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“Let the poor breathe”

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…Nigerians groan, lament surge in cost of living

…Tinubu bows to pressure, makes u-turn on proposed N8,000 cash transfer

…Fuel pump price hits N617 per litre, as queues resurface

…N8,000 palliative insult, mockery of Nigerians’ patience — NLC

…NNPCL, IPMAN, NMDPRA attribute price hike to market forces

By Ibiyemi Mathew, Moses Adeniyi, Denis Mathew and others

With the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to about N617 per litre in some locations within the country, Nigerians have decried the surge in costs of living noting that it is becoming unbearable.

Some Nigerians who spoke to Nigerian NewsDirect decried the hike in the price of petrol and its impact on their expenses.

Speaking to Nigerian NewsDirect, a staff of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Mr. Habib Mahmoud said, “I was shocked with the rise again in fuel to N617 despite the suffering we are passing through.

“If I had known that the situation will be like this I would have packed my car at home, because I don’t even have money I just bought N6,170 so unfortunate.”

Emeka Chima, a taxi driver decried that all the money he is making for the day will still be used to buy fuel for the following day without saving a penny.

According to him the government is not sympathetic to the agonies Nigerians are facing but just taking decision without due consideration.

On her part, Miss Deborah Timothy a staff of Greenfield Hotel said “My salary is N45,000 monthly and just today I spent N1,200 on transport fare.

“I don’t have choice than quiting the job if the management refused to consider our requests to review our working days down or increase our salary.”

A twitter user @pharoukaleeyou said, “Fuel at 617 naira per litre and dollar hitting 835 naira to 1 USD. Please let the poor breathe @officialABAT”

Tinubu bows to pressure, makes u-turn on proposed N8,000 cash transfer

Following widespread protest against the proposed cash transfer programme by the Federal Government of Nigeria to cushion the harsh effects of the removal of fuel subsidy, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made a u-turn on the programme.

President Tinubu, had last week, written a letter to the National Assembly seeking approval  to accomodate a sum of N500billion by adjusting the 2022 Supplementary Budget to offer pallatives of N8,000 monthly for a period of six months to 12 million households each, which according to him was to cushion the effect of removal of fuel subsidy. Alongside, he had demanded the approval of an $800million loan from the World Bank for funding.

Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy to the President, Mr Dele Alake made known the review of the programme in a press statement yesterday.

According to Alake, “You will agree with me that it has become part of the culture of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration to constantly dialogue with Nigerians who voted him into office. The President covenanted with Nigerians that their welfare and security will be topmost in the Renewed Hope Agenda of his government.

“In the last few days, the conventional and new media platforms have become awash with stories of the government intending to embark on conditional cash transfer to vulnerable households mostly affected by the painful but necessary decision to remove subsidy from petrol.

“The story has been widely reported that the Federal Government is proposing to give 12 million households from the poorest of the poor N8,000 monthly for a period of six months as government palliative to reduce the discomfort being experienced by Nigerians consequent upon subsidy removal.

“A lot of ill-informed imputations have been read into the programme by not a few naysayers. The Administration believes in the maxim that when there is prohibition, there must be provision. Since subsidy, the hydra-headed monster threatening to kill the economy, has been stopped, government has emplaced a broad spectrum of reliefs to bring help to Nigerians.”

Alake highlighted that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a listening leader who has vowed to always put Nigerians at the heart of his policy and programme, the President has directed that the N8,000 conditional cash transfer programmed envisaged to bring succour to most vulnerable households be reviewed immediately.

He also noted that the N8,000 cash transfer is not the only whole gamut of palliative package of government to be unveiled to Nigerians.

He listed other pallaitaive packages to include the release of fertilisers and grains to approximately 50 million farmers and households respectively in all the 36 states and the FCT.

“The President believes government exists to cater for the interest of the people and he has demonstrated this so clearly,” Alake reiterated.

President Tinubu also assured Nigerians that the N500 billion approved by parliament to cushion the pain occasioned by the end of subsidy regime will be judiciously utilised.

