- NUPENG Calls Off Strike, FG Raises Bridging Cost to N7.20
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas employees has announced the immediate suspension of the nationwide industrial action embarked upon by its Petroleum Tanker Drivers division.
This is coming as motorists went about their normal activities in Abuja and Lagos on Monday as most of the filling stations dispensed products seamlessly without queues despite the strike by the tanker drivers.
For instance, the two biggest mega filling stations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation along the Zuba-Abuja Expressway had the usual number of motorists and there was no serious queue at the outlets when our correspondent visited.
The same situation was observed in other filling stations in the city centre, as well as in parts of Kaduna, Niger and Nasarawa states.
The situation was the same in Lagos and Ogun states as filling stations carried on with their normal business activities.
The President, NUPENG, Igwe Achese, announced that the strike had been called off after a meeting that had in attendance members of the union, the PTD, National Association of Transport Owners and the management of the NNPC, led by its Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru.
The meeting was held at the corporate headquarters of the NNPC in Abuja and commenced around 3pm on Monday.
“Igwe Achese of NUPENG announced the call off of the strike after the meeting, which was spearheaded by our GMD,” the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, told our correspondent.
During the meeting, Baru announced that the Federal Government had approved the increase in the bridging cost allowance to oil marketers in order to ensure adequate transportation of petroleum products across the country from the various depots.
The NNPC boss said, “I’m happy to announce to you that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has just approved the increase in the bridging cost allowance from N6.20 to N7.20. This is a good platform for you all to discuss the issues. We expect that with this, you will call off the strike immediately.
“I plead with you to ensure that your discussions should be guided by national and not personal interest.”
Last week, the PTD arm of NUPENG said it would commence a nationwide strike from Monday.
The strike was to draw the attention of the government and other stakeholders to some unresolved issues bordering on the welfare of workers, such as bad roads, poor remuneration, insecurity and the alleged excesses of some security agencies.
Baru said the review of the bridging cost should give NARTO the breathing space to engage with the tanker drivers to immediately discuss and resolve as many of the issues as possible, adding that the gesture was expected to normalise relations between the unions.
He explained that NNPC intervened in the faceoff between the unions in order to ensure the energy security of Nigeria, adding that ordinarily the dispute was only between the PTD and its employer, NARTO.
The National President, PTD, Salimon Oladiti, lauded the NNPC boss and his management for their timely intervention and urged them to address the unruly behaviour of security agencies towards the members.
On his part, the National President, NARTO, Kassim Bataiya, assured Baru that with his intervention, the condition of service document would be reviewed to improve the drivers’ welfare.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Joseph Akinlaja, who represented the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, commended the corporation for the intervention, adding that the move saved the country a lot.
Once Again The National Grid Collapsed
Nigeria’s electricity transmission system, also known as the National grid, has suffered another system collapse, plunging Lagos, the country’s commercial capital, Kano and other major cities into a blackout.
The collapse, which occurred about 11.00 am on Tuesday, was confirmed by two of the country’s electricity distribution companies in separate messages to their customers.
“We regret to inform you that the power outage being experienced across our franchise – Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states – is as a result of the collapse of the national grid,” Kaduna Electric said on Twitter.
Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc, in a text message to its customers, said: “Dear customer, there is a partial system collapse on the national grid. Our TCN partners are working to restore supply immediately. Please bear with us.”
The grid, which is being managed by the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria, has continued to suffer system collapse over the years amid a lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.
Spinning reserve is the generation capacity that is online but unloaded and that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission outages.
FG Consider Diversification To Generate Revenue
As revenue from oil nosedives following incessant global price fluctuations, the Federal Government is now channeling efforts to the development of minerals in the mines and steel industry to shore up foreign exchange earnings.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said on Wednesday that while there had been concerted efforts to develop various minerals in the sector, much emphasis had been placed recently on the development of bitumen, barite and gold.
They told our correspondent in Abuja that the government through the mines and steel ministry was striving to diversify the Nigerian economy away from oil as the major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.
They also confirmed that large quantities of gold had been discovered in various locations in Zamfara and Osun states.
Asked if the government had initiated programmes to explore the minerals and boost revenues now that the country’s income had plunged, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Ayodeji Adeyemi, replied in the affirmative.
He said, “Indeed, the ministry has the mandate to generate revenue and diversify the economy through the mines sector.
“And bitumen is one of the key resources which the nation is abundantly endowed with, that has been identified for strategic development.”
To buttress his position, Adeyemi shared some recent presentations of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, where the minister said his ministry was gathering data on some bitumen fields across the country to attract investors.
“A lot of people are interested in bitumen, which is coming from both local and foreign investors. However, we are still acquiring data in some of the fields,” the minister stated.
On barite, the minister said the mines and steel ministry was working on raising the quality of barite produced in Nigeria to an internationally acceptable standard, as certified by the American Petroleum Institute.
Adegbite said his ministry had contracted a consultant to help raise the standard in the local production of barite to ensure that oil industry players make use of barite produced in Nigeria as against importing the commodity from other countries.
He said, “Barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids used in the oil industry. We have a lot of barites but the issue is that it is not produced to API standards. However, we are putting a system in place which would be ready to launch in about July.
“We have got the millers who can produce barite to API standard. Hence we will be able to compete with foreigners and it would save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange in import substitution.”
On the development of gold, officials at the ministry further stated that the commodity had been aggregated for the production of bullion bars and that this was the first time that such aggregation was happening in Nigeria.
They stated that the gold was sourced from artisanal miners, while the final refining to bullion was done in Turkey.
The sources stated that the ministry had registered two refineries that would now refine to LBMA standard when they come on stream. LBMA is the de facto standard, trusted around the world.
Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Generates N160.06 Billion in 2020
The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) generated revenue of N160.06 billion in 2020, according to the latest audited financial reports announced by the Managing Director of NSIA Mr. Uche Orji.
The NSIA income came from devaluation gain of N51 billion, and core income of N109 billion compared to N33.07 billion in 2019.
But Orji lamented: “Covid-19 adversely affected logistics around infrastructure projects, especially the toll road projects and the presidential fertiliser initiative.”
Despite the pandemic, the Authority achieved 33 percent growth in Net Assets to N772.75 billion compared to the previous year’s performance of N579.54 billion.
Orji said the NSIA “received additional contribution of $250 million; and provided first stabilisation support to the Federal Government of $150 million withdrawn from Stabilisation Fund last year.”
The same year, the NSIA received $311 million from funds recovered from the late General Abacha from the United States Department of Justice and Island of Jersey for deployment towards the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) projects of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway, Lagos Ibadan Expressway and Second Niger Bridge.
In response to COVID-19, Orji said: “NSIA partnered the global Citizen, a not-for profit group, to form the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund. Separately NSIA acquired and distributed oxygen concentrators to the 21-teaching hospital as part of corporate social responsibility; in addition to staffing support to the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19.”
In 2020, the NSIA “invested additional capital into NG Clearing, the first derivative clearing house in Nigeria to maintain NSIA’s shareholding at 16.5 per cent following the company’s rights issue of 2020″ Orji said.
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