Kwara Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed Signs $56m Chinese Investment Deal, 3000 Jobs To Be Created

Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed has signed a $56m deal with Mr. Shi Zengchao of Ningbo Jinsheng Star Import and Export Co Ltd for the establishment of Kwara Chetex Textiles Industry.

The $56m investment deal expected to create 3000 local jobs was signed at the 18th China Zhejland Investment and Trade Symposium in China.

The deal Abusidiqu gathered is part the plans by the governor to reduce the unemployment rate in the country in general and the state in particular.

Governor Ahmed is currently on business tour of China from which he aimed at bringing in investors into the state and shore up its internally generated revenue.

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2500 Jobs Created As Elrufai Commissions State Traffic Agency [Photos]

No less than 2,500 jobs was created by the Kaduna State government on Tuesday with the commissioning of the Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency, KASTELEA.

The commissioning of the agency follows the disbandment of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services in the state.

Governor Nasir El Rufai commissioned the agency with himself adorned in the uniform designed for the outfit.

Check out more photos…

 

 

 

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‘There Is Nothing Like Subsidy, Obasanjo Created It To Cheat Govt’ – Ex-minister

A former minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani, has faulted the petroleum subsidy scheme, describing it as a ruse, calling on government to instead “get the nation’s refineries right.”

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Ani said, “there is nothing like subsidy in Nigeria. Obasanjo did that to assist people to cheat this nation. We had a situation where one person was given the sole right to import diesel, yet we could have produced the diesel.”

He said: “What is happening is that the template Obasanjo brought in for petroleum products was importation-based. I, and Aminu Saleh and Buhari drafted the Petroleum Trust Fund (PFT) law and it was based on production. Let us go back to production. When you produce, you have by-products and those by-products are even more expensive than your barrel of oil. Therefore, if you do the production costing properly, you will find out that the cost of production of your litre of oil is much less than what we are importing.

“Therefore, let us go back to the issue of changing the template to that of production. What we are doing now is that the driver in this country is subsidising what is produced in petro-chemicals and fertilisers because all the by-products go there, and they are going there at zero cost. Whereas, if you do it properly, you will find out that what is going into petro-chemicals, the costing is even more expensive than a barrel of oil. So, let’s get our acts right.”

The former finance minister also faulted the recent call by former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), adding that “government will collapse in no time,” if the suggestion is followed.

“I am sure and I hope President Buhari would not do this,” said former KPMG Chairman and former Minister of Finance under the Sani Abacha government, Etubom Anthony Ani.

“We don’t need to increase VAT because all we need do is send people to the local governments to collect it. At the moment, consumers pay VAT. You have to consume. And individuals are the ones who consume, not goats or trees. These individuals stay in various local governments of Nigeria. Let the VAT collector go to the local governments. The VAT is waiting for him to be collected. I estimate that we will be having about N3tr annually, if the VAT man goes to the local government. We don’t need to increase VAT; let us collect what has not been collected,” said Ani, who is also a former President of the Chartered Institute of Accountants.

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House of Reps Repeal Colonial Audit Law Repealed By Reps; Federal Audit Service Commission To Be Created

Even as the Seventh Session of the National Assembly gradually wind up the House of Representatives has passed a bill to repeal the Audit Act of 1956 and Re-Enact the Audit Act of 2014.

The new bill titled “An Act for the establishment of the Office of the Auditor For the Federation, Audit Service Commission, Additional Powers and Functions of Auditor General and For Matters Connected Therewith” was jointly sponsored by Hon. Solomon Adeola Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Justice.

The passage followed a presentation of the Report of the Committee of Public Accounts and Justice by Hon. Adeola and the successful consideration of the report by a committee of the whole House and an accelerated third reading of the bill.

The Deputy Speaker of the House,Hon Emeka Ihedioha who presided over plenary set up a conference committee headed by Senator Elect, Hon. Adeola to liaise with the Senate for concurrence on the passed bill.

Commenting on the passage of the bill, Senator Elect Adeola who championed the repeal of the archaic and inadequate audit laws said it is regrettable that the laws guiding our audit process in government is outdated without commensurate powers for the Auditor General to function effectively adding that some penalties are as ridiculous as asking defaulters to pay 2shillings as fine.

“The passed bill will give more powers to the Auditor General as well as established an Audit Service Commission to take care of recruitment, training and other welfare issues of auditing staff of Auditor General’s Office. It also increased penalties to hundreds of thousands” he said.

He said his experience as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee shows that a major impediment of the functioning of the Office of Auditor General is the outdated and inadequate laws that it has to work with adding that with the passage of the new Audit Bill the important oversight and anti- corruption functions of the auditor will be brought to the fore through granting of autonomy from the executive to the office.