“The beneficiaries of the reliefs shall be Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliation,” He declared.

He promised Nigerians to prioritise their wellbeing while noting that a number of decisions taken so far by his Administration have buttressed his stance.

N8,000 palliative insult, mockery of Nigerians’ patience — NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has cried foul regarding the proposed N8,000 cash transfer susbsidy palliative declaring that the President Bola Tinubu-led government is on a course of robbing the poor majority to pay the rich.

The NLC cried that the actions of the present government since its inauguration on the 29th day of May, 2023 has continued “inflicting mindless and heartless pains” on the populace one after the other without the decency of embracing the tenets of democracy which, it said, requires wide and deep stakeholder consultation on weighty matters of state.

According to the NLC, though the organised labour decided to act by modesty to suspend the nationwide strike which was earlier scheduled at the onset of the announcement of subsidy removal, the Federal Government has insisted on threading the path of dictatorship and seeking to impoverish the people further by “taking steps that can only be described as robbing the people of Nigeria to pay and feed the Rich.”

The NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, in a statement, on Tuesday, said the Federal Government is already using a dictatorship style to impoverish Nigerians.

The NLC condemned Tinubu’s request to secure $800million from the World Bank as funding for the palliative which it described as “a phantom palliative measure to cushion the effect of its poorly thought-out hike in the prices of Premium Motor Spirit.”

Describing the N8,000 sum as an insults on “our collective intelligence” and “a mockery of our patience,” the NLC condemned in strong terms, the proposal to pay National Assembly members the sum of N70billion and the Judiciary N36billion, describing as “most insensitive, reckless and brazen diversion of our collective patrimony into the pockets of public officers whose sworn responsibility it is to protect our nation’s treasury.”

It concluded that it may be forced to constructively review engagement with the government on what it described as “this vexatious issue” and “take matters into our own hands.”

“We have restrained ourselves from making further comments publicly on the vexatious issues around the recent but unfortunate unilateral hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in the guise of the so-called subsidy withdrawal which has unleashed predictably as we had earlier warned unimaginable and unprecedented hardship, sorrow, anguish and suffering upon Nigerian workers and masses.

“Our resolve is anchored on our strong and abiding faith in the outcomes of the processes of social dialogue and its mechanisms, especially within a democratic setting which fortunately all the major stakeholders in the nation’s socioeconomic framework pleads to at this particular point in time though some have demonstrably shown that it does not go deeper than the rhetoric.

“However, the government of Nigeria seems to have been misled into believing that resorting to impunity and imperiousness in governance in a democracy is a beneficial option as it pursues its stated and unstated objectives.

“It is this belief that we are sure has continued shaping the actions of this government since its inauguration on the 29th day of May, 2023 to continue inflicting mindless and heartless pains on the populace one after the other without the decency of embracing the tenets of democracy which requires wide and deep stakeholder consultation on weighty matters of state.

“Nigerians would remember that the federal government had called for dialogue in the aftermath of its disastrous forlorn trajectory in the astronomical increase in Petroleum product price and our subsequent call for a nation-wide industrial action. We were also witnesses to the actions of the federal government in procuring an unholy injunction from the Courts which were served us in Gestapo style by trucks laden with fully armed soldiers and Policemen.

“In all of these provocations, we remained committed to the principles of the Rule of Law, good conscience and democracy so that we can continue to be the moral compass for leaders in the public space. This explained our decision to suspend action on the proposed strike.

“As it stands, rather than reciprocate the goodwill of Nigerian workers, the federal government has insisted on threading the path of dictatorship and seeking to impoverish the people further by taking steps that can only be described as robbing the people of Nigeria to pay and feed the Rich.

“It is on this basis that the NLC strongly condemns the decision of the Tinubu-led administration to seek the approval of the National Assembly to obtain another tranche of external loans worth N500billion from the World Bank for the purposes of carrying out a phantom palliative measure to cushion the effect of its poorly thought-out hike in the prices of Premium Motor Spirit.

