The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, on Thursday approved the employment of 300 applicants as workers in the Calabar Garment Factory built by his administration.
The governor announced the employment after applicants from the southern senatorial districts of the state had participated in a job screening exercise by the garment factory.
In a statement made available to our correspondent, the governor said the gesture was not only in fulfilment of his dream to create jobs for citizens of the state but to inspire young people who were not from privileged homes.
He promised the newly employed workers good salaries and welfare package, while reiterating the commitment of his administration to the welfare of the poor in the state.
Ayade said, “When we set up this factory, the intention was not just to create jobs but to guarantee that young men and women, who have been challenged by circumstances of their births, have the opportunity to better their lots.
“I’m so excited at what I am seeing here today – the number of people and their energy – and it is an indication that our factory has taken off. Remember, the factory has the capacity to create 3,000 jobs.
“Truly, if you call yourself a leader, your focus should be on the vulnerable and the weakest that we are engaging today. We will guarantee you good salaries, food and proper transportation.”
Ayade urged the new employees, who he tagged ‘great fashion engineers’, to leverage the opportunity to express their innate potential and be the pride of the state.
He said, “We want to show to the world that we have skills, great fashion engineers. I call you engineers because you are going to provide the skills that we have not seen before.”
The President and founder, Africa Young Entrepreneurs, Oluwa-Summy Francis, who was at the event along other entrepreneurs from other parts of Africa, said Ayade had justified the belief that youths could excel in leadership positions.
He said, “This is what happens when a youth becomes a governor – someone who truly has everything on his side like age, exposure, connections and commitment. When you have a youth in the saddle, we should expect things like this.”
Meanwhile, Ayade has launched the Rice Borrowers Anchor Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in line with the Federal Government’s plan to diversify the economy.
A statement quoted the governor as lauding the Federal Government’s proposition to make agriculture the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.
He said, “We must seize this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing this programme. We must thank him because if you follow the road map, plan and vision for this initiative, you will definitely know that this is the beginning of the emancipation of Nigerians from their continuous dependence on imported rice.
“This is what President Buhari wants to stop because it has the nationalistic outlook to put an end to the declining rate of the naira to the dollar. When we stop importing rice, we will be adding value to our naira.
“It is key that you appreciate at this point the CBN governor (Godwin Emefiele) and in particular, President Buhari, for it is a concept that we must support.”
Ayade said the Federal Government’s rice production scheme was in tandem with the Cross River State’s vision to become self-sufficient in rice production.
“We will add our own dimension to it. The government of Cross River is going to set up a proper professional food bank, the very first in Nigeria.
“We are going to set up a food bank, one in each local government area and the essence is to serve as the catalytic financial muscle that will pick up and buy off every single seed of rice that you will produce.
“The kind of farming we are going to do in Cross River State is going to be special because we are known for class, style and beauty. We will provide an agricultural mechanism centre to provide an industrialised support for farming.”
Oil Prices Decline on Rising India COVID-19 Cases, U.S Inflation Concerns
Global oil prices extended a decline on Friday following a 3 percent drop on Thursday as coronavirus cases rose in India, one of the world’s largest oil consumers.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, declined by 35 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.70 a barrel at 5 am Nigerian time on Tuesday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell by 28 cents or 0.4 percent to $63.54 per barrel.
“The commodity super cycle rally just hit a hard stop and the energy market doesn’t know what to make of Wall Street’s fixation over inflation and the slow flattening of the curve in India,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“The crude demand story is still upbeat for the second half of the year and that should prevent any significant dips in oil prices,” he added.
Prices dropped over a series of key economic data that stoke inflation concerns and forced experts to start thinking the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates to curb the surge in inflation.
An increase in interest rates typically boosts the U.S. dollar, which in turn pressures oil prices because it makes crude oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.
This coupled with the fact that India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day on Thursday, dragged on the oil outlook in the near term.
Brent Crude Rises to $69 on IEA Report
Oil prices rose after the release of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) closely-watched Oil Market Report, with WTI Crude trading at above $66 a barrel and Brent Crude surpassing the $69 per barrel mark.
