FG Mulls Authorising Illegal Refineries To Transform Niger Delta

Paul Boroh, Niger Delta, RefineriesAmidst the challenges of inadequate local refining capacity and meeting the demand for refined petroleum products, the Federal Government seems to be thinking of encouraging artisanal refineries which had bridged the product supply gap for decades.

Although outlawed, more than 60% of diesel and kerosene used in the region are sourced from local bush refineries produced from stolen crude through fractional distillation.

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd), says the Federal Government plans to liberalise modular refineries to develop the oil rich Niger Delta region.

Mr Boroh, who is the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, assured the people of the region that the proposed modular refineries in oil-producing communities would engender a new era in the Niger Delta region.

New Vision For Niger Delta

Speaking on Saturday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, he restated the commitment of the President Buhari’s administration towards the people of the region.

The President’s aide stated that the Federal Government’s intention of making oil bearing the hub for refining and related activities would not only create decent jobs and income for the people, but put them in a better position to drive the local economy.

While lauding the government’s new vision for the region, appealed to the youths to be calm, focused and more articulate in their quest for better living conditions and take advantage of the good gestures of the present administration.

“The Federal Government is seeking better ways for Niger Delta people to participate in the development process of the region through meaningful engagements.

“The Federal Government’s new partnership arrangement will bring about an unprecedented infrastructural development in the region.

“The government is working with the oil-producing states, local governments, oil companies and the private sector, including civil society organisations to achieve sustainable development in Niger Delta,” the amnesty coordinator revealed.

New Hub For Refining Activities

Boroh further commended the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, for taking the pains to identify with the people through his tour of the region.

I’m Not Under Any Pressure To Resign – Osinbajo
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo visits Niger Delta region

“The planned oil-communities-intervention-meeting by the Federal Government to chart short, medium and long term development blueprint is a strategy to enhance the socio-economic activities in the region.

“The proposed coming on stream of modular refineries in oil bearing communities, the ex-agitators and other youths in the region will be meaningfully engaged in decent job.

“Those with entrepreneurial skills in oil and gas can participate in the petro-chemical industries in their communities which will soon become the new hub for refining activities,” he explained.

Reacting to Boroh’s remarks, Chairman of Phase II Ex-agitators in the Niger Delta, Honourable Salvation Rifus, applauded President Buhari for demonstrating his sincere wish for the people of the region.

He said the option of allowing modular refineries to be located in oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta region speaks volume of the sincere intentions of the present administration towards the Niger Delta youths.

Rifus added that the tour of the oil communities by the Acting President had shown that the Federal Government was committed to the development of the region.

He noted that the decision to allow the oil bearing communities to legally operate modular refineries was the best thing that has happened to the people, describing it as a welcome development.

FG Says Digital Switchover Deadline Is Achievable

Lai Mohammed, Digital Switchover, John MomohThe Federal Government has asked Nigerians not to rule out the possibility of achieving the digital broadcast switchover deadline of June 2017 set by the International Telecommunications Union.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, made the call on Thursday at a public hearing of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee set up to investigate the process of the planned digital switchover in Nigeria.

He stressed the need to review the business model inherited from the previous administration before the set deadline.

“We know it’s very ambitious but if you aim for the sky, you might at least get the ceiling.

“We don’t want to say June 2017 is unachievable, we’ll relax. But if we are able to roll out another six by May, then we know where we are,” the minister said.

The Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee, Representative Sunday Katung, also emphasised the importance of the digital switchover.

Deadline Implication

However, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and CEO, Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh, stressed the need to place the interest of stakeholders and that of the country first.

Mr Momoh advised that Nigeria should work towards ensuring that a good switchover transition was achieved rather than emphasising deadlines.

“Again, I say that we shouldn’t be looking at deadlines. I think we should just work towards making sure that we have a very good switchover.

“When we set a deadline, we put ourselves under pressure.

“The ministry is working very well with the border states to make sure that there is no confusion in terms of interference.

“We should just be focused and see how can we transit to digital, rather than emphasise deadlines.

“Deadlines will put us in trouble,” the BON Chairman warned.

Other issues discussed at the gathering include funding and the need to have a better business model backed by a good legal framework to accommodate the transition process.

Ozekhome Asks Court To Unfreeze His Account

Mike OzekhomeA senior lawyer, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to vacate the order freezing his account with the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).

Mr Ozekhome’s application to set aside the freezing order would be heard on February 23.

Justice Abdulazeez Anka had on February 7, 2017 ordered a temporary forfeiture of 75 million naira found in the account.

The order followed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which prayed the court to freeze the senior lawyer’s account temporarily on grounds that the said sum was suspected to be proceeds of crime.

In his application on Thursday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria requested for an order discharging and/or vacating forthwith, the interim order made ex-parte, which directed an interim order of forfeiture to freeze or attach the money for 120 days.

He also sought for an order restraining the Federal Government and the EFCC from dealing in anyway and manner, as to the operation or the proprietary rights of the ownership of the account.

