Apparently scandalised by the acute petrol scarcity, which marred the Yuletide celebrations, the Federal Government is set to review the $6 billion Direct Sale-Direct Purchase (DSDP) contracts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The objective is to blacklist some oil traders whose failure to meet their petrol supply obligations plunged the country into the fuel crisis.
Speaking to newsmen on the fuel crisis in an interview, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu stated that some of the oil traders failed to deliver petrol to NNPC due to either lack of capacity to deliver or for profiteering reasons.
According to him, the failure of the companies to meet their contractual obligations caused the fuel crisis, which was aggravated by the high cost of crude oil in the international market.
The minister stated that in order to avert future fuel crises, the federal government would explore support mechanisms, by way of tax relief to boost the capacity of marketers to import petrol on their own.
Kachikwu said the federal government would review the list of the beneficiaries of the DSDP contracts to ensure that those companies that breached their contractual agreements would not benefit from the contracts.
Kachikwu said: “I think the immediate cause of this (fuel crisis) is the increase in the price of crude, and then a lot of deliveries at obviously a loss that NNPC is doing just to keep the nation going – also not the fault of NNPC.”
“That is what caused it. So we need to do better planning obviously in terms of foreseeing this and trying to provide for this. And there were a lot of people who took the DSDP programme to deliver products that failed in their deadlines – some for profiteering reasons, some for just sheer lack of capacity.
“So, we need to look at that list again and see who performed this year and who breached the contracts and make sure that those who did not perform are not back on that list again as we go forward,” Kachikwu explained.
Kachikwu said the long-term solution to the perennial crisis would be to encourage private marketers to import petrol on their own without relying on NNPC.
“I would like to see marketers being able to bring in their own products on their own and not NNPC bringing products for them. I would like to see NNPC bring its own products.”
“If there is a support mechanism, we have to find a way – either through tax relief or whatever it is to try and address that issue so that everybody has the capacity to do business.
“That is one of the things I will be developing and try to see my principal (President Buhari) obviously in the coming days to address the long-term problems.
“Final one is that the refineries should work. All these will fall into insignificance if the refineries are up and running. And we are working hard to begin the refinery repairs.
“We are almost at the end of the recommendations that will go to Mr. President,” Kachikwu added.
He stated that the federal government would develop a model that would allow NNPC and the marketers to import their own products.
“At the end of the day, that is the solution. And I will have to sit down with the Group Managing Director of NNPC and obviously get approval of Mr. President and put together structures that will enable us to address this, so that people take responsibility and answer to liabilities.
“If you say you are going to bring a cargo and we depend on you, we are going to add a penalty on it if you fail to perform. We are going to be doing that, going forward,” Kachikwu noted.
Speaking to journalists while monitoring the fuel situation in Lagos on Christmas Day, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo also attributed the scarcity to the failure of some companies to deliver petrol to NNPC.
“I think that going by what we have seen, there is what is called winter deliveries. Towards the end of the year, the premium goes up – the cost of fuel goes up in many parts of the world for those who are importing.
“Obviously, that gave rise to problems for those who were bringing in products. We had one or two short deliveries by the importers and that accounted for some of the problems,” he said.
“I think that over time – in fact, if you look at the past few months, NNPC has been importing and they have been doing a very good job because we didn’t have a shortage in October and we did not have a shortage in November; it is only in December that we had a disruption,” Osinbajo added.
Last April, NNPC signed about $6 billion in deals with local and international traders to exchange about 330,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil for imported petrol.
Our correspondent gathered that the oil traders engaged by NNPC were meant to import petrol into the country after shipping crude oil to international refiners.
It was, however, learnt that in the months of November and December, some of the companies converted their DSDP contracts into diesel, as they could not bring back petrol owing to the high cost of the product in the international market.
The implication was a flooded domestic market with diesel, which is also imported by other private marketers as a deregulated product, while petrol, which other marketers lacked the capacity to import and had been relying on NNPC for supply, became scarce.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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