- Adeosun, Kachikwu, Emefiele, Others Shun PIB Hearing, Senate Kicks
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu; and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, were among the top Federal Government officials absent from the public hearing held on the Petroleum Industry Bill on Monday.
The three-day hearing, which began on Monday at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, was organised by the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) on three bills, namely the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, 2018; Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, 2018; and the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Bill, 2018.
The National Assembly had passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, the fourth component of the PIB, in March.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, at the opening ceremony, decried the low turnout of government officials at the event.
Saraki particularly decried the non-appearance of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation officials.
It was observed that heads of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the CBN and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria were absent from the event and were not represented.
The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Saidu Mohammed, later made a presentation on behalf of the corporation.
Saraki, while declaring the event opened, explained that the public hearing was to gather opinions on the components of the PIB.
Meanwhile, the NNPC on Monday called on the Senate to consider simplifying the fiscal provisions in the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill in order to ensure easy implementation of the law.
Baru, said this during the Senate Joint Committee public hearing on the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Development Bill and Petroleum Industry Administration Bill in Abuja.
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Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
Nigeria Spends N231.27 Billion on Arms Procurement in Four Years Amidst Rising Security Challenges
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N231.27 billion for arms and ammunition procurement over the past four years.
Despite this significant investment, security agencies argue that the allocated funds are insufficient to effectively tackle the myriad security challenges afflicting the nation.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, defended the substantial budget for arms purchases during a session with the House of Representatives.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s dependence on foreign countries for military hardware, which are priced in dollars, diminishes the impact of the substantial budget when converted to the local currency.
General Musa explained, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria, and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured were bought with hard currency, none in naira.”
He further illustrated the challenges faced, citing that a precision missile for drones costs $5,000, underscoring the magnitude of the expenses associated with arms procurement.
An analysis of the annual budgets for the Ministry of Defence and eight other armed forces from 2020 to 2022 reveals allocations of N11.72 billion, N10.78 billion, and N9.64 billion, respectively.
In 2023, N47.02 billion was disbursed for arms procurement, supplemented by a recently passed budget of N184.25 billion, resulting in a total of N231.27 billion.
Security expert Chidi Omeje raised concerns about the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which is tasked with manufacturing arms locally. Omeje criticized DICON’s underperformance, urging the government to revamp the agency to reduce reliance on foreign nations for arms and ammunition.
Omeje stressed, “The new government must make sure that DICON lives up to its responsibilities,” highlighting the urgency of fostering self-sufficiency in arms production to address the country’s security challenges effectively.
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