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Buhari to Launch $10bn Niger Delta Reconstruction Fund

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Niger Delta Reconstruction Fund
  • 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.

 

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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Kenya Sends 400 Officers to Haiti to Help Quell Gang Turmoil, Says Ruto

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Kenyan President William Ruto has announced the deployment of 400 police officers to Haiti, marking a significant step in international efforts to combat the escalating gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

The officers were sent off from the National Police College in Nairobi, where Ruto expressed his confidence in their mission to restore peace and stability in Haiti.

In a statement released on Monday, the Kenyan presidency detailed the mission, emphasizing its importance in the history of global solidarity.

“This mission is one of the most urgent, important, and historic in the history of global solidarity,” Ruto said. “It is a mission to affirm the universal values of the community of nations, a mission to take a stand for humanity.”

The deployment is part of a broader international effort supported by the United Nations Security Council to assist Haiti’s beleaguered security forces.

Haiti has been grappling with severe gang violence, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and across large parts of the countryside.

The gangs have paralyzed the local economy through kidnappings, extortion, and turf wars.

The United States has also shown support for the deployment, viewing it as a crucial reinforcement for Haiti’s security forces.

The U.S. hopes that the additional personnel will help restore stability without overshadowing existing police efforts.

Initially delayed by a Kenyan court decision, the deployment has now gained momentum. Ruto assured that the government remains committed to the welfare of the deployed officers, announcing an increase in police salaries and improved welfare measures starting next month.

“This is a pivotal moment for our police force, and I have full confidence in their ability to make a significant impact in Haiti,” Ruto stated. “Their dedication and professionalism will shine through in this critical mission.”

The deployment comes at a time of domestic unrest in Kenya, where police recently clashed with protesters opposing President Ruto’s proposed Finance Bill 2024.

The bill aims to raise $2.4 billion through new taxes on various goods, including sanitary pads and bread, sparking widespread opposition.

Despite the domestic challenges, Ruto emphasized the importance of the international mission. “Our commitment to global peace and security remains unwavering, even as we address pressing issues at home,” he said.

The Kenyan officers’ mission in Haiti is expected to provide much-needed support in restoring law and order, reflecting Kenya’s commitment to international peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts.

As they embark on this historic journey, the eyes of the world will be on them, hoping for a swift and lasting peace in Haiti.

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Russia and North Korea Revive Military Pact, Heightening Tensions with US

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have revived a Cold War-era military pact.

The agreement, signed on Wednesday during Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years, commits the two nations to provide immediate military assistance to each other if either is attacked.

This development is likely to exacerbate tensions with the United States and its allies.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty, as the pact is officially named, represents the most powerful treaty signed between the two countries, according to Kim.

“This treaty elevates our ties to an alliance,” he declared during the signing ceremony. The deal stipulates that if either nation is invaded by an armed force, the other will provide military and other assistance “with all the means at its disposal,” in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the laws of both nations.

Putin’s visit to Pyongyang and the signing of the pact come on the heels of Kim’s trip to Russia in September, an event that has already resulted in a notable increase in arms transfers between the two countries, as confirmed by satellite imagery.

Despite the mounting evidence, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any such exchanges.

The renewed military alliance marks a significant escalation in the strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea, which had been relatively dormant since the end of the Cold War.

Analysts suggest that this move is a clear message of defiance to Western powers, particularly the United States, which has been involved in ongoing disputes with both nations over various geopolitical issues.

“The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty is for defensive purposes,” Kim stated, but experts warn that the alliance increases the risks for the US and its partners in responding to provocations from Moscow and Pyongyang. The treaty not only includes mutual defense commitments but also outlines plans to enhance cooperation in trade and investment, further solidifying the bilateral relationship.

Russian officials emphasized that the pact is a natural progression of the countries’ shared interests.

“This treaty is a testament to the deepening strategic and military cooperation between Russia and North Korea,” said Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister. “It is essential for maintaining regional stability and countering external threats.”

The US and its allies have expressed grave concerns over the implications of this agreement. “This treaty significantly alters the security landscape in East Asia,” stated a senior US State Department official. “It underscores the need for vigilance and reinforces the importance of our alliances in the region.”

Military analysts are closely watching the developments, noting that the alliance could embolden both nations to take more aggressive stances on the international stage.

“With this treaty, North Korea gains a powerful ally, while Russia secures a foothold in East Asia,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It is a strategic maneuver that complicates the geopolitical calculus for the US and its partners.”

The reactivation of the military pact also comes at a time when Russia is deeply involved in the conflict in Ukraine, where it faces significant opposition from Western nations.

North Korea’s unreserved support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as articulated by Kim, further aligns the two nations against common adversaries.

As the international community grapples with the potential ramifications of this treaty, it is clear that the renewed alliance between Russia and North Korea represents a formidable challenge to the current global order.

The coming months will likely see increased diplomatic activity as nations reassess their strategies in light of this development.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Begins New Term Under Coalition Government

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Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for another term as South Africa’s president on Wednesday, the beginning of a new era under a coalition government.

The ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater in the Union Buildings saw Ramaphosa take the oath of office before Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The event was attended by prominent dignitaries, including Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi, and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, and was marked by a 21-gun salute and an air force flyover.

Ramaphosa’s reappointment comes three weeks after elections saw his party, the African National Congress (ANC), lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid.

The ANC secured just over 40% of the vote on May 29, with millions of former supporters either backing a splinter party led by ex-leader Jacob Zuma or abstaining due to dissatisfaction over high levels of poverty, unemployment, and crime.

In his inauguration address, Ramaphosa emphasized the resilience of South African democracy and the need for unity.

“The resilience of our democracy has once more been tested, and the people have spoken loudly that they choose peace and democracy over conflict,” he said. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single political party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations.”

The ANC’s unprecedented electoral outcome necessitated a power-sharing agreement with long-time rivals. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and four other parties have agreed to join a government of national unity, supporting Ramaphosa’s leadership in exchange for cabinet and parliamentary positions.

This coalition is expected to prioritize economic growth, investment attraction, structural reforms, and sustainable management of state finances.

The rand strengthened to a level stronger than 18 per dollar for the first time in over ten months, and Johannesburg’s benchmark equity index reached a record high on Wednesday.

Market optimism is driven by the inclusion of business-friendly parties in the government, anticipated to bolster Ramaphosa’s reform agenda aimed at addressing power shortages, logistical challenges, and other economic impediments.

Despite criticism in his previous term for his consultative approach, which opponents labeled as indecisive, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive governance.

“Those who would like a president that is dictatorial, who is adventurous, who is reckless, will not find that in me,” he stated last month. “In me they will find a president who wants to consult. All these processes have often been seen as, ‘he is weak, he is not decisive.’ I am decisive, but I want to take people along with.”

The new coalition government faces significant challenges, including negotiating policy differences and accommodating politically powerful figures within the ANC and its partners.

The DA has already expressed concerns over the ANC’s uncosted national health insurance plan and its foreign policy stance.

Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, noted the complexities ahead. “South Africa is really moving into this with minimal on-the-ground preparation and justification,” she said. “The devil is going to be in the exact detail. Once cabinet is announced, some basic agreement will have to be reached on policy positions and on what the red-line issues will be.”

As Ramaphosa begins his new term, the nation watches closely, hopeful that this coalition government can navigate the intricate landscape of South African politics and bring about the much-needed reforms and stability.

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