“Remember that the $800 million which was already proposed before the devaluation of the Naira by this government was worth about N400 billion then but is now worth about N650 billion after devaluation. It is from this, it proposes to bring out N500 billion for distribution.

“The proposal to pay N8,000 to each of the so-called 12 million poorest Nigerian households for a period of six months insults our collective intelligence and makes a mockery of our patience and abiding faith in social dialogue which the government may have alluded to albeit pretentiously.

“The further proposal to pay National Assembly members the sum of N70 billion and the Judiciary N36billion is the most insensitive, reckless and brazen diversion of our collective patrimony into the pockets of public officers whose sworn responsibility it is to protect our nation’s treasury. We believe that this may amount to hush money and outright bribery of the other arms of government to acquiesce the aberration.

“It is unconscionable that a government that has foisted so much hardship on the people within nearly two months of coming into office will make a proposal that clearly rewards the rich in public office to the detriment of the poor. What this means all this while is that the government is seeking ways of robbing the very poor Nigerians so that the rich can become richer.

“There is no other way to explain the proposal to pay a misery sum of N8,000 Naira to each of the mysterious poorest 12 million Households for six months which amounts to N48,000 and pay just 469 National Legislators N70billion or about N149million each while the Judiciary that has about 72 Appeal Court Judges, 33 National Industrial Court Judges, 75 Federal High Court Judges and 21 Supreme Court Judges and a total of about 201 Judges receives a total of N35billion or N174million each. If these other two arms are projected to receive this, what members of the Executive Council will receive is better left to the imagination of Nigerians perhaps, the balance of N150billion will go to them.

“We reiterate that we do not have confidence in how the data for the never changing 12million poorest households was generated neither do we have confidence in the mechanisms being pursued for the distribution of the cash transfers. The history of such transfers especially the school feeding programmes even while the children were at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trader Moni saga fills Nigerians with trepidation reminding us of the continued heist of our collective resources by those in Public office.

“We have continually demanded that this register be made public but, it seems to have become an instrument of the occult shrouded in mystery and wielded by the grandmasters whenever opportunities like this present themselves.

“We do not want to provide a cover for the government to get away with the hardship it has imposed on the people. We do not want to legitimise impunity.

“As a result, if the government does not want to stop these fortuitous actions that it is pursuing in the name of palliatives, we will be forced to constructively review our engagement with the government on this vexatious issue and take matters into our own hands,” the statement read.

Fuel pump price hits N617 per litre as queues resurface in Lagos

Barely 24 hours after the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBC) announced the skyrocketed inflation rate at 22.79 per cent for the month of June, 2023, the price of  Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol or fuel rose from N539 official pump price to N617 per litre across major filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Lagos.

A survey conducted by our correspondent  to  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) filling stations within Abuja metropolis confirmed the fuel price adjustment from N539 to N617 per litre and other mega filling stations like AA Rano, Mobil, A.Y Shafa, Salbas etc.

Our correspondents in Lagos who also moved round the metropolis, observed that most filling stations had adjusted their pump price.

Our correspondent gathered that fuel is sold between N580 and N600 at most filling stations, owned by both major and independent marketers.

The hike in price of petrol is sequel to the increase in ex-depot price of petrol from N446.57 per litre to N580 per liter.

However, the situation has triggered panic buying as motorists raced to filling stations to buy petrol.

There were queues at Mobil Filling Station on Ikorodu Road, TotalEnergies at Mobolaji, Amuf at Bariga and Conoil in Ikorodu while there were vehicles on a long stretch within and outside most of the facilities.

A visit to Northwest Station in Gbagada showed N570 per litre, Mobil at Anthony, N580, Amuf in Palmgrove, N558 and Conoil in Ikeja, N590.

Also some of the NNPCL retail outlets monitored were selling at N600 per litre.

Consequently, queues extended to the roads from the facilities, compounding traffic woe.

NNPCL, IPMAN, NMDPRA attribute price hike to market forces 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) have attributed the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol to the market realities.

The NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer, Malam Mele Kyari in an interview with journalists shortly after a private meeting with the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, at the Presidential Villa, on Tuesday in Abuja explained that the increase in the price of PMS has nothing to do with supply issue, adding that there is a robust supply of the product in the country.

“I don’t have the details this moment. You know we have the Marketing Wing of the company, they adjust prices depending on the market realities.

“And this is the meaning of making sure that the market regulates itself so that prices will go up and sometimes they will come down also and this is really what we are seeing in reality this is how the market works.

“There is no supply issue completely when you go to the market you buy the product you come to the market and sell it at prevailing market price there is nothing to do with supply we don’t have supply issues.

“There is a robust supply, we have over 32 days supply in the country, that’s not a problem. What I know is that the market forces will regulate the market, prices will go down sometimes and sometime it will go up but there will be stability of supply.”

He assured Nigerians that the policy was the best way for the country going forward.

“And I am also assuring Nigerians that this is the best way to go forward so that we can adjust prices when market comes.

“I know that a number of companies have imported petroleum PMS so many of them are online. Market forces have started to play, people have confidence in the market and private sector people are now importing product.

“And there is no way they can recover their cost if they cannot take market reflective cost,” Kyari said.

Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr Mike Osatuyi reacting to the hike in prices said, “NNPCL is no longer in charge of control of price. Now, it is what marketers buy they will sell with their margin.  So, it’s not deliberate act of NNPCL to increase price anyhow or reduce price, but it is based on market forces.

“All marketers will do same. As we speak, crude has gone up and dollar is also up. Forex is at N803 per dollar on Import and Export windows that is CBN rate.

“So, the figure on new template will make the pricing to go up. If the crude reduces and dollar rate also reduces, it will also affect the price downward.

“Increase and reduction in price is determined by market forces.

“It is the market forces that determine the prices and it is an act of deregulation.

“It’s about the market because everyone is into market to make profit,” he added.

On his part, Alhaji, Farouk Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), said the authority doesn’t set price of the product but that the market determines itself.

“As a regulator you know I told you back in May we are not going to be setting price. The market will determine itself and as you saw back in early June when prices came out it was based on the cost of importation plus other logistics of distribution and of course the profit margin by the importer.

“This market is deregulated, is open to all participants. As I mentioned also yesterday (Monday) when I was in Lagos we have about 56 marketing companies that have applied for and obtained license to import.

“Out of those, 10 of them have indicated to supply within the third quarter which is July, August and September. And out of those already we received some cargoes from some of these Marketers.

“Prudent Energy, AYM Shafa and Emadeb Cargo is arriving tomorrow (Wednesday), So this is like just an encouragement to see that the market is liberated and everyone is free to import so long you are working within the framework especially in tems of quality.”

He insisted that the authority as a regulator would not put cap on the price because it was not part of those importing the product.

“But the pricing as a regulator we are not going to put the cap on the price because we are not part of those importing, we are not a marketing company, we are just a regulator.

“So when you say market forces are working basically, what it means is that you can see the price of the Crude Oil going up, couple of week ago recovering around 70 dollars per barrel now is around 80 dollars per barrel.

“So, of course, the crude price also drives the product price, you know? This is because all the importers are importing is based on the cost of importation plus other cost elements in terms of local distribution,”  he explained.

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Again, Dangote Refinery crashes diesel, aviation fuel prices

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…Pegs N940, N980/ltr respectively

…As FG unveils initiatives to attract $10bn investments in 18 months

…NNPC Ltd/Newcross resume production at Awoba field

In an unprecedented move, the Dangote Refinery has further lowered the price of Diesel and Aviation fuel.

This is coming seven days after the refinery crashed the price of Diesel to N1,000. Previously, the Refinery had three weeks ago while rolling out the products supplied at a substantially reduced price of N1,200 per litre.

This marks the third major reduction in diesel price in less than three weeks when the product sold at N1,700 to N1,200 and also a further reduction to N1,000 and now N940 for diesel and N980 for aviation fuel per litre.

