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Oil Price Fall And Nigeria’s Economy

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At the 7th All Nigeria
Guild of Editors conference held in Benin, the Edo State capital on Thursday, September 22, 2011, the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, raised alarm that should oil  price drop below $80 per barrel in the international market, some state governments in Nigeria would not be able to pay salaries to their workers.
El-Rufai, who was speaking on the topic, “Perspectives on the Cost of Governance in Nigeria”, had strongly noted that pegging of oil price as high as $75 then in the national budget was unrealistic and not good for Nigeria’s economy.
The minister was being as prophetic as many individuals and organizations who believed that the nation’s economy which is oil dominated would be in a quagmire, should any unforeseen surprises affect the oil price in the global market.
Various experts had also, for too long been consistent in expressing strong need for drastic reduction in the high cost of Nigerian governance which gulps as high as 25% of the annual budget and one of the highest in the world.
They had equally suggested diversification of the economy from oil to other sectors particularly agriculture which hold high promises for food on the table of the average Nigerian, mass employment, raw material for industrialization and foreign exchange earning.
While most nations of the world had strategized to contain such possible economic fears, most African governments also took bold steps in preparations for the economic uncertainties, but some deaf-and-dumb governments had preferred what goes directly into the individual pockets of the leaders than the general good of the citizens. Billions of Dollars meant for constituency funds, furniture extravagant travelling allowances, amongst others find their ways to the law makers and their crowd of primal aides.
Today, the reality is not only knocking at our doors but is quite here with us. The present systematic drop in the oil price which experts predict could slide far below $50 per barrel benchmark before the end of 2015 has become Nigeria’s undoing.
Many state governments in Nigeria today are owing months of salaries arrears to their workers while contractors have abandoned projects execution because the oil price then predicted had fallen below budgetary calculations and states lack the funds to pay.
Some private schools in Port Harcourt have already given notice of increase in school fees, landlords are also threatening to raise rent, labour unions are ironically agitating for pay rise in view of recent devaluation of Naira occasioned by dramatic drop of oil price in global market even as state governments insist they would not review the $65 per barrel benchmark on which they proposed their 2015 budgets. Where would these excoriations take the nation to in the present economic situation determined by global economic reality?
An economist, George Clement, is of the view that time has come for Nigeria to elect leaders who have the capacity to proffer solutions to the socio-economic challenges confronting the nation as against empty promises for which most Nigerian political leaders are known.
“The era of touts aspiring for public offices should be over. It is time to look beyond sweet talks and empty promises now that campaign period in Nigeria is around the corner”, said Clement.
He said, “our leaders had since the oil boom of the 70s refused to do the right thing. Billions of Naira had consistently been swallowed up by the pockets of fraudulent leaders”, he remarked noting that the future generations may have nothing to be proud of about their nation if the real change is not effected.
Another respondent, Mrs Mary Jonathan, in her own reaction is challenging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to trace the loots of the nation wherever they might have been hidden.
“Yes, it  appears late but not too late. We cannot continue to wallow in poverty in a rich country while few persons in the name of politics continue to cart away our resources”, she stressed.
Jonathan appealed to the Federal Government to review the pump price downward to reflect the price of oil in the global market. “We cannot afford to pay more when actually the price has fallen. The N97 per litre of fuel is no longer realistic”, she maintained.
A civil servant, Makel Ndah, in his own reaction called for upward review of workers salary. “Since the Naira has been devalued, its exchange power has become weak, it is important that the government reviews workers salary upward to meet with the current market reality”.
A landlord in Port Harcourt Chief Clifford Nweke, said,” it is obvious that house rent would be reviewed since government has started to have a second look at the Naira.”
We are all Nigeirans, operating in the same market, so what affects one should equally affect the other. Yes some people will say landlords are wicked shylocks, but that is mere sentiment”, he maintained.
A private school proprietor who pleaded anonymity said, “we had our first Parent Teachers Meeting last week and the issue of increase of salaries was raised by the teachers and I told the parents to pray and watch because for me to pay higher workers salary means that the fees charged students would also be reviewed upward.
“Please don’t get me wrong, we have not increased school fees yet. What I am saying is that we in my school are studying the socio-economic variables. If workers salary goes up and other schools readjust to meet with the reality, we here would also adjust because we are part of the society”, he explained.
A Port Harcourt- based public analyst, Christian Nnamdi, said the issue calls for caution. “There is no need to panic yet. It is not a Nigerian thing but a global phenomenon. It does not affect only Nigeria but other nations of the world. Nigeria has many antidotes to the problem. So all we need to do is study the situation to know the dynamic nature of the change.
According to Nnamdi, the nation should not leave everything in the hands of politicians. “We need to protect the economy from the excesses of selfish Nigerian politicians and one way of doing that is to gather together some technocrats and experts in various fields especially economists. Let the think- tank develop an economic plan that should guide the policies and programmes.
Call it 25 years economic development plan. So that whichever political group that takes the mantle of leadership, will have to build whatever programme from the economic blue print.
Nnamdi blamed the woe of the nation on inconsistency of leadership, stressing that government should be seen as a continuation from where the former ends. “But you see, in Nigeria, any new administration is in the habit of abandoning the programmes of the previous administration at the detriment of so much fund sunk into such projects because they want to take credit.
“But with a long term economic development plan, new government can no longer abandon projects started by the former government. It has to inherit it and complete it for the people. This idea will make nonsense of the penchant for second term which is common in Nigeria,” he maintained.
It would be recalled that discovery of shale oil which increase supply in American oil market, a major importer of Nigeria’s oil has affected the oil supply in the global market. This high supply has reduced oil price in the global market and Nigeria, whose economy remains oil-driven is directly affected.
Nigeria whose budget depends on oil has been forced to review its oil benchmark resulting in austerity measures to contain the economic downturn.
Medium Term Expenditure framework which the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, submitted to the National Assembly, scaled down the nation’s budgetary estimate for 2015 to N4.661 trillion as against an initial N4.817 trillion.

