For over two decades of civil rule in Nigeria, the country has continued to export her crude, while importing refined products, resulting in incessant scarcity and unprecedented hike in prices, unleashing avoidable hardship on the citizenry.
From 1999, and till date, the politicians have been promising to revitalise the refineries that are moribund, which ordinarily would have been the perfect solution.
On Thursday last week, it was rumoured that the government had approved a hike in pump price, communicating same to major marketers in a memo.
It was reported that fuel stations in Lagos in response to the news have started adjusting their pump price to the alleged approved N185 per litre. It was insinuated that the newly approved price came weeks after there had been nationwide petrol scarcity, leading to long queues in fuel stations since late November 2022.
Despite the fact that the Federal Government has come out to deny increasing the pump price of petrol, independent marketers have raised their price to as much as N280 per litre.
Checks on petrol situations in Abuja on Saturday morning showed that while NNPC retail stations maintained a pump price of N179 per litre, the major marketers dispensed at N180 per litre.
As most filling stations shut down due to lack of supply, long queues were noticed at the few stations selling between N179 to N190 per litre.
The government through the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) had in a statement disclosed that there was no plan to hike the price of petrol.
The agency also maintained that the country had 34 days of sufficiency in stock. However, it failed to state categorically the current government approved price.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria’s (IPMAN), through its Public Relations Officer attributed the hike in the price of the product to the increase in the cost of purchasing it at the privately owned depots.
In Lagos the product is sold at between N250 and N280 per liter, while it goes for as much as N300 – N400 per liter at the black market.
The IPMAN National President, Chinedu Okoronkwo argued that the non-functional tank farms across the country continue to impact on distribution.
He lamented that, “The major area that affects us as independent marketers is distribution. We have made several presentations. Before now, we had depots, I mean land depots, both in Kano, Maiduguri, Makurdi, Port- Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, and the rest. Some of these depots have not been dispensing products for some time now, due mainly to pipeline vandalism.
“We want to say that the country has no reason to suffer fuel scarcity if the government had fulfilled its election promises of revitalizing the refineries across the country.
“We need functional refineries to stop importation and stabilise fuel price. Regrettably, it has not happened, despite over 20 years of sustained democracy.”
According to an international researcher, Nigeria has enough crude oil deposits. It can afford to sell fuel at N50 per litre and become a major exporter of finished products to other African countries if three of its refineries are working at maximum capacity. If we have like three functional refineries, all other African countries will depend on us for their fuel importation because it will be cheaper for them, thereby fetching us huge foreign revenue, jobs and stability.
IPMAN opines that the final resolution remains full deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector.
The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), on its own attributed the lingering fuel scarcity in the country to high costs of vessels and inadequate trucks to deliver petroleum products from depots to filling stations across Nigeria.
The marketers explained that these high logistics and exchange rate costs continue to put pressure on their operations with ripple effects on the pump price.
In a statement on Friday, the marketers said the fuel queues are caused by exceptionally high demand and bottlenecks in the fuel distribution chain.
“The major cause is the shortage and high (US Dollar) costs of daughter’s vessels for ferrying product from mother vessels to depots along the coast.
“Next is the inadequate number of trucks to meet the demand to deliver products from depots to filling stations nationwide.”
MOMAN said it sympathises with Nigerians over the challenges they are facing in the purchase of petrol at filling stations across the country.
Over the past three months, it revealed that its staff members have worked diligently at depots and filling stations to relieve the stress faced by Nigerians through the Christmas and New year periods.
“Our members have again agreed to extend depot loading hours as well as keep strategically situated service stations open for longer hours to ease access to fuels for our customers,” the association said.
It noted that it shall continue to use its best endeavours to ensure that product is sold at the pump prices approved by the regulatory authorities, despite pressure on price by demand and costs in immediate operating environment.
“A final resolution to these challenges will be the full deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector to encourage liberalisation of supply and long-term investments in distribution assets. We urge the government to work towards this end goal,” it said.
It must be noted that in recent months, especially since the government announced plans to remove fuel subsidies, Nigerians have had a hard time getting petroleum products at filling stations.
Fuel scarcity has persisted despite the government’s repeated claims that it has enough petroleum products in stock. In many parts of the country, operators of filling stations sold at prices higher than the government’s pump price.
