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NNPC Denies Funding 2019 Elections With Oil Traders’ Bribes

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has  reacted to an allegation that fees that trading firms paid agents to win oil contracts from the corporation might have raised funds for the country’s past two elections.
Nigeria’s past two general elections held in 2015 and 2019.
The contest for the presidential seat was mainly between ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, while it was between Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
Buhari was declared winner in the two elections.
Citing lawsuits in London and New York, Bloomberg had reported last Friday that an ex-BP Plc oil trader alleged that cargo allocations by the NNPC could have contributed to preparations for general elections in 2019.
The report said a former Glencore Plc employee in July admitted paying a middleman $300,000 to secure a crude shipment from the NNPC, understanding the money would be spent on the nationwide election that took place four years earlier.
The NNPC, through its Direct Sale of Crude Oil and Direct Purchase of Petroleum Product scheme, awards contracts that allow companies, including international trading houses and indigenous firms, to lift crude oil in return for the delivery and supply of petroleum products. The contracts are usually for one year. 
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr Garba-Deen Muhammad, has, however, refuted the allegation.
“[It’s] not true, and I think that is obvious if you read the story with an open mind,” he said via a text message to a national daily. 
Jonathan Zarembok, who left BP’s West Africa desk last year, was quoted as saying in the suit that he suspected that fees paid by the United Kingdom energy giant to obtain NNPC contracts would go toward the 2019 elections.
He filed an employment claim against BP, alleging that he was fired for raising concerns about the large sums being transferred to intermediaries to win business in Nigeria.
Zarembok was quoted as saying in a witness statement made public this month that emails sent in 2017 by a BP executive in Nigeria were a “clear red flag” and implied “there would be pressure to pay bribes”.
According to Bloomberg, the emails discussed how preparations for elections would get underway in 2018.
“We understand what that means,” the executive wrote.
He said the company then wired $900,000 in fees to a local agent after securing two oil cargoes from NNPC.
“BP is defending in full and denies all allegations made by the claimant,” Bloomberg quoted the company as saying in a statement.
It said BP declined further comment while Zarembok’s case at a London employment tribunal continues.
The report noted that similar details emerged two months ago, when Anthony Stimler, who left Glencore in 2019, pleaded guilty to corruption and money-laundering charges.
It said Stimler was notified in September 2014 that “Foreign Official 1” was asking all NNPC clients to pay an advance on each cargo “in connection with a then-upcoming political election,” according to US court filings.
He then had Glencore wire $300,000 to an intermediary company, which prosecutors said was used “to pay bribes to Nigerian officials.”
US prosecutors outlined how Stimler and others paid bribes worth millions of dollars in several countries, including to NNPC officials, between 2007 and 2018, according to the report.

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‘Xerox Committed To Growth Of Nigeria’s Economy’

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Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Xerox Nigeria Limited, Engr. Femi Abidoye has said that the company is committed to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Abidoye said this during the customers’ forum/products exhibition themed, “Xerox Business Solutions For Digital Transformation In The 21th Century”, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said captains of industry, SMEs, Startups, big players in the oil and gas industry, and politicians should patronise the company’s products to empower the youth.
Speaking earlier at the programme, the MD described Xerox as the foremost document management solution provider with a global reputation and unbeatable track record in quality service delivery, excellent products innovation, clear market leader in Africa and household name in reprographic market in Nigeria.
He said the company commenced business operation in Lagos five decades ago, adding that it has partnered with all states in the South-South and south-Eastzones through its dealership network.
“Knowledge is no doubt a powerful tool in our quest to move forward, which is why a better knowledge and appreciation of the use and application of Xerox equipment as it relates to storage and retrieval cannot be overlooked in our overall consideration”.
He said the company has been blazing the trail as the foremost document management provider.
“Permit me to say that the overall objective of this digital transformation exhibition will have tremendous impact on the ever-changing technological advancement, communication and developmental stride in our overall economic advantage with world-class productivity,efficiency, return on investment and cost-saving initiative”.
Chairman of occasion, Dr. Kenneth Okujagu, said Xerox has been known for its quality.
He commended the company for maintaining the quality, and called for it to be sustained.

By: John Bibor

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FG To Maximise Local Content Opportunities In Midstream, Downstream Sectors