 

Chris Oluoh

Some Transformers donated by the lawmaker representing Oyigbo in the RSHA Hon. Okechukwu .A. Nwuogu

Some Transformers donated by the lawmaker representing Oyigbo in the RSHA Hon. Okechukwu .A. Nwuogu

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US Plans To Reduce Gasoline Prices

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The Biden Administration is considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a potential tool to bring down the gasoline prices
Selling millions of barrels from the SPR may do precious little to impact the price of gasoline directly
·If the Administration were to opt for an SPR sale to increase the availability of crude, it could likely release up to 60 million barrels of crude oil
·The Biden Administration is considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a potential tool to bring down the gasoline prices in America that have hit a seven-year high this year.
However, selling millions of barrels from the SPR may do precious little to impact the price of gasoline directly, traders and analysts say.
A sale from the SPR could be one of “tools in the arsenal”—as U.S. President Joe Biden said this weekend – which the Administration could use to relieve the burden on households who have been paying in recent months the highest prices at the pump since 2014.
Yet, the U.S. may be able to release up to a tenth of the current stockpile in the SPR, traders have told Bloomberg. That wouldn’t be enough to bring down gasoline prices as much as the Administration possibly hopes, they warn.
Moreover, most of a potential sale could consist of sour crude grades, which currently are not the favorite of refiners because they need more natural gas—whose prices are much higher now—to process those sour grades into fuels.
SPR Release On The Table After OPEC+ Snub
“The SPR is certainly on the table as an option. The president will have more to say about that,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Friday when asked what America can do now to reduce gasoline prices.
President Biden is considering a release from the SPR as a possible move to reduce gasoline prices in the United States, after OPEC+ ignored on Thursday calls for putting extra barrels on the market, Secretary Granholm told Bloomberg last Friday.
The President could announce measures to address high gasoline prices as soon as this week, Granholm told MSNBC in an interview on Monday.
“Hopefully there will be an announcement or so this week,” Granholm told MSNBC, referring to the President’s possible moves.
“He’s certainly looking at what options he has in the limited range of tools a president might have to address the cost of gasoline at the pump, because it is a global market,” the energy secretary added.
Gasoline Prices Highest Since September 2014
Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline prices continued to climb despite the end of driving season two months ago.
In the week to November 8, “The price at the pump continued its slow climb, rising two cents on the week, with the national average for a gallon of gas hitting $3.42,” AAA said on Monday. That’s the highest since September 2014.
“The latest decision by OPEC and its oil-producing allies to maintain their planned gradual increase in output will not help lessen supply constraints, so any relief will most likely have to come from the demand side,” according to AAA.
Shorter days with the end of the daylight saving time could decrease demand for gasoline in coming weeks, AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said.
SPR Sale Will Likely Be Up To Three Days Of U.S. Petroleum Consumption
If the Administration were to opt for an SPR sale to increase the availability of crude, it could likely release up to 60 million barrels of crude oil, after accounting for mandatory sales pre-approved by Congress and the minimum volumes needed at the storage sites, a source at one of the world’s top oil trading houses told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity.
As of November 5, the SPR held 609.4 million barrels of crude oil, of which 252.5 million sweet crude and 356.9 million sour crude.
