The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved the establishment of an oxygen production plant in each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at a cost of N5.6 billion.
It also approved N9.2 billion as a premium for the life insurance scheme for federal civil servants and military personnel while also giving the go-ahead for the use of revised national policy on climate change in the country.
Briefing journalists at the end of the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stood in for the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the approval was to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, which has made oxygen a critical commodity.
He said: “The Minister of Health presented a memo, which was approved, for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of oxygen production plants and construction of plant houses in each of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.
“The contract was approved in the sum of N5, 615, 127, 479 inclusive of 7.5 percent VAT, in favour of four different companies, with a completion period of 20 weeks.”
Mohammed also said FEC approved N9.2 billion as a premium for insurance companies to manage the group life insurance for federal civil servants.
“On behalf of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, I will like to report that council today approved the award of contract for the appointment of insurance companies for group life assurance for federal government employees, public servants paramilitary and the intelligence community for the year 2021-2022 in the sum of N9, 248. 995, 907 and this premium is for a period of 12 months.
“This is part of the government’s welfare programme for our public employees so that in case of death, they are assured that there would be compensation,” he added.
FEC, Mohammed said, approved N18.1 billion for the development of infrastructure at Kano and Calabar Free Trade Zones, as well as the Textile and Garment Park in Lagos and the Special Economic Zone, Lekki, Lagos.
He said the approval was of importance to the infrastructure development plan of the country.
Mohammed also said approval of N1. 1 billion was given by the council for the procurement of aviation security uniforms and accessories for use in various airports.
He said: “Minister of Aviation got an approval for the award of contract for direct procurement for the design, manufacture and supply of aviation security uniforms and accessories.
“The sum total is N1, 127, 945. The unique thing about uniforms for the aviation industry is that it has some International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards that would be followed.”
On the memo approved for the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mohammed said N864.7 million was approved as variation costs for two road contracts that were abandoned by previous administrations.
“The Minister of Niger Delta got approval for Okpula-Igwartanta Phase I linking Imo and Rivers State, started in 2010. He got approval for a variation of N620, 763, 000. He also got approval for erosion flood control on Ndemili-Utagba-Onitsha road in Delta State, which started in 2014. The council today approved N244 million to augment the original contract sum,” he stated.
On her part, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said she briefed the council on the latest National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report on the 0.5 percent growth of the nation’s GDP and presented the first quarter of 2021 GDP results and other performance indicators of Nigeria.
The NBS had last month released its first-quarter result, which showed that Nigerian GDP grew to 0.51 percent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2021.
She said: “This first quarter performance marks the second consecutive quarter of positive real GDP growth following two previous consecutive quarters of negative growth in 2020, in Q3, and Q4, which saw our country going into recession. But you’ll recall that we very quickly exited recession in the fourth quarter of 2020.
“The improved economic condition that has been reported is indicated by the fact that 23 out of 46 activities recorded positive growth in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 17 in the previous quarter.”
Also speaking, Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmud, said FEC approved the revised National Policy on Climate Change, adding that “the last one was in 2012 and it became necessary for us to revise based on what has been happening in the last three years since 2012 particularly with the various agreements.”
He added: “We all know climate change is our topic of today, it has serious implications on economy, livelihoods. The environment in general and economic change affect everybody but we have realised that it affects women even more and on this, we also know that we have a national policy on gender and climate change as approved.
“This revised one has also put into consideration the national policy on gender and climate change to include women in almost every aspect of climate projects executions. We all know that recently, a lot of flooding has been happening and is as a result of climate change, insecurity is relatable with climate change.
“This climate change policy has repositioned Nigeria to begin to upgrade all that we have achieved so that we can present during the meeting.
“Its implementation strategy is to be all-encompassing. We have met with several MDAs, agencies and civil society organizations and even the media because this is something that requires all hands to be on deck as we are all potential polluters of the environment causing climate change.
“Eventually and ultimately the objective is to help Nigeria that is climate-resilient and also gender-sensitive in the future and that is the vision of this policy because the world is moving towards carbon neutrality.
“It is assumed that by the year 2015, we should have carbon neutrality. Today now is the time to get prepared for that so that is what the policy is all about to drive towards a Nigeria that is sustainable environmentally.”
Nigeria Customs Service Collaborates with Key Agencies to Boost Non-Oil Exports
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has joined forces with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to establish five Export Processing Terminals (EPTs).
The initiative was unveiled during an enlightening workshop organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in collaboration with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Mohammed Babadende, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Lilypond Export Command, shed light on the objectives and operations of these newly established terminals.
The five EPTs—Diamond Star, Esslibra, Bellington Cargo, Tenzik Energy, and Sundail Terminal—have been tasked with the crucial mandate of overseeing the stuffing, examination, and documentation processes for export cargo.
This consolidated approach aims to streamline and expedite the export process, reducing delays and enhancing efficiency.
Mr. Babadende emphasized the transformative impact of this collaboration on Nigeria’s non-oil export sector.
He stated, “Customs, in its efforts to enhance trade facilitation in non-oil export, has collaborated with the Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigerian Export Promotion Council in the establishment of Export Processing Terminals (EPTs).”
