There are indications that the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would be under more pressure to fund Nigeria’s petrol under-recovery or a subsidy as the price of Bonny Light rises to $65 per barrel in May, 2021.
This showed an increase of 150 per cent when juxtaposed against $26 per barrel recorded in the corresponding period of 2020 when the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, and low demand for crude oil had culminated in low prices.
However, the current high prices of crudes, and by extension petrol is attributed to the re-opening of many economies, the discovery of Coronavirus pandemic vaccines and the efforts of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to achieve market stability.
The 16th Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting of the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC), which took place via teleconference on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, under the Chairmanship of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman; and Co-Chair, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Alexander Novak, had raised hope for increased stability.
In a statement, OPEC, had stated, “The Meeting emphasized the ongoing positive contributions of the Declaration of Cooperation in supporting a rebalancing of the global oil market in line with the historic decisions taken at the 10th (Extraordinary) OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting (ONOMM) on April 12, 2020 to adjust downwards overall crude oil production, and subsequent decisions.
“The meeting highlighted the continuing recovery in the global economy, supported by unprecedented levels of monetary and fiscal support, while noting that the recovery is expected to pick up speed in the second half of the year.
The ministerial meeting emphasized, however, that Covid-19 cases are rising in a number of countries, despite the ongoing vaccination campaigns, and that the resurgence could hamper the economic and oil demand recovery.
“The meeting reviewed the monthly report prepared by the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), including the crude oil production data for March, 2021, and welcomed the positive performance of the participating countries.
Overall conformity to the production adjustments was 115 per cent in March, 2021, reinforcing the trend of high conformity by the participating countries.
The meeting expressed its “appreciation to the participating countries that performed beyond expectation in March, 2021, with total over-conformed volumes of 1.23 mb/d.”
Commenting on the development, a Port Harcourt-based analyst, Dr. Bala Zaka, said, “With the rise in oil price, it would now cost more to procure and refine crude oil, meaning that the cost would be transferred to Nigeria as the nation currently imports all its petrol from the global market.”
The downstream sector of Nigeria’s petroleum industry was deregulated in March, 2020, when the prices of crude were relatively low at less than $35 per barrel, meaning that the cost of refining and price of petrol were relatively cheaper then.
In its April, 2020 report, OPEC confirmed that, “Crude oil prices collapsed in March, 2020, recording their deepest monthly drop since the global financial crisis in 2008.
“The ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic were the main driving force, resulting in unprecedented worldwide oil demand shock and massive sell-offs in the global oil markets, amid a significant crude surplus.”
But the greatest pressure is currently fuelled by the smuggling of the product to neighbouring countries, especially Cameroun, Chad, Niger, and Benin.
The investigation, weekend, showed that increased smuggling of petrol across Nigeria’s borders has put pressure on the NNPC to meet the national daily demand, currently estimated at ‘72.72 million litres’ as the smuggled product goes for between N300 and N500 per litre in these nations.
However, in an interview, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Adetunji Oyebanji, who is also the Managing Director, 11 Plc, said the huge price differential across the borders, provides an adequate incentive for smugglers.
He said, “The incentive is much. Even if you put the angels at the borders, the differential is too much. The only solution is to bridge the gap and remove the incentive. If not, it will continue.”
Nevertheless, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) said it has sealed many stations nationwide for committing various offences, including under-dispensing and hoarding, but not much has been achieved in the battle against petroleum products diversion.
Nevertheless, the National President of Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), Dr. Billy Gillis-Harry, maintained that, once the deregulation is properly outlined and the rules of engagement brought out, its members, comprising major and independent marketers, as well as depot owners, are ready to commence fuel import.
“In reality, there is no way any marketer, retail outlet owners, or tanker and depot owners, would invest in a business they cannot be certain that they would make a profit.”
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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