- Privatisation: Eleven Firms Jostle to Run Ajaokuta Steel
At least more than 11 private firms are currently jostling to take over the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Mr Abubakar Bwari, has said.
Bwari said this at the presentation of the ministry’s three-year stewardship account in Abuja on Monday.
Although he didn’t give the identity of the companies that were jostling to be considered as core investors in the country’s beleaguered steel complex, the minister said that the government would prefer a private Nigerian consortium to take over the management of the company.
He said, “We will prefer a Nigerian consortium to take over Ajaokuta Steel Complex because of the strategic nature of steel in the economy.”
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has been having a running battle with the National Assembly over the proposal to privatise the steel complex.
While the National Assembly prefers the government to complete the steel complex and run it, the ministry prefers to give the complex to a private concessionaire.
Bwari justified the position, saying that the government should not have any business running a business.
Answering questions from journalists, he said former concessionaire, Global Steel Infrastructure, had no more claim to Ajaokuta Steel Complex as it had been settled with a seven-year concession of the feeder company, the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe.
Our correspondent had, however, reported that after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government, Global Steel Infrastructure was making extra demand on the government.
The minister said that the government was working on other external infrastructure required for the steel complex to function effectively when it must have been completed. Such infrastructure includes ports, roads and rail lines.
He said, “To demonstrate in concrete terms the commitment of this administration to the sector, the sum of N30bn was approved as intervention fund for the ministry to fund exploration projects, generate the needed geosciences data and provide the necessary regulatory framework to enable the sector to grow.
“We have also secured support from the World Bank in the form of a loan of $150m for the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification programme.”
He added, “Under President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s strategic intervention from 2016, the mining sector has witnessed a steady rise in its contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product from 0.33 per cent in 2015 to 0.6 per cent in 2016.
“Overall, the revenue generated by the ministry from royalties and fees has improved from N2.08bn in 2015 to N3.92bn in 2017 and N2.97bn as of October 2018. Limestone mining has continued to lead in royalties earned by the government.
“Within the period under review, the Mining Cadastre Office realised the sum of N5.2bn as revenue generated through processing and other licensing fees.”
The minister said that under the soon-to-be-released Mineral Export Guidelines, the lingering issue of evading payment of royalties or false declarations had been dealt with.
According to him, all mineral exports shall henceforth be inspected by government-appointed independent pre-shipment inspection agents.
The agents are also to render quantity and quality control services and monitor pricing in accordance with the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Exports Act, the minister said, adding that measures had been put in place to ensure correct valuation of royalties.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo Seeks Collaboration With Vietnam on Agriculture and Technology
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has sought collaboration with Vietnam in the areas of agriculture and technology. The vice president spoke in Vietnam at a bilateral meeting on Monday.
During the meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Võ Thị Ánh Xuân, Osinbajo acknowledged both countries’ market potentials in the digital economy, telecommunications, and agriculture.
Speaking at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that telecommunication penetration in Nigeria is one of the deepest in any developing country, stating that about 120 million Nigerians now use one telecom service or the other.
Calling for collaboration on digital economy, Osinbajo said “We have close to 120 million of our citizens who have put to use telecom equipment or devices. And also, broadband connectivity is vastly improved. We hope that by 2025, we will have broadband connectivity for all of our over 200 million people”.
On the call for collaboration in the area of agriculture, the vice president noted that cashew production is an important area in which both counties can partner.
He said ” Given the food crisis that the world faces today, and is likely to continue facing even in the coming years, I like to say that the way forward is for our countries to collaborate. For instance, establishing cashew processing plants in Nigeria”.
Investors King understands that Vietnam is the world’s second-largest cashew processor with an annual processing capacity of 1.2 million tons representing up to 40 percent of the world’s total capacity.
Speaking at the event, the Vietnamese Vice President commended Nigeria’s leadership role in the ECOWAS sub-region and Africa generally, especially in the peaceful resolution of disputes.
She also commended Nigeria’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic while reposing confidence in Nigeria’s ability to resolve challenges confronting the African continent and the West African region in particular.
Conclusively, she added that her country would continue to work with Africa to meet its aspirations in agriculture, clean energy and digital penetration.
Togo, Benin, and Niger Republic Owe Nigeria N4.1 Trillion in Electricity Debts
Nigeria currently supplies electricity to the Republic of Benin, Togo, and Niger through the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET Plc
The House of Representatives on Public Account has disclosed that Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, Togo, Benin, and Niger Republic owe the country about N4.1 trillion in electricity bills.
The revelation was contained in a letter sent by the committee to the Managing Director of Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET Plc, Dr. Nnaemeka Eweluka.
According to the letter which was signed by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Oluwole Oke, the Managing Director of NBET is expected to appear alongside Dr. Marilyn Amobi, who served as MD/CEO from 2016 to 2020.
The house committee has accused the former MD, Amobi of non-rendition of the Audited Accounts for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Investors King understands that Nigeria currently supplies electricity to the Republic of Benin, Togo, and Niger through the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET Plc. About 6 percent of the electricity generated in the country is sold to the neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, according to the managing director of NBET, the federal government is working on structures that will enhance power distribution in the country, stating that most of the power-generating companies are currently located in the southern part of the country.
“Most of the power generation companies are located within the south-south and south-west largely because of gas with one in the south-east, of course, we have the hydros in Niger state,” he said.
The MD added that Nigeria could generate up to a capacity of about 14,000 megawatts. He however noted that the distribution capacity is only between 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts per day.
Eweluka nonetheless sounded a note of hope, making references to the intervention projects that are currently ongoing such as the partnership with Simens.
“To address this gap between what is available and what the system can currently carry; there are a number of intervention projects that the government is currently pursuing, that include the presidential power initiatives in partnership with Siemens,” he concluded.
No Plan to Increase Fuel Price; Says FG
The Federal Government has stated that it has no plan to increase fuel price during the yuletide period.
This assurance is coming amid the nationwide fuel scarcity which has pushed the price of petrol above N250 in many retail stations.
Investors King learnt that fuel is being held for N250 per litre in Abuja and several other cities across the country while black marketers are charging between N400 and N450 per litre.
The scarcity and the high price of fuel are however becoming unbearable for many Nigerians, especially those who have reasons to embark on business travel for the December festivals.
According to the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Ukadike Chinedu, most of the association members, who owned the bulk of the filling stations across the country, were now subjected to purchasing PMS at about N220/litre, which was why many outlets currently dispensed at about N250/litre and above.
He noted that the cost of the commodity has been on the rise due to its unavailability and other concerns in the sector.
He added that the price of fuel could be sold from N350/litre to N400/litre before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, a number of senior officials at the NNPC had stated that the subsidy was becoming too burdensome on the national oil company, as this was another reason for the scarcity of PMS.
According to a source who is familiar with the development as reported by Punch News, “How can we continue to import 60 million litres of petrol daily and keep subsidising it, while millions of litres are either diverted or cannot be accounted for? The burden is too much, as you rightly captured in that story”.
Investors King understands that NNPC is the sole importer of petroleum into the country and it pays billions of naira every month to subsidise the product to N147 per litre.
Reuters News reported that in August 2022, NNPC paid more than $1 billion as fuel subsidy while the federal government earmarked N3.6 trillion as fuel subsidy in the 2023 budget proposal.
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