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FG Lifts Interstate Travel Restriction Despite Rising COVID-19 Cases

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Muhammadu Buhari

FG Lifts Interstate Travel Ban to Facilitate Commerce

The Federal Government on Monday lifted the restriction on interstate movement to better facilitate trades despite the rising number of COVID-19 new cases.

Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) and Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF), disclosed this on Monday during the force briefing in Abuja.

He also disclosed the extension of Phase Two of the eased lockdown by four weeks.

Announcing the new measures, Mustapha said; “I am pleased to inform you that Mr. President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020, through Midnight of Monday, 27 July 2020.

“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect: Maintaining the current phase of the national response for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatriated by the National Coordinator; Permission of movement across State borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July 2020; Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places; Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations and; Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable”.

The boss explained that because there is a general increase in prices of goods and services in recent months, airlines would have to increase their fares to stay afloat.

He said; “I think there is a general increase in everything, not only air tickets. If you go to the market now, the prices prior to Covid-19 are different from what you get in the market now. That is the difficult thing that is going to confront us as a people. Because of the protocols that are going to be introduced in the whole business of aviation, you would definitely expect an increase in the fares. The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria FAAN has already increased its customer service fare by 100 percent. It used to be ₦1000 but now it is ₦2000 even before the operations start. So, it is not just the airlines, even the government institutions who have the responsibility of managing the aviation industry will review their charges because that is the nature of what Covid-19 has thrust on the people of the country and all over the world.

“Also, there is going to be some bit of social distancing in the aircraft. If an aircraft has the capacity of 150 people, they might now be restricted to about 100 or 75. Flying comes with components of cost. Aviation fuel is one of them. Salaries for the pilot and cabin crew are part of it. Services that are paid for to the aviation industry institutions are there. The costs have to be shared by the passengers and the business owners because nobody runs a business at a loss. Profit is the motivation for going into business. Flying is not a social service”, he declared.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 infected people rose by 566 on Monday to 25,133 despite measures to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),  “on the 29th of June 2020, 566 new confirmed cases and 8 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

“Till date, 25133 cases have been confirmed, 9402 cases have been discharged and 573 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.”

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

Economy

Once Again The National Grid Collapsed

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power project

Nigeria’s electricity transmission system, also known as the National grid, has suffered another system collapse, plunging Lagos, the country’s commercial capital, Kano and other major cities into a blackout.

The collapse, which occurred about 11.00 am on Tuesday, was confirmed by two of the country’s electricity distribution companies in separate messages to their customers.

“We regret to inform you that the power outage being experienced across our franchise – Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states – is as a result of the collapse of the national grid,” Kaduna Electric said on Twitter.

Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc, in a text message to its customers, said: “Dear customer, there is a partial system collapse on the national grid. Our TCN partners are working to restore supply immediately. Please bear with us.”

The grid, which is being managed by the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria, has continued to suffer system collapse over the years amid a lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.

Spinning reserve is the generation capacity that is online but unloaded and that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission outages.

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Economy

FG Consider Diversification To Generate Revenue

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Naira

As revenue from oil nosedives following incessant global price fluctuations, the Federal Government is now channeling efforts to the development of minerals in the mines and steel industry to shore up foreign exchange earnings.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said on Wednesday that while there had been concerted efforts to develop various minerals in the sector, much emphasis had been placed recently on the development of bitumen, barite and gold.

They told our correspondent in Abuja that the government through the mines and steel ministry was striving to diversify the Nigerian economy away from oil as the major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.

They also confirmed that large quantities of gold had been discovered in various locations in Zamfara and Osun states.

Asked if the government had initiated programmes to explore the minerals and boost revenues now that the country’s income had plunged, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Ayodeji Adeyemi, replied in the affirmative.

He said, “Indeed, the ministry has the mandate to generate revenue and diversify the economy through the mines sector.

“And bitumen is one of the key resources which the nation is abundantly endowed with, that has been identified for strategic development.”

To buttress his position, Adeyemi shared some recent presentations of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, where the minister said his ministry was gathering data on some bitumen fields across the country to attract investors.

“A lot of people are interested in bitumen, which is coming from both local and foreign investors. However, we are still acquiring data in some of the fields,” the minister stated.

On barite, the minister said the mines and steel ministry was working on raising the quality of barite produced in Nigeria to an internationally acceptable standard, as certified by the American Petroleum Institute.

Adegbite said his ministry had contracted a consultant to help raise the standard in the local production of barite to ensure that oil industry players make use of barite produced in Nigeria as against importing the commodity from other countries.

He said, “Barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids used in the oil industry. We have a lot of barites but the issue is that it is not produced to API standards. However, we are putting a system in place which would be ready to launch in about July.

“We have got the millers who can produce barite to API standard. Hence we will be able to compete with foreigners and it would save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange in import substitution.”

On the development of gold, officials at the ministry further stated that the commodity had been aggregated for the production of bullion bars and that this was the first time that such aggregation was happening in Nigeria.

They stated that the gold was sourced from artisanal miners, while the final refining to bullion was done in Turkey.

The sources stated that the ministry had registered two refineries that would now refine to LBMA standard when they come on stream. LBMA is the de facto standard, trusted around the world.

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Economy

Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Generates N160.06 Billion in 2020

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Naira Exchange Rates - Investors King

The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) generated revenue of N160.06 billion in 2020, according to the latest audited financial reports announced by the Managing Director of NSIA Mr. Uche Orji.

The NSIA income came from devaluation gain of N51 billion, and core income of N109 billion compared to N33.07 billion in 2019.

But Orji lamented: “Covid-19 adversely affected logistics around infrastructure projects, especially the toll road projects and the presidential fertiliser initiative.

Despite the pandemic, the Authority achieved 33 percent growth in Net Assets to N772.75 billion compared to the previous year’s performance of N579.54 billion.

Orji said the NSIA “received additional contribution of $250 million; and provided first stabilisation support to the Federal Government of $150 million withdrawn from Stabilisation Fund last year.”

The same year, the NSIA received $311 million from funds recovered from the late General Abacha from the United States Department of Justice and Island of Jersey for deployment towards the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) projects of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway, Lagos Ibadan Expressway and Second Niger Bridge.

In response to COVID-19, Orji said: “NSIA partnered the global Citizen, a not-for profit group, to form the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund. Separately NSIA acquired and distributed oxygen concentrators to the 21-teaching hospital as part of corporate social responsibility; in addition to staffing support to the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19.”

In 2020, the NSIA “invested additional capital into NG Clearing, the first derivative clearing house in Nigeria to maintain NSIA’s shareholding at 16.5 per cent following the company’s rights issue of 2020″ Orji said.

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