- NNPC’s $137m Stuck in Banks, Senate Panel Alleges
The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Gas) at the plenary on Wednesday said there was “no cause for alarm” on the allegation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was running a secret joint venture account.
The committee said the dollars in the account were stuck in three banks due to the implementation of the Single Treasury Account by the Federal Government.
The senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye, had on Tuesday alleged that the NNPC and some joint venture companies were operating the account under the name, Brass LNG Limited.
Melaye further alleged that the account, which was supposed to be domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria, was with Keystone Bank, had no Bank Verification Number and had a balance of $137m as of Tuesday.
Moving a motion on the matter at the plenary on Wednesday, Melaye said, “The Senate notes that the Brass LNG was incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission on 9th of December, 2003 and is limited by shares of $1m.
“The Senate observes that the shareholders of this company are the Federal Government (NNPC) represented by Mr. Funsho Kukpolokun, with $490,000 shares; Philip Brass Limited, whose address is in the Cayman Island, British West Indies, represented by Mr. R. L. Smith, with a share capital of $170,000; Eni International B.V., with address in Amsterdam, Netherland, represented by Mr. A. Forzoli, with share of $170,000; while the fourth shareholder is Chevron Texaco Brass LNG Limited, with address in Bemuda, represented by Mr. J. R. Pryor, with a share of $170,000.
“The Senate observes that from the CAC records, the following are directors of the company among other foreigners: Gauis Obaseki Jackson, former Group Managing Director, NNPC; Yakubu Andrew, former GMD, NNPC; Ibogomo Gbeyansa, staff member of NNPC; Dawa Joseph Thlama, staff member of NNPC; Ige David, staff member of NNPC; and Mr. Buba Mohamman.”
He added, “The Senate observes that from the memorandum of understanding, the Brass LNG is supposed to be a Joint Venture Company, with the NNPC having the controlling shares and their account domiciled with the CBN.
“The Senate is surprised that the account of this company is with Keystone Bank opened on the 1st of August, 2012, with account number 1005825168, a USA domiciliary account with a closing balance of $137,086,462:54 currently, while the sum of $648,179,487 was recorded as the account’s last inflow on the 19th of September, 2016, and a withdrawal of $4m was effected on the 18th of November, 2016 without BVN.”
Melaye stated that there was an urgent need to define the position of the company and its operations, management and mandate in order to halt “this seeming corruption.”
Seconding the motion, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Gas), Senator Bassey Akpan, however, said his committee was already investigating the issue.
Akpan said the monies were not only with Keystone Bank, “we also have some money stuck in Diamond Bank.”
According to him, when the Federal Government started to run the Single Treasury Account system, many Deposit Money Banks became insolvent as many account balances in dollars were stuck in the banks.
Akpan added, “The said withdrawal of $4m was when the Presidency directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to step into the matter. The CBN monitors the funds. The only money that left the account, which was about $3m, was transferred to the TSA. Based on our enquiries from the CBN, this account has a BVN and recognised signatories. Mr. Gaius Obaseki, is a former GMD of the NNPC and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Brass LNG.
“So, not only is the money stuck in Keystone Bank, a similar amount of money is also stuck in Diamond Bank and one other bank.
“I want to say that there is no cause for alarm.”
The Senate unanimously resolved to mandate the Committee on Public Accounts to jointly work with the Akpan-led committee “to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the Brass LNG and the complicity therein as well as the level of corruption that has taken place and report back within four weeks.”
Nigeria’s Presidential CNG Initiative Allocates N100bn for CNG Buses and EV Adoption
The Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Initiative has allocated N100 billion to expedite the deployment of CNG buses nationwide, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
The initiative, designed to catalyze an Auto-gas and Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution in mass transit and transportation, aims to enhance sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
The statement revealed that the fund would be instrumental in supporting the adoption of auto-gas and electric vehicles, signaling a commitment to a more sustainable and economical future in the transportation sector.