The new price was made known in a statement made available to Nigerian NewsDirect on Tuesday.

The price change of N940 is applicable to customers buying five million litres and above from the refinery, while the price of N970 is for customers buying one million litres and above.

Speaking on the new development, the Head of Communication, Mr Anthony Chiejina, explained that the new price is in consonance with the company’s commitment to cushion the effect of economic hardship in Nigeria.

“I can confirm to you that Dangote Petroleum Refinery has entered a strategic partnership with MRS Oil and Gas stations, to ensure that consumers get to buy fuel at affordable price, in all their stations be it Lagos or Maiduguri. You can buy as low as 1 litre of diesel at N1,050 and aviation fuel at N980 at all major airports where MRS operates.”

He further stated that the partnership will be extended to other major oil marketers.

“The essence of this is to ensure that retail buyers do not buy at exorbitant prices.

“The Dangote Group is committed to ensuring that Nigerians have better welfare and as such, we are happy to announce these new prices and hope that it would go a long way to cushion the effect of economic challenges in the country.”

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu had also commended Mr Dangote for the initial price reduction, describing it as an “enterprising feat.”

Reacting to the latest development, The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Ajayi Kadiri, said that “The decision of Dangote Refinery to first crash the price from about N1,750/litre to N1,200/litre, N1,000/litre and now N940 is an eloquent demonstration of the capacity of local industries to positively impact the fortunes of the national economy.”

He added that, “The trickle down effect of this singular intervention promises to change the dynamics in the energy cost equation of the country, in the midst of inadequate and rising cost of electricity.

“The reduction will have far-reaching effects in critical sectors like industrial operations, transportation, logistics, and agriculture, contributing to easing the high inflation rate in the country; a lot of companies will be back in operation.”

…NNPC Ltd, Newcross resume production at Awoba Field

In the same vein, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) and its Joint Venture partner in the Awoba Unit Field, Newcross Exploration and Production Ltd, have restarted production from the Awoba field.

The Awoba Field was earlier shut down in February 2022 due to evacuation issues and crude oil theft and hasn’t contributed to the nation’s oil production since 2021.

The oil production in Nigeria has been experiencing significant decline with the latest being 1.32 million barrels per day in February to 1.23 in March, according to data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)’s latest monthly oil market report.

The NNPC Ltd in a statement on Tuesday however disclosed that it commenced production on the field on April 13, 2024 as part of its efforts to boost the production efforts in the country.

It noted that production from the field has averaged 8,000 barrels per day and is expected to plateau at 12,000 per day at full ramp up within 30 days.

Awoba is also expected to significantly boost gas supply to the power sector and other gas-based industries.

The Awoba Unit which straddles OMLs 18 and 24 is located in the mangrove swamp south of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Both OML 18 and OML 24 assets are under the management of the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS).

NNPC Ltd has been recording a string of production successes from the JV portfolio which have significantly lifted overall national production. Besides the recent start of production at the Madu Field by the NNPC Ltd/First E&P JV, the company has achieved the restart of production at OMLs 29 and OML 18 in late 2023 which have steadily contributed an average of 60,000bpd to the nation’s production output since their restart.

Speaking on the development, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari, ascribed the achievement to the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration’s success in providing an enabling operating environment for businesses to thrive.

He expressed appreciation to all stakeholders (staff, operators, host communities, government security agencies, and private security contractors) who played a pivotal role in achieving the feat.

…FG unveils initiatives to attract $10bn investments in 18 months

In a move to further revitalise the oil and gas industry’s contribution to the Nigerian Economy, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, presided over a signing ceremony at the Federal Ministry of Finance headquarters in Abuja endorsing the Consolidated Guidelines for the implementation of Fiscal Incentives for the Oil & Gas Sector – a cornerstone of the Presidential Directive aimed at enhancing the Nigerian oil & gas sector’s global competitiveness whilst stimulating economic growth.

