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Quarantine service begins clampdown on food smugglers, hoarders

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By Francesca Hangeior

The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service has commenced the clamped down on hoarders and smugglers of food items and other agricultural produce, as it announced the deployment of more officers to Nigeria’s land and sea borders.

It said the move was to support the Federal Government’s efforts to stabilise food prices nationwide and ensure food security in Nigeria.

“To support the Federal Government’s efforts to stabilise food prices and ensure food security, the NAQS has initiated a nationwide crackdown on the smuggling and hoarding of agricultural commodities,” the agency announced in a statement issued in Abuja.

It added, “The decisive action is part of the agency’s mandate to regulate the handling of agricultural products in Nigeria, ensuring they are safe for consumption and available at fair prices to the Nigerian populace.

“In line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration, we are fully committed to ensuring that Nigerians have more food on their table, by strengthening our borders and clamping down on the smuggling of hoarded agricultural commodities.”

NAQS, according to its Establishment Act 2017, was established to prevent the entry, establishment and spread of foreign pests and diseases of plant, animal and aquatic resources and products into the country.

The agency is to also promote sanitary and phytosanitary measures as it relates to the import and export of agricultural products, to minimise the risk to agriculture, food safety and the environment.

The agency in its statement on Monday, noted that “Food security is a paramount concern for the Nigerian government, and we are committed to ensuring that agricultural commodities are not smuggled out of the country through our ports and land borders.

“We believe that our efforts to clamp down on smuggling practices will not only help to stabilise food prices but also promote transparency and fairness in the agricultural supply chain.”

It stated that more officers of the agency had been deployed to the borders to tackle the menace of food smuggling and hoarding.

“To combat the illegal smuggling and hoarding of agricultural commodities, NAQS is enhancing its surveillance and control measures at all entry and exit points.

“Officers of the agency are working tirelessly across the country’s borders and control posts, conducting rigorous inspections, and monitoring to ensure no agro commodity is exported.

“This initiative reflects a comprehensive approach to tackling some of the recent challenges facing the agricultural sector and aims to ensure food security and promote sustainable development.”

The agency’s acting Comptroller-General, Dr Godwin Audu, urged the public to report any suspicious activities related to the hoarding or smuggling of agricultural commodities.

He said community participation and collaboration were vital for the success of this campaign.

The Federal Government has intensified efforts to stop the hoarding and smuggling of food outside Nigeria following the recent astronomical hike in the cost of food items nationwide.

It could be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service had declared that it intercepted 15 trailers that were fully loaded with food items and were heading out of the country through the Sokoto State border.

It said the trailers were stopped and the food items were returned to Nigeria, adding that this was part of measures to stabilise the prices of food items across the country in line with the mandate of the Federal Government.

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APC Lawmakers throw weight behind Ado Bayero

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

As the emirship tussle continues in Kano State, the 12 members of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Assembly have pledged allegiance to the 15th Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero.

Led by the minority leader, Labaran Abdul Madari, the 12 lawmakers from APC paid homage to Ado Bayero at the Nassarawa Palace after the assembly’s plenary session on Tuesday.

Recall that a crisis has broken out since the reinstatement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as the 16th Emir of Kano at the weekend, after Governor Abba Yusuf repealed the five emirates council.

Both Sanusi and Ado Bayero have refused to bow to pressure of different court orders asking them to vacate the palace.

This has created tension in the city as different organisations including the police, ulamas, eminent figures, lawyers, politicians have tried to wade in to resolve the matter but the two sides refused to budge.

Meanwhile, as the APC lawmakers in the State House paid a visit to Ado Bayero, Kantin Kwari Market Traders Association did the same to Sanusi on Tuesday.

The delegation of the traders led by the state’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Adamu Aliyu Kibiya, was at the emir’s palace, Kofar Kudu to register their allegiance and loyalty to the monarch.

Sanusi enjoined the traders to uphold the principles of honesty and fairness in all their business transactions, noting that Kano remains a leading commercial centre, attracting merchants from outside the country because of the contribution of traders.

The emir has been receiving visitors coming to pay homage since Sunday when 40 district heads and title holders pledged their allegiance.

Findings showed that vigilante groups and local hunters (Yan Tauri) are still keeping vigil at the palace.

Five DSS operatives were seen manning an entrance to one of the offices of the emir at Gidan Rumfa.

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Tinubu Under Fire Over National Anthem Bill, Says ‘Hungry People Don’t Sing

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

Some Nigerians have expressed outrage over the bill President Bola Tinubu signed into law on Wednesday morning.

The bill, which was simultaneously introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives last week, received an accelerated consideration and passage.

The speed with which both chambers of the National Assembly considered and passed the bill at a time Nigerians are facing more pressing issues occasioned by rising inflation and security challenges, has been criticised.

While launching the National Anthem at the National Assembly, Tinubu commended the lawmakers.

““Please, let’s continue to collaborate and build our country. We have no other institutions or personality that will help us unless we do it ourselves. Let us work together to build our nation not only for us but generations yet unborn”, he said.

‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee’, composed by the Britons, was the national anthem of Nigeria used from Independence in 1960 until 1978, when it was replaced by a new anthem, ‘Arise, O Compatriots.’

But with the new law, ‘Arise, O Compatriots’, will give way for ‘Nigeria, we hail Thee’.

While a few persons have commended the president for signing it into law, others see it as a mispriority.

On X, a social media user, @Zarmaomar, wrote: “The long-awaited national anthem bill that will solve the issues of insecurity, hunger, corruption and create job opportunities has been officially signed by the President…”

@Mudiaga247 said: “How does signing this bill help the Drowning Economy

@KennyNuga: “Misplaced priority . we need laws mandating all vehicles to shift off the road when an Ambulance is approaching. we need laws that criminalize bullying in our institutions.”

