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Energy Sector: Nigeria Assures US Of Improved Transparency

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Nigeria has assured the United States of improved transparency in the activities of the country’s energy sector.

Mrs Elizabeth Emuren, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, gave the assurance in Washington D.C. at the maiden meeting of the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission (BNC) Working Group on Energy and Investment.

The two-day high-level meeting is taking place at the U.S. State Department with a 24-man delegation from Nigeria and a 47-man team from the U.S.

Reports say that the meeting is coming three weeks after the maiden meeting of the Working Group on Governance and Democracy in Abuja.

Emuren, who is the leader of the Nigerian delegation, expressed optimism that the meeting would encourage more U.S. direct investment in power infrastructure and manufacturing in Nigeria.

The delegations are expected to sign an agreement on electricity generation in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian Government expects that the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission will usher in improved transparency in the energy sector and enhance better demand-supply relationship in general goods and services,” Emuren said.

She noted that the resolution from the working group would also support ongoing effort to improve gas production, power generation, transmission and distribution in the country.

Mr David Goldwyn, the U.S. State Department’s Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, is the leader of the country’s 47-man delegation.

The U.S. group is made up of government officials and notable private energy companies such as Chevron, ExonMobil, General Electric Power and Halliburton.

The International Finance Organisation Group, Overseas Private Corporation Structured and Patton Boggs, a business law firm, are also on the U.S. delegation.

The working group later went into a private meeting to listen to presentations from delegates on power generation, gas production, investment and private sector participation.

The meeting is also expected to hold round table discussions on some pertinent issues in the Nigerian energy sector, including the Petroleum Industry Bill, a comprehensive bill designed to reform the oil industry.

The legislation is scheduled to be passed in August.

The meting also discussed the Local Content Bill, fuel subsidy reform, tariffs and pricing in the electricity sector.

Senior officials from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Ministries of Commerce, Energy and Foreign Affairs as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are on the Nigerian delegation.

On the NNPC, it would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had in May ordered a comprehensive audit of the corporation’s accounts after the sack of Alhaji Shehu Ladan as the Group Managing Director.

The Federal Government has given assurance that unlike previous audits, the current process will be transparent, as the public will be carried along in the different stages.

Government officials say local and international firms have already been invited to execute the directive.

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FG To Revive 46 Abandoned Housing Projects Across Nig

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The Federal Government, through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria(FMBN), has initiated a rehabilitation process to revive about 46 abandoned housing projects nationwide.
The bank said this would be achieved through a partnership with Shelter Afrique Development Bank, a Pan-African finance institution that exclusively supports the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa.
The FMBN Managing Director, Shehu Usman Osidi, stated this while hosting the management of Shelter Afrique Development Bank recently in Abuja, noting that the bank had made reviving the housing estates a priority.
According to him, the intensified collaboration will help provide construction and mortgage financing to developers in Nigeria.
He said, “Nigeria has over 46 abandoned projects in the 36 states and the FMBN is determined to revive them.
“Our findings show that banks have entered into a housing financing agreement with states where the state governments are expected to provide infrastructure for these estates, but unfortunately many states reneged and the projects were abandoned.
“We have explored the product offerings of Shelter Afrique Development Bank and found out that they offer infrastructure financing, so we want to bring them on board to offer this financing so we can finish up the projects and hand them over to many Nigerians who need shelter.”
Osidi further noted that Nigeria, the second largest shareholder in the bank with about 15 per cent holding, will explore areas of funding to achieve its target of delivering 100,000 housing units to Nigerians this year.
He mentioned that the FMBN is currently reviewing previously abandoned memoranda of understanding that were signed with the organisation. This review is aimed at exploring the benefits that Nigerians could gain from this renewed partnership.
Also speaking, the CEO of Shelter Afrique, Thierno-Habib Hann, said the organisation was in Nigeria to promote its development financing agenda and identify Nigeria as a destination for investments with over $25bn in Diaspora remittances each year.
He said, “We are ready to collaborate with FMBN and other institutions across Nigeria to address the housing gap. The challenges are there and the opportunities are also there. As a development finance institution, we are very well positioned to collaborate with the government of Nigeria and in this trip, we met all the leadership including the vice president of the Federal  Republic of Nigeria who is fully committed to driving the growth of the sector and invest more in the sector knowing that housing creates jobs.”
Meanwhile, the bank has said it collected about N100billion in remittances through the National Housing Fund (NHF) in 2023.
The NHF scheme was established by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to facilitate the continuous flow of low-cost funds for long-term investment in housing, through 2.5 per cent monthly deductions from employees earning a basic salary.

