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The Senate has adopted a motion sponsored by Mao Ohuabunwa titled ‘Urgent need to end the illicit trade in freshly minted naira notes’. The senate also condemned the hawking, selling and otherwise illegally trading in new naira notes.

 The upper chamber of the National Assembly urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to check the development in line with Section 21 of the CBN Act, 2007.

It also urged the apex bank to strengthen its system that audits the process of collation, processing and disposing of defaced and mutilated notes. Also it charged the CBN to investigate the allegation that commercial bank officials were indeed selling the fresh mints to the peddlers.

Ohuabunwa noted that a country’s currency was a national treasure deserving of a level of dignity and Nigeria should not be an exception.

He stressed that nationwide, a huge illicit industry has been built around trading on fresh naira notes by certain individuals who engage in the touting and hawking of the nation’s treasure and legal tender.

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The senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu has disclosed that Nigeria is likely to experience a famine in January. Shehu disclosed this while on an interview, stating that the high demand for cereals and grains from the global market could result to a disastrous situation.

‘At present, there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria and also from places as far as Brazil. However the ministry of agriculture has raised concerns about a massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January.

He further said, at least 500 trucks loaded with grains leave Nigerian markets every week and if this export rate is not curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of grains by January. 

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The Federal Government’s draft National Oil Policy has proposed to consolidate Nigeria’s oil industry regulatory authorities into a single agency to be known as Petroleum Regulatory Commission, PRC. It will also scraps all other regulators, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, among others.

According to the document released by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, last weekend, the new regulator will incorporate the activities of the existing petroleum regulatory authorities and also cover some new regulatory activities not currently covered.

The document revealed that the existing institutional regulatory framework was weak, largely ineffective and inefficient, arising from a number of single-issue agencies; overlaps in regulation, gaps in regulation, mixture of policy, regulation and operations; and ineffective regulation.

It stated that “Although the agencies generally work well together, their roles, sometimes, overlap and there are significant information gaps within the government as, sometimes, one institution is unaware of what the other is doing.

“At the same time, policy making capacity has been weak, resulting in NNPC and its subsidiaries setting policy and regulation as well as conducting operations in the petroleum sector. The result is an ineffective and inefficient institutional environment in the petroleum sector in Nigeria.”

The draft policy is also proposing that, in order to reduce the inefficiencies in parastatals in the petroleum sector, the proposed single petroleum sector regulatory authority will operate under the policy supervision of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

According to the document, the Minister will set the policy for the PRC; ensure monitoring of the implementation of the policy; and ensure monitoring of the performance of the authority.

“This does not mean that the regulatory authority will report to the Ministry on a day to day basis. The new single regulatory authority will be an operationally independent regulatory institution. The Minister’s involvement will be hands off and just to ensure that the regulatory authority properly carries out its roles of implementing the policy,” it explained.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government is considering a policy that would rule out the automatic renewal and extension of oil and gas licenses, while it has listed stringent conditions which would be met before these can be granted.

This was also contained in the draft oil policy which indicated that the new oil and gas licensing processes would become more transparent in respect of allocations of oil blocs, mining licences and leases, while local communities would be able to compete in the bids.

According to the draft policy, licence renewals or extensions will now be based on progress made by licence holders in meeting their exploration or production targets.

It stated that licence holders, who do not meet licence conditions, including oil production, gas flare down, gas supply obligations, will risk losing the licence.

In addition, the document is proposing a policy that would ensure that certain percentage of petroleum revenue is set aside for capital expenditure and for savings for future generations.

According to the document, under the new policy, the government will agree to a cap on the proportion of petroleum revenues that can be spent on recurrent expenditure, while setting aside a percentage of the petroleum revenue for capital expenditure items and savings for future generations. To give vent to this proposal, the document disclosed that appropriate legislation would be passed to back the policy.

The draft policy also stated that each of the country’s refineries will be given a transition period within which to become viable and profitable, adding, however, that the government intended to divest, sell off, concession or if necessary, close down any non-performing refinery that failed to make the transition.

It stated: “The aim is to make the NNPC refineries successful, high volume, commercially viable enterprises. They will be encouraged to become so and will be supported as much as it is within the government’s ability to do so.