Mr Ozekhome claimed that the application for an order for interim forfeiture of his account was done in bad faith by the anti-graft agency, stating that it did not comply with the statutory and judicial authorities in obtaining an interim order.

He said the EFCC allegedly suppressed material facts in obtaining the order, maintaining that the action was unconstitutional.

He added that the same offended sections 36, 37 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, saying there was no legal justification for the EFCC’s action.

He explained that the 75 million naira was a part-payment of legal fees from Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.

On the issue of whether or not the funds in Governor Fayose’s account from which the said sum is posted to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ GTB account is suspected proceed of crime, the SAN noted that it is currently on appeal as filed and entered by the selfsame counsel to the EFFC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo.

He asked that the matter be heard urgently, as the continued freezing of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ account has rendered the chambers impecunious and unable to carry out its day-to-day activities.

Wrong Impression

The lawyer also said that the temporary freezing of his account has caused him untold embarrassment, public odium, obloquy and mental agony.

He alleged that the EFCC gave a very wide publicity to the said freezing or attachment in print, electronic and social media, thus giving the wrong impression that he has committed a criminal offence against the laws of the land.

On the material facts that EFCC purportedly suppressed, Ozekhome said the anti-graft agency did not disclose to Justice Anka, the fact that Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti had unfrozen Mr Fayose’s accounts forthwith, thereby allowing the governor to operate them before he transferred 75 million naira to Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers’ account.

He stated that as at the time Governor Fayose transferred 75 million naira to his chambers’ account, there was no court processes filed or served on the applicant, indicating that the EFCC was on appeal or asking the court to stay the execution of the order defreezing the governor’s account.

“Fayose, had himself withdrawn the sum of 5,000,000 naira in cash before transferring the sum of 75,000,000 naira to the account of Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers,” the lawyer said.

FG Signs Seventy Million Euro EU Support For Health

Nigerian Government Launches Action Plan Against PneumoniaThe Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Union (EU) on 70 million Euro support to Revamp Nigeria’s health sector.

According to the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, the fund will be used to strengthen the nation’s already weak health system and eradicate polio.

The Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Michel Arrion emphasised the need to concentrate on reducing the nation’s burden of maternal child mortality.

Nigeria’s health sector has been grappled with inadequate financing as the National budgetary allocation fluctuates between 4.6 and 5.4 percent since 2011.

However, the Bauchi State governor, Mohammed Abubakar spoke on behalf of benefiting states, advocating for the building of internal capacity in the states rather than waste the money on consultants.

Besides strengthening the already weak health care system in the country, 2.7 million children under five years of age and 850 pregnant women are expected to benefit from this funding in Adamawa, Bauchi, and Kebbi states.

Court Orders Forfeiture Of Yakubu’s $9.8m To FG

Andrew Yakubu, EFCC, Court, NNPCA Federal High Court in Kano has ordered the forfeiture of the sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 recovered from a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu, to the Federal Government.

The order was sequel to an ex parte application by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), seeking an interim forfeiture of the recovered money to the Federal Government.

A statement issued on Tuesday by the EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed that the ex parte application was moved by the counsel for the applicant, Salihu Sani.

In her ruling, Justice Zainab Abubakar held that “the sum of $9,772,000 (Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Thousand United States Dollars) and £74,000 (Seventy Four Thousand Pound Sterling), which are now in the custody of the applicant (EFCC), are in the interim forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

The EFCC said that some its operatives on February 3, 2017, stormed a building belonging to the former NNPC boss and recovered a staggering sum of $9,772,000 and £74,000 stashed in a huge fire proof safe.

The commission added that Mr Yakubu reported to its Kano Zonal Office on February 8, 2017 where he admitted being the owner of both the house and the money recovered.

The EFCC said “Yakubu is still in custody assisting the investigation”.

FG Denies Recommendation To Raise N5tn From Sale Of Assets

Assets Sale, Economy Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGPThe Federal Government has distanced itself from reports indicating that it is planning to raise about five trillion Naira from the sale of assets in the next four years.

The government made the declaration on Tuesday in a statement issued by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James.

Mr James noted that some publications had claimed that the projected amount was contained in the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) being finalised by the Federal Government.

He, however, stated that there was no recommendation to raise such amount of revenue from the sale of assets.

“It has become necessary to state that the ERGP that is being finalised and which will soon be presented to the public, has no recommendation for raising that amount of revenue from sale of assets.

“To achieve the strategic objectives of the plan, 60 strategies have been developed for implementation with four key execution priorities: stabilisation of the macroeconomic environment, agriculture and food security, sufficiency in energy (power and petroleum products) and industrialisation focusing on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises,” the statement said.

FG, World Bank Brainstorm On Climate Change Mitigation

Gas-flaring_Niger-delta_NigeriaThe Nigerian government at all levels has been challenged to provide the necessary political direction and the will, to address the menace of the Greenhouse Gas Emission and its effects staring at the nation in the face.