@RealQueenBee_: “This will now be an achievement for the Tinubu administration, reverting back to the colonial anthem.”
@Ikepicano: “did he know what he signed?”

@PatoEner: “This government is never implementing policies that would alleviate the poverty in the economy. Or do they think hungry people sing the national anthem?”

@DoublePrince001: “Within 7 days it was sorted….. Let’s talk about minimum wage or what will benefit Nigerians… It will take months and years.”

@iam_damayor: “Congratulations Nigerians, we now have a new National Anthem. When you want to buy anything, just recite it and you get the 2015 price of that goods/service.”

@That_Ondo_Boy: “As for me, I’m in support of this Old National Anthem ooo. Tinubu you do this one oooo. Now, lets sign to bill the old exchange rate, old food price to as at the time of the old National Anthem.”

Analysts, CSOs fault bill

In an interview with Daily Trust, analysts and civil society organisations argued that the resolution of the National Assembly to revert to the old National Anthem was a misplacement of priority, and also a sign of disconnection with reality.

The Country Director of Action Aid Nigeria (AAN), Mr. Andrew Mamedu, in an interview with Daily Trust, said the bill to revert to the old National Anthem “is an absolute misplacement of priorities and an abuse of legislative privilege, especially given the numerous pressing issues facing the nation that remain unaddressed”.

He stated: “While the National Anthem is a symbol of our heritage, the urgent and concurrent approval of this bill stands in stark contrast to the lack of prioritisation and accelerated legislative action on critical national matters. Issues such as security, economic stability, education, healthcare and infrastructure development are in dire need of attention and resources.

“It is profoundly disappointing and frankly outrageous that the National Anthem is being prioritised over these vital concerns”, he stressed.

Similarly, Yiaga Africa’s Senior Communications Officer, Mr. Mark Amaza, told one of our correspondents that the actions of the federal lawmakers on the issue were “a misplacement of priorities”.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with our current National Anthem that warrants a change. Not only that, this episode shows how disconnected our legislators are from the challenges of Nigeria that at this critical juncture, they chose to prioritise a needless return to our former National Anthem”, Amaza said.

The Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Comrade Ibrahim Zikirullahi, also decried that Nigeria continued to exhibit a disturbing trend of misplaced priorities.

According to him, it is disheartening to see the nation trapped in a cycle of ineffective leadership.

“Our senators, elected to represent the masses, seem disconnected from the pressing needs of the people. Who among the citizens indicated that changing the National Anthem was a priority?

“Nigerians are hungry, angry, and deeply disappointed. Trust in the government is at an all-time low.

“Changing the National Anthem does not address the urgent issues we face: it doesn’t put food on our tables, create jobs, improve security, provide reliable electricity, clean water, good roads, or quality healthcare,” Zikirullahi said.

On his part, a former senator from Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, said the parliament should have consulted widely before tampering with the National Anthem.

He said that altering the National Anthem without wide consultations would be seen as an attempt to dissolve Nigeria.

Commenting on his X handle, the former lawmaker said: “Tempering with or changing the National Anthem or National Pledge of Nigeria should be done after wider public consultation and should be factored in the process of constitutional amendments.”

A seasoned journalist and former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, also faulted the lawmakers’ decision to reintroduce the old National Anthem.
He said: “The excessive embrace of the past is part of the metaphysical nostalgia that refused to appreciate the political economic choices and wrong leadership recruitment processes that led us to the deep pit we have been dug into.

“Instead of searching for far more rational and scientifically relevant instruments of problem solving, our lawmakers think an empty gesture of nostalgia offers an easy route.

“There is also an unacceptable demographic tyranny that Opeyemi Bamidele and his colleagues are attempting to impose on Nigeria, with the plan to revert to the old National Anthem. It is an anthem that would resonate with the generation born before independence and maybe immediately after. Let us unpack the facts”, he said in an opinion article published in Daily Trust on Saturday.

Lawmakers’ move in order – NOA DG

The Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Lanre Issa-Oninlu, said even though the bill was yet to become a law, the move was not a bad one.
“You see, there is so much in words that we speak and we hear. So, in communication, the impact of our statement resonates with us. There are some anthems that you listen to and then you see a call to it. They call you to action. They ask you to act and do certain things. And there are some that are just flags that are just like any other song.

“And anytime you sing them, you don’t feel any psychological attachment. No any feeling. It doesn’t call up any passion in you. It doesn’t really speak to your emotion, and doesn’t call up to your sentiment.

“And it’s important that you have an anthem that connects with your sentiment; that calls you to action so that when carrying out those actions, the impact of the anthem will now reflect in our lives”, he said in an interview on Trust TV’s Daily Politics.

Senate, Reps’ spokespersons silent

Efforts to get reactions of the spokespersons of the two chambers of the National Assembly were unsuccessful.

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I’ll Never Sing New National Anthem – Oby Ezekwesili Vows

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, has vowed never to sing the newly adopted national anthem, ‘Nigeria, we hail thee’.

Ezekwesili said she would continue singing the previous national anthem, ‘Arise, O compatriots

Her remark was in response to President Bola Tinubu’s confirmation of ‘Nigeria, we hail thee’ as the latest national anthem.

Posting on X, Ezekwesili wrote: “Let it be known to all and sundry that I, Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili will whenever asked to sing the Nigerian National Anthem sing:

1. Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love and strength and faith
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

2. Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause
Guide our leader’s right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice reign.

She added: “This is my own National Anthem and let it be known that no one can suppress my right to dissent an obnoxious “law” that is repugnant to all that is of good conscience in Nigeria. Whatever else is #NotMyNationalAnthem.

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