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A Summit To Celebrate

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The curtain was drawn last Friday on the 1st Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro
Economic Zone Development Summit, 2012 which took place at the Hotel
Presidential, Port Harcourt.

Initiated and sponsored by the member representing Andoni,
Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Dakuku
Peterside, the initiative  represented an
attempt by a people to take their fate in their own hands.

The Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro geographical area today, is a major
oil and gas producing zone whose natural endowments  contribute to the nation’s financial  mainstay.

Prior to the discovery of the liquid  gold as the crude oil is often referred to,
the people of Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro had thrived on their natural endowments in
the era of the palm produce trade.

They were a people bound together  by common geographic, economic and
developmental challenges until divisive politics both at the national level and
in the geographical area weakened the bonds that bound them together, virtually
destroying their individual and collective potentials for growth and
development.

For many  an Andoni,
Opobo or Nkoro indigene, especially the merchants of politics of division and
doomsday  prophets,   a rapprochement, the magnitude of which
was  achieved by the  summit under review was  impossible
and unthinkable.

The remarkable success of the 1st Andoni Opobo-Nkoro
Economic  Zone  Development
Summit, 2012 in aggregating the challenges, and aspirations of the zone
through their peoples –youths, intellectuals and community leaders is therefore
worth celebrating.

The quality of speakers, discussants and presentations at
the two-day summit is enough to transform the zone into an economic giant in
Nigeria, if only, ideas without works avails anything.

If however, the people of the zone indeed adopt and
implement  the recommendations of the summit
in  a phased, consistent and  pragmatic manner, then the theme of the  summit-Shared responsibility, shared
prosperity would have been realised.

Participants  were
agreed on the need for the summit to be an annual event that would continue to
bring people of the zone together to assess achievements on set targets.

They also whole-heartedly accepted the proposal by the
Deputy Speaker, House of  Representatives
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha that the summit  be subsequently hosted in either  Andoni, Opobo or Nkoro on a rotational basis
instead of Port Harcourt, to  enable
participants appreciate the challenges of the zone.

Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown may have set the tone for the
summit, when at the first plenary session, he noted that politics of divide and
rule had torn the people of the zone apart.

Brown, former National President of the Nigerian Institute
of Public Relations who spoke as a discussant on “Local Economy For
Andoni-Opobo –Nkoro”, stated that it was
foolhardy for the people of the zone to think that  they have a population that could sustain any
massive production.

Reason? They have over 300,000 impoverished  people who have become  economic refugees, he said.

He however anchored the benefit of the summit on its timeliness
in putting people of the area in position to become relevant and competitive in
state and national economy, especially in this era of global economic  recession.

According to him, such foresight as displayed by the
convener of the summit was what the local economy needed and not going back to
the old economic activities of the area.

Both Engr Ernest Nwapa, Executive  Secretary, Nigeria Content Development and
Monitoring Board and Prof Michael Onyekonwu, Director, Institute of Petroleum
Studies, University of Port Harcourt stressed the need for people of  the zone to equip their youths with the
relevant training and skills to be active participants in the competitive
oil/gas sector business.

Nwapa noted that 98 per cent of the  nation’s oil blocs are   in the hands of the  oil majors-Shell, Agip, Mobil, Chevron etc
and that the Nigerian Content Act was designed to make Nigeria a great oil
producing nation through the development of her refining capacity and a  skilled workforce.

He said that the Nigerian Content  Fund which
will be launched on October 24, was dedicated to human capital
development  in the oil/gass sector  pointing out that when Nigeria is able to
develop her refining capacity and robust
supply chain  then youths that
possess relevant  skills will benefit.

In his contribution, Prof Onyekonwu stressed the need for
community involvement in the oil industry business through the empowerment  of youths with relevant education and skills.

The oil industry is driven by money, technology and people,
he noted, and charged people of the zone to develop their youths so that they
could actively participate.

While expressing disappointment  that people of the zone have not  had one
person trained at the Institute of Petroleum Studies, University of Port
Harcourt in which he is director, Onyekonwu canvassed the award of scholarships
to youths  of the zone who secure
admission in the world’s best10 universities, as a way of developing skilled
manpower relavant for their participation in the oil industry business.

Engineer Sampson Ngerebara, a former Commissioner for Works
in Rivers  State in his presentation
xrayed the role of infrastructure in driving sustainable economic development
in the zone and strategies to achieve them.

While  asserting that
the challenges were intimidating, Ngerebara recommended among other measures,
the Eastern  Obolo model in which a
synergy between the people and operators/project promoters culminated in the
establishment of a refinery in the area with
spill-over  socio-economic
benefits and development.

Ngerebara  believed
that when people of the Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro economic zone become united, focused
and determined in their quest to use their endowments to develop their
territory, multinational companies and others interested in their resources
will partner with them to bring investment and development to the zone.

Many seasoned and celebrated intellectuals and professionals
enriched the summit with their cerebral presentations.

