said that some of the money from the refund had to go capital expenditure to cater for the interest of Deltans that were not in the payroll of the State Government.

Giving a performance breakdown of the 2017 Budget breakdown, the Finance Commissioner said that N58 billion was spent on addressing salary and pension issues while N42 billion went to capital project.

On insinuations that the country had come out of recession, he said the indicators that the country experienced 0.55 positive growth in the fifth quarter of recession supported the claim.

He however noted, “We are not yet feeling the claim that we are out of recession. It will take a while, just as it took some time before we entered recession.”

On the bailout fund, Olorogun David Edevbie opined that Delta State was an accidental beneficiary of the scheme.

He said Delta State benefitted because the recession affected adversely most of the All Progressive Congress (APC) governed States, noting that there was no way the Federal Government could have given bailout to the APC States alone.

He emphasized that the bailout fund was a loan which would be paid back at very friendly terms, saying that out of N10 billion the State received, the sum of N3.26 billion went to Local Government Council, while N2 billion was expended in addressing pension arrears, N2 billion for primary school teachers’ salary and N3.5 billion for salary of State Government workers.

Addressing issues on why virtually all states are complaining of lack of funds and the local government council not able to perform their statutory roles, the Finance Commissioner blamed the cause on the Federal Government, noting that too much money was going to the centre.

He said the Federal Government was reluctant to initiate a review of the federal allocation formula because it does not want the present status-quo to change.

According to Olorogun Edevbie, a review of the formula ought to take place every three years but lamented that the last time that was done was done was in 1992.

He said the inability of the Federal Government to address issues bordering on fiscal federalism and resource control was largely responsible for the recurrent agitations for restructuring in the country.

DTSG Flags Off Improved Cassava Stem Distribution In Agbor

The Delta State Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has distributed 4,000 bundles of new improved variety of Cassava stems to 70 cassava farmers in Ika axis of the State.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Austin Chikezie while flagging off the distribution at Agbor stated that the aim of the programme was to improve farmers harvest and to create wealth.

“Specifically, the 2017 cassava programme is put together to increase cassava production for consumption and local industry, generate employment, increase yield from 16 metric tons to 30 – 45 metric tons per hectare, boost income of cassava farmers by about 100% and attract investors.” the Commissioner stated.

According to the Commissioner, “Delta State has ecologically been adjudged as one of the best in Nigeria for the cultivation of Cassava, the use of local varieties has been prevalent in the State and this has resulted in low yield. It is necessary to note that the efforts of the Nigeria Root Crop and Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan had yielded improved cassava varieties that are diseases resistant, early maturing and with average yield of between 30 – 45 metric tons.”

Hon. Chikezie revealed that the administration of Governor Okowa approved the introduction of the improved cassava varieties in Delta State in the 2017 budget year, saying that the State Government was poised to intervene massively in the agricultural sector in the State.

The Commissioner explained that the schedule of distribution of the improved cassava cuttings to farmers in Delta State was in three batches; October and December, 2017 for late planting and March 2016 for early planting, saying that the cuttings would be distributed among farmers who had expressed interest and had their farm land verified.

He however revealed that beneficiaries of the improved cassava cuttings would pay back with cuttings of equal measure giving to them at harvest which would in turn be given to other farmers in the State.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sir Austin Oghoro urged the farmers to take advantage of the cassava cuttings distributed to them, to improve their cassava production thereby increasing their income.

Highpoint of the programme was the handing over of cassava cuttings bundles to individual beneficiaries who were at the ceremony.

In the same vein, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in order to ensure that the State Government’s effort at increasing cassava production in the State is successful, had embarked on training the Assistant Chief Agriculture Officers (ACAOs), Subject Matters Specialists (SMEs), and the Block Extension Services Officers (BES) and in the State on how to manage farmers who got the improved Cassava cuttings distributed to farmers in the State recently.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources urged the trainees to take the training seriously as they would be held accountable for any flop in the programme.

A research scientist and an Agric Extension Communication Expert from the National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike, Dr. Okwusi Moses stated that there were innovations in the management of the new improved cassava varieties which the officers needed to know to achieve optimal yield.

Dr. Okwusi stated that the improved cassava was resistant to disease and also matured earlier than the old cassava varieties used by the farmers.

Govt. Committed To Constructing Schools Where They Are Needed – Ebie