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Emefiele Urges Rice Millers to Embrace Backward Integration Policy

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KANO – The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has urged rice mills in the country to embrace the Bank’s backward integration initiative aimed at conserving foreign exchange reserves, revamping local production capacity and creating employment.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Garewa Rice Mill in Kano, Kano State, on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, Mr. Emefiele stressed the need for rice millers in Nigeria to get involved in paddy production to guarantee sustainable supply of paddy to their mills and also complement the supply from the smallholder farmers through the CBN’s partnership with the Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN) and prime anchors.

He noted that the number of rice mills in Nigeria had grown from less than ten, with a combined capacity of less than 350,000 metric tons, prior to the launch of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) in 2015, to over 60 integrated rice mills, with a combined capacity of about 3 million metric tons as at January 2022, with about 10 more mills scheduled to be commissioned later this year.

Furthermore, the Governor said the increasing number of rice mills, which were complemented by hundreds of small-scale mills located in every State of the Federation, attested to the conducive environment the CBN had been able to create in the rice value chain through its initiatives and stakeholders’ collaboration.

While stressing the need to match the increasing milling capacity of rice nationwide with increased paddy production, Emefiele charged millers to take advantage of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and the Private-Sector Led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (P-AADS) of the Bank, which provide long-term financing option to millers to finance commercial farms, land development, irrigation facilities and other agricultural infrastructure that will enhance their respective production plans.

Also noting that the quality of milled rice in Nigeria could match most foreign brands, he expressed gladness that the Bank’s collaboration with the fiscal authorities had helped to curtail the proliferation of Nigerian markets by sub-standard imported rice varieties. He therefore enjoined Nigerians to heed the call of President Muhammadu Buhari to “produce what we eat and eat what we produce,” by patronizing rice brands milled in Nigeria,

Continuing, Mr. Emefiele said the resuscitated Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) will facilitate grading, sorting, quality assurance and storage infrastructure for key agricultural commodities and also enhance price discovery for smallholder farmers, adding that the exchange will provide aggregation hubs for millers to enhance paddy off-take and grow to providing futures for millers and farmers to lock in prices and operate under a controlled price regime.

In his remarks, the Kano Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, thanked the CBN Governor, for not only extending ABP facilities to Kano, but also assisting the State in the area of infrastructural development of facilities such as the Tiga and Chalawa hydro-electricity dam projects.

Also speaking at the event, the Governor of Jigawa State, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, eulogized the CBN Governor for empowering youth and creating wealth in the country.

The promoter to the rice mill, Alhaji Isa Garewa commended the vision of the CBN Governor on initiating the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), which has turned out to be the saving grace of Nigeria, especially with the outbreak of the Corona virus (COVID-19).

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Enugu State High Court sets aside policy of no refund of money after payment by service providers

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On 28 July 2021, Patrick C Chukwuma, a legal practitioner with the law firm of Eze, Dimude, Eze & Co filed a suit against Peace Mass Transit Limited challenging the laters policy of “no refund of money after payment”.

The incident that led to the suit occured on 10/2/2021 when the Plaintiff purchased a ticket from the Obollor-Afor branch of Peace Mass Transit Limited to convey him to Enugu.
Following a two hours delay occasioned by the absence of passengers, the Plaintiff returned to the ticketing office and asked for a refund of the #500 he paid as the transportation fare. Staff of the Defendant however refused to refund the money, insisting that their company policy was that money paid for transport fare cannot be returned to the passenger and citing the statement written on their ticket to that effect as conclusive proof of their position.

When Barr. Chukwuma tried to explain to them that their policy was unlawful, as the law mandates them to refund fares for services that have not been provided they retorted in a rude manner, prompting the learned counsel to leave their park and seek alternative means of traveling back to Enugu.
A letter written by the lawyer to Peace Mass Group of companies demanding and apology and refund was neglected prompting the lawyers law firm to institute suit number: E/514/2021 Patrick Chukwunwike Chukwuma v Peace Mass Transit Limited.

