To close the gap created by the shutdown of Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has embarked on a massive importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Also, major and independent petroleum marketers have continued to import PMS into the country despite the absence of subsidy in the 2016 budget.
The refineries were shut owing to crude supply challenges arising from recent attacks on vital oil pipelines.
The Kaduna Refinery was already producing 3.2 million litres of petrol as at December last year and would have saved about $5.33 million for the country when it is 90 per cent operational. And the Port Harcourt refinery was recording a daily PMS yield of over 4.1 million litres before the attack on the pipelines.
NNPC has, therefore, been responsible for 78 per cent of the total fuel consumed in the country, while the major and independent marketers fill the remaining 22 per cent approved by the Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
PPPRA had given NNPC 78 per cent of the allotment to import fuel while the private importers who hitherto shipped in over 60 per cent of the allocation are now left with about 22 per cent of the total allocation.
The fuel imports were approved for all the five major oil marketers and 15 independent marketers. The allocations to five members of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) were cut by about 70 per cent, while the NNPC allocation was jerked up from 40 to 78 per cent.
Contrary to expectations that the reduction in import allocation to private marketers of petroleum products and the breaches in Bonny-Okrika crude supply line to the Port Harcourt Refinery and the Escravos-Warri crude supply line to the Kaduna Refinery would lead to fuel scarcity in the country, an investigation showed that the product is available all over the country.
Our correspondent reports that the availability of products all over the country though not being sold at the official price of N86.50k per litre as the price is higher in some states than the price approved by the Federal Government. It was learnt that though the Federal Government has approved a new petrol price, the average pump price is still well above N100 per litre.
Apart from Lagos and its environs where the product sells at the official price, a litre of fuel in Akwa Ibom, Imo, Anambra, Zamfara, Yobe, Kwara, Taraba and some other states is still as high as between N120 and N130.
Meanwhile, private petroleum product importers have continued to meet their 22 per cent allocation despite government’s silence on subsidy in 2016. Although they have always complained about the non-payment of subsidy arrears and difficulty in sourcing foreign exchange for fuel importation, an investigation by The Guardian revealed that the marketers have been importing fuel under the current circumstances.
Neither MOMAN nor Independent Petroleum Marketers (IPM) was willing to give reasons for the continued supply of PMS despite the uncertainty surrounding subsidy in 2016. But according to a marketer who spoke with newsmen, they have to continue to import to be in business as they are still making profit under the new pricing regime.
According to the source, with the landing cost of PMS put at N59.35 as at February 8, 2016, ex-depot price, N76.50; expected open market price, N73.65 and the regulated price put at N86.50, marketers can survive without subsidy.
“We have made a case to the Federal Government to support IPMAN in mobilising our foreign partners in importing petroleum products at no cost or without subsidies payment to government. We have done all our mathematics that through our new model of crude oil swap arrangement, we can wet the country with petrol and kerosene and still gain from the transactions,” the source said.
The marketer noted that if the government removed the fuel subsidy and regulated the price at which the major oil dealers sold to other independent marketers, this would bring down the price of a litre of PMS.
“The first thing the government should do is to remove the subsidy on fuel, because the so-called subsidy is going into some private pockets. Then, it should regulate the price at which major petroleum dealers should sell the product to other independent marketers,” he said.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had affirmed government’s resolve to scrap oil subsidy because of an alleged fraud around it.
Kachikwu said the non-payment of subsidy would remain the same, as long as market trends allowed. The price modulation, according to the minister, is not an outright removal of petrol subsidy. He explained that a periodical review of the petroleum pricing template and a flexible management of the pricing system would be considered.
The price modulation, the government stressed, would be predicated on a N97 per litre projection, which would be a cap on the price of fuel with a gradual increase between the band of the current price of N87 and N97 until a fair price was reached in the pricing review.
There has been an argument whether government should continue to subsidise petrol in the country, with the organised labour insisting that government should continue to pay subsidy.
The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Kaiýgama, said since the price of crude oil in the international market had dropped drastically, there was the need for government to drastically reduce the price of fuel locally.
He advocated a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the subsidy and why it has become impossible to refine and purchase fuel at N50 per litre.
But the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), described fuel subsidy, as a “major source of wastage of foreign exchange”, arguing that it would stop naturally with the privatisation of the oil and gas sector to promote emergence of private refineries.
The president of the association, Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, urged the government to revisit the issue of private refineries and carry out investigations into why those granted licences have not started operations.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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