The Nigerian Government Friday night said it has not approved any increase in the pump prices of petrol across the country. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, made this disclosure even as Nigerians continue to queue for fuel in filling stations amidst reports of increase in the pump price of petroleum products.
As against the reports that the government quietly approved N185 as the new petrol pump price per litre, Mr Sylva claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari did not approve any increase in the price of PMS or any other petroleum product.
Once again, we want to re-emphasize that the country has no reason whatsoever to suffer fuel scarcity if the government had fulfilled its election promises of revitalizing the refineries across the country.
If our refineries are put to work, this would put a stop to importation, ending scarcity and unstable prices.
The new government that will be inaugurated come May 29 should take fixing our refineries as its top priority as the government of the day is in short of time and lacks the wherewithal to facilitate it.
For an immediate solution, we recommend full deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector in a way to encourage liberalization of supply and total removal of subsidy. When it’s made a competitive market, prices will fall by compulsion.
The current government at the centre who announced that subsidy will be removed finally by June this year seems to have forgotten that they’re leaving office by May 29. The government, we think “has no control” over the time they have chosen. If they mean and are serious about what they have promised, why not take action now, so that once and for all, they will get Nigerians off the hook.
Endless burn: Why Nigeria must act now to stop gas flaring
The recent revelation that Nigeria has lost a staggering $16 trillion to gas flaring over the past decade highlights the country’s prevailing culture of waste and institutional failures.
Despite a national program decreeing an end to this practice, oil-producing companies have continued to burn off natural gas during oil extraction and processing, resulting in wasted energy, environmental degradation, and significant economic losses.
However, a large portion of this valuable resource is being needlessly flared. This is a missed opportunity for a country grappling with financial challenges, including a foreign debt of $43.16 billion and an infrastructure gap estimated at $3 trillion over the next 30 years.
Additionally, Nigeria faces high unemployment rates of 33.3 percent and is home to the second-largest number of poor people globally.
A country with such poor human development indices should be prioritising the maximisation of its natural resources, rather than burning them and further damaging the environment and the health of its citizens.
Modern technology offers effective gas-trapping methods during crude oil extraction, which other countries have successfully deployed to boost their economies. Nigeria must seize this opportunity to harness its gas reserves for sustainable development and economic growth.
The persistence of gas flaring in Nigeria is a testament to the long-standing failures of successive governments and regulatory agencies. For decades, they have recklessly allowed oil companies to defy regulations and continue this harmful practice.
This lack of accountability and enforcement has not only perpetuated environmental and health concerns but has also resulted in significant economic losses for the country.
President Bola Tinubu must recognise the urgency of the situation and take decisive action to end gas flaring in Nigeria.
This will require robust regulatory measures, strict enforcement, and collaboration with oil-producing companies to adopt modern technologies for gas trapping. By doing so, Nigeria can unlock the immense economic potential of its gas reserves, address its financial challenges, and improve the well-being of its citizens.
It is time for Nigeria to break free from its culture of waste and embrace a sustainable and prosperous future.
Tinubu, who has retained the oil ministry portfolio, must therefore fully enforce the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act that stipulates penalties for gas flaring and mandates oil companies to stop flaring gas.
In the vast expanse of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, a troubling trend persists. Upstream and downstream companies have shamelessly flared an astronomical amount of gas over the years, causing significant financial and environmental losses.
The numbers speak for themselves: 12.9 billion cubic metres in 2012, 9.2bcm in 2013, 8.3bcm in 2014, and 7.5bcm in 2015. Although there was a slight dip in 2016, flaring surged again in 2017, reaching 7.8bcm in 2019.
This wanton waste of resources has cost the nation an estimated $16 trillion during this period.The impact of this reckless behavior extends beyond Nigeria’s borders.
In 2018 alone, global gas flaring cost the world economy a staggering $20 billion, with Nigeria contributing $761.6 million. It is disheartening to note that Nigeria, along with just nine other countries, accounts for 75 percent of global gas flaring.
These countries include Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Venezuela, Algeria, Mexico, Libya, and China, as confirmed by the 2022 Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report.
The consequences of this rampant flaring are far-reaching. According to data from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, oil companies in Nigeria flared gas worth over $1 billion between January 2022 and August 2023, resulting in a staggering financial loss of N843 billion.