“Of the three NNPC refineries (Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna), Port Harcourt is expected to be the best placed to succeed. It has installed its independent gas-fired power supply; it has undertaken its own turnaround maintenance; it is close to jetties and the pipeline length from crude oil suppliers is short (less of a pipeline security risk); it is operationally ready to produce refined products to international standards, although the cost structure is still not right.

“Of the three, Kaduna, is perhaps, the least ready currently because of its distance from crude oil supplies and reliance on a poorly maintained crude oil pipeline.”

Another measure planned under the new policy for revitalization of the refining sub-sector in Nigeria include the return of storage depot assets to the refineries.

It stated that “The storage depots were originally part of the refineries but had been subsequently transferred from the refineries to the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, (now Nigerian Petroleum Marketing Company, NPMC).

“This arrangement is not considered to have been successful. NPMC has failed to manage the depots effectively and the refineries have been denied an important part of their assets. The storage depots will, therefore, be returned to the refineries.

“In addition, the perimeter fence around the refineries will be set sufficiently far from the operations, including depots to ensure that proper security can be maintained. Everything inside the perimeter fence will belong to the refinery solely and will be on each refinery’s asset register.”

Again, the document noted that as part of their new independence, each of the refineries will be given commercial autonomy, meaning that they will be free to take crude oil from wherever and whoever they can.

According to the draft, they are not constrained to take NNPC deliveries only, as under the new policy, each refinery may choose to deal with any crude oil producer apart from NNPC or National Oil Company of Nigeria, NOCN.

“It should be commercially interesting for an International Oil Company, IOC, which has downstream operations in Nigeria, to have their own crude refined and sold in Nigeria, rather than exporting crude across the Atlantic and the refined product to be shipped back,” the document noted.

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources said the petroleum industry in Nigeria had been involved in the development of the petroleum policy, through their participation in industry fora and seminars, such as the Nigerian Chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the OPTS and the Petroleum Club.

According to the Ministry, the proposed petroleum policy, while driven by the government, is a joint effort of the government and the petroleum industry community in Nigeria, with domestic and international industry involvement.

 

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Mr. Michel Arrion, the Ambassador/Head of Delegation of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, has disclosed that the EU will spend N50 billion on the development of power sector in Nigeria.

 

That together with accessing long term finance for the sector and identifying opportunities in the textile industry will dominate discussion at the 5th European Union-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNBF) next week in Lagos.

 

 The grant would be used mainly for the training of young engineers and funding of some technical aspects of the sector.

He explained that EU is collaborating with National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) to inject young engineers into the sector. The Ambassador described the energy sector as an important aspect of the Nigerian economy, saying that nothing would work well if the sector is not adequately funded.

“The EU is already financing a transmission project in Kastina State and we have spent over €5 million (about N1.6 billion) on it,’’ he said. Arrion said the forthcoming business forum would seek to strengthen the EU-Nigeria business relations through identification of opportunities in the global textile value chain and expose Nigerian SMEs to opportunities in the EU market through the platform of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). 

 

 

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The FADAMA II Additional Financing project financed by the World Bank has supported a total of 10,845 farmers in the last 10 months.

The support, according to the Kano State Coordination office of Fadama, was facilitated through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between Dangote Tomato Company and Fadama Production Cluster Group on profitable marketing of tomato.

In its Project Implementation Report presented to the Dr. Adetunji Oredipe-led World Bank/FGN 6th Mission on Fadama II Additional Financing, which visited Kano State on Monday, the Fadama State Project Coordinator, Alhaji Sha’aibu Sulaiman, informed that the project similarly in the 2016 cropping season recorded a disbursement of 89,195 and 110 for rice, sorghum and tomato production groups respectively.

In the same vein, sorghum and rice farmers were equally well linked to Grand Cereal and popular rice farm off takers and through collaboration with ICRISAT, sorghum farmers were also linked to Honeywell Company, demanding 150,000mt of sorghum from Fadama farmers in Kano.

In its effort to meet up with project objective of providing employment to the youth, the project has prepared four youth spraying groups comprising of 10 members each earn a living of N58,500 per month for each person.