This challenge was given in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, at a one day climate change knowledge immersion workshop attended by participants from different part of the country.

The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril and the Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun has promised concrete actions by the Federal Government and Ogun state towards tackling the menace.

According to Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun while giving his speech at the one day workshop; He challenged industries operating in the state to adopt best practices to mitigate the effects of Greenhouse Gas Emission.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrilthe, stated that “Climate change remains the defining challenge of our time, its effects and threats continue to stare us in the face, the gully erosion in the east and the desert encroachment in the north with its attendant negative effect on food production among other things.”

Directors and commissioners of environment from different parts of the state, other stakeholders were part of the ongoing conversations while calling for urgent actions among nations of the world.

However, the World Bank Group Practicing Manager, Mr Benoit Bosquet said that the continent of Africa will be more vulnerable with more deaths and decrease in agricultural production.

 

Ezekwesili Seeks Public Conversation On Nigeria’s Economy

Oby Ezekwesili, NigeriansA Former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has asked the Federal Government to do more in engaging the public and key stakeholders on its economic strategies.

The former Vice President of the World Bank made the call during an interview on Channels Television’s political programme, Sunday Politics.

She stated that for Nigeria to get it right, especially in walking out of recession, President Muhammadu Buhari needs to change his stand on the nation’s foreign exchange policies and focus more on issues germane to productivity.

Confusion With FX Policy

“I believe that fundamentally, there are serious issues of economic philosophy that are still very unclear. I think the government is still struggling.

“When you look at the FX (foreign exchange) policy, it is harmful to the economy and the reason that we have the FX policy we have today is simply because our President is completely sold on the idea that you can determine the nominal value of the naira to the dollar and once you can get it very low, everything will be fine.

“We now see that nominal exchange rate is not the most importance factor; it’s the productivity of your economy that matters.

“There’s not been a real public conversation on the economic strategy of the administration (and) that needs to happen.

“I think the economic team needs to try one last time to see if the President would understand that the retrogression that we have seen in the economy can be clearly traced to the confusion with the FX policy,” the former minister explained.

Nigeria Seeks Partnership To Attain Food Sufficiency

Agriculture, Food Sufficiency, The Federal Government is seeking partnerships that will assist Nigeria in her attainment of food sufficiency.

The Director in charge of Planning and Policy at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Awul Maidabino, made the disclosure during a joint steering committee meeting of the ministry in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Mr Maidabino emphasised that the ministry was responsible to partner with major stakeholders to develop effective policies that would create conducive environment for better private sector participation in the agriculture sector.

He explained that officials of the ministry were meeting with local and international organisations under the joint sector review committee, to discuss agriculture promotion policies and evaluate their strength and weaknesses.

In their remarks, the President of the Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association, Lizzy Igbine, and an official representing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, USAID, Baye Sylvester, highlighted the importance of the policies.

The meeting provided a platform for state and non-state stakeholders to assess the performance of the government, as well as and assist in setting sector policy and priorities.

Nigeria has a huge agricultural potential with over 84 million hectares of arable land of which only 40% is cultivated, and a reliable rainfall in over two thirds of its territory.

In spite of possessing some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world, the country is not a major player in the global agricultural market.

The government is hoping to improve its activity in the agriculture sector through a policy thrust that looks at diversifying the economy.

Governor Wike Charges Rivers IRS On Revenue Generation

 Governor Wike Charges Rivers IRS On Revenue GenerationRivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has inaugurated the reconstituted Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue Service (IRS), charging the board to create a tax friendly environment in the state, while improving internally generated revenue for development purposes.

The governor urged the chairman and members of the state Board of IRS to ensure that they weather the storm of political blackmail and other forms of pressure in the discharge of their responsibilities.

Inaugurating the Board at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, the governor stated that the renewed revenue drive in the state is because of the dwindling revenue from the Federation Account.

According to him, the new board was selected because of their professional competence. He therefore warned members against getting themselves involved in unproductive politics.

The governor said: “It took us time to appoint members of this all-important Board because of our search for persons who are professionally competent to achieve improved revenue.

“Members of the board were chosen strictly on their professional track record.

Wike Charges Rivers IRS On Revenue Generation
members of reconstituted board

“We have made commitment to the Rivers people and we are determined to continue to deliver on quality projects. We can only do this with sustained revenue flow. Therefore, you must work towards blocking revenue leakages, increasing our revenue and providing more funds for development”.

Wike went on to say that if the state is able to generate up to 50 per cent of her potentials, it would easily fasten the development process.

He told the reconstituted Board that this is their opportunity to serve the state and make a positive impact on the lives of the people.

In response, Chairman of the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue Service, Mr Thank God Adoage Norteh, said members of the Board are committed to delivering on the assignment of improving the revenue of the state.

He then gave an assurance that they would create a tax friendly environment and professionalise the revenue service of the state.

Furthermore, he solicited the cooperation of the leaders and people of the state as the board discharges its responsibility of generating the needed funds for development.