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Fuel Scarcity ’ll Last 18 Months -FG ….Admits Products Diversion Through Porous Borders …Says No Functioning Refineries, No Solution To Scarcity

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The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday disclosed that it would take the next 18 months for the country to solve the problem of fuel scarcity permanently.
Kachikwu, however, said the government has put various measures in place to address the issue of scarcity within the 18 months.
He said such issues include forex for marketers, repair of refineries and tax consideration for oil marketers .
The Minister, who appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committees on Petroleum, also added that its a shame that Nigeria cannot refine its crude oil after 40 years of activities in the downstream.
According to him, a Presidential committee has been set up to look for how to cushion the effect of higher price crude and lower price downstream sales at N145, adding: “It is 18 months plan before private refineries come on stream.”
Kachikwu added that Dangote and modular refineries are in the pipeline from 2019 and onward to solve the problem.
He said the ministry and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation were working round the clock to find a solution to petrol scarcity.
As part of the solutions to permanently end the scarcity, Kachikwu said the country’s refinery needed to be functional.
He added: “It is what I might call an emergency before the work that we are doing on the refineries that would be finished sometime in 2019.
“I want to remind that over two years we haven’t had queues.
“We are spending night and day to find solutions to nip this in the bud
“Ultimately what this country needs is to have its refineries working and I have said that it is shameful that after 30, 40 years of activities in the downstream, we cannot produce sufficient [petroleum products].
“I have said nobody sells crude in its form in the world and we have to have the technical capacity to do this.”
Kachikwu listed non-payment to marketers as one of the reasons for the scarcity.
The minister also expressed regrets that some people took advantage of the situation.
Also in his presentation, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, enumerated reasons for the scarcity of fuel.
Baru said the situation is now under control.
According to him, part of the reasons for scarcity are the strike by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria on December 18, smuggling due mainly to price arbitrage, false threat of price hike by NNPC leading to hoarding, diversion and smuggling and insinuation of supply gap.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has called for prompt enforcement of the law to check incessant diversion of petroleum products from Nigeria to the neighbouring countries.
Kachikwu made the call yesterday in Abuja during a public hearing organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee investigating the cause of recent fuel scarcity in the country.
The minister also called for adequate policing of the country’s borders to frustrate the continued diversion of petroleum products.
He accused some marketers of illegally maximising profit by diverting fuel meant to be supplied in Nigeria.
According to him, “the incentives are attractive to those diverting these products because while petrol sells for about N300 in some countries, we are selling at N145, so you can see that they are making huge profits.
“Our borders must be properly policed and the law must be enforced in such a way that every marketer must account for every petrol that leaves his depot.”
The minister, while decrying the infrastructural decay in the oil sector, said there the was need for private sector involvement in managing some critical facilities.
Kachikwu said: “For instance, there is need to encourage private sector involvement in the protection of pipelines.”
On their part, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria called on the Federal Government to fully deregulate the downstream sector.
The Executive Secretary of the association, Obafemi Olawore also called for accelerated attention to the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly.
Olawore said the delay in passing the bill was frustrating efforts to deregulate the sector and ensure increased private sector participation.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, says the Federal Government is working assiduously to revamp the country’s refineries to address the problems of fuel crisis.
Kachikwu said this yesterday in Abuja during a one-day public hearing of the National Assembly Joint Committees on Petroleum (Downstream), investigating the causes of recent fuel scarcity recorded across the country since December 2017.
The minister, who decried the poor state of the refineries over the years, condemned their inability to produce sufficient fuel for the country.
According to him, it is shameful that a country after over 35 years cannot produce sufficient fuel for its citizens.
“I have said that selling crude is a fairly wrong model which is akin to selling our agricultural products in the wrong way and nobody does that anywhere in the world anymore.
“Unless we have operational refineries, there will be no permanent solution to the fuel crisis in the country,’’ Kachikwu said.
He also said that a lot of work was going on to ensure private sector participation in refining crude oil.
“The gearing up of private refineries and the modular refineries will complement the efforts of the government-owned refineries to ensure there is adequate supply of petroleum products in the country,” said the minister.
He said that government had mapped out strategies to ensure availability of petrol which will be sold the at the government-regulated price.
Kachikwu also said that lack of sufficient reserve, low clearance speed of petrol at the ports, diversion of products are some of the reasons for the ongoing fuel crisis being experienced in the country, says Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu.
Mr. Kachikwu said this while speaking before a meeting of the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives. The meeting was convened to find a lasting solution to the fuel crisis.
“The causes were; first, diversion was very key, second, there were logistics issues,”Once those diversions began, Apapa Wharf was a problem to be able to move things due to bad roads, lack of sufficient reserve in our system making us unable to respond to the supply gap arising largely from the fact that private sector pulled out from supply.
“There has been a loose enforcement on diversion in the country. We have not been able to police our depots adequately.”he said
He explained that disparity in the landing cost has prevented the private marketers from importing petroleum into the country.
“Going forward we need to address the issue of pricing, there is a disparity between landing cost and cost we are selling. If we are going to sell at N145, we need to put some mechanisms in place so that the private sector will go back importation. We have a committee looking at this and we are still going to submit a report for review.
“Currently, the landing cost of product is N170 to N171 and we sell at N145 and the price we are allowed to sell is N145.”
He said the executive is currently working on modalities to permanently resolve the petrol crisis and prevent it from rearing its head any other time.
“We need to make marketers responsible for every tank of fuel up until the point of delivery.

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Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don

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Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.

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RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.

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Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls

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The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”

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