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Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire

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Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN)Food prices have been rising around the world, driven first by the Covid pandemic and poor harvests, and made worse by the conflict in Ukraine, which has hit exports of both wheat and fertilizer.
Even with a new deal that would allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, the impact of elevated prices could still be severe in Africa, which imports most of its food, and where the IMF forecasts inflation could reach as high as 12.2% this year.
Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu says it’s time for African countries to work together to create a food value chain across the continent, and produce more goods for domestic consumption.

Rabiu is the CEO of BUA Group, a conglomerate in food processing, infrastructure, manufacturing and mining. His company has made investments across the continent to cut its reliance on imports from Europe and Asia.

He spoke with CNN’s Eleni Giokos last month at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
High inflation, food insecurity, energy prices: What are you going to do to solve some of these issues?
Rabiu: Part of the problem is that we import 80% of what we consume. For example, Africa imported over 55 million tons of wheat last year, and wheat is one of the commodities that has really been hit hard in terms of high prices. Since the Ukrainian-Russian (conflict) started, we have seen a situation where the price (of wheat) got from $250 to almost $600 per ton. And you know Africa relies heavily on Russian and Ukrainian wheat.

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Meet: Abdulsamad Rabiu Founder, Bua Group

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Meet: Abdulsamad Rabiu Founder, Bua Group 00:30
So how is your input being affected?
Rabiu: If you import and the price is double, what do you do? You have to increase the prices. And a lot of people cannot really afford that. So we are seeing a decrease in terms of production, processing and consumption, and that is a big issue. That is why I keep saying that we have to look inwards, do as much as we can to add value to what we have. We have to increase (our) production for the food security of the continent.
You have been in the pasta business, for example. Why haven’t you already gotten into farming? I know wheat is difficult to grow.
Rabiu: Wheat is difficult to grow but we are also into sugar and we’re building the most advanced sugar plantation in Nigeria. It’s a 20,000-hectare, four-in-one, fully integrated sugar plantation with sugar mill, sugar refinery, ethanol and power plant. We decided to do that because we realized we were spending a lot of money to import raw sugar and that is something that could be easily planted and produced in Nigeria. Our inputs as far as raw sugar is concerned will come down drastically.
Now for the hard part, says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
Now for the hard part, says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
The African Continental Free Trade Area went live (in 2021). Have you seen a real impact on your business?
Rabiu: The free trade area is an amazing arrangement. We all need to come together to enjoy the benefits. Of course, we also have challenges as far as infrastructure is concerned, and for the agreement to succeed, you need to fix your infrastructure space, especially in areas like ports.

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You still find that challenging?
Rabiu: I give you an example: it’s more expensive to ship goods from Nigeria to, say, Lomè (in Togo, West Africa) than from Nigeria to Brazil. And that’s because we have the vessels without the ports. So those issues are there and we need to fix our infrastructure.

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Crime

Nigerian Navy investigates civilian worker’s death

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The Nigerian Navy (NN) says it has begun investigation on how one of its civilian staff members, Mr Ifeanyi Onumaegbu, died.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, announced this in Lagos on Thursday.

He explained that Onumaegbu died at the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital (NNRH) Ojo, Lagos, where he worked.

He explained further that the deceased was a civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence attached to the Laboratory Department of the NNRH since 2009.

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”The navy is deeply saddened by the demise of Mr Ifeanyi Onumaegbu and the circumstances surrounding his death.

”On March 31, he was found lifeless in his office at NNRH.

“A preliminary investigation revealed that on March 26, the deceased was involved in an altercation with a civilian lady and some NN personnel in Navy Town Barracks,” he said.

Ogalla said that all suspected personnel and the civilian lady involved in the previous altercation had been identified and “are currently under close custody”.

He also said that NN had facilitated the movement of the deceased’s body to a reputable government hospital in Lagos based on the request of the family for an autopsy.

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“The NN further wishes to assure his family and the public that all necessary measures are being taken to unravel the cause of his death.

“Any person found culpable would be prosecuted according to extant laws,” he said.

Theheute recalls that the Joint Executive Council of Ministry of Defence embarked on a peaceful mourning protest on April 8 against the death of Onumaegbu

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The protest was held across all the civilian personnel units of the Ministry of Defence.

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Hardship: Prophet Fufeyin Donates N30m To Less-privileged Nigerians

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Billionaire prophet and General Overseer of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministry in Warri, Delta State, Prophet Jeremiah Fufeyin, has given out over N30 million in charity to reduce the current economic crisis faced by the masses.

In a viral video on social media, Fufeyin, known for his philanthropic gestures, was seen giving out wads of cash to church members to ameliorate the rising price of food items in the country.

The humanitarian effort has caught the attention of netizens, capturing the hearts of many amid the current challenging times.

Fufeyin has emerged as a beacon of hope by extending a remarkable gesture of kindness towards struggling church members even as he stressed the need for well-meaning Nigerians to help assuage the challenges of the masses.

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This spontaneous and substantial donation not only alleviated immediate concerns but also underscored Fufeyin’s deep empathy for those affected by economic hardship.

The response to Fufeyin’s act of benevolence has been overwhelmingly positive, with Nigerians taking to social media platforms to commend his compassion and selflessness. Amidst a climate of economic uncertainty and rising living costs, Fufeyin’s initiative has resonated deeply, sparking discussions about the importance of generosity and communal support during trying times.
Fufeyin expressed his motivation for the donation, citing a desire to alleviate the suffering of his church members and fellow Nigerians in tangible ways.