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Fuel Crisis: Why We Created Scarcity – Marketers

The lingering fuel  crisis may continue till the May 29 handover date to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari government, as oil marketers have resorted to hoarding the product to force government to pay the outstanding debts as claimed, Vanguard learnt.

This is coming on the heels of the fact that the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, is yet to fulfill its promise to begin evacuation of petroleum products from tank farms and depots in Apapa area nine months after.

It was learnt that marketers resorted to hoarding fuel due to fears that they might not be paid their outstanding subsidy claims for imported fuel, and as a result, decided to create the scarcity as a way of forcing the government to speed up the process of effecting payment of the subsidy.

A marketer, who preferred anonymity, told Vanguard that it is better to hoard petrol so as to force the government to agree with their terms before the change in government.

He said: “My friend, we are not sure what the incoming government will do with us as from May 29. We need to force the present government to pay us our outstanding claims now. We love this country, but we need to be sure we have products now, because we do not know what will befall us in the next two weeks.”

Another marketer also corroborated: “We are all aware how a new government behaves in Nigeria. There is uncertainty of what the incoming government will do with us as regards the subsidy. If you were in our shoes, wouldn’t you make sure you get every kobo owed you by the present administration? What better way can you do that than to keep what you have?”

Vanguard also learnt that the marketers decided to create scarcity in order to compel the government to pay them the losses they incurred when the government reduced the pump price of petrol from N97 per litre to N87 per litre.

Marketers’ subsidy claims

At the last count, the marketers, under the aegis of Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and Depot Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, claimed that the Federal Government is owing them more than N200 billion as at February this year.

Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, painted a grim picture of the situation thus: “The industry is bleeding. Our suppliers are at our necks. Our members are finding it difficult to bring in products.”

Olawore doubted the sincerity of the Federal Government to pay the debts before the end of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

“At one of the meetings we had with the Minister of Finance, we told her that we are being owed N200 billion but she insisted it was N131 billion. The way to resolve that figure is the timing. She was using the old figure but we were using the current cut-off date we had at that time. She decided to set up a committee made up of PPPRA, DMO, CBN and her office to verify the claims. Our opinion was that there was no need to re-verify what has been verified by PPPRA.

“We thought it was just a ploy to delay payment; it is a delay tactic. As at the time we met, they had three weeks for the regime to end and with that time frame there is no way a committee can work. She specifically directed them, but there is no way a committee will not delay and get late. That is why we were not comfortable,” he said.

He insisted that the issue of verifying claims should not arise as the Debt Management Office, DMO, had transmitted the cost to the Minister of Information.

Olawore said that marketers had only been paid N154 billion contrary to the claim by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that N156 billion was paid. He also said there is the likelihood that the fuel scarcity will continue if the federal government did not care to pay the marketers soon.

Over-pricing and under-dispensing

Meanwhile, marketers are not only sabotaging the economy through hoarding, but are also engaged in all manner of sharp practices, including arbitrary pump price hike and under-dispensing of product to reap huge profits.

While pump price had almost more than doubled at between N120 and N170/litre depending on outlet and location, quantity purchased had also reduced proportionately. Pump pressures have been so adjusted and manipulated to almost half a litre for a regular quantity even at very high cost.

However, industry regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, watches helplessly as no marketer has been brought to book, even as the situation escalates.

Trucks nightmare in Lagos

In addition to having to pay much more for very much less, motorists and commuters were also subjected to daily nightmares in and out of Apapa as at last Thursday by petroleum trucks who take over the highways to load products from the depots and tank farms located in Lagos.

Bucks have been passed back and forth among contending stakeholders – the Federal Government, owners of the highway; the Lagos State Government, which reaps bountifully from levies collected from the truck drivers and the Petroleum Truck Drivers, PTD, who claim they are not to blame for the blockade of the highways.

Olawore noted that about 6,000 trucks come to Lagos daily to procure petroleum products. The large number of tankers getting to Lagos could be attributed to the inability of the railway to commence haulage of products to the Northern parts of the country.

Railway yet to lift petrol

Nine months after the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, expressed the hope that the traffic gridlock within the ports access roads will be a thing of the past as the corporation would begin the evacuation of petroleum products from tank farms and oil depots, the situation has remained the same.

Last week, The NRC said they have begun negotiations with MOMAN as well as the Petroleum Equalisation Fund, PEF, to begin lifting of petroleum products by rail.

Director of Operations, NRC, Mr. Niyi Alli, told Vanguard that the corporation had all the capacity to lift 1.8 million litres, an equivalent of 30 truckloads of PMS at once through rail, adding that once discussions were concluded and all safety concerns resolved, lifting will commence in earnest.

He said: “The issue here is that we are trying to have a meeting with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, to iron out major issues concerning lifting of PMS. The major issue has been around loading and offloading because we are talking about moving petroleum products which is quite risky because of the nature of the product.