The Presidential CNG Initiative plans to leverage over 11,500 CNG and electric-fueled vehicles, along with the deployment of 55,000 conversion kits.
This strategic approach is intended to reduce transportation costs for Nigerians and mitigate the challenges posed by the rising cost of living.
Under the Renewed Hope Agenda, the Presidential CNG Initiative is dedicated to realizing the President’s vision, guided by its steering committee led by FIRS Chairman Zacch Adedeji.
The statement highlighted recent achievements, including strategic technical partnerships and the ongoing commissioning of CNG Conversion centers in key states such as Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Ogun, and Rivers.
Several more centers are slated for commissioning in the coming weeks, reflecting the initiative’s momentum and commitment to achieving its objectives.
Nigeria’s Power Transformation: 53 Projects Worth N122bn on Track for May 2024 Completion
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and power distribution companies, is set to complete 53 power projects by May next year.
Valued at N122 billion, these projects aim to add over 1,000 megawatts to TCN’s wheeling capacity.
During a recent tour of three ongoing projects in Lagos, TCN’s Programme Coordinator, Mathew Ajibade, assured that the projects were not abandoned, refuting speculations.
He confirmed that work is progressing smoothly and is expected to be completed by May 2024, as initially planned.
Assistant Director/Head of Infrastructure Finance Office at the CBN, Tumba Tijani, highlighted the CBN’s support for the power sector, revealing that the bank released a loan at a 9% interest rate in August last year for the projects.
The funding, part of the Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility-3, amounts to N122,289,344 and aims to address transmission/distribution bottlenecks, enhance supply to end-users, and unlock unutilized generation capacity.
Tijani disclosed that N85.43 billion has been disbursed into the Advance Payment Guarantee account of the 53 contractors responsible for executing the projects.
The comprehensive project list includes the delivery of power transformers, re-conductoring existing transmission lines, upgrading existing substations, and constructing 33KV line bays.
The initiative reflects a concerted effort to enhance Nigeria’s power infrastructure and meet growing energy demands.
Nigeria’s Untapped Coffee Sector Holds the Key to $2 Billion Annual Revenue
Amidst declining foreign reserves and the need for alternative revenue streams, Nigeria’s overlooked coffee industry emerges as a potential powerhouse capable of contributing over $2 billion annually to foreign exchange earnings.
Industry experts emphasize the necessity for strategic investments and modernized farming practices to unlock the full economic potential of the coffee sector.
While Nigeria is not among the top 10 coffee producers in Africa, the country’s untapped coffee industry holds the promise of significant financial gains, job creation, and sustainable agricultural development.
The urgency for revitalization comes as Nigeria grapples with a decline in foreign reserves, dropping from $38.25 billion in September 2022 to $33.23 billion in the third quarter of 2023.
Salihu Imam, Chairman of the National Coffee and Tea Association of Nigeria, Oyo State, highlighted the global significance of coffee, stating, “Coffee is the second most traded/valuable of all commodities and first in Agricultural commodities in the world.”
The potential economic impact extends beyond immediate financial gains, with Nigeria positioning itself as a key player in the global coffee trade.
Despite its potential, Nigeria’s coffee exports remain modest, producing less than one million bags annually.
In contrast, Ethiopia, the largest coffee exporter in Africa, is projected to produce 8.25 million bags. Experts suggest that Nigeria, with its unique coffee varieties, could generate $2 billion annually.
Segun Lary-Lean, President of the West Africa Specialty Coffee Association, emphasized the robust global demand for coffee, comparing it to water in Western countries.
He noted the significant earnings of coffee-producing nations like Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, and Kenya, which experienced a 17% increase in coffee earnings.
In a call to action, industry players urge the Federal Government to prioritize strategic investments, modernized farming practices, and value-added processing to harness the coffee sector’s full economic benefits.
Unlocking the potential of Nigeria’s coffee industry stands not only as a financial opportunity but as a catalyst for broader economic growth and diversification.
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