They included the Head and Resident Representative, United
Nations Institute for Training and Research, Nigeria, Dr Larry Boms; Professor
of Development Sociology and Director Centre for Ethnic and Conflict Studies,
University of Port Harcourt, Prof Mark Anikpo and the  Executive Director, Rivers State
Sustainable  Development  Agency, Mr. Noble Egbert Pepple.

Others included the President, Uptonville Oil and Gas
Institute, Prof Winston Bellgam, a seasoned petroleum engineering professional,
Engr Don Boham, Director-General, Greater Port
Harcourt City Development Authoritiy, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam and a
Consultant Pediatrician at the
University of Port  Harcourt, Prof
Alice Nte among others.

The success of the summit is a testimonial to the vision of
the convener, Hon Dakuku Peterside to reposition the zone to be relevant in
contemporary national economic order.

It  represents the
will of a newbreed politician and patriot to dismantle and replace the
discredited and archaic politics of divide and rule with politics of
inclusiveness, shared responsibility, and shared prosperity.

The youthful politician who the Deputy Speaker, House of
Representatives described as one of the thinkers and eggheads in the House,
received lavish encomiums  and blessings
from participants, elders and leaders of thought  from the zone for blazing a trail in the
socio-economic affairs of the impoverished but richly endowed zone.

Accolades were also poured on the chairman,
Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Economic  Zone  Development
Foundation Board of Trustees, Sir Emiyarei Ikuru and his members for the
planning and execution of the summit.

What is left to be seen is how, over the  coming years, the product of the summit will
lead to the realization of an integrated economic zone, providing attractive
investment   opportunities and nourishing
the people and their landscape with the good life and infrastructural
development as envisioned  by the
convener and stakeholders.

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FG Recorded N150.36bn Fiscal Deficit In April   – CBN

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The Federal Government recorded a fiscal deficit of N150.36bn in April, after recording an aggregate expenditure of N559.67bn and retained revenue of N409.31bn.
Figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s April report on ‘Fiscal operations of the Federal Government’ revealed at the weekend. 
The report shows that the federal revenue rose by 28.2 per cent in April 2021 to N1.12tn in relation to N862.79bn in March 2021, due to improvement in non-oil earnings. 
It also shows that the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN put at N559.67bn was 50.6 per cent below the budget benchmark and 59.4 per cent short of the level in March 2021.
Also, the fiscal operations of the Federal Government in April 2021, according to the report, contracted by 67.8 per cent, relative to the budget estimate.
Part of the report read “Federation revenue rose by 28.2 per cent in April 2021 to N1.12tn, relative to N862.79bn in March 2021, owing to improved non-oil earnings.
“However, the retained revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria at N409.31bn, was 38.5 per cent below target.
“Similarly, the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN, at N559.67bn, was 50.6 per cent below the budget benchmark and 59.4 per cent short of the level in March 2021.
“Consequently, the fiscal operations of the FGN in April 2021 contracted by 67.8 per cent, relative to the budget estimate.”
It added that the FGN debt outstanding, as of the end-March 2021, stood at N28,984.3bn and represented a 15.8 per cent increase, relative to its level in March 2021.

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TSA Promotes Transparency, Accountability In Revenue Collection In Kebbi – Chairman

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Alhaji Iliyasu Arzuka-Jega, Chairman, Kebbi State Board of Internal Revenue, has said that the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA) has encouraged accuracy, efficiency and accountability in revenue collection in the state.
Arzuka-Jega stated this at a news conference yesterday in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital.
The Tide source reports that TSA is a public accounting system whereby government receipt, revenue and income are collected into one single account.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is responsible for the maintenance and management on such account.
It was proposed by the Federal Government in 2012 and fully implemented by the Buhari led-administration.
Arzuka-Jega said that the introduction of digital revenue collection techniques assisted the board towards simplifying its work more convenient and easy.
He said that, “We are now in the era of technology, all our collections have been upgraded from manual to digital.
“In this circumstances, we found it necessary not to be left behind towards ensuring that leakages are blocked and revenues collected enter into government’s coffers.
“All our collections have now been centralised because we operate Single Treasury Account (TSA), where all revenue realised go in there, this has put an end to divertion of fund.”
The Chairman said that the board had recorded significant impact of TSA since inception, as against previous years when revenue collections whether external or internal were done manually.
He said that the manual method of revenue collction was fraught with irregularities which resulted to situation where fund could not be accounted for.
“Now, we do receive payments from Lagos and other states, and we only see evidence of payments made to our platform under the TSA,” he said.