“We, as the Nigeria Railway Corporation, have gone ahead to do all the sidings for the major oil marketers and have acquired wagons which are to be used for the movement across the country. In terms of the issues with the major marketers, we have scheduled a meeting between the NRC management and the major marketers this week.

“We have also engaged the PEF to ensure that the price of PMS is maintained, in terms of the PMS movement. For us, it is all about ensuring that all safety issues are resolved. This is because carrying PMS is not the same as carrying AGO. PMS is highly inflammable. But the good news is that all stakeholders are sitting around the table to ensure that safety is not compromised.

“At the moment, we have the capacity to move 900,000 litres of PMS, an equivalent of 30 trucks, at once. In all, we have two big trains that can move 1.8 million litres of petroleum.

But the question is how many times can we move in a week and how many times can we move in a day? So once we start, we can grow gradually.

Alli explained that certain measures need to be taken into consideration before haulage of petrol is carried out.

NNPC petrol

It was also gathered that the premium motor spirit, PMS, or petrol in circulation is the supply made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which is responsible for about 50 per cent of the fuel supply in the country.

The NNPC and its downstream subsidiary, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, said it had 1.2 billion litres of petrol in stock. The figure translates to 31 days sufficiency going by the 40 million litres daily consumption of the product in the country.

According to the Managing Director of PPMC, Mr. Haruna Momoh, 21 additional vessels laden with petroleum products are offshore Lagos waiting to berth.

He said the NNPC had made adequate arrangements to ensure energy sufficiency in the country and reassured motorists that the noticeable queues at the filling stations would thin out in the days ahead.

Momoh noted that the NNPC also has 21 days sufficiency of Automative Gas Oil, AGO, otherwise known as diesel and 18 days sufficiency of Dual Purpose Kerosene, DPK, otherwise known as kerosene.

He explained that as part of efforts to ensure petroleum products sufficiency and distribution, the NNPC embarked on aggressive reception depots rehabilitation in 2011, adding: “As at today, 18 depots out of the 23 depots have been fully recovered with the exception of Makurdi, Yola, and Maiduguri due to the activities of pipeline vandals.”

According to him, “Carrying PMS is not that easy, there are safety implications. Also, NRC cannot just load PMS from a tanker; you have to have sidings to the tank farms. And the offloading sidings have to have sidings too. There are also the issues of the PEF. These are not the things you hurry over because of the safety risks involved. PMS is highly inflammable, so we are very careful with the way we intend to handle its movement. But the good thing is that there are discussions going on already to make this possible within the shortest time possible.

“We have scheduled a meeting between the management of MOMAN and the NRC to finalise all the issues that need to be resolved. If all goes as planned, in the near future, we could begin to lift. The key challenge for us is that it is difficult moving petroleum products. The fact that the railway is functional doesn’t mean that every product could be moved with ease. There are different types of products which could be moved which are not as volatile as petroleum products.

“Now if we rush into hauling petroleum products and there is a major incident relating to safety, you can imagine what the cost implication will be. We also consider the fact that we are entering a market which has been cornered by different people. So there is bound to be challenges. The only way is through negotiations which we have started now. But moving PMS is our highest priority now and that is why we are trying to clear all bottlenecks in order to make headway.”

“What all these imply is that the Corporation, despite its capacity to lift still has to contend with the issues of safety while trying to manage and balance the interest of the oil marketers as well.”

Vanguard however learnt that conflict of interest between tanker owners and NRC has been the major reason why petroleum products haulage is not done through the railway.

-Vanguard

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My Government Created APC – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday claimed that the creation of the mega opposition party, the APC, was the result of his administration’s deliberate policy to entrench democracy in the country.

The president, who spoke at a roundtable aired live on national television and radio stations, said his administration allowed the opposition parties to merge by giving them the enabling environment.

Jonathan prided his administration as one which accommodates insults and abuses from the people without having to reprimand anyone, saying that in its bid to entrench democratic values, his government had ensured the freedom of speech.

Speaking through the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, he said the ruling PDP was not afraid of the APC, but was enjoying its activities because the opposition party remains its creation.

He observed that it was his deliberate policy of promoting freedom of association that made it possible for those in the opposition to merge and challenge the ruling party.

“President Jonathan believes (that) strong opposition is good for our democracy. Opposition should be very grateful to Mr President. Say whatever you want to say, it doesn’t matter – we enjoy it”, Anyim stated.

He added that the administration has promoted the right to vote and be voted for and strengthened the sanctity and integrity of democracy by ensuring that votes count.

Jonathan pointed out that despite all negative comments against him and his government, there had not been any political prisoner in the country.

He added that his administration had been able to stabilise the National Assembly by not interfering with their operations.

This, he explained, is his own way of decentralizing power by strengthening institutions rather than making himself or anybody serving under his government a dictator.

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