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‘ISOAN Can Create Five Million Jobs’



The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) still says there is enough kerosene in circulation.

Dr Levi Ajuonuma, NNPC Group General Manager (Public Affairs Division) told newsmen in Lagos that the scarcity was artificial.

Ajuonuma said that marketers were responsible for the scarcity because NNPC had enough kerosene in stock and wondered what the cause of the scarcity was.

“NNPC has enough kerosene in stock and we are appealing to major and independent marketers to ensure effective distribution to end users.

“We have told them several times to ensure that petroleum products are taken from NNPC depot to the end users to end the scarcity of the kerosene.

“Marketers are the ones causing artificial scarcity to hike the price of the product,” Ajuonuma said. But the independent marketers told journalists on Wednesday that they did not have enough kerosene in stock.

Six marketers, who preferred anonymity, said the allegation that marketers were hoarding the product was false.

They said that marketers would not deliberately hoard kerosene nationwide.

One of them said marketers would not want to join issues with NNPC, adding that the truth was that the cost of kerosene was now high at the international market.

According to him, it is only the NNPC that can import sufficient kerosene to meet nationwide demand.

“Kerosene scarcity will persist in the country for as long as the high prices of crude oil in the international market remained.

“If there is scarcity, it means NNPC is not importing enough. It would have been easier for marketers to import if kerosene business was deregulated.

“Marketers will only dispense what they have and what sense does it make for us to have kerosene in our tanks and not dispense it?” one marketer asked.

Reports have it that the product has become a scarce commodity nationwide.

The price of kerosene has shot up in states like Rivers, Kaduna, Bauchi, Lagos, among others. The price has risen by about 150 per cent.

A survey of some major filling stations showed that a litre of kerosene now sells for between N150 and N180 against the official price of N50.

At the black market, a four-litre jerry can is sold for N1,300 while the 20-litre jerry can goes for N4,800 in Port Harcourt.

Prospective buyers spend several hours on long queues at filling stations before getting the product.

Members of the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISOAN) can provide five million jobs if the Federal Government changes its current maritime trade policy, a maritime expert, Chief Chijioke Egwuagu, said on Wednesday.

Egwuagu, the Chairman of a maritime firm, Multi Trade Group of Companies, told newsmen in Port Harcourt that the policy whereby crude oil buyers were allowed to come in and load their consignment with their own vessels was causing the nation colossal economic loss.

“Of all the member countries, which produce oil, Nigeria is the only country that still operates the trade policy of Freight On Board as against Cost Insurance Freight as done by other nations,’’ he claimed.

The maritime expert said the “outdated” policy had resulted in the loss of more than $150 millon monthly in crude oil sales made by Nigeria.

He said the enormous economic loss was regrettable and added that the indigenous ship owners were ready to collaborate with the government to put an end to it.

“The message we have sent to the President is to change Nigeria’s trade policy from FOB to CIF and we will bring in 20 brand new vessels of international standards to lift our crude with Nigerian-flagged vessels,” he noted.

Egwuagu said that, through his effort, the group had already secured a $1.8 billion offshore funding for the acquisition of 20 brand new ocean-going vessels.

A delegation of the association, he said, had also registered its commitment through the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, to President Goodluck Jonathan.

“As a group, we are ever ready to make bold our position because most crude oil buyers have ripped off the economy of Nigeria through this FOB policy and we are out to stop it,’’ Egwuagu said.

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Foreign Exchange Inflow Falls To $4.97bn



Foreign exchange inflow into the economy fell by 59.8 per cent in April according to figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monthly report on ‘Foreign exchange flows through the economy’.
Part of the report read, ‘Aggregate foreign exchange inflow into the economy declined sharply, reflecting tepid global economic recovery, which undermined foreign trade and capital flows across countries, despite the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“Foreign exchange inflow through the economy dropped by 59.8 per cent to $4.97bn in April 2021.
“The decrease was attributed, largely, to a sharp decline in autonomous inflow, particularly invisible purchases and official non-oil receipts, which declined by 63.1 per cent and 75.2 per cent, to $2.95bn and $0.81bn, respectively, in April 2021.”
According to the report, a breakdown of activities showed that foreign exchange inflow through the CBN was $1.66bn in April 2021, a decrease of 55.8 per cent below the $3.76bn in March 2021.
It added that inflow through autonomous sources, at $3.31bn in April 2021, was 61.6 per cent below the level in March 2021.
The CBN also said that aggregate foreign exchange outflow through the economy fell by 13.7 per cent in April 2021.
Aggregate foreign exchange outflow through the economy fell by 13.7 per cent to $2.74bn, below the $3.18bn in the preceding month.
Outflow through the CBN declined by 10.4 per cent to $2.58bn, compared with the $2.88bn in the preceding month, due largely to the bank’s policy on foreign exchange market.
It added that outflow through autonomous sources, at $0.16bn, decreased by 46.0 per cent in April 2021, compared with March 2021.
Overall, it said, the country recorded a lower net inflow of $2.23bn in April 2021, compared with a net inflow of $9.19bn in the preceding month.