This wasted gas could have generated a substantial amount of electricity, approximately 14,700 gigawatt hours, but instead, it contributed to carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 7,800 metric tonnes.
The toll on the economy, environment, and the health of residents in and around oil-producing areas is undeniable.It is imperative for the government to adopt responsible fiscal and resource management practices. Additionally, it must address the issue of industrial-scale theft of crude and refined petroleum products, which has plagued the industry for years.
With daily crude theft reaching a staggering 400,000 barrels per day, Nigeria has lost a mind-boggling 619.7 million barrels of crude between 2009 and 2020, valued at $46.16 billion or N16.25 trillion, according to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
The time for change is now. Nigeria must take decisive action to curb gas flaring, protect its resources, and ensure a sustainable future for its people.
In addition, the National Environmental, Economic and Development Study for Climate Change in Nigeria states that the annual environmental cost of gas flaring amounts to N28.8 billion.
Despite the government’s efforts to eliminate gas flaring, progress has been slow and hindered by bureaucracy. To address this issue, Tinubu should revive the Nigeria Gas Master Plan and set a new target date of 2030 to end gas flaring.
Nigeria has the potential to become a leading exporter of natural gas if it takes decisive action. Tinubu should demonstrate the necessary political will and implement concrete measures to strengthen the regulatory framework and ensure compliance from oil companies.
A carrot-and-stick approach, offering incentives for capturing and utilizing natural gas while imposing stronger sanctions for flaring, can be adopted.
Nigeria should also leverage its membership in the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership to implement quick-win policies and invest in the latest technology. Repurposing gas flaring sites for productive uses would create employment opportunities and address gas shortages for power generation and domestic use.
With the high demand for gas in Europe and domestically, now is the ideal time to utilise flared gas for productive purposes. This would generate significant revenue for the government and contribute to economic recovery.
Health is also an urgent issue. Gas flaring harms local ecosystems, emitting pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which have adverse effects on air quality and human health in the oil-producing region. The pollutants cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, and other health issues in nearby communities.
Innovative farming: Building resilience in Nigeria’s food systems
Nigeria is teetering on the edge of a severe food crisis, a situation that demands immediate attention and action.The latest report from Cadre Harmonise (CH) paints a distressing picture: an estimated 26.5 million Nigerians, spread across 26 states, face the threat of significant food shortages from June to August 2024.
This alarming projection was shared at a crucial meeting led by the Kwara Ministry of Agriculture and Human Development, in partnership with CH and other stakeholders.
The report’s findings are particularly concerning for the most vulnerable populations, including the internally displaced persons in Zamfara, Sokoto, and Borno states.
These individuals are already in precarious situations, and the forecasted food scarcity could exacerbate their plight to critical levels.
The potential for widespread hunger and malnutrition is a clear and present danger that must be addressed.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Isiaq Oloruko-oba, emphasised the severity of the looming crisis during the meeting.
He reiterated the resolve of the state government to ensure relevant stakeholders, especially farmers, are empowered and receive the necessary aid to ensure food security in the state.
His remarks highlighted the urgency with which the nation must address the issues of food and nutrition security. The report, thus, is not just an analysis of the current state but a dire warning that requires immediate and strategic response.
The implications of this report are far-reaching. It is a call to action for Nigeria’s policymakers, urging them to step up and take responsibility for averting what could be a catastrophic food shortage.
The time for mere discussion has passed; the situation now demands concrete plans and swift implementation. To mitigate the impending crisis, a multi-faceted approach is necessary.
This includes bolstering agricultural production, improving supply chain logistics, and ensuring that aid reaches the most vulnerable populations. It also involves addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity, such as conflict, climate change, and economic instability.
The government, along with non-governmental organizations and international partners, must collaborate to create and execute a robust plan of action.
This plan should not only aim to prevent the immediate crisis but also to lay the groundwork for long-term food security in Nigeria. Public awareness and community engagement are also critical components of the solution. The citizens of Nigeria must be informed about the severity of the situation and mobilised to support and participate in efforts to secure food for all.
Local initiatives that empower communities to grow and store their own food can be part of a sustainable strategy. The CH report is a stark reminder of the challenges Nigeria faces in ensuring food security for its population.
It is a clarion call that must not go unheeded. As the nation stands at this critical juncture, decisive action is the only path forward to prevent a national disaster and ensure that no Nigerian goes hungry. The time to act is now.
