The country may be plunged into another round of excruciating fuel scarcity in the next couple of weeks as oil marketers disclosed that they are running out of patience over the Federal Government’s refusal to pay its $1.7 billion debt owed them since May 2015.
One of the oil marketers, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja, under condition anonymity, yesterday, disclosed that the seeming sanity in petroleum products distribution and sales across the country can be likened to the “peace of the graveyard,’ as he noted that marketers were only ensuring that they were not seen as individuals seeking to sabotage the efforts of government.
He stated that the marketers had written series of letters over their predicaments to the Presidency and that the Presidency had agreed to grant them audience, while he warned, however, that if nothing is done to address the issue of the debts owed them, they would be forced to take drastic measures that might lead to the return of another fuel crisis.
The source explained that the amount owed the marketers was for foreign exchange differentials owed both major oil marketers, independent oil marketers and other petroleum marketers.
He said the amount was the balance from the payments made by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, before handing over to President Muhammadu Buhari, while the rest was incurred in May 2016, when the Federal Government devalued the naira.
According to the source, major oil marketers are owed about $500million, while independents, depot and petroleum products marketers were owed about $1.2billion.
The source also confirmed that some of the oil marketers are indebted to the government, stating, however, that their indebtedness pales in comparison to the huge debt the Federal Government owes the oil marketers.
He further stated that the oil marketers’ indebtedness to the country was more recent, while the Federal Government’s debts dated back to May, 2015.
“Irrespective of the fact that our own debt is recent, very small and insignificant, compared to the amount the Federal Government owes us, the government is asking us to pay, while nothing is said about their own debt which is huge and dates back to 2015,” he said.
He noted that as a result of the huge debts, majority of the oil marketers had sacked a large number of their staff, as many of them are finding it extremely difficult to pay staff salaries and even sustain their operations, as a result of the unfavourable operating environment.
He added that the oil marketers are currently at loggerheads with a subsidiary of the NNPC, the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), over the introduction of obnoxious rules that are detrimental to existing contractual obligations, without proper consultations with oil marketers and other stakeholders.
He also disclosed that majority of the oil marketers had since stopped the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, while he confirmed that the NNPC is currently the major importer and has enough stocks of the commodity on ground to guarantee several months of supply.
However, he said, “While I can tell you that the NNPC has adequate quantity of the product to last the country for months, we the oil marketers have agreed that we cannot continue to allow the NNPC to supply its products to Nigerians through our facilities, both depots and retail outlets, while nothing is done to address the debts owed us.
“We might be forced to stop the NNPC from using our facilities; then let us see how the NNPC can supply its millions of litres of PMS to the public. It is a known fact that the NNPC cannot supply its products to the public without using the facilities of oil marketers”, he added.
Confirming the development, the NNPC, in its latest Monthly Financial and Operational Report for September, 2016, released recently, disclosed that as regards downstream sector, NNPC remains the major importer of petroleum sector.
This, according to the NNPC, was despite the liberalized price regime due to inaccessibility of foreign exchange (FOREX).
However, it stated that the “FOREX intervention by the international oil companies (IOCs) cushions the effect.
Similarly, the ongoing Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) is promising to entirely change the anaemic outlook of the country’s refineries.
2023: PDP Govs Task NASS On New Electoral Law
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum has tasked the National Assembly to immediately set up a conference committee to harmonize the two versions of the Electoral Act Amendment passed recently by the two chambers.
In a statement, yesterday, the Chairman of the forum and Sokoto State Governor, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, said any delay in the passing and assenting of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will hamper preparations for the conduct of the 2023 polls.
The forum also charged the National Assembly to adopt the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives, as it gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the latitude to adopt electronic transmission of election results.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives (House) Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of electronic transmission.
“It should be noted that Section 52(2) of the House version says, ‘Voting at an election and transmission of result under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission,’ and Section 52 (2) of the Senate version provides, ‘The commission may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.
“The Senate version which subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission and National Assembly is manifestly a usurpation of the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence,” the opposition governors.
According to them, INEC has demonstrated capacity to transmit votes electronically with the introduction and deployment of the Biomodel Voters Accreditation System (BVAs), used in the recent bye-election in Delta State.
The PDP governors further charged the National Assembly conference committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, to jettison the position of the House to compel all political parties to adopt one method of conducting primary elections.
“The forum is of the view that political parties should be allowed discretion to adopt either direct or indirect primaries in their Constitutions and in practice.
“The Senate version that retains the original provision in the Electoral Act should be adopted in the interest of the growth of our political parties and freedom of choice, the hallmark of a functional democracy.
“This intervention of the PDP governors is predicted on the need to ensure a free, fair and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law. Only a credible election will guarantee accountability and good governance which Nigeria so desperately needs today,” the governors stated.
Cholera: NCDC Records 46 New Deaths In One Week
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 46 new deaths linked to suspected cholera cases were recorded in the country in the past one week.
The NCDC said this via its officially verified website, yesterday morning, stating that the situation report was published based on data sent in by the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, for the respective reporting week.
It stated that eight states accounted for the new cholera fatalities.
The public health agency, in its epidemiological report for August 30 to September 5, said a total of 2,323 people had so far died as a result of suspected cholera infections in 25 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), since the beginning of 2021.
It stated that 1,677 cholera infections were recorded in 12 states within the period of one-week, bringing the total suspected cases to 69,925 as at September 5.
“In the reporting week, 12 states reported 1,677 suspected cases – Bauchi (566), Katsina (282), Sokoto (258), Yobe (183), Borno (179), Niger (94), Kaduna (66), Adamawa (34), Gombe (8), Kano (4), Kebbi (2), and Nasarawa (1),” the report said.
“There was a 58% decrease in the number of new suspected cases in week 35 (1,667) compared with week 34 (3,992).
“Of the cases reported, there were 46 deaths from Borno (13), Sokoto (12), Katsina (8), Bauchi (6), Niger (3), Kaduna (2), Adamawa (1) and Kano (1) states with a weekly case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.7%.
“Twenty-five states and the FCT have reported suspected cholera cases in 2021. These are Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.
“As at September 5, 2021, a total of 69,925 suspected cases, including 2,323 deaths (CFR 3.3%) have been reported from 25 states and FCT in 2021.
“Two new states (Osun and Ekiti) reported cases, though with dates of onset in weeks prior to week 35,” it explained.
The NCDC added that the national multi-sectoral EOC activated at level 02 continued to coordinate the national response.
Cholera is a waterborne disease with a high risk of transmission where there are poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply.
The wrong disposal of refuse and practices, such as open defecation, endanger the safety of water used for drinking and for personal use, thereby leading to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, and without proper WASH, Nigeria remained at risk of cholera cases and deaths.
Buhari Seeks Senate’s Approval For $4bn, €710m External Loan
President Muhammadu Buhari, has asked the Senate to approve a fresh loan of $4,054,476, 863.00, €710million, and a grant of $125million to finance critical projects in the 2021 budget.
Buhari’s request was contained in his letter read by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, at plenary following the resumption of the upper chamber from its two-month annual vacation, yesterday.
According to the President, the request is an addendum to the proposed 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan earlier approved by the National Assembly.
He said that the projects listed in the addendum to the 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group, among others.
“In view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan,” Buhari said.
The letter titled, ‘Addendum to the request for Senate’s concurrent approval of multilateral fund projects under the 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan’ reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The distinguishing Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated. I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE), in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00, plus €710million, and grant component of $125million.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and covered both the Federal and States Government Projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and Covid-19 response efforts.
“I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan to enable the projects become effective.”
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