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Reps probe structure, accountability of NNPC joint venture business

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The House of Representatives says it is investigating the structure and accountability of the Joint Venture (JV) business and production sharing contracts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd.

Rep Hassan Fulata, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee, on Wednesday said his committee was investigating the Joint Venture Business and Production Contract of the NNPC from 1990 till date.

Fulata said the probe became imperative as some NNPC accounts did not follow due process.

He said his committee had discovered a secret account owned by the NNPC Ltd., alleging that the Federal Government did not follow due process in opening these accounts.

However, Mr Okolieaboh Sylva, the Acting Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), who appeared before the committee on Wednesday in Abuja, denied government’s knowledge of such secret account.

The Office of the AGF, Total Energy, Shell Petroleum Company and Chevron were all present to answer questions.

The committee, however, invited other relevant heads of government and corporate agencies and companies such Seplat Oil and Gas and Newcross Oil and Gas to appear before it on Sept 27.

The lawmakers insisted they must appear in person warning that the National Assembly would not hesitate to invoke the relevant constitutional privilege should any of the heads of the agencies fail to honour its invitation.

The mandate of the committee is to establish whether various joint venture agreements of the NNPC followed due process.

“What does this stand for the country is that it creates a framework within which WIPO and its partners can support the exploitation of the IP to make impact in the lives of IP users.

“Under our medium strategic plan, the five-year vision aimed at supporting IP so that it makes an impact in the lives of ordinary citizens.

“We want to harness the IP potential of youths in the country through the framework of the National IP policy and strategy.

“We are looking at supporting the youth entrepreneurs to understand and appreciate IP system; we want to engage in mentorship and coaching programmes,’’ Asiedu said.

According to her, WIPO also wants to use IP to support the country’s Development Goals.

“Within a framework of the National IP policy and strategy, we are able to identify the comparative advantage that the country has.

“So, the area in which a country has a comparative advantage that is what we dwell to ensure that we undertake projects that make impact in the lives of IP users community.’’

Asiedu added that WIPO intended to extend its reach not only within the legislative framework of the country, but also to knowledge production institutions like universities and research institutions.

“We also want to bring together industry and academia so that we bridge the gap from the time that idea takes off, to when it  heads into market place,’’ she said.

Similarly, the delegation was received separately by the Ministers of Science and Technology, Dr Adeleke Mamora, Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and Trade and Investment, Otunba Adebayo Adeniyi.

They pledged to support the adoption and implementation of the National IP policy and strategy, saying that the policy was imperative to the development of all sectors of Nigeria’s economy.

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Tinubu unveils Single Trade Window Policy to check import-export bottlenecks

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The Federal Government has launched an ambitious policy to check infractions in the nation’s import and export value chain, aiming to bridge over $4 billion in losses owing to bureaucratic bottlenecks.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the Committee at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Tuesday, incorporating egg-heads drawn from representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance, representatives of the Marine and Blue Economy, those of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The Committee also comprised representatives of the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, the Standards Organization of Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration on Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC.

The policy is encapsulated under the National Single Window Steering Committee which will explore real-time digital trade compliance.

The National Single Window project will facilitate a paperless trade volume of $ 2.7 billion to the country.

According to the Nigerian President, the country cannot afford to lose an estimated $4 billion annually to bureaucracy, delays and corruption.

He noted that it was time for Nigeria to join the ranks of countries like Singapore, Korea, Kenya and Saudi Arabia that have experienced significant improvement in trade efficiency after implementing a single window system.

Tinubu said he was optimistic that through the newly launched project, Nigeria will expedite cargo movement and optimize inter-African trade.

He added that the initiative is a testament to his administration’s commitment to regional integration and collaboration.

His words, “Today, marks the beginning of a new era of unyielding commitment to prosperity, efficiency and endless possibilities. The National Single Window is not just a project. This initiative is not just a policy but a bold statement of our commitment to progress, prosperity, and the well-being of every Nigerian.

“It is a symbol of our determination to build a better future for ourselves and generations to come.

“The benefit of this initiative is immense paperless trade alone, which is estimated to bring an annual economic benefit of around 2.7 billion US dollars.

“Countries like Singapore, Korea, Kenya and Saudi Arabia have already seen significant improvements in trade efficiency. After implementing a single window system. It is time for Nigeria to join the ranks and reap the reward of a streamlined, digitized trade process. We cannot afford to lose an estimated $4 billion annually to red tape, bureaucracy, delays and corruption at our ports.

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Kaduna Assembly probes El-Rufai’s loans, directs committee to summon ex-gov

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The Kaduna State House of Assembly on Tuesday commenced probing controversial foreign and domestic loans and grants secured by the immediate past administration of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

The Assembly set up a committee to conduct the probe at Tuesday’s plenary presided by the Speaker, Yusuf Liman Dahiru.

The Committee was tasked to embark “on fact-finding of financial dealings, loans and grants and other projects implementation from 2015-2023”.

The probe panel was mandated to invite El-Rufai and other notable personalities, including the former Speaker of the 8th and 9th Assembly.

Others to be invited are former commissioners of Finance and ex-commissioners of Budget and Planning.

Governor of Kaduna State Uba Sani had lamented the huge debt burden left by the past administration which he claimed was incapacitating his government.

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FG commences disbursement for presidential conditional grant scheme

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The Federal Government has initiated the disbursement process for the Presidential Conditional Grant scheme.

The scheme, which targets nanobusinesses—enterprises with one or two workers and an annual turnover of less than N3 million aims to provide each beneficiary with N50,000.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment declared: “We are pleased to inform you that the disbursement process for the Presidential Conditional Grant Programme has officially commenced. A number of beneficiaries have already received their grants, marking the beginning of our phased disbursement strategy.”

The ministry further explained: “In collaboration with telecommunications providers, we have successfully resolved the initial delays in sending out shortcodes for NIN verification and application continuation.

“By Friday, 19th April 2024, a significant disbursement will be made to a substantial number of verified applicants. It is essential to understand that disbursements are ongoing, and not all applicants will receive their grants on this initial date.”

The Presidential Conditional Grant Programme was launched last year to alleviate economic hardship following the removal of fuel subsidies in the country.

It is expected to reach one million small businesses across the 774 local government areas and the six council areas in the Federal Capital Territory.

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