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Fuel Queues Persist at Christmas, Labour Lambasts FG

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  • Fuel Queues Persist at Christmas, Labour Lambasts FG

The scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit continued in many parts of the country on Monday, putting a damper on the Christmas celebrations as many Nigerians struggled to get the product at the few stations that were selling it.

In some parts of Lagos and Ogun states like Ikorodu, Ikotun and Sango-Ota, some stations sold petrol for between N180 and N200 per litre.

Most of the stations that had the product in Ikorodu sold it at N200 per litre with long queues of desperate motorists and other petrol seekers attempting to buy the product in jerry cans.

The few stations selling at the official pump price of N145, including an NNPC station along the Mile 12-Ikorodu Expressway, had longer queues of motorists that spilled onto the road and disrupted the flow of traffic.

Commercial transport operators increased fares by as much as 100 per cent, saying it was because they bought petrol above N145 per litre. From Ikorodu garage to Gberigbe, the fare was increased to N400 from around N200-N250 before the scarcity.

From the Old Tollgate to Mowe-Ibafo, passengers were charged N300 on Monday as against N150-N200 in the past, while the fare from Agege to Mowe hovered around N400 from N300.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday broken his silence on the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, saying he had directed the regulators to end hoarding of the product and price inflation.

He said he had also been assured by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that the situation would improve significantly in the next few days with the distribution of new shipments and supplies across the country.

“I have also directed the regulators to step up their surveillance and bring an end to hoarding and price inflation by marketers,” he added.

Last week, the Department of Petroleum Resources said it had come to its notice that some depot owners were selling PMS to unlicensed bulk buyers and some retailers at prices above the approved ex-depot prices, adding that some retail outlets were hoarding PMS or selling it at above the industry-set cap price.

The Zonal Operations Controller, Lagos, DPR, Mr. Wole Akinyosoye, stated, “These actions are clear violations of the Petroleum Act, 1969 and extant regulations, and they exacerbate the current supply challenges by bringing unnecessary hardships on the consumers.”

He said the agency had been punishing errant operators and warned that penalties would be imposed on any operator engaged in illicit acts.

Akinyosoye added that stations selling above N145 would be closed for six months and the product being sold above the cap price would be auctioned off to the public.

“Depots selling above the approved ex-depot price would be fined N25m, closed for at least three months and be excluded from coastal supply allocation by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company for at least a period of one year,” he stated.

The United Labour Congress on Monday declared that the current petrol scarcity being experienced across the country was a clear manifestation of another failure of leadership in Nigeria.

According to the ULC, its investigations show that the petrol scarcity is not as a result of panic buying or hoarding, as often alleged by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, but the product is in short supply.

It also stated that it would resist any attempt by the government to increase the pump price of petrol, notwithstanding assurances by the NNPC that there was no such intention.

This is coming as queues petrol persisted in Abuja and neighbouring states of Niger, Kaduna and Nasarawa on Monday.

In a statement signed by the President, ULC, Joe Ajaero, the union said, “Our investigations and reports reaching us from our affiliates in the industry show that the present debacle is clearly a manifestation of another failure of leadership in Nigeria. It cannot be blamed on any panic buying nor hoarding as the product is seriously in short supply.

“Importers are not bringing in enough products, while the NNPC is not in any position to meet the demands of the market. It is, therefore, neither the fault of the workers in the sector as the Petroleum Tanker Drivers are assiduously working and lifting available products to the filling stations, nor workers at the various filling stations and depots across, who are on standby to discharge their obligations as required.

“Importers cannot bring in products because of bottlenecks created by the government at the point of procuring foreign exchange, while the NNPC lacks the capacity to bring in more products that are needed this period.”

The union stated that it was worried by the unbroken chain of ineffective governance by those who walk the corridors of power in Nigeria, and declared that it would resist any attempt to hike the pump price PMS.

It said, “The ULC is afraid that the government may be playing its old trick prior to raising the price of petroleum products in the country and we want to warn that Nigerian workers under our aegis will work assiduously to resist such insensitive intentions.

“This has become a game politicians play against the people but we vow to work to ensure that the outcome of this time will be in the favour of Nigerian workers, Nigeria and Nigerians.”

It added, “It is indeed surprising that a government that raised the pump prices of petroleum products, especially PMS to N145/litre, with the promise never to allow the return of fuel queues, is sitting on its rump and giving excuses why the same queues have returned with a vengeance.

“We believe that there is no excuse strong enough for this government to give over this worrying situation. Government should fulfil at least its side of the bargain. That is the only way to go. It is even worse trying to deflect the blame and push it on the unions in the sector, which is not true as this truly shows continuous disrespect for the citizenry that elected these same leaders into office.”

The union urged all concerned government agencies to move very fast and bridge the supply gap either by importing more PMS directly, or by making forex available to importers to bring in products, or by ensuring that Nigeria’s refineries ramp up production to increase supply internally.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Gov Emmanuel Attracts $1.4b Fertilizer Plant to Akwa Ibom

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The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has signed an agreement for the citing of a multi billion fertilizer plant in his State.

Governor Emmanuel was part of a Nigerian delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, that visited Morocco to set out the next steps of the $1.4 Bln fertilizer production plant project launched in June 2018.

The agreement between the OCP Africa, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the Akwa Ibom State Government will birth one of the biggest investments in the fertilizer production industry worldwide.

The signing ceremony took place at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UMP6).

Mr. Emmanuel signed one of the agreements of the partnership, which covers a memorandum of understanding between OCP Africa, the Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and the NSIA on land acquisition, administrative facilitation, and common agricultural development projects in the Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking while signing the agreement, Governor Emmanuel said, “Our state is receptive to investments and we are prepared to offer the necessary support to make the project a reality.