As disclosed during the signing, the Presidential Directives were developed and coordinated by the Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Mrs. Olu Verheijen to ensure a competitive framework for the Nigerian oil & gas industry. These Consolidated guidelines for the fiscal incentives are based on extensive collaboration across Finance and Petroleum Ministries and involved several key regulatory bodies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

According to Mrs. Verheijen, these new measures have been designed to deliver a competitive Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for Oil & Gas Projects and attract over $10 billion in new investments within the next 12-18 months. They also underscore Nigeria’s commitment to reaching its long term oil production target of 4 million barrels per day whilst enhancing the reliability of gas supply to boost export earnings and fuel Nigeria’s industrialization.

Mrs. Verheijen disclosed that among the guidelines signed were the NUPRC Guideline on Hydrocarbon Liquids Content in a Non-Associated Gas (NAG) Field, essential for accurately categorising and quantifying the hydrocarbon liquid content in these fields. Additional guidelines focused on the applicability of tax credits and allowances for Non-Associated Gas Greenfield Development and the Midstream Capital and Gas Utilization Allowance, providing taxpayers with clarity on the computation of these benefits.

HM Edun, in his remarks, thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for signing the directive in February 2024 to engender growth in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, which had stagnated for over the last decade.

He also emphasised the potential of the guidelines, saying, “The idea is to create an atmosphere conducive to international competitiveness such that investment comes in. And in this case, we know it’s foreign direct investment.”

The signing ceremony was attended by various stakeholders, including NNPC Limited, Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) and the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), further highlighting Nigeria’s unified approach toward reinvigorating its oil and gas sector.

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Lokpobiri, Wabote disagree on utilisation of over $500m Nigerian Content Fund

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…as Former NCDMB ES accuses Minister of interference, politically motivated actions on NCDMB

The Minister of State For Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri and the former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote are at loggerheads over the utilisation of the Nigerian Content Fund.

Speaking recently at a dinner organised by the Petroleum Club in Lagos, Lokpobiri advised the NCDMB against wasting over $500 million of the fund on unprofitable ventures.

Responding to the Minister in a statement, Wabote accused the Lokpobiri of peddling false narratives against himself and the agency following his failure to trample on the agency.

Wabote accused the Minister of making a demand of N30 billion for his position as Chairman of the NCDMB board.

Narrating his ordeal, the former NCDMB ES said, “My problem as ES started with Lokpobiri in December 2023 when he sent one of his undocumented aides within his Ministry to my office in Yenagoa (Blackson) requesting me to increase NCDMB budget by N30 billion for the Office of the Minister and I said it had never been done before. I served two Ministers and none of them have ever made such a request to NCDMB, that we only make provision for the office of the Chairman  of the council which covers his travel expenses.

“I said to him that the maximum NCDMB budget has ever gotten to in the past is circa N80 billion for all our activities, adding N30 billion will be too much for his office and I was not going to do it. I ask stakeholders to review the NCDMB budget from 2016 to 2023 and also look at what got approved in 2024.

“In August 2023, I had led the management of NCDMB to provide a full briefing of the Board’s activities to Mr. Lokpobiri and the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum – Gas (HMSPR-Gas) Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo. The presentation, in more than 250-page slides, provided information on the status of the Board’s projects, partnerships, interventions funds,  TSA account balances, HCD programs, Forensic Audits, and other strategic initiatives under the NCDMB 10-year Strategic Roadmap.

“The presentation was followed up with an invitation to the Honourable Ministers of State to embark on familiarisation visits to the Boards headquarters and other project sites located across the country.”

Wabote further accused Lokpobiri of being reckless and peddling bundles of lies.

“I wish to state that his reckless statements in the past months are not new to me. As only recently he tried to throw NNPC Ltd under the bus as he stated that Nigeria is losing 400bpd of oil because of not signing the Seplat deal thus trying to indict NNPC Ltd as a parastatal under his supervision. As a Minister and a representative of the substantive minister, are you not supposed to canvass government positions or represent your principal correctly? Rather he chooses to act like a militant activist.

