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Government’s Failure Boosts Illegal Refineries’ Operations in Niger Delta



  • Government’s Failure Boosts Illegal Refineries’ Operations in Niger Delta

Illegal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta region may continue longer than anticipated due to the failure of the Federal Government to unveil solutions it earlier promised to stop the menace.

Experts and leaders from the region have raised an alarm of looming hostility that could upset oil output, frustrate budget implementation, and international investments even as oil communities in the Niger Delta flay elusive promises by the current administration.

The Government had said it would build modular refineries in the region in order to engage jobless youths, who resort to unruly operations and militancy activities to push out 1,000 barrels of refined petroleum products daily from each of the refineries to meet supply shortfall in Nigeria.

Modular refineries are the smallest form of refineries, although expandable.Although the move would douse tension, and create a sense of ownership, however, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources could not ascertain when the projects would become a reality, but said about three licences could be issued soon.Apart from the three, four other applicants have also been identified especially in Edo State, Spokesperson for the Ministry, Idang Alibi said.

“There are three serious requests that stand a chance of getting a licence and taking off. There are requests, particularly from Edo State. Three are close to meeting the requirements and go offshore. The project requires so much capital up to about $100million; that is a lot of money.“So individuals are required to come together and get foreign partnership. Then they apply and are shortlisted, and interviewed. The Ministry is very eager to get people on and they are working on it,” he said.

But some of the stakeholders, especially leaders from the region, including the National Leader, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark; National Coordinator, Pan Niger Delta People’s Congress (PNDPC), Mike Loyibo; and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), led by Eric Omare, toldThe Guardian they are unaware of these moves.

President, South-South Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (FOSSCCIMA), Billy Hillary, said: “We are not seeing any discussion going forward in that direction. Illegal refineries are not beneficial to the country’s economy. These refineries are springing up daily out of the need for these young men to be engaged and economically empowered.”

Harry said chambers of commerce across the region were directed to work with government in achieving lasting solutions to the challenges in the region.While Nigeria is faced with perennial fuel scarcity, record huge capital flight, and increasing subsidy to import refined products, expectations were that efforts to build local refineries and rectify dangers of illegal refineries would be prioritised.

Indeed, with brimming environmental challenges, heightened security crisis, and agitations backed by demand to make the creeks dwellers benefit from oil money, experts are worried that lawlessness may escalate in the oil producing region unless government acted responsibly, and honour the promise to convert illegal refineries to modular refineries.

Past President, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Abiodun Adesanya, is optimistic that sustainable plans on refinery in the country would go a long way to address products supply challenges.

“Strategically, modular refinery will slow down illegality. But those things don’t happen in a day. The problem is that government sometimes make pronouncement without the details. The Federal Government needs to get to work with technocrats to make the plan work,” Adesanya said.Besides, the operation remained a top concern for the Nigerian Navy, as it destroyed no fewer than 1,000 illegal refineries, and arrested many suspected oil thieves in the region between January and September of last year.

Expectations were that government would organise the youths now engaged in illegal refining of crude into consortia, and assist each consortium refine about 1,000 barrels of crude daily, but government’s inability fulfil it promises has forced some militant groups to threaten pulling out of the ceasefire agreement.Describing illegal refinery as the highest employer of labour in the region, some of the leaders who spoke with The Guardian were very cynical of government’s commitment to its pledge, noting requirements for establishing the refineries were too stringent, and would deprive beneficiaries the opportunity of owning a stake in the business.

For instance, Clark insisted that the Government has not been transparent nor shown needed concern on the issue. “At the moment, we don’t know the plans of the federal government. Sometimes they will say they are inviting people for interview, sometimes they say some people have applied. We don’t know where they are going.

“You cannot say you don’t want illegal refinery, and at the same time you have no plans connecting to modular refinery, that’s why we are having problems in the area.”Like Harry, the PANDEF leader believes prioritising the plan would address the agitations from the region. “If modular refinery has been established with the local people fully participating in it, it will reduce stealing and illegal refining; it will also reduce environmental degradation. The people in the area will have something to do.”

He wants the legalisation of the illegal refineries with proper condition and regulatory framework.PNDPC’s Labiyo recalled that the region had presented a seven- point agenda on sustaining peace in the region, especially building modular refineries, which has not been considered.

“This is a scam. Our people came together, some contributed money, some formed cooperatives, but as I speak to you, nothing has happened. We are no longer interested. It is glaring that this administration does not keep their words.

“The Niger Delta is key to the economy of this country. But government has failed to recognise this fact. Building modular refineries in the Niger Delta will end the agitations from the region. We feel that we own the oil, and there is need for government to allow us to benefit and participate in management,” Labiyo said.

IYC’s Omare noted that the government’s promise to create modular refineries is a mere political statement. “What we advocated for the Federal Government is to give legal access to the local refiners to get crude oil, and secondly, help them to acquire some technological know-how so that their activities will not be hazardous on the environment.”

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

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Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process



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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.

The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.

Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.

Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.

The statement in full:

“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.

The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.

With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;

Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website;

  • applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
  • a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
  • upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
  • that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
  • that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
  • applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
  • a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.

The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.


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INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week



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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.

Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).

He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.

He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities

He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.

“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.

“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.

“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.

“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.

He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.

“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”

Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.

According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.

“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.

“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.

“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission

“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.

Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.

Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.

“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.

“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria

“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.

He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.

In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.

Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.

“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.

“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.

“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said

Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.

Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.

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Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum



House of representatives

The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.

The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.

The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.

The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.

He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”

You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.

Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.

The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.

Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.

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