A release of up to 60 million barrels in theory would cover around three days worth of total U.S. petroleum consumption, which was 20.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the pre-pandemic 2019, per EIA data.
According to analysts, an SPR sale wouldn’t do much to reduce prices at the pump and relieve the burden on households amid inflationary pressure for all other goods.
“Other Tools In The Arsenal”
President Biden hinted during the weekend of “other tools in the arsenal” to tame rallying gasoline prices.
“There are other tools in the arsenal that we have to deal — and I’m dealing with other countries; at an appropriate time, I will talk about it — that we can get more energy in the — in the pipeline, figuratively and literally speaking,” President Biden said, referring to the oil market after OPEC+ snubbed the U.S. Administration’s call for extra supply.
On Monday, eleven Democratic Senators wrote a letter to President Biden “to express our support for your efforts to help families and businesses across the nation who are struggling to cope with soaring gasoline prices.”
“Continued U.S. exports and overseas supply collusion could be devastating to many in our states, contributing to higher bills for American families and businesses,” the Senators, including Elizabeth Warren, said.
“In light of these pressing concerns, we ask that you consider all tools available at your disposal to lower U.S. gasoline prices. This includes a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and a ban on crude oil exports. We hope you will consider these tools and others to make gasoline more affordable for all Americans,” the Senators wrote.
Faced with the highest gasoline prices in seven years and one of the worst fears of every American president—high prices at the pump, the U.S. Administration with the long-term clean energy agenda is now scrambling to provide immediate relief to people’s gasoline and energy bills.

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FG Increases Prices Of Electricity Meters

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The Federal Government has raised the cost of both single-phase and three-phase electricity meters.
In a circular dated November 11, 2021, issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, price of a single-phase meter has been increased from the current cost of N44,896.17 to a revised price of N58,661.69.
It also increased the price of a three-phase meter from the current cost of N82,855.19 to a revised rate of N109,684.36.
The memo with reference number NERC/REG/MAP/GEN/751/2, entitled ‘Review of the unit price of end-use meters under the Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations’; managing directors, all electricity distribution companies and all meter asset providers are to effect the increment from November 15, 2021.

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Seplat Energy Distances Self From Chairman

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Seplat Energy Plc has said that an ex parte order granted by the Federal High Court in Lagos has barred it from doing business with its Chairman, Dr. ABC Orjiako, and two energy firms.
A statement from the company on Tuesday, signed by its Director, Legal and Company Secretary, Mrs. Edith Onwuchekwa, said: “Seplat Energy has been made aware of the ex parte Interim Orders of Mareva Injunctions which were granted by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Nigeria in a court action instituted by Zenith Bank Plc against Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited and eight others, with an additional 29 cited parties.
“The Interim Orders give an administrative mandate to Seplat Energy Plc and others not to deal with the assets of (or transfer funds to) Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited, Shebah Petroleum Development Company Limited and Dr. A.B.C. Orjiako.
“The order has no impact on the operations of Seplat Energy. We understand the injunction relates to loans made by Zenith Bank Plc to Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited in 2014.”

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