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NNPC Explains 2020 Audited Report

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has explained the controversial areas of its 2020 audited financial report that placed the corporation on a profit lane.
It would be recalled that on August 26, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a profit after tax of N287billion by the corporation in 2020, the first of its kind in the oil giant’s 44-year history.
This feat, which was commended by Buhari, had also won the Group Managing Director of the corporation,MalamMeleKyari-led management accolades from stakeholders and Nigerians from all walks of life.
Kyari, however, explained how the corporation’s performance turned out positive at a time the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic affected businesses worldwide.
Also, the Group Executive Director, Finance & Accounts, Mr Umar Ajiya, also shed more light on the development, and equally addressed some of the issues raised by those who doubt the veracity of the profit declared by the corporation.
He said the trend of real openness has begun not only in the NNPC but also in the Nigerian petroleum industry, especially with the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Ajiya said that during the period under review, the NNPC took some unprecedented steps among which was cost optimisation aimed at refocusing its businesses.
Also, in the week, the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company Limited (NGMC), a subsidiary of NNPC, restated its commitment to the development of its host communities.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Justin Ezeala, made the commitment at the opening ceremony of the Women Skills Acquisition Programme for its host communities in its northern operations.
He said NGMC was committed to developing a robust sustainable relationship with all its host communities, and disclosed that the beneficiaries were carefully nominated by executives of their respective communities and would undergo intensive three-week training in catering, tailoring/fashion design, hairdressing and make-up (including pedicure, manicure andgele tying).
He tasked the host communities on the sustenance of the existing peaceful relationship while assuring them of the company’s continued support.
Addressing the beneficiaries, the Lead Consultant, Bernard Emekpe, said the programme was a testament to NNPC’s vision of engaging the communities in which it operates.
He advised the beneficiaries to see this as a lifetime opportunity and take control of their destiny.
A representative of the host communities, Otokina Goodluck, and some of the beneficiaries said the program was a life-changing opportunity, and promised to make judicious use of it.
The beneficiaries were drawn from Ajaokuta, Geregu, and Aku communities in Kogi State.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Norway has commended the Federal Government on the successful signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Knut EilivLein, gave the commendation during a business visit to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva in Abuja.
He said they were delighted at the signing of the bill which he said would accelerate development and strengthen the oil and gas industry.
On his part, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the difference between past efforts and the eventual PIB that was passed by the National Assembly was that all industry stakeholders, including government agencies were carried along.
Still, on the week under review, the GMD was conferred the BusinessDay Energy Executive of the Year Award by BusinessDay Newspaper Management in recognition of his giant strides in repositioning the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
Receiving the award in Abuja, Kyari said the trust by Buhari was the propelling force behind the many achievements recorded in the nation’s oil and gas sector within the last two years.
He described his position and the confidence that he enjoys from the President as a privilege, stressing that he and members of his management team were working hard to justify the trust in the interest of the nation and to the benefit of Nigerians.
He attributed the transformation and recent profit by the corporation to quality leadership and prudent management of resources, noting that it was part of his efforts towards keeping the trust.
The GMD stated that the corporation’s courage to publish its 2018 Audited Financial Statement with a huge loss was in line with his management resolve to be transparent and accountable to the public, emphasizing that the success story of ¦ 287billion profit in the 2020 financials was a result of the determination to do things differently.
The NNPC helmsman, while appreciating the management of BusinessDay Media Limited for the award, declared, “As the biggest company with the largest assets in Africa, NNPC has no reason not to make a profit.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of BusinessDay Media Limited, Dr Ogho Okiti, said globally acceptable parameters were adopted in selecting the awardees.
“In addition, our Business Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) in conjunction with our Oil and Gas Editorial Team have carefully analysed the data available on each company as well as their work programme recorded with the DPR for the period between 2019 and 2020 to arrive the selection”, he said.
Also speaking, the Father of the Day, King Alfred Papa Preye Diete-Spiff, acknowledged the contributions of the oil and gas industry to national development, and called for diversification of the economy.
For piloting the corporation into the post-Petroleum Industry Act era, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) pledged its unalloyed support for the management of the NNPC.
The Group Chairman, PENGASSAN, Comrade Victor Odor, disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division (GPAD), GarbaDeen Muhammad, in his office in Abuja.
Odor, who said the visit was to felicitate with the corporation’s spokesman on his appointment, declared that the union would stop at nothing to defend the corporation’s current position as a profit-making company against those who believe that NNPC could never do well, adding that the NNPC GMD and his management team have done well in repositioning the corporation and deserved support.
He said the union would focus more on functional conflict management than disruptive conflict management in its constructive engagement with the management to ensure sustainable growth and profitability for the corporation.
Responding, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, GarbaDeen Muhammad, who appreciated the union leaders for the kind gesture, said the GMD was very passionate about repositioning the corporation and the entire oil and gas industry.
He assured the union leaders that management was appreciative of their support and was always ready to work with them to take the corporation to greater heights.
The Group Chairman of PENGASSAN was accompanied on the visit by the Group Vice Chairman, Comrade EghosaAghimien, and Group Secretary of PENGASSAN, Comrade OlugbengaShokunbi.

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