Prices jumped even though the agency revised down its full-year 2021 oil demand growth forecast by 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) from last month’s assessment, expecting now demand to rise by 5.4 million bpd. The downward revision was due to weaker consumption in Europe and North America in the first quarter and expectations of 630,000 bpd lower demand in the second quarter due to India’s COVID crisis.
The excess oil inventories of the past year have been all but depleted, and a strong demand rebound in the second half this year could lead to even steeper stock draws, the IEA said yesterday, keeping an upbeat forecast of global oil demand despite the weaker-than-expected first half of 2021.
However, the upbeat outlook for the second half of the year remains unchanged, as vaccination campaigns expand and the pandemic largely comes under control, the IEA said.
Moreover, the global oil glut that was hanging over the market for more than a year is now gone, the agency said.
“After nearly a year of robust supply restraint from OPEC+, bloated world oil inventories that built up during last year’s COVID-19 demand shock have returned to more normal levels,” the IEA said in its report.
In March, industry stocks in the developed economies fell by 25 million barrels to 2.951 billion barrels, reducing the overhang versus the five-year average to only 1.7 million barrels, and stocks continued to fall in April.
“Draws had been almost inevitable as easing mobility restrictions in the United States and Europe, robust industrial activity and coronavirus vaccinations set the stage for a steady rebound in fuel demand while OPEC+ pumped far below the call on its crude,” the IEA said.
The market looks oversupplied in May, but stock draws are set to resume as early as June and accelerate later this year. Under the current OPEC+ policy, oil supply will not catch up fast enough, with a jump in demand expected in the second half, according to the IEA. As vaccination rates rise and mobility restrictions ease, global oil demand is set to soar from 93.1 million bpd in the first quarter of 2021 to 99.6 million bpd by the end of the year.
OPEC Expects Increase In Global Oil Demand Raises Members’ Forecast on Crude Supply
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) yesterday lifted its forecast on its members’ crude this year by over 200,000 bpd and now expects demand for its own crude to average 27.65mn bpd in 2021.
This is almost 5.2mn bpd higher than last year and around 2.7mn b/d higher than an earlier estimate of the group’s April production.
According to the highlights of the organisation’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR), OPEC crude is projected to rise from 26.48 million bpd in the second quarter to 28.7 million bpd in the third and 29.54 million bpd in the fourth quarter of the year.
The report also indicated a fall in Nigeria’s crude production from 1.477 bpd in February to 1.473, a difference of just about 4,000 bpd before rising again in April to 1.548 million bpd, to add 75,000 bpd last month.
OPEC stated that its upward revision of members’ crude was underpinned by a downgrade in the group’s forecast for non-OPEC supply, which it now expects to grow by 700,000 bpd to 63.6mn b/d against last month’s report’s projection of a 930,000 bpd rise to 63.83mn bpd.
The oil cartel projected that US crude output would drop by 280,000 bpd this year, compared with its previous forecast for a 70,000 bpd decline.
On the demand side, OPEC kept its overall forecast unchanged from last month’s MOMR, stressing that it expects global oil demand to grow by 5.95 million bpd to 96.46 million bpd this year, partly reversing last year’s 9.48mn bpd drop.
Spot crude prices fell in April for the first time in six months, with North Sea Dated and WTI easing month-on-month by 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
On the global economic projections, the cartel said stimulus measures in the US and accelerating recovery in Asian economies might continue supporting the global economic growth forecast for 2021, now revised up by 0.1 percent to reach 5.5 percent year-on-year.
This comes after a 3.5 percent year-on-year contraction estimated for the global economy in 2020.
However, global economic growth for 2021 remains clouded by uncertainties including, but not limited to the spread of COVID-19 variants and the speed of the global vaccine rollout, OPEC stated.
“World oil demand is assumed to have dropped by 9.5 mb/d in 2020, unchanged from last month’s assessment, now estimated to have reached 90.5 mb/d for the year. For 2021, world oil demand is expected to increase by 6.0 mb/d, unchanged from last month’s estimate, to average 96.5 mb/d,” it said.
The report listed the main drivers for supply growth in 2021 to be Canada, Brazil, China, and Norway, while US liquid supply is expected to decline by 0.1 mb/d year-on-year.
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