“With a site that is suitably located to enable operational logistics and an abundance of gas resources, all that is left is for the parties to accelerate the project development process”, Mr. Udom said.

The agreement reached between the Nigerian Government and the OCP further links OCP, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the NNPC, the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN), and the NSIA.

The two partners agreed to strengthen further their solid partnership leveraging Nigerian gas and the Moroccan phosphate.

This project will lead to a multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria, which will use Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and 1 million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.

The visit of the Nigerian delegation to Morocco takes place within the frame of the partnership sealed between OCP Group and the Nigerian Government to support and develop Nigeria’s agriculture industry.

Following the success of the first phase of Nigeria‘s Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the progress of the fertilizer production plant project launched in 2018 by OCP and NSIA, the Moroccan phosphates group and the Nigerian government delegation have agreed on the next steps of their joint project which is rapidly taking shape.

Several cooperation agreements were inked on Tuesday at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) by OCP Africa and the Nigerian delegation. Through these deals, OCP reaffirms its unwavering support of agricultural development initiatives in Nigeria including PFI.

OCP Africa and the NSIA have agreed, inter alia, to set up a joint venture which will oversee the development of the industrial platform that will produce ammonia and fertilizers in Nigeria.

The OCP has also pledged to supply Nigerian famers with quality fertilizers adapted to the needs of their soil at competitive prices and produced locally.

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Economy

ICPC Says Nigeria Loses $10bn to Illicit Financial Flows 

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says Nigeria accounts for 20 per cent or 10 billion dollars (N3.8 trillion) of the estimated 50 billion dollars that Africa loses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this during a virtual meeting to review a report on IFFs in relation to tax, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, spokesperson for ICPC, said in a statement released in Abuja on Friday.

The ICPC Chairman said, “the African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly 50 billion dollars through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about 20 per cent of this figure is from Nigeria alone.”

The ICPC boss explained that taxes played “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy.”

He said the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation.

The ICPC boss added that the meeting would give participants the opportunity to openly discuss how to effectively use the instrumentality of taxation to curb IFFs through risk-based approach.

“Risk-based approach, that is: monitoring and audit; due process in tax collection; structured tax amnesty framework skewed in public interest; data privacy; timely resolution of audits and payment of tax refunds and intelligence sharing among revenue generating, regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Owasanoye also stated that for the contemporary tax man to remain relevant, he must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.

The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr Muhammad Nani, expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy as the act robbed the nation of resources that were needed for development.

Nani declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base and improve revenue generation, which was required for development.

He consequently pushed for policy reforms that would make it difficult for “capital flights” from occurring so that the country would be placed on the path of growth.

Other discussants at the event identified weak regulatory framework, opacity of financial system and lack of capacity amongst others as some of the factors that fuelled IFFs.

The discussants emphasised the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit financial flows.

They commended ICPC for leveraging its corruption prevention mandate to open a new vista in IFFs discourse in Nigeria. (NAN)

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Economy

African Development Bank, Egypt Signs Agreements Worth €109 Million to Transform Sewage Coverage in Rural Areas

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The African Development Bank Group has signed financing agreements of €109 million with the Government of Egypt to improve sanitation infrastructure and services for rural communities in Luxor Governorate in Egypt’s Upper Nile region.

The financing consists of a €108 million loan from the Bank, and a grant of €1 million from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) – an Africa-wide initiative hosted by the African Development Bank.

The funding, provided in a challenging global context, will help meet the Egyptian government’s financing requirements in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and support a sound water and sanitation infrastructure base, a key enabler for the country’s inclusive development.

The Integrated Rural Sanitation in Upper Egypt-Luxor (IRSUE-Luxor) project is set to boost sewage coverage in the region from 6% to 55%, improving the quality of life of citizens, including women and children, who are most affected by poor sanitation.

“Promoting efficient, equitable and sustainable economic development through integrated water resources management is a priority for the Government of Egypt. The IRSUE-Luxor initiative unlocks the socio-economic development potential for inclusive and green growth,” said Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, who signed the agreements on behalf of the Egyptian government.

About 22,000 households (240,000 inhabitants) will benefit from on-site and off-site facilities, through an integrated system of sewerage networks, sludge treatment and wastewater treatment plants.

IRSUE-Luxor contributes to the National Rural Sanitation Program established by the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, which aims to expand nationwide access to sanitation services from 34% currently to 60% in 2030.

The project also complements the national Haya Karima (Decent Life) initiative that aims to help rural communities across Egypt access essential infrastructure services to improve their living conditions and livelihoods.

Furthermore, the project includes a staff training component to strengthen performance within the Luxor Water and Wastewater Company.

“This intervention is not just about infrastructure development. An essential part of the project is supporting ongoing sector reforms,” said Malinne Blomberg, the Bank’s Deputy Director General for North Africa.

One of several initiatives supported by the African Development Bank in Egypt to optimize the use of the country’s water resources, IRSUE-Luxor will enable about 30,000 cubic meters of treated wastewater per day to be discharged into drainage and irrigation canals and re-used to enhance agricultural output.

The initiative is in line with the Bank’s water sector policy, which promotes efficient, equitable and sustainable development through integrated water resources management. In addition, the operation supports tariff regulation to achieve full cost recovery, which is one of the basic principles of the Bank’s water sector policy.

The partnership between Egypt and the African Development Bank Group dates back more than half a century. More than 100 operations have been deployed, mobilizing more than $6 billion across multiple strategic sectors.

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