The erstwhile ES noted that the Minister visited the following sites between September and November 2023:  Nigerian Content Tower – the Board’s headquarters in Yenagoa; NCDMB Fire Station in NCT; 204-room NCDMB Conference Hotel under construction; NCDMB Creche; NCDMB NOGAPS Industrial Park, Emeyal-1, near Otueke, Bayelsa State; Waltersmith Refinery, Ibigwe, Imo State; NCDMB Interventions within the PTDF Skills Center in Omagwa, PHC.

“Familiarisation visits to other sites were lined up before my unceremonious removal from office right after our flagship event, Practical Nigerian Content (PNC) Forum in December 2023.

“While I have moved on from the unsavory incident, I never knew that the HMSPR-Oil lacked any understanding of the brief I had given to him complete with necessary facts and figures or prefers to broadcast mischief to industry stakeholders.

“We had told Mr. Lokpobiri that our projects, interventions, and partnerships were driven by the enabling provisions contained in the NOGICD Act and extant government policies on modular refineries, Decade of Gas, jobs creation, and poverty eradication.

“It is therefore shocking that the HMSPR-Oil chose to present false narratives before the Petroleum Club in his foray into character assassination, treachery and ‘waste’ agenda.

“It is false for the HMSPR-Oil to assert that 90 percent of the NC Intervention Fund managed by BOI is not performing. He was fully briefed that it is because NCDMB is not a bank that made us partner with BOI as a foremost development bank in the country to manage the intervention fund for the oil and gas industry with each loan secured by Bank guarantee.

“As at Dec 2023, it is on record that the NC intervention funds managed by Bank of Industry (BoI) helped cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the industry and that the fund has yielded millions from the low interest rates with the principal fully secured with Bank Guarantee (BG). The fund was intact when I left office as can be verified from BOI. If the fund is now being declared as ‘wasted,’ by the HMSPR-Oil, he should be asked what he has done, or intends to do with the fund, to make such a declaration. Industry watchers must not allow the secured funds to be diverted under any pretext.

“Our presentation and briefing notes to the HMSPR-Oil on Brass Fertiliser clearly informed him that the partnership arrangement with NNPC and DSV Engineering is for the establishment of 10,000TPD Methanol plant. It is therefore false that the partnership was for a ‘fertiliser factory.’

“Perhaps, Mr. Lokpobiri should have checked with the Hon Ekperikpe Ekpo, the Hon Min of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas) and NNPC Ltd for details of the project and the latest developments rather than the false accusations to castigate NCDMB.

“For the record, the initial investments by NNPC and NCDMB are pre-FID equity injection for the estimated $3.2billion project. The Board’s additional investment is tied to achievement of financial close which has not been achieved by the project promoters.

“The status of the fifteen (15) Board’s partnerships can be grouped into 5 categories as follows:

“(2) commissioned and operational (Waltersmith); Butane Energy (Katsina State) and expanding to 9  northern states;

“Five (4) ready for commissioning (NEDOGAS – operational and paid $1m ROI to  NCDMB), BetterGas, Bunorr, and Duport);

“Four (4) under construction (Azikel, Triansel, Eraskon, and LadolPower;

“Four (4) in search of debt financing (Brass Fertiliser (Methanol), Rungas Prime, Rungas Alfa, and SPL Utorogu).

“One (1) under divestment considerat (Atlantic Refinery).”

Wabote further challenged the Minister to visit the construction sites to avail himself of facts on ground.

“He should also check the MPR archives of the strategic plan to diversify oil and gas development clusters in the Niger Delta using Bonny Island, Brass Island,  Onne, Ogidigben, Ibom,  etc. Perhaps, this will cure his aversion to any developmental initiative in Brass Island and the Niger Delta in general,” Wabote said.

“The HMSPR-Oil should learn to separate the requirements of the office he currently occupies from his political ambition. He should look for another individual and agency of government to demonise in his quest to remain relevant. I am also aware that he is fighting a proxy war with his one time principal (former MSPR) and only using me as a decor.

