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Critics of $1bn For B’Haram Fund Uninformed

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Lai Mohammed
  • Critics of $1bn For B’Haram Fund Uninformed

The Federal Government has described as unnecessary, uninformed and highly-partisan the criticism of the recently approved $1bn by the Nigeria Governors Forum for the military to tackle the country’s security challenges.

It noted that the criticism was uninformed and unnecessary because everyone knew the military’s role in combating the numerous security crises, including insurgency, facing the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this in Lagos on Tuesday, during a press conference.

He said, “There has been an unnecessary, uninformed and highly-partisan criticism of the $1bn which was recently approved by the Nigeria Governors Forum for the military to tackle the security challenges facing the country, including Boko Haram, illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping and cattle rustling.

“I said unnecessary and uninformed because everyone knows the role the military is playing in helping to tackle the numerous security crises facing the states, let alone the war against Boko Haram.

“The fact that Boko Haram has been largely degraded does not mean the war is over. As we have said times without number, asymmetric wars like the one against Boko Haram, do not end with an armistice. It is therefore curious that some of those who have criticised the $1bn approval have hinged their argument on the fact that Boko Haram has been degraded. Perhaps also, the critics do not know that fighting an asymmetric war is costlier than fighting a conventional war. In any case, wars, especially the war against terror, are never fought with budgetary provisions.”

The minister added that it was common knowledge that the annual military budget was not commensurate with the internal security challenges facing the country for which it had repeatedly relied on the military to assist the police and the civil defence corps.

The minister added, “When insurgents take over a chunk of our nation’s territory, we turn to the military. When the farmers/herders, clashes escalate, we turn to the military. When kidnappers up their game, we turn to the military, when illegal oil bunkerers and pipeline vandals are seeking to overwhelm our oil production and export, we turn to the military, when ethno-religious clashes occur, we turn to the military. But when it is time to give the military the resources it needs to function, we say it is a waste of scarce resources, we come up with spurious reasons to deny the military its due.”

Quoting from the scriptures that “to whom much is given, much is expected,” Mohammed stated that it presupposes that to whom much was expected, much should be given.

According to him, the NGF acted wisely in approving the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram and other security challenges in the country.

He also queried whether the money was too much for the military to tackle insecurity at this time with the security of lives and property being the core of any government and the NGF attesting to this by approving the fund withdrawal of the money from the ECA.

The minister said, “Let’s get down to the brass tacks by looking at the operations of just one arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. In this case, the Nigerian Air Force, in tackling one of the security challenges facing the nation. Let’s take the Boko Haram insurgency.

“The aircraft being used for the war, including fighter jets and helicopters, altogether consume 64,021.08 litres of fuel per day. With the aircraft flying a total of about 30 sorties a day, and at N275 per litre, it costs a total of N15,153,428.25 daily to fuel the aircraft.

“The spares for the aircraft from January to November 2017 cost a total of N20,019,513,739.88, while consumables for the aircraft, and I am talking of engine oil, plugs etc, amounted to N3,863,600 monthly and N46,363,200.00 yearly. What about the cost of ammunition? Just for 42 days, from November 5 to 17 December, the cost of ammunition was over $5m.

“Since we are using the air force as a reference point, what about the cost of acquiring air force platforms? For example, the 12 Super Tuscano aircraft recently approved for sale to Nigeria by the US Government costs a whopping $490m, yet this is government to government contract, and the costs of spares, munitions and other consumables are not included! Let’s remember that the costs stated above are for the air force alone and restricted to operations in the North-East alone.”

He noted that the above cost excluded that of the army and the navy also fully involved in the war against insecurity.

“Neither have we included the operating cost of the Nigerian Air Force in the Niger Delta to curb pipeline vandalism, in the North-West to contain cattle rustlers, in the North-Central to curtail herdsmen and farmers’ clashes or kidnappings, armed robberies and separatism in other parts of the country,” Mohammed stated.

He further said that if the military had been better equipped to tackle Boko Haram in the early days of the insurgency, thousands of lives, including those of security officers, could have been saved.

Describing the NGF’s action as patriotic and right but not unprecedented, Mohammed said because some people under a different government looted funds meant for the military did not mean the military should be left to its own devices.

The minister added, “Or that every allocation to the military will suffer the same fate. Ours is a disciplined government that does not allow allocated funds to end up in private pockets or spend on prayers. We will always empower the military and other security agencies to be better able to carry out their tough tasks.”

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

Nigeria, Morocco sign MOUs on Hydrocarbons, Others

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moroccan-king-mohammed

The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco have signed five strategic Memoranda of Understanding that will foster Nigerian-Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and commerce in both countries.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, led the Nigerian delegation to the agreement signing ceremony on Tuesday at Marrakech, Morocco, while the Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, Mr Anouar Jamali, signed for the Kingdom of Morocco, according to a statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.

