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N’Delta Crisis: After Osinbajo’s Visit, What Next?

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The ongoing tour of the oil-rich Niger Delta region by the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo-led Federal Government team is receiving high level of acceptance by the people of the region.
At least, the bombing and destruction of oil and gas installations have died down, unlike in the past when government was applying force aimed at crushing the boys. The millions of Naira expended on war logistics, huge crude oil loss and cost of repairing the destroyed installations directly affected the nation’s economy which is struggling under recession. This goes a long way to prove that to jaw-jaw is far better than to fight.
Report has it that on getting to Oporoza community, the headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Delta State, Osinbajo expressed deep shock and pity over the age-long neglect of the oil host community. One wonders how he felt on getting to Oloibiri in Bayelsa State, where a desolate well-head, instead of the much talked about oil museum represents Nigeria’s official indicator of where crude oil was first stuck at commercial volume over sixty years ago.
How would the professor of law, in his discerning mind, have felt, if he had gotten to Umuechem, a community in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, where inspite of the billion dollars from its high grade Bonny light, the area is starved of Federal Government presence and virtually all social amenities, except the recent interventions of the state government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike.
As Osinbajo resumes his tour, what awaits him are more sorry sights of underdevelopment, absence of good drinking water, pollution and pitiable relics of history.
But beyond rhetorics, no one can tell for sure what may come out of the tour when Osinbajo gets back to Abuja. After all, there was a bigger talk, just few years ago, in the name of National Constitutional Conference. The conference went with its colourful drama, the walk-outs, echoes of 50 per cent derivation fund and resource control, giving the impression of a serious business, but today, confusion has beclouded the vision of that bigger talk such that no one can make either the head or tail of the conference which had stirred up so much promises and hope for people of the region.
The journey for economic emancipation of the region brought about the Willinks Commission of the 1950s, but inspite robost presentations and agitations, not much can be said to have been achieved except such paltry gifts from stingy fingers as one per cent, three per cent and 13 per cent derivation. No permutation or formular, either of the oil or modern mathematics has ever scored 13 per cent as pass mark; it’s always at least 50 per cent.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which came after the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) and the recent Niger Delta Ministry could have also made meaningful development impact but for poor management.
Why addressing stakeholders at the Government House in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Osinbajo was frank and sincere when he said that after serving his National Youth Service NYSC in former Bendel State some 38 years, “it is therefore extremely discomfiting to know that we are still confronted with the very same situation. An edifying lack of development and access to basic amenities in the abundance of plenty.
“A situation typified by continued environmental degradation and a disturbing lack of opportunities for those who can no longer carry out traditional occupations like fishing and farming”.
The Acting President noted that, “what we now have is an unhappy cycle of discontent sometimes expressed by a resort to violence and vandalism and drawing in response a strengthening of security managements and a gamut of palliative measures”, adding that this vicious cycle cannot continue as it builds needless tension, promising that the federal government would take steps to bring development to the region.
It is only a change in the way we do things in the region as it is only the Federal Government, oil multinationals, states and communities that can bring the much desired change and result we desire.
The Osinbajo-led team appears to have set the right tone for the desired result when the government jettisoned its former strategy of force and opted for peaceful dialogue. This Federal Government change in approach has raised the people’s confidence in the sincerity of government to realise promised change.
Furtherrance to the quest for lasting solution to the  crisis-ridden oil host communities where peace has remained elusive for decades to be a meaning venture, instead of the usual picnic, the team must find out why the communities even when they have abundant after black gold that rules the world’s economy, they remain absolutely poor.
The mass poverty in the communities occasioned by economic deprivation must change such that marginalisation of the host communities  by oil operators and the government be brought to an end.
The idea of declaring natives, including their graduate sons and daughters, as not qualified for employment by oil operators much stop. Let the graduates be trained on the job to acquire requisite experience. Labour contractors excesses must be checked.
The Federal Government must show serious presence in initiating big projects that can touch the lives of the people directly and creating mass employment to justify the 60 per cent equity it enjoys in the sharing of oil proceeds.
Federal Government agencies which execute mega dollar jobs should expand their operational offices in the region and employ people in order to amiliorate their plight.
The non-completion of the East/West Road after so many years is a goose pimple on the nose of the government. Let this present administration try to complete the project in view of the economic and strategic importance of the road to the region and the nation.
The Train Seven aspect of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Bonny should commence so also the Brass LNG in view of the huge employment opportunities it would create for the region as well as the revenue to the nation.
In the area of pollution, the oil operators who are unwilling to operate according to international standard particularly in changing aging facilities and equipment should be sanctioned by the regulatory agencies.
The idea of gas flaring that has ended in most countries of the world must be made to stop. The idea of leaving the issue at the convenience of some stakeholders with inconsequential fines not commensurate with the effect of the pollution and damage should be urgently reviewed.
The youth of the region must also change the attitude of breaking or destroying installation as a strategy of agitation because of the damage it causes to the environment and national revenue.
There is also need for the government to review its stand on the illegal refineries especially with the promise of encouraging modular refineries in the area. There is need to co-opt the illegal operators and co-ordinate them in such a way that their standard of operation becomes acceptable.
The idea of destroying them by burning by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps is counterproductive because it aids destruction of the environment.
Nigeria Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB) should wake up and seriously think of how to put the Act in actual practice and this they can do by decentralizing their offices in most relevant local government areas. It should not be an urban issue.
Skills acquisition programmes and scholarship aimed at making youths in oil host communities acquire skill must be taken seriously. The idea of selling off the starter packs after the training graduands is bad. So let communities liaise with government agencies, oil firms and other stakeholders to see to better handling of the programmes. The idea of selling scholarship chances in a community when there are eligible persons in the area would not promote peaceful co-existence.
As the new parley by the federal government has set in a new beginning, there is need to also forgive those militants who were involved in pipeline vandalism as a way of agitation. Therefore Amadin Ogbeide of Delta State and indeed every other militant agitations being hunted by the security agencies should be pardoned.
NDDC must be made to be an interventionist agency in the real sense of it. The bad eggs in the system responsible for so many failed programmes and abandoned projects must be flushed out.

 

Chris Oluoh

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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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