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The Federal Government has expressed firm determination to fully catalyse investments in the midstream and downstream sectors of the petroleum sector, with a view to creating employment for teeming youths and maximising local content opportunities.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva gave assurance when he declared open the Nigerian Content Midstream and Downstream Oil and Gas Summit organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Lagos.
He stated that the Nigerian oil and gas industry was currently in the phase of exploring the vast opportunities and potentials associated with the midstream and downstream sectors, and commended the NCDMB for intervening to foster dynamism in the sectors through the summit.
He acknowledged that the midstream and downstream sectors did not receive the deserved focus in the past but hinted that the situation was set to change because the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) contains fiscal incentives to attract investment in gas development, distribution, penetration, and utilisation and provides exceptional care for host communities.
He charged industry stakeholders to take determined steps to unlock natural gas and domestic production potentials and use the opportunities in the gas ecosystem to drag millions of Nigerians out of energy poverty.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr. SimbiKesiyeWabote affirmed that the board was keen to maximize Local Content opportunities in the midstream and downstream sectors because they offer the greatest number of employment opportunities as well as longevity of jobs in contrast to the upstream sector of the oil industry.
“This provides means to absorb outputs of our Human Capacity Development programs in the form of job opportunities,” he added.
He also stated that the entry barrier for businesses to partake in the midstream and downstream sectors of the industry is relatively lower compared to the upstream sector and there are vast business opportunities in the midstream to downstream sectors, ranging from processing, transportation, storage, and distribution that could be started on small scale and later scaled up to bigger enterprises thereby growing in-country capacities and capabilities.
According to Wabote, the profit margin is also attractive in the midstream and downstream, especially in the LPG distribution value chain and this serves as an incentive to attract a wider number of players.
He emphasized the need to maximise the potentials of the midstream and downstream sectors to ensure energy security and national pride, adding that the direct social impact of a productive and efficient midstream and downstream sector of the oil and gas industry also needs to be maximised.
The executive secretary further explained that the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act established NCDMB as the regulator of Nigerian Content in the entire spectrum of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
He added that the board’s regulatory role is not to stifle the industry but to provide enabling, and inclusive, business environment for businesses to thrive with the active participation of critical stakeholders.
Giving a rundown of the board’s achievements in the midstream and downstream sectors, he listed the partnership with Waltersmith, which resulted in the delivery of the 5,000barrels per day modular refinery in Imo State, the 2,500barrels per day Duport Modular Refinery located in Edo State, which is due for commissioning this year as well as the 2,000barrels per day Atlantic Refinery and the 12,000barrels/day Azikel Hydro-skimming Refinery both in BayelsaState, which are under construction.
Other achievements of the board include the partnership with the NNPC to construct a 50,000liters petroleum products terminal in Brass, the partnership with Bunorr Integrated Energy Ltd for the establishment of 48,000 liters/day Base Oil Production Facility in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which is due for commissioning this year and the ongoing construction of the Eraskon Lube Oil factory in Gbarain, Bayelsa State
Dwelling on the LPG value chain, he stated that the board had gone into partnership with some investors to develop some projects.
Some of them included the partnership with NEDO Gas Processing Company in Kwale, Delta State for the establishment of 80MMscfd of Gas Processing Plant and a 300MMscfd Kwale Gas Gathering hub, partnership with Triansel Gas Limited in Koko, Delta State for the establishment of 5,000MT LPG Storage and Loading Terminal Facility and partnership with Brass Fertiliser for the development of a 10,000MT/day Methanol Plant at Odiama in Brass.
Others are the partnership with Butane Energy to roll out LPG Bottling Plants and Depots in Abuja and 10 northern states and partnership with Southfield Petroleum for the establishment of 200 MMscfd gas processing plant at Utorogu, Delta State to produce 123,000MTPA of LPG, which is about 10percent of current LPG demand nationwide.
Other investments include the partnership with MOB Integrated Services for the construction of the 500MT Inland LPG terminal which is currently in operation at Dikko, Niger State as well as the partnership with Amal Technologies to set up a plant in Abuja to produce Smart Gas/Smoke Detector Alarm devices.

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Withdrawal Of Naira Notes: Stakeholders Call For Caution

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has debunked rumours that it is planning to withdraw naira notes from circulation and replace it with its digital currency, the eNaira, which was launched  last October by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that stakeholders had warned the apex bank to desist from such move.
Director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, at the weekend, noted that, the statement purportedly to have been made during a stakeholders’ engagement on eNaira adoption in Asaba, Delta State, was misconstrued.
He, therefore called on the public to disregard such information in its entirety.
The eNaira is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that was rolled out to improve financial inclusion in the country, reduce the cost of transactions, and boost security in the financial system.
According to Nwanisobi, the digital version of the Naira is meant to complement the existing currency notes and, therefore, will circulate simultaneously as a means of exchange and store of value.
On the benefits of adopting the eNaira, he said the digital legal tender, aside from the safety and speedy features, will also ensure greater access to financial services by the underbanked and unbanked populace, thereby enhancing financial inclusion.
Nwanisobi, therefore, urged members of the public and business owners to embrace the digital currency, the eNaira, saying it offers more possibilities.
Meanwhile, the eNaira speed wallet is expected to have another update which will allow users to pay bills and conumate online shopping payments directly from their wallets.
Stakeholders have, however, queried the decision of the government over planned removal of Naira notes from circulation.
They noted that in civilised societies, physical money exists side by side with other forms of financial transactions.
Speaking in an interview the The Tide’s source, the President of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees of Nigeria (NUBIFIE), Comrade Anthony  Abakpa, expressed wonder how such a policy could be brought out without enough preparation and enough awareness.
“The CBN ought to give enough time to enable Nigerians prepare for it. CBN should know that not every Nigerian is having bank account, talkless of e-money. Most of them who cannot write would not be carried along.

“What CBN needs most is ability to educate everyone on it and save people from demoralisation, because it will demoralise and be cumbersome to many people and they will lose confidence in government.

“CBN should run both physical and e-money together, not total removal of physical notes from circulation”, Abakpa said.

On his part, the General Secretary of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ISSAN), Comrade Lucky Odigie, urged Federal Government to desist from policy summersaults.

He said, “Federal Government should not start what it will not be able to sustain. In fact, this policy has already failed before birth.

“How can Government just wake up with policy that would add more burdens to the masses that have already been pushed to the wall?”

Odigie also advised FG to always put the interest of the masses first in all their planning in order to reduce harsh economic situations that are pushing some into vices.

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