In other to build the capacity of farmers toward efficient production, 12 consultants on capacity building have been engaged and they have conducted the Train-of-Trainers seminars for 120 farmers across eight production clusters of rice, sorghum and tomato.

The project commitment on youths and women empowerment has been demonstrated through screening of 20 youth and women processing groups, out of which eight groups were supported with tricycles and processing machines.

Additionally, eight groups on tomato were also supported with crates.

Kano State is among the six core States chosen to participate in Fadama III AF Project.

Kano State has been found to possess a comparative advantage of large irrigable land and  irrigation facilities, high production potentials and large market, as well as Kadawa, the largest producers of tomato in Nigeria.

This provided Kano State with an advantage to promote sorghum, rice, and tomato value chain over other core States.

 

CREDIT: Niigeria NewsDesk

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The senate majority leader and senator representing southern Borno at the National Assembly, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume has disclosed to Journalists that the senate has vowed that it will monitor and ensure that the process of disbursing the N500 billion social intervention fund to vulnerable Nigerians will be a transparent process to avoid mistakes of the past.

He said this yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. He explained that such fund in the past was used for political gratification to the detriment of vulnerable Nigerians who ought to be the actual beneficiaries.

Senator Ndume said the executive has failed already in the process by telling people to go online and register notwithstanding that some states are offline as a result of insurgency.

“How can they start by saying that people should go online and register? Some states are offline and in fact Borno is one of them.

Let them do it on local government basis. Let them go to different wards and give forms to people to fill. Our people in the rural areas are waiting for Federal government to give them Job. We have graduates in the rural areas who have no access to online, “said Sen Ndume.

It would be recalled that the House of Representative recently told the federal government not to disburse the N500 billion social intervention fund captured in the 2016 budget until a framework and detailed information about the scheme was made available.

 

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Despite the prevailing economic challenges in the country, Conoil Plc, a petroleum downstream player, has decided to pay N2bn dividend for the 2015 financial year.

The move has been approved by shareholders of the company as well as other stakeholders.

The final dividend payout ratified at the Annual General Meeting of the company held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, translates to N3.00 on every 50 kobo ordinary share for the 2015 financial year, compared to N1.00 paid the previous year.

The President, Renaisssance Shareholders’ Association, Olufemi Timothy, expressed surprise at the performance, amid tight liquidity, rising cost of funds and the general tough operating environment in the downstream oil sector.

In the same vein, the Founder, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Sunny Nwosu, appreciated the board and management of the company for growing profits and increasing dividend payment, despite the harsh economic environment.

Also commenting, the President, Nigerian Shareholders Solidarity Association, Timothy Adesiyan, said, “Conoil has shown that it is not only concerned about making profits but that it has the interest of shareholders at heart.”

It posted a rise in profit after tax from N834m in 2014 to N2.3bn in 2015. Its profit before tax also increased by 125 per cent, from N1.5bn to N3.4bn. Its earnings per share rose by 177 per cent, from 120 kobo in 2014, to 333 kobo in 2015.

In his address to the shareholders, the Chairman of the company, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr., promised that Conoil would further consolidate on the gains recorded so far, and ensure better returns in the coming years.

 

 

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Dangote, the president of the pan-African conglomerate, the Dangote Group, lamented on the current status of the Nation’s economy. He said this while delivering a paper on Promotion of Local Manufacturing and Poverty Reduction In Nigeria: The Private Sector Experience and Policy Options. Nigeria's foremost entrepreneur lamented: “It is a curious paradox that Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, and the largest economy on the continent, also has one of the highest levels of poverty. It is estimated that more than 100 million out of a population of 187 million Nigerians, live below the poverty line.”

Quoting a United Nations (UN) report, Dangote said youth unemployment rose to 42 percent in 2016 with many graduates combing the streets in major cities such as Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt in search of often-elusive white-collar jobs while for some who are employed, their situation can best be described as that of under-employment, as they are underutilised and poorly paid.

This development, he posited, no doubt, has serious security implications, as evidenced by the high rate of social ills plaguing the nation.