“I strongly recommend that HMSPR-Oil channels his energy to position himself as the Guest of Honour and allow the Board to commission the following partnership projects as part of the first year anniversary of President Bola Tinubu.

“Nedo Gas Processing Plant complete with 300MMscf gas gathering hub in Kwale, Delta State, Better Gas 500MT LPG Storage and distribution infrastructure at Dikko near Abuja, 48,000 Litre per day Bunnor Base Oil Production at Omagwa, PHC, Butane LPG Plant Kaduna (2nd plant after the Katsina Plant commissioned in December 2021) and the Duport Modular Refinery, Egbokor (Legal squabbles permitting),” Wabote enumerated.

“Per the plan in place before my exit from office, another set would be ready for commissioning by the 2nd year anniversary of Mr. President if the HMSPR-Oil will allow the Board to function without all the lethargy of woes he has brought to NCDMB since December 2023,” Wabote concluded.

Reacting again, the Minister vowed to recoup alleged moribund investments worth over $500 million made by the Nigerian Content Monitoring and Development Board (NCDMB).

The Minister made this vow in defence of his allegation that the NCDMB wasted over $500 million of the industry’s fund in equity investments in private establishments and in loans that are now non-performing.

Reacting to Wabote’s statement, the Minister through his SA Media and Communication, Nneamaka Okafor, described Wabote’s claims as blatant lies from the pit of hell.

The Minister’s response read: “Our position is that he who alleges must prove same. So, if Mr. Wabote has proof of such conversation, he is challenged to provide same.”

“Secondly the Minister has no aide called Blackson. All his aides were duly selected in line with extant laws and have documents to that effect.

“The Minister in his capacity as chairman of the Governing Council stands by his statement at The Petroleum Club’s quarterly event in Lagos, and as  journalists I welcome you to visit the places mentioned to verify the allegations for yourself.

“Thirdly, the said Atlantic Refinery was supposed to be built in Mr Wabote’s hometown, he should show Nigerians where that refinery is.

“Fourthly, the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical company was also paid for, you are welcomed to also visit the site to verify the facts for yourself.

“Let me add that these revelations are not new, they were first made during an investigative hearing of the House of representative committee on local content. Again the records are there and you are welcome to verify these facts.

“The Minister has never been part of any budgeting process of any parastatal under the Ministry, you are welcomed to visit these agencies to verify for yourself.

“Finally, the Minister’s office is run with a budget superintended by the permanent secretary and so one will wonder how the Minister will ask another entity to make provisions for the budget of his Office. The Minister has an impeccable record from his time as Minister of Agric and will continue to stand for the truth.

‘’I have had course to read Mr Wabote’s release and everyone can see that he is still nursing the wounds of being replaced even after spending seven years at the Board. At best, this is a clear case of when you fight corruption, corruption will fight back,” the response read.

The Minister also disclosed that investigations are ongoing while making a vow to recover the resources expended.

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Again, CBN sells FX to BDCs at N1,021/USD

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has approved the sale of an additional $10,000 each to 1,583 eligible Bureaux De Change (BDCs) in the country to meet market demands.

The Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the CBN, Dr Hassan Mahmud, made this known in a letter addressed to the President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mahmud said that the CBN would sell to the BDCs at the rate of N1, 021 to a dollar.

“The BDCs are in turn to sell to eligible end users at a spread of not more than 1.5 per cent above the purchase price,” he said.

He directed all eligible BDCs to commence payment of Naira deposit to some designated CBN Naira deposit account numbers.

“All BDCs are advised to continue to abide by the rules and conditions as stipulated in our earlier operational guidelines,” he said.

The apex bank had earlier, on April 8, approved the sale of $10,000 to 1,588 eligible BDCs operators at the rate of N1,101 to the dollar.

The approvals are part of CBN’s intervention in the foreign exchange market to improve liquidity and stabilise the Naira.

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