Under the agreement between OCP, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export.

The statement said Nigeria would also produce ammonia and export to Morocco.

“As part of the project, the Nigerian Government plans to establish an ammonia plant at Akwa Ibom State,” it said.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, were part of the delegation and they confirmed that their organisations would take equity in the ammonia plant when the Final Investment Decision would be taken, the statement said.

Sylva said the project would broaden economic opportunities for the two nations and improve the wellbeing of the people.

He added that the project would also positively impact agriculture, stimulate the growth of gas-based industries and lead to massive job creation.

He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and it agencies and other government agencies to give maximum support for the project.

“He mandated me to ensure that at least the first phase of this project is commissioned before the expiration of his second term in office in 2023,” he added.

According to the statement, the MOUs were for the support of the second phase of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; Shareholders Agreement for the creation of the joint venture company to develop the multipurpose industrial platform and MOU for equity investment by the NNPC in the joint venture and support of the gas.

Other agreements are term sheet for gas sales and aggregation agreement and MOU for land acquisition and administrative facilitation to the establishment of the multipurpose industrial platform for gas sales and aggregation agreement.

The NCDMB boss described the bilateral agreement as significant to the Nigerian economy as it would accelerate Nigeria’s gas monetisation programme through establishment of the ammonia plant in the country.

The agreement would also improve Nigeria’s per capita fertiliser application through importation of phosphate derivatives from Morocco, he added.

Wabote challenged the relevant parties to focus on accelerating the FID, assuring them that the NCDMB would take equity investment for long-term sustainability of the project.

He canvassed for the setting up of a project management oversight structure to ensure project requirements and timelines are met.

“There is also need to determine manpower needs for construction and operations phase of the project and develop training programmes that will create the workforce pool from Nigeria and Morocco and design collaboration framework between research centres in Nigeria and Morocco to develop technology solutions for maintaining the ISBL and OSBL units of the Ammonia complex,” he said.

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Economy

Dangote Fertiliser Plant to Commence Shipment of Urea in March 2021

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Dangote to Sells Petrol in Naira, Plans to Commence Urea Shipment in March 2021

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said Dangote Fertiliser Plant will commence shipment of Urea in March 2021.

The CBN governor disclosed this during an inspection tour of the sites of Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals Complex Fertiliser Plant and Subsea Gas Pipeline at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos on Saturday.

Emefiele further stated that Dangote Refinery would sell refined petroleum products in Naira when it starts production.

This he said would save the country from spending 41 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange on importation of petroleum products yearly.

Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in naira, refine it, and produce it for Nigerians’ use in naira,” Mr Emefiele said.

That is the element where foreign exchange is saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with freight will be totally eliminated.

Emefiele explained that this will make the price of Nigeria’s petroleum products affordable and cheaper in naira.

If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.

“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency,” Mr Emefiele said.

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Economy

UK Budget 2021: Will Sunak’s Budget Run Into Unintended Consequences?

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UK EConomy contracts

Rishi Sunak’s Budget will encourage higher earners to consider their “international financial options” and will drive businesses away from the UK, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Chancellor delivered his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons, his second since he took on the role.

Mr Green says: “The Chancellor has got an extraordinarily difficult hand to play as he tries to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic, support jobs and businesses and, crucially, rebuild the public finances.

“Whilst Mr Sunak is being hailed a hero for the continued and unprecedented levels of support, it should also be remembered that he is – in a stealth move – dragging more people firmly into the tax net.

“He is raising taxes under the radar.

“Yes, there is no income tax rise. However, he is freezing personal tax thresholds, meaning as incomes rise and thresholds don’t, he is able to raise money by fiscal drag.”

Earlier this week, the deVere CEO noted: “Those most impacted by this stealth move will be looking at the financial planning options available to them, including international options, in order to grow and protect their wealth.”

Rishi Sunak also confirmed that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023, up from the current level of 19%.

Of this tax hike, Mr Green goes on to say: “Lower corporation tax helps job and wealth-creating business to survive and thrive. It also helps attract business to move and invest in the country.

“Instead of increasing taxes, Mr Sunak should have relentlessly focussed on growth and stimulus policies for businesses.  This would have been of greater help to firms, the economy, jobs and, ultimately, the Treasury’s coffers.”

He adds: “Again, this corporation tax hike is likely to serve as a prompt for businesses to consider their overseas financial options.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The Chancellor had to perform a tough juggling act.  But stealthily dragging more people into the tax net and raising corporation tax might have negative, unintended consequences for the Treasury’s bottom line.”

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