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4,904 Workers Recruited by Jonathan May Lose Jobs

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The jobs of 4,904 civil servants, who were recruited by the Federal Civil Service Commission in the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, are under threat as the Federal Character Commission has queried the exercise.

It was learnt on Monday that moves by the Federal Civil Service Commission to sack the workers had led to a crisis in the civil service.

No fewer than 247 of the affected workers had petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission over a plan by the FCSC to sack them.

The Acting Executive Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Dr. Shettima Abba, had queried the Chairman of the FCSC, Mrs. Joan Ayo, for alleged violation of the principle of federal character in the employment of the civil servants in a letter dated May 3, 2016.

He said the recruitment, which took place between 2013 and 2015, was characterised by a flagrant abuse of the Federal Character principle.

Abba alleged that the recruitment was tilted in favour of the South-South geopolitical zone against other parts of the country.

He pointed out that the South-South got 33.6 per cent of those employed as against the 26.2 per cent allotted to applicants from for the North-East, North-West and North-Central geopolitical zones.

He directed the civil service commission’s boss to ensure that the perceived inequality was addressed in the 2016 recruitment by the commission in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Character Commission.

Abba stated, “The Federal Character Commission has viewed and observed with concern the recruitment exercises undertaken by the Federal Civil Service between 2013 and 2015, which glaringly is lopsided and grossly abused the principle of Federal Character to which all institution have subscribed.

“The recruitment which recorded the engagement of about 4,904 workers, threw away all common sense and wisdom of national cohesion and integration by favouring some states to the detriment of others.

“We are worried that if this trend is allowed to continue, then some sections of the country may not only feel alienated but may feel insecure by the action of people in authority.

“It is inconceivable and a gross injustice for a geopolitical zone to be allocated 33.6 per cent of the total candidates recruited as against 26.2 per cent for three zones combined, North-East, North-West and North-Central.

“We further request without prejudice that all processes must involve the Federal Character Commission for advice and strict adherence to the principle of federal character as contained in our circular on guidelines and procedure for recruitment.”

Investigations revealed that the ICPC intervened in the matter following a protest by 247 of the workers whose jobs were allegedly declared irregular, null and void by the chairman of the FCSC.

A top source at the commission said the ICPC interrogated the chairman of the commission and other top officials to defend allegations that they violated the federal character principle in the last recruitment.

The ICPC had intervened following a staff audit by the FCSC in which it took a decision to sack the affected federal workers.

Consequently, agitated workers wrote the ICPC, alleging that the move to sack them was based on ethnic consideration and a plot to cover up fraud and irregularities in previous employments undertaken by the commission.

The workers showed documentary evidence of exchange of letters between the commission and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation in which the appointments were authenticated.

But the spokesperson for the FCSC, Dr. Abel Oruche, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that only those employed irregularly would be removed.

He also said he was not aware of the interrogation of the chairman or any other officer of the commission by the ICPC.

He stated, “I’m not aware that anybody was interrogated by the ICPC or whether the chairman was invited. Nobody interrogated the chairman of the FCSC, any commissioner or any official.”

Oruche explained that some people were employed without vacancies, adding that the staff audit was aimed at fishing out such people.

He stated, “The press statement we sent was not reactive, but to explain to people what we have done and what we are doing to avoid rumour or insinuations.

“It is an ongoing audit to make sure that all those people, who were employed irregularly without existing vacancies, are removed. We didn’t issue the statement because somebody called us.”

Also, in an electronic mail sent to one of our correspondents on Sunday, Oruche stated that the FCSC chairman had said the staff audit at the federal civil service had revealed some unauthorised appointments.

Such appointments, the chairman said, had been declared null and void.

According to him, the chairman explained that the staff audit was aimed at fishing out irregular appointees and delisting them from the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.

He stated, “The chairman maintained that this action is necessary because the appointments are not backed by any vacancy from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and as such, were not budgeted for.

Besides, they are in gross violation of the Federal Character principle.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Gold

Gold Steadies After Initial Gains on Reports of Israel’s Strikes in Iran

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Gold, often viewed as a haven during times of geopolitical uncertainty, exhibited a characteristic surge in response to reports of Israel’s alleged strikes in Iran, only to stabilize later as tensions simmered.

The yellow metal’s initial rally came on the heels of escalating tensions in the Middle East, with concerns mounting over a potential wider conflict.

Spot gold soared as much as 1.6% in early trading as news circulated regarding Israel’s purported strikes on targets in Iran.

