- Buhari to Launch $10bn Niger Delta Reconstruction Fund
The federal government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari plans a $10 billion infrastructure development fund for the oil-rich but restive Niger Delta, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said yesterday in Abuja.
“We are launching $10 billion infrastructural rebirth investment programmes in the Niger Delta region. This is not money that is going to come strictly from the federal government. It is going to come from investors, individuals who are ready to do private sector infrastructure, obviously states and federal governments as the case may be and international organisations who have shown interest to help,” he said at the unveiling of the Roadmap for the Petroleum Industry tagged “7 Big Wins to Grow Nigeria’s Oil and Gas.”
Before Kachikwu’s revelation of the mouth-watering goodies for the long suffering region, Buhari had, while launching the roadmap, said notwithstanding his administration’s much talked about diversification as the main tool for putting the economy on the path of sustainable growth, Nigeria would have to depend on oil and gas revenue to get out of the current economic recession, contending that despite the fall in oil price, oil and gas resources remained the most immediate and practical keys out of the country’s present economic crisis.
“As important as it is to ensure that agriculture, solid minerals and other critical sectors of the economy are supported to grow and contribute more to the nation’s economy, we still need a virile and efficient oil and gas industry to take care of our foreign exchange requirements,” he said.
According to him, an efficient oil and gas sector remains a national imperative and a core thrust of his economic policy, adding that the petroleum industry remained critical to the Nigerian economy of today and the future, despite current challenges.
The president also admitted that oil and gas still remained a critical enabler for the successful implementation of his budget as well as the source of funds for laying a strong foundation for a new and more diversified economy.
The president said the task before the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was to maximise the potentials and opportunities across the whole range of the oil and gas industry to stimulate the economy in spite of the current challenges.
He said: “There is also a dire need to instil a new culture of transparency and efficiency in the industry, streamline operations along best practices by championing and implementing strategic reforms at every layer of the industry.
“This will help us improve oil and gas production, explore our frontier basins, improve our local refining capacity and above all build sustainable partnerships with the oil producing communities.”
Buhari said that if Nigeria was able to plug the leakages, and tighten loose systems that characterised the industry in the days of high oil prices, the country could do more with the little that it is getting at the moment than in the time of plenty.
The president noted that recent developments in the Niger Delta had temporarily limited the nation’s oil and gas production and supplies.
He however reaffirmed that, “whatever challenges we are currently facing in the region, our resolve and capability to work with all stakeholders to restore normalcy will guarantee success.”
The president acknowledged the importance of the public, the media, local and foreign investors and other critical stakeholders in the oil and gas industry and appealed for their support and cooperation.
Buhari said creativity, innovation, technology and robust partnership amongst various stakeholders were required to get the best from the industry.
He said: “This Roadmap reflects the vision and aspiration of this administration for this sector and urge you all to deliver on the expectations contained in the Petroleum Industry Roadmap.”
Speaking more elaborately on the plan for the Niger Delta, Kachikwu said the federal government would be launching a $10 billion infrastructure rebirth programme for the Niger Delta region, but that its implementation would be on instalment and its funding not exclusively from the federal purse.
He said that the Niger Delta state governors would have to meet to decide which cross boarder infrastructure the fund would be expended on.
According to him, “What is more important is not the number but the conceptualisation of the process. It is a fact that governors will have to come together from the region to begin to look at cross-state investments whether there will be railways, whether there will be power facilities, whether there will be specialist hospitals or whatever.
“But right now, there is a slowing down of investment in the region and that is not helping the region. So, we are going to be pulling in NNPC and groups like that and ensure that we look at cross boarder investment in the region,” he stated.
He said Buhari would also seek to review the way 13 per cent derivation allocation to the oil producing states is applied by beneficiary states.
According to him, the government would be appealing to the state governors, who have now taken the allocations as their main budgeting tool, to channel the funds to the core areas where oil is produced.
He said: “The president is also reviewing the proposal we gave him to look at how the 13 per cent derivation is applied. Right now it is a budgeting tool for state governments. We are going to be appealing to them to begin to put that into the core areas of the oil producing communities. And not just see it as a budgeting number.”
On transparency in the oil sector, he said that the adoption of Treasury Single Account (TSA) had assisted to tackle corruption in the industry by bringing all its funds into one account.
The minister also spoke on the expected impact of the new roadmap and said that investments in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, which took a downturn in the recent past would soon pick up following the conclusion of a review of the country’s Joint Venture Cash Call (JV) framework.
According to him, on the back of the review, a lot of oil and gas investors are pushing to come back and invest heavily in the country’s oil and gas sector.
He said that there would be an explosion of investment in the sector soon.
Kachikwu also said there were plans by the government to review the mechanism of securing oil and gas installations in the country to conform with standard practices as obtained in other oil and gas producing climes.
The launched policy document is couched in ‘The 7 Big Wins,’ theme, which borders on policy and regulation, business environment and investment drive, gas revolution, refineries and local production capacity, Niger Delta and security, transparency and efficiency, as well as stakeholder management and international co-ordination.
He said each time he projected a rise in the country’s oil production to 2.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) and 3mbpd, they were based on the fact that the JV structure had been reviewed and funding issues sorted out.
“On the issue of JV cash call. We have done a yeoman’s job. We are nearing completion of those negotiations, it would go to the FEC and it does not require a law. Those things are basically MoUs,” he said, adding: “We are going to structure the MoUs to enable them find the funding they require. There is even a budgeting process in terms of what we approved should be done, but how you now sequence the distribution of the funding is where the catch is.”
He said the government had made a lot of progress on funding, explaining that over $1.2 billion would be saved.
The minister projected an explosion of investment, saying oil companies were planning to make a big splash with projects and backed by huge money as they return to the country.
ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups
West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.
The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.
ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”
The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.
ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.
“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.
The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.
“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.
Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.
Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.
At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.
The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.
In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.
Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.
ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.
ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”
COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria
The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.
In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.
Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.
“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.
“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.
“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.
“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.
“Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”
“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.
Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.
He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.
The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.
Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.
Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.
He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.
“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.
“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.
South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport
South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.
In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.
He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.
The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.
The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”
“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.
After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.
To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.
The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.
Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.
South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.
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