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Master Bakers Strike; Factional Group Pulls Out

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A factional group, the Supreme Bakers and Confectioners Association of Nigeria(SBCAN), has opted out from the announced strike of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCON).
AMBCON had on February 14th announced it’s proposed strike which  commenced yesterday February 27th due to Federal Government’s failure to honour agreement reached with the association in 2020.
The association also called for temporary suspension of all forms of taxation on the bakery industry at the Federal, State and Local Government levels.
However, in a statement on Monday, some bakers under the umbrella of Supreme Bakers and Confectioners Association of Nigeria said embarking on strike at a time Nigerians are going through a lot is uncalled for and could exacerbate the situation.
Acting National President of the association, Edmund Egbuji, in a statement on Monday, urged all members of the group not to participate in the strike.
”The Board of Trustee (BOT) chairman and the entire members of the board in conjunction with the national exco of Supreme Bakers and Confectioners Association of Nigeria wish to bring to the notice of the general public that Supreme Bakers Association will not embark on a nationwide withdrawal of services (strike) proposed by some bakers association in the country.
“Supreme bakers deem it as unpatriotic at this time of food insecurity and scarcity in the country. Going on strike will never be an option rather the government through its relevant ministries should call for a roundtable discussion to cushion the effects of food scarcity plight.
“All members of the supreme bakers are hereby directed to go about the business of feeding the nation as any contrary action will add to the pains of the overstretched citizens”, the statement posited.

Corlins Walter

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Price Hike: BCPG  Fears Increased Building Collapse 

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The Building Collapse Prevention Guild(BCPG) has expressed concern that the continuous rise in  prices  in building materials may lead to an increase in the use of substandard goods, exacerbating building collapse in the country.
National President of BCPG, Sulaiman Yusuf, stated this during the BCPG sensitisation walks, with the theme “Walking towards Zero Building Collapses,” held in Lagos .
He said, “The expected rise in the cost of building materials such as cement, fittings, and even wages for artisans and professionals in the built environment would eventually have a ripple effect that would see a further proliferation of substandard goods as more builders seek to cut cost by all means and an increase in the patronage of quacks and untrained artisans.
“The effects of these emerging menaces may not be felt immediately, but in three to four years, we may begin to see even more building collapses.
“This sensitisation walk is, therefore, an opportunity to bring this emerging challenge to our attention and is also a call to action.
“The Ministry of Physical Planning and the Office of Urban Development have strong roles to play. They must double their efforts in ensuring that building standards are kept by all builders and must begin to fund research or operationalise the results of previous research on local building materials.”
According to Yusuf, it has become necessary to look inward to reduce the effects of a depreciating naira.
“The Standard Organisation of Nigeria also must take extra care in ensuring that only quality building materials are in the market. We must have a hard line on this,” he advised.
Yusuf emphasised that the plummeting value of the naira, reaching nearly N1,500 against the dollar within six-month would result in a continuous escalation of building material prices.
He stated, “The government must train even more artisans and professionals in the built environment. It is my strong opinion that each local government area must have at least one training school where youths can get trained and become skilled in different areas of the built industry.
“Also, special scholarships should be provided for students offering courses in the built environment to encourage more of them to participate effectively. The youth must be encouraged to know that they do not need to ‘japa’ or turn to a life of crime to become successful in life.
“Regulatory fees should also be reviewed, as the government is advised to see the Ministry of Physical Planning and the Office of Urban Development as agencies for regulation and not revenue generation.”

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