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Buhari Approves Drop In Petrol Pump Price To N125 …NNPC, PPPRA Confirm Fuel Price Reduction

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reduction in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from N145 per litre to N125.
The reduction was as a result of the slump in the international crude oil price from $60 to $30, causing fear of a possible economic crisis.
The approval followed a presentation by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday.
The minister briefed the council on the need to reduce the pump price following the global fall in oil price.
The minister said that already he had met with members of the organized labour in the oil and gas sector before proceeding to make the formal announcement for the price adjustment.
He said that the organized labour was happy with the reduction in petroleum pump price.
A statement by the minister read thus: “The drop in crude oil prices has lowered the expected open market price of imported petrol below the official pump price of N145 per liter.
“Therefore, Mr. President has approved that Nigerians should benefit from the reduction in the price of PMS which is a direct effect of the crash in global crude oil prices.
“In view of this situation, based on the price modulation template approved in 2015, the Federal Government is directing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to reduce the ex-coastal and ex-depot prices of PMS to reflect current market realities.
“Also, the PPPRA shall subsequently issue a monthly guide to NNPC and marketers on the appropriate pricing regime.
“The agency is further directed to modulate pricing in accordance with prevailing market dynamics and respond appropriately to any further oil market development.
“It is believed that this measure will have a salutary effect on the economy, provide relief to Nigerians and would provide a framework for a sustainable supply of PMS to our country.
“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources will continue to encourage the use of compressed natural gas to complement PMS utilization as a transport fuel.”
It was reliably gathered that the outbreak of COVID-19, has made the international crude oil price to crash from $60 to $30, causing fear of a possible economic crisis.
He said the new price regime takes effect immediately and that the NNPC and PPPRA will take care of the implementation.
Responding to the president’s directive, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), yesterday, announced that it had reviewed its ex-coastal, ex-depot and NNPC retail pump prices.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, confirmed this in a statement he personally signed yesterday evening.
The release made available to newsmen, noted that the development was compliance with the directives of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva on PMS pricing.
Kyari noted that effective March 19, 2020, NNPC, ex-coastal price for PMS has been reviewed downwards from N117.6/litre to N99.44/litre.
Similarly, ex-depot price is reduced from N133.28/litre to N113.28/litre.
He said these reductions will, therefore, translate to N125/litre retail pump price.
Kyari added that despite “the obvious cost implication of this immediate adjustment to the corporation, NNPC is delighted to effect this massive reduction of N20/litre for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“Accordingly, all NNPC retail stations nationwide have been directed to change the retail pump price to N125/litre”, the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, according to sources, has scheduled to meet with members of the organized labour in the oil and gas sector before proceeding to make an announcement.
However, the Federal Government has been told to suspend its plans to sell its stakes in Joint Venture oil assets until the situation in the international crude oil market and global economy improves.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on its forthcoming 2020 Oloibiri Lecture and Energy Forum Series, Chairman of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Nigerian Council, Mr. Joe Nwakwue, disclosed that the decision of the government to sell its joint venture stakes was the right one, noting, however, that it should not proceed with the sale until a future date.
According to him, with the current declining price of crude oil in the international market, the government would not get the fair value from the assets if it chooses to proceed with the sale within this period of high volatility in the crude oil market.
In addition, Nwakwue called for clear policy from the Federal Government as it relates to the oil and gas sector, as this is critical to attracting the much-needed investment in the petroleum industry.
For instance, he blamed the divestment of international oil companies from the Nigerian downstream petroleum industry on lack of clarity in policies and on government’s participation in the sector.
According to him, the reason why asset disposal is rampant in the downstream sector was because it is impossible for a private sector player to compete against a state-owned entity.
He, however, noted that the international oil companies’ divestment from the downstream sector was not a signal of loss of confidence in the sector, noting that if the role of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was reduced in the market today, a number of multinationals would return to the sector.
Nwakwue said, “The disposal from the downstream sector is because it is difficult to compete against a state-owned entity. So, why would you create a situation where the NNPC becomes a major supplier of the market and you expect those entities to exist and continue to compete with an NNPC? It does not.
“No sensible investor goes to compete against a state-owned entity, because you will not win. This is because the state-owned entity has all the power and strength of the state behind it. You cannot win. Your best bet is to partner with the entity.”
He further disclosed that the inability of the country to fix its refineries was more as a result of institutional challenges than technical challenges.
He noted that the fact that the country was unable to revamp the refineries after several years of dilapidation was a reflection of the failure of the state to effectively manage its assets.
Nwakwue explained that the refineries can be revamped, adding that the problems of the facilities were not technical but institutional.
He said, “Running refineries is not rocket science. Refineries are run everywhere in the world. I had worked in a company whose refinery built in 1932, was still running till today.
“That we cannot run the refineries here have more to do with institutional challenges than technical challenges. We can see that private refineries are coming and they would be run. It is not that we cannot run refineries, Nigeria can run refineries.