He emphasised the necessity of collective action in addressing societal challenges and urged others, particularly those in positions of influence, to contribute towards uplifting the less fortunate.
The impact of Fufeyin’s philanthropy extends beyond financial assistance, serving as a powerful reminder of the potential for positive change when individuals leverage their resources for the greater good of all.

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Crime

39 lecturers indicted for sexual harassment in five years – Report

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No fewer than 39 lecturers in the nation’s tertiary institutions have been indicted and dismissed over sexual misconduct in the past five years, analysis of media reports by Theheute has revealed.

Sexual harassment has been recurring in Nigerian higher educational institutions with a survey conducted in 2018 by the World Bank Group’s Women revealing that 70 per cent of female graduates from tertiary institutions in the country were sexually harassed in school, with the main perpetrators being classmates and lecturers.

Although the Senate had in 2021 passed a bill stipulating 21 years imprisonment for randy lecturers, Theheute reports that most of the lecturers indicted and found guilty after the bill was passed were simply sacked.

In April 2018, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, announced the indefinite suspension of a professor of Accounting, Richard Oladele, over sexual harassment.

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In 2021, the university also dismissed three lecturers from the Departments of English Language, International Relations and Accounting over sexual harassment.

In February 2020, the institution also announced the suspension of a lecturer at the Centre for Distance Learning, Monday Omo-Etan, for sexually molesting a 19-year-old female student.

In 2019, Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, announced the suspension of an associate professor, Monday Igbafen, over allegations bordering on sexual harassment of female students.

Igbafen, who was the chairman of the AAU branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at the time, had accused the vice-chancellor of the institution of trying to frame him.

The senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the university, in a letter written to the school by his lawyers, Osahon Irebhude & Co, demanded a written apology from the school.

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In September 2020, the management of the Imo State University announced the suspension of two lecturers, who were alleged to have been involved in sexual misconduct with female students.

In February 2021, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, announced the suspension of a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Tourism, Dr Chigozie Odum, over allegations bordering on sexual misconduct.

The Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, similarly suspended a lecturer in the Department of Media and Theatre Arts in June 2021 for sexual misconduct.

In the same month, the management of the University of Lagos announced the dismissal of two lecturers over similar offences.

In August of that year, the University of Port Harcourt announced the dismissal of a lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature for sexual misconduct.

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In October 2021, the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, also announced the dismissal of two lecturers from the departments of Nutrition/Dietetics and General Studies over sexual misconduct.

A lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education was dismissed for impregnating a female student.

In December 2021, the Kwara State University, Malete, announced the dismissal of a lecturer for harassing a student in the Department of Pure and Applied Sciences.

In January 2022, the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rivers State, announced the dismissal of a lecturer for harassing a female student.

In April 2022, OAU again launched a probe into allegations of sexual harassment against a professor in the Department of Linguistics and African Studies. So far, two professors have been affected in the institution.

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In June 2022, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof Abdul-Raheed Na’allah, announced the dismissal of two lecturers for sexual misconduct. Both of them are professors.

Earlier in 2023, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission arraigned Dr. Balogun Olaniran of the Tai Solarin University of Education, who was said to have allegedly demanded sexual gratification from a female student to alter her results in 2021.

In March 2023, a lecturer at the Kogi State Polytechnic, Abutu Thompson, was dismissed on account of sexual harassment and victimisation of a female student in the Department of Computer Science.

In May, the management of the Ambrose Alli University in Edo State reportedly dismissed an unnamed lecturer over allegations bordering sexual harassment.

Reports noted that the lecturer was dismissed on the recommendations of the institution’s Staff Disciplinary Committee, which found him guilty of the offence.

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According to AAU’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Asomwan Adagbonyin, the dismissed lecturer had claimed to only make advances, yet he went to the girl’s church to plead for forgiveness.

In July 2023, the VC of UNIABUJA, Na’allah, said two lecturers were dismissed following allegations of sexual harassment.

In August, the management of the University of Calabar suspended the embattled Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, over allegations of sexual harassment. Ndifon is currently being held by security operatives.

On September 7, 2023, the University of Lagos suspended a lecturer, Kadri Babalola, who was accused of raping a 21-year-old student.

Similarly, in October 2023, the Federal College of Forestry, Plateau state announced the suspension of four lecturers over allegations bordering sexual harassment of female students.

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Speaking with our correspondents on the matter, the Director of Programmes, Reform Education Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, urged President Bola Tinubu to sign the sexual harassment bill into law.

Oluwatoyin said, “The President signing the bill will be a game-changer. We need to make schools safe for our students. The most unfortunate part of the issue is that some of these students even when harassed are scared to come out in the open for fear of victimisation and other issues.”

Former Programme Manager, Gender Justice at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, Nafisa Atiku-Adejuwon, urged institutions to prevent survivors from being further victimised into silence and provide safe anonymous pathways for them to report such incidents.

Atiku-Adejuwon also called for the building of a system of trust between university management and the student population.

“The response system has to be survivour-centred and holistic; mental and physical health concerns must be taken seriously. The response system shouldn’t be created to make the university look good; it should be to take care of the survivors,” she added.

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