The suit asked the court to determine a sole question which was “whether the Defendant’s policy of “no refund of money after payment” is in violation of Section 120 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 especially when the contractual obligation to convey the Plaintiff to his preferred location was terminated”.
The Plaintiff through his team of lawyers led by Barr. Tochukwu Odo amongst other grounds argued that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 is the primary law on questions of consumer transaction in Nigeria and that by virtue of section 120 of the law, the consumer has a right to cancel any advance booking, reservation or order for any goods or services subject only to the deduction of a reasonable charge by the service provider. The Defendant through their counsel Barr Titus Odo raised technical arguments on the jurisdiction of the court and mode of commencement of the suit.

Hon. Justice C. O. Ajah of the High Court of Justice in his judgment delivered on 7 April 2022, promptly dismissed the objections of the Defendant and upheld the arguments of the Plaintiff. The Hon. Judge after a thorough analysis of the provisions of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 vis a vis the conduct of the parties in the case decided that indeed the policy of no refund of money after payment is illegal, null and void in light of the provisions of Sections 120, 104, 129(1)(a) and (b) (iii) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018. The court thereafter made a declaration that the refusal of the Defendant to refund the Plaintiff the money paid for the transportation fee from Obollor-Afor to Enugu on 10/2/2021 is unlawful. The court further ordered the Defendant to pay the sum of #500,000 as damages to the Plaintiff.
This case puts service providers on notice that more Nigerians are now alive to their rights as citizens and will not hesitate to enforce same should the need arise. It also puts an end to the menace of service providers who collect money from consumers and refuse to refund same when they don’t offer the services for which the money was collected on the first place.

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The Future is Tech: Young Nigerians Demonstrate Tech Solutions For Social Problems At SDN’s Pitch Workshop

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Interactions with technology among Nigerian youths has continued to grow from social media usage to actual programming.

Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) an international non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote rights-based community empowerment and development in the Niger Delta region for over a decade is tapping into the growing obsession with technology to create a community of of practice that can proffer tech solution to the many challenges facing our society.

Groups from the tech community of practice brought together on Saturday, March 5th, 2022   by SDN at the beautiful Elkan Terrace Hotel in Port Harcourt may have been fixated at the grand prize as they showed the tech solutions they had designed to solve one of the many sociopolitical problems in Nigeria, their efforts left lasting impressions on the array of stakeholders invited to witness the event.

 The Tech Pitch Workshop, which is part of the SDN social accountability project which contributes towards the creation of a sustainable community of tech developers focusing on providing inclusive solutions to social issues using technology.

Though 100 persons enlisted at the beginning of the programme, the demonstration included four groups of five participants that had crossed several hurdles to reach the final stage.

After a painstaking assessment based on presentation, impact of the idea, creativity, relevance and workability, the panel of judges declared Polima as the winner with 97 points. Parrot Box scored a total number of 67 points, Reach For Help scored 73 points, while Your Voice Scored 82 points.

The Winning group, Polima engaged, designed a tech based response to the problem of failed campaign promises from politicians and political parties. With over 90 registered political parties and hundreds of people vying for different offices, The Polima team opined that holding politicians accountable after election victory becomes difficult as most of the manifestos are easily forgotten because of the volume of promises and manifestos that characterize each election season. Polima then seeks to hold politicians accountable by acting as an electronic repository of election promises, which voters can refer to when there is a need to refresh the memories of elected government officials.

The other presentations focused on increasing election participation, security and budget tracking.

In line with the spirit of the event, the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC) of the Independent Electoral Commission(INEC), Mr Obo Effanga stated that the future of elections in is technology and the future of Nigeria lies in the youths. He said new technological solutions introduced in the electoral process will further improve the integrity of the ballot.

The SDN program officer, Christy Ibinabo stated that the program which is executed in partnership with the Yar’Adua has identified, selected and established at least 30 Rivers state based and other civic tech developers community of practice and secure their buy in.

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