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NNPC Denies Funding 2019 Elections With Oil Traders’ Bribes



The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has  reacted to an allegation that fees that trading firms paid agents to win oil contracts from the corporation might have raised funds for the country’s past two elections.
Nigeria’s past two general elections held in 2015 and 2019.
The contest for the presidential seat was mainly between ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, while it was between Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
Buhari was declared winner in the two elections.
Citing lawsuits in London and New York, Bloomberg had reported last Friday that an ex-BP Plc oil trader alleged that cargo allocations by the NNPC could have contributed to preparations for general elections in 2019.
The report said a former Glencore Plc employee in July admitted paying a middleman $300,000 to secure a crude shipment from the NNPC, understanding the money would be spent on the nationwide election that took place four years earlier.
The NNPC, through its Direct Sale of Crude Oil and Direct Purchase of Petroleum Product scheme, awards contracts that allow companies, including international trading houses and indigenous firms, to lift crude oil in return for the delivery and supply of petroleum products. The contracts are usually for one year. 
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr Garba-Deen Muhammad, has, however, refuted the allegation.
“[It’s] not true, and I think that is obvious if you read the story with an open mind,” he said via a text message to a national daily. 
Jonathan Zarembok, who left BP’s West Africa desk last year, was quoted as saying in the suit that he suspected that fees paid by the United Kingdom energy giant to obtain NNPC contracts would go toward the 2019 elections.
He filed an employment claim against BP, alleging that he was fired for raising concerns about the large sums being transferred to intermediaries to win business in Nigeria.
Zarembok was quoted as saying in a witness statement made public this month that emails sent in 2017 by a BP executive in Nigeria were a “clear red flag” and implied “there would be pressure to pay bribes”.
According to Bloomberg, the emails discussed how preparations for elections would get underway in 2018.
“We understand what that means,” the executive wrote.
He said the company then wired $900,000 in fees to a local agent after securing two oil cargoes from NNPC.
“BP is defending in full and denies all allegations made by the claimant,” Bloomberg quoted the company as saying in a statement.
It said BP declined further comment while Zarembok’s case at a London employment tribunal continues.
The report noted that similar details emerged two months ago, when Anthony Stimler, who left Glencore in 2019, pleaded guilty to corruption and money-laundering charges.
It said Stimler was notified in September 2014 that “Foreign Official 1” was asking all NNPC clients to pay an advance on each cargo “in connection with a then-upcoming political election,” according to US court filings.
He then had Glencore wire $300,000 to an intermediary company, which prosecutors said was used “to pay bribes to Nigerian officials.”
US prosecutors outlined how Stimler and others paid bribes worth millions of dollars in several countries, including to NNPC officials, between 2007 and 2018, according to the report.

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VAT War: PNG Backs Southern Govs -Says It’s Part Of Restructuring



The Convener of Pro-Nigeria, Mr. Lai Omotola, has broken silence on the Value Added Tax (VAT) war currently going on between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and five southern states. 
The five southern states include Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, and Akwa-Ibom states.
From the time a Federal High Court in Portharcourt gave a ruling that state governments, and not the FIRS, have the constitutional power to collect VAT, the Rivers State and Lagos State had quickly passed bills authorising the states to collect VAT.
Reacting to the development, Omotola, in a statement, said that PNG was in full support of states collecting VAT.
“We in PNG support the development and the subsequent stand by Lagos State and Rivers State in creating a law to enable their states to collect VAT. Others who have joined in the bid are states like Ogun, Ekiti and Akwa-Ibom states.
“This is a welcome development because we feel that it is lawful and it is in sync with the intention of our founding fathers that every state should be collecting VAT.
 “It will also show fiscal restructuring towards economic development and at the end, Nigeria as a country will be better for it”, PNG posited.
The group also condemned the reception given by President Muhammadu Buhari to the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode at the Presidential Villa following the defection of the latter to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), recently.
According to Omotola, the President should show reason why Nigeria should still believe in his fight against corruption and believe him as the upholder of basic morals on the account of his red carpet reception to Femi-FaniKayode at the Presidential Villa. 
“Our concern is that this same man is currently having a battle with the Nigerian state via the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on corruption charges.
“Although the law states that one is innocent until proven guilty, it is morally unjust for a President to receive with a red carpet and stand beside a person against whom the EFCC has established a case, stating unequivocally that he had defrauded Nigeria; and the same matter is still in court; therefore, to now see him being honoured by the President has thrown hope for this country into the wind”, the statement added.

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