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FG Contemplates Fuel Price Hike … Amid Conflicting Signals

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Two government officials yesterday gave diverse indications on what government is considering to resolve the current petrol scarcity.
While a state governor who briefed journalists after a meeting presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hinted at a possible price increase, the Minister of State for Petroleum said such was not being contemplated.
The federal government and the state-owned NNPC have repeatedly vowed that there was no plan to increase the N145 per litre official price of the product despite the scarcity. This is despite the fact that most Nigerians across the country pay about N200 per litre to buy the scarce commodity.
An indication of the possible price increase was provided by a state governor who briefed journalists at the end of the National Executive Council, NEC meeting. The meeting, attended by most state governors, was presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi told journalists that the NEC asked one of its committees, interfacing with revenue agencies in the country, to work on getting the correct price for petroleum products.
He said the committee is headed by the Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo.
Mr. Abubakar said the committee “has been charged with the responsibility of interfacing with NNPC with a view to determining the correct price for PMS (petrol) considering the price of the product especially in countries that are bordering Nigeria.”
The Bauchi governor said the NEC realised that the price differential between Nigeria and her immediate neighbours is one of the reasons why the product is being smuggled, thereby causing its scarcity in the country.
While Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer keeps its official price at N145 per litre, the price is as high as N375 per litre in neighbouring countries like Chad, according to a petrol price monitoring website, globalpetrolprices.com. The NNPC and other government agents and officials have blamed this price differential for the large scale smuggling of petrol to neighbouring countries. Critics have however described such large scale smuggling as failure of government that has failed to secure the country’s borders.
He said Mr. Baru told the council that the scarcity is also partly caused by an inter-play of the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar and the price of crude oil at the international market which affects the landing cost of refined products in Nigeria.
He said the process makes the operation of the N145 price almost impossible without some measured assistance. The NNPC had recently said it was bearing the loss on behalf of Nigerians for petrol to be sold at N145 per litre.
“As at today, most, if not all independent marketers have stopped importing refined products into Nigeria. It is only the NNPC that has been doing it. And the NNPC has been suffering a lot of setbacks.
“If the product lands at N170 for example and you sell at N145, immediately you know that you have an under recovery of about N25 for each litre of fuel,” the Bauchi governor said.
The Minister of State for Petroluem Resource, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, also yesterday, however, said the government was not considering a price hike.
He said the federal government is set to finalise the decision on the private sector financiers for the rehabilitation of the country’s three refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri.
Kachikwu had said last October that government was planning to select, this February, successful bidders from the list of 26 firms that submitted bids to refurbish the four refineries.
“We are almost at a threshold of finalising the process of selection (of bid winners). The successful bidders could be announced by January or February next year,” Mr. Kachikwu said.
Yesterday, Kachikwu said the overhaul of the refineries would see Nigeria become a net exporter of petroleum products by 2019.
He lamented the lingering fuel scarcity across the country, blaming the inability of government to address the problem on logistics and policy issues.
He spoke in Abuja while addressing reporters on his ministry’s plan to host the Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), a new oil and gas conference and exhibition scheduled for next week in Abuja.
To resolve the current fuel supply crisis, which resurfaced in the country in November last year, he said government would need to address certain fundamental policy issues, especially with regards to petrol pricing.
“Behind the scenes, a lot of meetings are taking place, because the fuel queue issue borders on both logistics and policy issues,” he said.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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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.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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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.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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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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