One of the key achievements highlighted by Mr. Babadende is the significant reduction in export processing time.
He stated, “Export cargoes can now access the ports within 48 hours for loading onto awaiting vessels.”
This improvement is expected to not only expedite the export process but also reduce shipping costs, contributing to the overall competitiveness of Nigerian exports in international markets.
Furthermore, this initiative addresses common challenges faced by exporters, such as delays and the lack of requisite phytosanitary certificates. By housing multiple agencies involved in the export process in one location, these challenges are minimized, and the risk of goods being rejected or returned due to delays is significantly reduced.
Also, the establishment of the EPTs has had a positive impact on security. Mr. Babadende pointed out, “It has eliminated the issue of pilfering of export boxes along the port corridors,” thus ensuring the safe transit of export cargo.
The collaborative effort between the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, and Nigerian Export Promotion Council represents a significant step toward revitalizing Nigeria’s non-oil export sector.
As these Export Processing Terminals become fully operational, they are expected to play a pivotal role in boosting the country’s export capacity, fostering economic growth, and strengthening its position in the global market. Exporters and industry stakeholders are eagerly anticipating the positive outcomes of this partnership as it unfolds.
Nigeria’s Per Capita Debt Skyrockets: Each Nigerian Now Owes N396,376.19
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has released a sobering report on the country’s public debt, revealing that each Nigerian citizen now carries a heavy financial burden of N396,376.19 in terms of debt per capita.
The NBS’s report paints a grim picture of Nigeria’s fiscal landscape, showing that the nation’s total public debt has surged by 75.27 percent from N49.85 trillion in the first quarter of 2023 to N87.38 trillion at the close of the second quarter of 2023.
In plain monetary terms, this represents an alarming increase of N37.53 trillion in a mere three months.
To calculate the debt per capita, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICIR) divided the total public debt by Nigeria’s estimated population, which stands at approximately 220.4 million, according to the World Poverty Clock.
Breaking down the debt by categories, it was revealed that the federal government’s total external debts amounted to a substantial N29.9 trillion, with the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory collectively carrying N3.35 trillion in external debt.
On the domestic front, the federal government’s debt reached a staggering N48.31 trillion, while the states and the Federal Capital Territory collectively owed N5.82 trillion.
A notable portion of this debt comprises the N22.71 trillion in Ways and Means Advances extended by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the federal government.
It’s worth noting that these figures also encompass new borrowings made by both the federal government and sub-national entities from local and external sources.
The Ways and Means Advances, a financial mechanism employed by the federal government in times of emergencies, allows for short-term loans from the CBN.
However, these loans are restricted by Section 38 of the CBN Act which stipulates that the loan should not exceed five percent of the country’s previous year’s actual revenue.
It has been reported that CBN’s lending in this regard exceeded the Act’s limits, extending loans of $49.2 billion to the previous government.
According to the NBS, as of the end of June 2023, the domestic debt stood at an alarming N54.13 trillion (equivalent to $70,264.58 million), while the external debt reached N33.25 trillion (equivalent to $43,159.19 million).
A closer look at the regional debt distribution reveals that Lagos State carries the heaviest domestic debt burden in Q2 2023, with an eye-watering N996.44 billion.
Delta State follows closely behind with N465.40 billion, while Jigawa State finds itself at the other end of the spectrum with the lowest domestic debt of N43.13 billion, just ahead of Kebbi State with N60.94 billion.
The alarming debt per capita figure underscores the urgent need for Nigeria’s policymakers to address the nation’s fiscal challenges and implement prudent financial management strategies. As the nation grapples with this daunting burden, the path to economic stability and prosperity appears more challenging than ever.
Dollar Shortage Sparks Concerns Among Oil Marketers Over Fuel Importation
Expectations soared when oil marketers championed the removal of fuel subsidies and deregulation of Nigeria’s downstream sector.
However, months after the removal of subsidies and deregulation, concerns are growing about the potential resurgence of the country’s perennial fuel scarcity.
While President Bola Tinubu’s pronouncement in May marked the end of fuel subsidies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) still monopolizes petrol importation despite the anticipated influx of independent oil marketers.
Emadeb Energy imported 27 million liters of petrol in July, but since then, independent marketers have struggled to secure imports, leaving NNPCL as the sole importer.
This monopoly undermines the sector’s deregulation, enabling NNPCL to set prices, raising concerns of renewed fuel scarcity.
Marketers attribute their hesitance to forex scarcity and rising international crude oil prices. The challenge deepens as oil prices surge to $94.95 per barrel, and the exchange rate reaches N770/$.
With Nigeria’s fuel prices skyrocketing from N180-200 per liter to N614-700 per liter after subsidy removal, many worry they might breach N720 per liter due to currency devaluation and global oil price hikes.
Dangote’s long-anticipated 650,000 barrels per day refinery, initially set for August, now promises hope to ease the crisis.
Experts advise diversifying focus to existing refineries, particularly Port Harcourt, rather than relying solely on Dangote’s private venture. This would curtail importation costs and reduce vulnerability to market volatility.
While Nigeria navigates these challenges, it remains crucial to bolster domestic refining capacities and ensure energy security, shifting from dependence on imports to sustainable local production.
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