The state government’s commitment to empower farmers and ensure food security, as reiterated by Oloruko-oba, is commendable.
However, this must translate into tangible support and aid for those who are the backbone of our nation’s food supply.
The role of agriculture as a lifeline for the majority of Nigerians cannot be overstated, as highlighted by the state CH coordinator, Olusoji Oyawoye.
With a population of approximately 3.73 million, Kwara’s reliance on traditional subsistence farming is a testament to the need for bolstering agricultural practices and supporting crop diversification.
The cultivation of rice, cassava, yam, soya beans, maize, bean seed, guinea corn, groundnut, and cowpea, along with tree crops like cashew nuts and palm oil, forms the bedrock of Kwara’s agricultural output.
The exploitation of hardwood timber and forest resources such as shea nuts and locust bean also contribute to the state’s economy. These resources must be managed sustainably to ensure long-term food security.
Furthermore, as the state coordinator of the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ARIN) project, Habeeb Lawal, aptly noted, nutrition is inextricably linked to food security.
The looming crisis is not only about the availability of food but also about its nutritional value. A malnourished population is less capable of contributing to the economic development and stability of the nation.
This editorial serves as a call to action for all stakeholders, from government officials to international partners, from farmers to consumers, to come together and address the challenges laid bare by the CH report.
It is imperative that we work collaboratively to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy that includes improving agricultural practices, ensuring the distribution of aid, and enhancing the nutritional content of food available to the Nigerian populace.
The threat of a food crisis is not just a statistic; it is a reality that millions could face if we do not act now. Let us not wait until the crisis is upon us.
The time to act is now, with the urgency and seriousness that the situation demands. Our collective future depends on it. all critical stakeholders to deliberate on the way forward.
Effective coordination of Startup engagement portal critical to Nigeria Start-Up Act
Assertions that small businesses remain the bedrock of a growing economy as Nigeria have been justified on various grounds. These businesses amount to over 70 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is one fact that has been used on major grounds to justify the postulation. This, having found ground of reliability, has informed submissions to the government to focus on policies friendly to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to find reasonable place of resort.
Successive governments in Nigeria have also spoken and made efforts in some measures to align with the need. This has been particularly recurring. However, the depth and strength of policies and interventions of the government to this end have been a subject of critical concern.
The recent government led by President Bola Tinubu would not also leave out interventions to help existing MSMEs and expand the scope of this proportion of the economy. As part of its measures of intervention to expand the stretch of small business threshold, the Federal Government recently has announced the launch of a portal for the Startup Support and Engagement Portal.
The portal, which is a key requirement of the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act, is meant to drive the identification and aggregation of startups in the country.This development is coming a year after the Startup Act was signed into law by the former President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, in his disclosure on X (Twitter) regarding the portal, had tweeted, “We are pleased to announce the launch of the Startup Support and Engagement Portal, https://startup.gov.ng/, a key requirement for the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act. The startup portal will drive the identification and aggregation of Nigerian startups, venture capital companies, hubs, and innovation centres to facilitate engagement and support for ecosystem players.”
He had added that “Nigerian startup venture capital companies, hubs, and innovation centres to register at the portal https://startup.gov.ng/ and look forward to working with all industry stakeholders to ensure that we fully implement the Startup Act for the benefit of our innovation ecosystem. Cc: NITDA Nigeria.”
Tweeting in support, the former Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari (Digital Transformation) and lead, Nigeria Start Up Bill, Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, had said, “The work is ahead. This announcement by the government is an indication that collaboration is key to sustainable policy development. Beneficiaries must remain engaged.”
Indications around the launch of the portal, it was noted, will allow the government to initiate the process of setting up startup consultative forums to select representatives to the National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, to facilitate discourse and consensus among ecosystem players.
While the initiative is a welcome idea, it is however pertinent that the government drive the purpose concertedly with robust depth to ensure it doesn’t fail as one of the numerous initiatives which ended up in limbo without any remarkable effectiveness to the intended purpose.
To give optimum practicality to the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act, it is pertinent that all architecture be galvanised commensurately to achieve the intended goals and objectives. Given that the portal has been noted as one of its implementation wings, it is essential that coordination of the mechanism of the Startup Support and Engagement Portal be effectively and efficiently managed to achieve the intended goals.
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