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Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.

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Buhari Seeks NASS’ Amendment Of PIA …Wants NNPC, EFCC Boards’ Confirmation

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President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, seeking an amendment to the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
President Muhammadu Buhari also sought the House of Representatives’ amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act, including removal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from the boards of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
In the letter, Buhari wants an amendment to the new Act to allow for the removal of the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying that they can continue to perform their functions without necessarily being members of the board.
In the letter read, yesterday, during plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Buhari is also seeking for the amendment to allow the Non-Executive Members to be increased from two to six in the national interest.
The President, in three other letters to the Senate, asked for the confirmation of nominees into the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The three confirmation letters from the President were read in yesterday’s plenary by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
In a letter dated September 16, 2021, Buhari stated that the request to confirm the chairman, chief executive and executive directors for the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was being made in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The nominees for confirmation into the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Board are: Idaere Gogo Ogan (chairman); Engr. Sarki Auwalu (chief executive); Abiodun A. Adeniji (executive director, Finance and Accounts); and Ogbugo Ukoha (executive director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure).
In another letter also dated September 16, 2021, the President while relying on the provision of Section 11(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of four nominees as chairman, chief executive and executive commissioners to the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
The nominees are: Isa Ibrahim Modibo (chairman); Engr. Gbenga Komolafe (chief executive); Hassan Gambo (executive commissioner, Finance and Accounts); and Ms Rose Ndong (executive commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management).
According to the President, requests for the confirmation of the board’s membership were made “in order to fast track the process for the establishment of the commission”.
In the third letter dated September 17, 2021, Buhari requested the upper legislative chamber to confirm the appointment of the secretary and board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He explained that the request for the confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the provision of Section 2(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Those to be confirmed include George Abbah Ekpungu, secretary (Cross River); Luqman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Raheem Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).
At the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter attached to an executive bill presented to the House by Buhari at the opening of plenary, yesterday.
The proposals also include the appointment of non-executive board members; removal of the ministries from the boards of the two institutions; and appointment of executive directors to the boards.
The President’s requests to the House of Representatives are a rehearsal of the same demands he made to the Senate.
It would be recalled that the joint National Assembly committees that worked on the PIB had proposed five per cent equity share for the development of the host communities but the Senate-led the campaign for its reduction to three per cent while the House of Representatives approved the panel’s recommendation.
The conference committee set up by the presiding officers of both chambers in their recommendation, fixed the equity share at three per cent and was invariably approved by the National Assembly.
The development generated into controversy with senators from the South-South geopolitical zone kicking against it and asked Buhari to resolve the impasse by seeking amendment to increase the equity share to five per cent.
However, the new amendments proposed by the President did not address the concerns of the South-South stakeholders.
Rather, Buhari’s fresh request centred basically on the need to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Buhari is seeking the senators’ approval to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.
He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.
“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.
“Therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as oil industry.
“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country”.
The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
He said the two ministers already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.
He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.
“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being the same rank with the directors in the institution
“This may bring some complications in some decision making, especially on issues of staff related matters.”
Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.
He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.
“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected to Senate confirmation. These category of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the authority.
“In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority.
Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.
He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions”.

By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Emohua, Three Kalabari LGAs Partner On Joint Security

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The Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd, has met with his counterparts from the three Kalabari-speaking local government areas; Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru, to review the security situation along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, and plan strategies for a joint network to checkmate any infractions in the security of the LGs.
The meeting, which was held at the instance of Lloyd at the headquarters of Emohua Local Government Area, followed the recent abduction of an expatriate attached to Lubrik Construction Company; the contractor handling the construction of Trans-Kalabari Road by yet to be identified gunmen.
The chairmen of Akuku-Toru, Degema, and Asari-Toru LGAs, Hon Roland Sekibo, Hon Michael John Williams, and Hon Onengiyeofori George; respectively, in their separate remarks, commended Lloyd for initiating the process for a partnership to improve the security of lives and property along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, which presently calls for concern.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting which lasted for hours, Lloyd said the meeting condemned the abduction of the expatriate staff, who was supervising the construction work being executed by the Rivers State Government on Trans-Kalabari Road.
The council chairmen also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate by his abductors, as well as the apprehension of the masterminds of the reprehensible act by security agencies.
The meeting further agreed to set up a local security outfit with members drawn from the four local government areas to support the security agencies in providing effective security along the Emohua-Kalabari Road.
Lloyd said the meeting was also expected to be hosted concurrently amongst the four local government areas, with a view to strengthening the relationship between the LGAs as well as the promotion of the socio-economic development of the area.
The chairmen also appointed Hon Lolo Ibiene to serve as their rapporteur.

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