- We Can’t Sell Petrol at a Loss, NNPC Replies Marketers
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has said that it cannot sell Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, at a loss, regardless of the demands of oil marketers, as it buys the commodity at N116.28 per litre.
NNPC disclosed this while responding to claims by oil marketers that the price of PMS being sold to them (marketers) by the corporation was high and that this had led to the shutdown of many oil marketing firms nationwide.
The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria had told our correspondent that the increase in the price of PMS sold to them by NNPC from N111 per litre to N117 per litre had made many marketers to close shop because they were not making a profit, as exclusively reported on Sunday.
The marketers also stated that a lot of jobs had been lost due to the shutdown of businesses by oil dealers, adding that this might trigger a widespread petrol crisis in the sector if not handled adequately.
“The increase from N111 per litre to N117 was done by the NNPC over a year ago and marketers have been finding it tough, which is why most marketers are no longer in business. I have written letters several times that it should be reversed and that is why a lot of marketers are no longer importing,” the Executive Secretary, DAPPMAN, Olufemi Adewole, stated.
In response to the claims by marketers, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, told our correspondent on Sunday in Abuja that the government had made it clear that there was no plan to increase petrol price.
He further noted that the oil marketers should channel their case to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, adding that the NNPC could not sell petrol at a loss, as it bought the commodity at N116.28 per litre through its Direct Sale Direct Purchase scheme.
Ughamadu said, “We have since cleared the air that there is no change in the pump price (of petrol) until the government has provided alternatives to the citizens. On DAPPMAN, they should refer their case to PPPRA who is the pricing regulator.
“As for NNPC, we buy the product at 116.28/litre from the Federation through the crude for products exchange programme or DSDP. We cannot sell at a loss. They should integrate like the majors (major oil marketers) to sell at retail outlets where there is a N6 retailers’ margin built therein instead of just stopping at depots.”
But sources at the PPPRA stated that the NNPC was the sole importer of PMS into Nigeria and had not been carrying the petroleum products pricing regulator along with respect to its (NNPC) activities when making imports.
“NNPC is the 100 per cent importer of PMS in Nigeria at the moment, but when it comes to the issue of price adjustment they will push it to the PPPRA,” a source, who pleaded not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the matter, told our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.
The source added, “The PPPRA as the pricing regulator is meant to know who brings in what, the amount of product, allocation, etc, but unfortunately the agency is not carried along. The truth is that it is when they (NNPC) have done all their transactions that they forward the papers to PPPRA to sign.
“They claim that what they do is in the national interest. Nobody gives them allocation on what to import. In those days, there was always a quarterly meeting of stakeholders that includes private petroleum product importers, but that meeting for some time now has not held.”
DAPPMAN had argued that the government through NNPC refused to adjust the pump price of PMS despite increasing the prices which depot owners paid for the product.
Adewole said, “When we were buying it from them at N111 per litre, the pump price of PMS was N145 for a litre and when they increased it to N117, they still maintained that the pump price should be N145. Now, who bears that difference between N111 and N117?
“I want you to know that the number of marketers operating in the downstream sector has been decreasing annually since 2016. I’m not talking about people who just have offices, rather I mean petroleum product marketers who bring in or buy products and sell. This is why the sector should be deregulated.”
On whether marketers would vacate the petroleum product business should the government fail to deregulate the sector, the DAPPMAN executive said, “If I say 100 marketers were operating last year and now it is only 10 that are operating, for the remaining 90 where have they gone to?”
Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy
The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.
Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.
The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.
According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.
Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.
The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.
He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.
‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.
Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.
‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.
Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.
Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.
The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.
Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.
According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.
The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.
He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.
France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership
France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.
Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.
A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.
“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”
It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.
It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.
It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.
It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”
COVID-19: USAID to Provide $3m Grant, Technical Assistance to Combat Food Insecurity in Nigeria
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing financial grant and technical assistance worth $3 million to combat food insecurity in Nigeria compounded by COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement by the agency on Monday said: “On April 12, 2021, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million in grant funding and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.”
The statement lamented that Nigeria is experiencing food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country.
It stated that the pandemic has disrupted the already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process and distribute food, which has disrupted agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacted livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women and youth.
The USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson, said: “We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity.
“This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria.”
The statement revealed that in launching the challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution, noting that successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase, agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.
According to the statement, the challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and award 10 to 15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each.
Winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic.
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