“The spate of kidnappings, intermittent vandalism of petroleum pipelines in the Niger Delta, and the protracted insurgency in the North East, are all fuelled, to a large extent, by the high level of endemic poverty in the country.” Today, Nigeria is currently facing economic recession occasioned by fall in global oil prices. Militant activities in the Niger Delta, which have reduced oil production by a third, and the increasingly weak national currency, the Naira, have also affected the economy drastically.

“High food and fuel prices, a squeeze on foreign aid, and falling diaspora remittances have also worsened our precarious economic situation. Distinguished participants, we do need to think out of the box, to get out of the woods.”

However, to move out of the current economic quagmire fast, Dangote canvassed for the removal by government, some of the barriers that hinder the growth of the non-oil sector.

One of the ways according to him is for the Government to create an enabling environment that will encourage both local and foreign investors to set up businesses by granting tax holidays, improving the state of infrastructure in the country, and providing more access to credit facilities.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should also step up its interventions in the area of improving funding for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). All these will create jobs and raise the standard of living of the people.”

Dangote explained that unemployment arose basically because job opportunities were not being created fast enough to match the ever-increasing work force attributing this to the effects of many years of de-industrialisation in the country.

Further advising on the way out of recession, Dangote recalled his days as the Chairman of the National Committee on Job Creation, which was set up in 2010 to address the unemployment situation in Nigeria, saying together with his committee members, they identified to identify priority areas for job creation.

“Some of these areas include micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs), agriculture and agro-allied industries, manufacturing, entertainment and vocational skills. I believe we can create new opportunities for MSMEs by linking them up with larger enterprises, through industry clusters.

“Since a large number of employers in the MSMEs sector are informal family-owned businesses, they can be trained to become more proficient through various capacity building initiatives”, he stated.

 I believe we can create new opportunities for MSMEs by linking them up with larger enterprises, through industry clusters.

 

 

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President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that the federal government is planning to launch a $10 billion infrastructural investment programme in the Niger Delta.

He made this known on Thursday in Abuja during the unveiling of the Seven Big Wins roadmap, a short to medium term strategy framework to grow country’s oil and gas sector.

The president said he would be holding a crucial meeting with leaders from the
region next week Tuesday to dialogue on a number issues as part of efforts to end the agitations from the oil-rich region.

The region has been a hotbed of crises for some time, particularly from armed groups led by the Niger Delta Avengers pushing for more share of the oil resources from the area.

Although the massive drop in global crude oil prices plays a significant role in the crisis, attacks on oil facilities by militant groups have worsened the situation, resulting in cut by almost half of the country’s crude oil output and exports.

From an average of over 2.1 million barrels production capacity a few years ago, oil production has since been run down to less than 1.1 million barrels, with the critical export facilities, including the Forcados export terminal constantly shut down due to incessant sabotage.

The president said the government was fed up with the situation and was committed to reverse the trend, by ensuring security in the region.

 â€œOur target is zero militancy by middle of 2017, and an incident reduction in the region by 90 percent by 2018.

“Whatever shutdown experienced by middle of next year, we expect it to be production stoppages and not militancy issues. We must resolve current militancy problems and bring back oil production to 2.2 million barrels per day.”

He said government was also looking at the amnesty programme, which is winding up in about one year, particularly in the areas of coastal patrol, Niger Delta paramilitary type organizations, to absorb some of the trained hands from the programme as well as funding for those who want to start up their own businesses.

 

 

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The deputy Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria, Mr Richard Young has disclosed that an average of 83 Nigerians cross illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean. He said this at a media workshop in Abuja. This was according to the data by the European Union shows.

The daily figure was extrapolated from the 22,500 illegal Nigerian migrants that the EU said crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September this year.

This figure in the first 9 months of 2016 is against the 23,000 who crossed in the whole of 2015.

Mr. Young expressed concern that the number of Nigerians taking dangerous adventure through Mediterranean to Europe within nine months in 2016 was higher than those who did same throughout 2015.

According to him, there has been huge increase in migrants crossing border without the right travel document to Europe from all over the world.

“In 2014, the number of people traveling irregularly into Europe clinched 280,000 people; in 2015 it rose to 1.8 million in 2015.

“From January to September 2016, the number is about 420,000; we are expecting that the number will rise to 800,000 before the end of the year.

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