This surge, reaching a high of $2,400 a ton, reflected the nervousness pervading global markets amidst the saber-rattling between the two nations.

However, as the day progressed, media reports from both countries appeared to downplay the impact and severity of the alleged strikes, contributing to a moderation in gold’s gains.

Analysts noted that while the initial spike was fueled by fears of heightened conflict, subsequent assessments suggesting a less severe outcome helped calm investor nerves, leading to a stabilization in gold prices.

Traders had been bracing for a potential Israeli response following Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, raising concerns about a retaliatory spiral between the two adversaries.

Reports of an explosion in Iran’s central city of Isfahan further added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, prompting flight suspensions and exacerbating market jitters.

In addition to geopolitical tensions, gold’s rally in recent months has been underpinned by other factors, including expectations of US interest rate cuts, sustained central bank buying, and robust consumer demand, particularly in China.

Despite the initial surge followed by stabilization, gold remains sensitive to developments in the Middle East and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Investors continue to monitor the situation closely for any signs of escalation or de-escalation, recognizing gold’s role as a traditional safe haven in times of uncertainty.

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Commodities

Global Cocoa Prices Surge to Record Levels, Processing Remains Steady

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Cocoa futures in New York have reached a historic pinnacle with the most-active contract hitting an all-time high of $11,578 a metric ton in early trading on Friday.

This surge comes amidst a backdrop of challenges in the cocoa industry, including supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions, and rising production costs.

Despite these hurdles, the pace of processing in chocolate factories has remained constant, providing a glimmer of hope for chocolate lovers worldwide.

Data released after market close on Thursday revealed that cocoa processing, known as “grinds,” was up in North America during the first quarter, appreciating by 4% compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, processing in Europe only saw a modest decline of about 2%, and Asia experienced a slight decrease.

These processing figures are particularly noteworthy given the current landscape of cocoa prices. Since the beginning of 2024, cocoa futures have more than doubled, reflecting the immense pressure on the cocoa market.

Yet, despite these soaring prices, chocolate manufacturers have managed to maintain their production levels, indicating resilience in the face of adversity.

The surge in cocoa prices can be attributed to a variety of factors, including supply shortages caused by adverse weather conditions in key cocoa-producing regions such as West Africa.

Also, rising demand for chocolate products, particularly premium and artisanal varieties, has contributed to the upward pressure on prices.

While the spike in cocoa prices presents challenges for chocolate manufacturers and consumers alike, industry experts remain cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the cocoa market.

Despite the record-breaking prices, the steady pace of cocoa processing suggests that chocolate lovers can still expect to indulge in their favorite treats, albeit at a higher cost.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Leverages Cheaper US Oil Imports to Boost Production

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The Dangote Petroleum Refinery is capitalizing on the availability of cheaper oil imports from the United States.

Recent reports indicate that the refinery with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day has begun leveraging US-grade oil to power its operations in Nigeria.

According to insights from industry analysts, the refinery has commenced shipping various products, including jet fuel, gasoil, and naphtha, as it gradually ramps up its production capacity.

The utilization of US oil imports, particularly the WTI Midland grade, has provided Dangote Refinery with a cost-effective solution for its feedstock requirements.

Experts anticipate that the refinery’s gasoline-focused units, expected to come online in the summer months will further bolster its influence in the Atlantic Basin gasoline markets.

Alan Gelder, Vice President of Refining, Chemicals, and Oil Markets at Wood Mackenzie, noted that Dangote’s entry into the gasoline market is poised to reshape the West African gasoline supply dynamics.

Despite operating at approximately half its nameplate capacity, Dangote Refinery’s impact on regional fuel markets is already being felt. The refinery’s recent announcement of a reduction in diesel prices from N1,200/litre to N1,000/litre has generated excitement within Nigeria’s downstream oil sector.

This move is expected to positively affect various sectors of the economy and contribute to reducing the country’s high inflation rate.

Furthermore, the refinery’s utilization of US oil imports shows its commitment to exploring cost-effective solutions while striving to meet Nigeria’s domestic fuel demand. As the refinery continues to optimize its production processes, it is poised to play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy landscape and contribute to the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

Moreover, the Nigerian government’s recent directive to compel oil producers to prioritize domestic refineries for crude supply aligns with Dangote Refinery’s objectives of reducing reliance on imported refined products.

With the flexibility to purchase crude using either the local currency or the US dollar, the refinery is well-positioned to capitalize on these policy reforms and further enhance its operational efficiency.

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