By Ismail Abdulaziz
Gov. Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has urged civil servants to embrace programmes that would make them self sufficient and prepare them for early retirement.
In a statement by Mrs Mary Noel-Berje, his Chief Press Secretary, Bello said such moves would increase their earnings instead of relying only on salaries.
At the inauguration of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) wet season farming for State Civil Servants in Minna, he pledged government support for such initiatives.
The Governor explained that the commencement of the initiative was a fulfilment of his dream for the state civil servants to become employers of labour.
Bello said that the programme has immense benefits and would create job opportunities, increase the income of civil servants and boost the internally generated revenue of the state.
“I dream of a Niger State where most of our Civil Servants will move from employees to employers.
“If you engage in programmes like this and from my calculations, I want to believe you will earn more than your salary,” he said.
The Governor disclosed he would engage the CBN so as to incorporate more civil servants in the next farming season, pointing out that the state has the capacity to cultivate enough rice to feed the nation.
He pledged to support all programmes geared towards enhancing the welfare of civil servants in the state.
He directed the state Head of Service (HoS), Hajiya Salamatu Abubakar, to initiate more of such programmes and projects for the civil servants
He said such programmes would afford them the opportunity to generate more income and encourage early retirement.
The State Hos said the initiative was a social intervention to boost food security in the country and also add income to the civil servants.
She said that 2,000 and 4,000 civil servants at the state and local government levels have expressed interest in the programme with about 300 being captured already for the take-off of the scheme.
The HoS thanked the Governor for approving the programme, pointing out that farming is one legitimate activity civil servants can engage in while still working.
Delivering his address, Alhaji Idris Makaranta, Coordinator, Niger State RIFAN, said that 42, 000 farmers are expected to cultivate 66,000 hectares of land.
Makaranta added that CBN had mapped out one million hectares for rice, maize and sesame cultivation in the state.
He added that 50,000 hectares had been earmarked for civil servants, 50, 000 hectares for academicians and 5,000 hectares for youths.
He said that the civil servants’ rice farmers would be provided with farm inputs such as six bags of blended fertilizers, sprayers, chemicals, 30kg of rice seedlings and a pumping machine.
The coordinator said that at the end of the farming season, the farmers are expected to harvest 60 bags and repay the loan with eight to 10 bags.
He added that CBN would make funds available to mop up excess rice after the harvest from the farmers.
The event was organised by the RIFAN in collaboration with the ofice of the Head of Service under the Central Bank Anchor Borrowers Scheme.(NAN)