APC Engages International Political Consultants To Boost Electoral Chances

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has announced the engagement of international political consultants, AKPD Message and Media to boost its electoral chances in the upcoming elections.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said that the Chicago, U.S.-based firm is best known for its lead role in President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

The party explained that the firm has also worked with key Democratic Party candidates throughout the U.S. and has a strong reputation for supporting leading populist movements across the globe.

“We have been working closely with AKPD Message and Media over the past few months and we shall leverage on the firm’s skill, experience and expertise throughout the upcoming campaign cycle,” APC said.

“As a party destined to bring change and succour to the long suffering people of Nigeria, the APC is proud and excited to work with one of the foremost exponents of change in the world, especially with their track record of success in political climates akin to ours, notably in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana. With this strategic partnership, the process of change in Nigeria has already begun and it can’t be stopped,” the party concluded.

Senate Hearing: Okonjo-Iweala Recommends Independent Audit On NNPC Missing Funds

The Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has told members of the Senate Committee on Finance to go a step further by inviting independent auditors to look at the books of the Ministry of Finance as regards remittances made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, NNPC.

This is in view of the lingering controversies surrounding the alleged 10.8 billion dollars missing NNPC funds.

The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was speaking at the investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance, into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money.

In her testimony, she said, “The budget under the control of the Ministry of Finance is laid out transparently online and has been accessible to all Nigerians and they have been criticizing it. Even though it’s difficult for us, we are proud of it because it means they have information to criticize us with.

“Under those circumstances people say the finances of the country are in a mess, we do not think that is the case on that particular point.

“What is being said here is being made to look like in this country, there has been no accountability, and that is not the case. For two steady years, Federal Allocation after Federal Allocation Committee meeting, the Ministry of Finance chairs a process that reconciles these accounts, and every single Commissioner of Finance in this country has a folder that shows exactly what we’ve done. So the Ministry of Finance is doing its job.

“It is because of that reconciliation that we came to the amount of 10.8billion that everybody is now talking about. When the Central Bank mentioned 49.8billion, we were the first to say we did not think this amount is correct and you can ask the CBN Governor, he is right here.

“After we had done that work, it was proven that 49.8billion is not the right amount and he had the courage to accept that. Without the steady work we have done to account for the resources of this country, we will not be talking about 10.8billion.”

Referring to an earlier comment by a member of the committee, she said, “We have said we want an independent audit in addition; it is precisely because of what the distinguished Senator is saying that we want this independent audit these extraordinary times. A lot of accusations are being made in this country and the only way Nigerians are going to be satisfied is to have an independent opinion on these amounts.”

Senate Hearing: No 10.87billion Dollars Is Seated In NNPC – Group GMD

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu

The Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have been giving testimonies at the investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance, into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money.

Mr Sanusi told the hearing that regardless of the explanations from the Finance Minister, as far as the CBN was concerned, there is an outstanding $20 billion between what NNPC shipped and what it paid to Government.

Mr Sanusi insisted that the outstanding 6 billion Dollars given to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) should have gone to the Federal Government and that the CBN received 3 legal opinions on that matter while offering to bring lawyers to defend that claim.

The Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala, however said that the NNPC supplied documents from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulation Agency, PPPRA, showing how the initial outstanding 10.8 billion dollars was spent.

The Group GMD of the NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, who was also at the hearing, however, stuck to his gun, insisting that the state oil company was not in custody of the amount as claimed by the CBN Governor.

“You will recall that we started from 49.8 billion dollars, and after the interagency reconciliation in December, we came down to 10.87, and this was classified as non-remitted funds. The impression all over the place is that 10.87billion dollars is seated in the four towers of NNPC and my staff and myself have been portrayed in very bad light.

“For emphasis I want to tell all Nigerians, that no 10.87billion dollars is seated in NNPC or anywhere within our control.

“The 10.87billion dollars after a series of discussions and presentation of documents and reconciliation meetings was traced to the four major items today. Those items are the subsidy that we have discussed extensively, and that is the reality.”

Having itemized other issues like legalities, budgetary provisions, as among issues realized during reconciliation, he further spoke about the kerosine subsidy.

“The reality today, that I found when I stepped in on the 26th of June 2012, is that subsidy of kerosine was still there and it is still there as we speak. So, the total amount based on our reconciled figure is 8.76billion dollars.

“We also did a detailed material balance of crude oil and product inventories and arrived at 0.76billion for the losses we encountered as a result of the harsh business environment.”


NNPC Reacts To Sanusi On $20billion

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has dismissed the $20 billion dollar allegation made by the CBN Governor, calling it baseless.

The Acting Group General Manager Public Affairs, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim said that Nigerians should not take the CBN Governor seriously since this is not the first time he would be making what he calls a wild allegation.

Sanusi had told the Ahmed Markafi Senate Committee probing the allegation of unremitted funds, that the NNPC shipped 67billion dollars in crude and only 47 billion dollars had come back to the Federation. Therefore the NNPC has to proof where the 20billion dollars is.

The NNPC boss expressed surprise that in spite of extensive clarification on the matter, Mallam Sanusi was still confusing the role of NPDC as part of NNPC’s.

According to him, ‘‘Let me make this point clear that CBN is a banking outfit, not a petroleum outfit.

“It is therefore understandable why they keep making unsubstantiated claims, which a little understanding of the technicalities of the oil industry would have saved them from making.

“The CBN is not an auditing outfit but what it is doing now is auditing.”

The Senate committee expects the NNPC to make their own presentation before it, and the meeting has been adjourned till 10am on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

Sanusi Insists NNPC Has 20 Billion Dollars Unaccounted For

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance to discuss the crude oil monies allegedly unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, NNPC.

At the meeting, Mr Sanusi provided a summary of funds that have been received by the Central Bank and the irregularities they have identified.

He highlighted that the records from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, showed that the 16 billion dollars paid into the FIRS account was by International Oil Companies, IOCs and not by the NNPC and were proceeds from crude lifted in the name of the NNPC, but sold on behalf of the FIRS.

He also said that the Directorate of Petroleum Resources, DPR, received 1.6 billion dollars from the IOCs, while the NNPC has also repratriated 16 billion dollars out of the 28 billion dollars domestic crude it shipped.

He reminded the committee that the CBN has accounted for all the monies that it has received, which is 47 billion dollars, out of the 67 billion dollars that the NNPC shipped.

He disagreed with the NNPC’s explanation that some of the remaining 20 billion Dollars does not belong to the Federation. He argued that some of the 6 billion dollars crude said to belong to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) is shipped from oil wells that belong to the Federation.

He also stated that the Central Bank is asking NNPC to provide their authority for buying Kerosine at 150 Naira  from the Federation account and selling at 40 Naira, thereby inflicting a loss on Nigeria, when there had been a presidential directive eliminating subsidy since 2009.

He revealed that the NNPC had always submitted its monthly reports which has consistently shown that it had deducted nothing for PMS subsidy since April 2012. He then wondered how the NNPC came about telling the CBN that deductions were being made.

He maintained that NNPC shipped 67billion dollars in crude and only 47 billion dollars has come back to the Federation. Therefore, the NNPC has to prove where the 20billion dollars is.

The Chairman of the Committee however noted that there was nothing new about the content of the presentation by the CBN Governor, as those details and the stance of the Central Bank were already known.

He however said that every year in the revenue framework, the National Assembly appropriates money for oil subsidy. Therefore, the question of whether the NNPC deducted it or that they did so late is not an indication that there was no money appropriated for subsidy on PMS.

He expected the NNPC to make their own presentation and noted that “the bottomline is that the Federation should not lose one cent.”

The meeting was adjourned till 10am on Thursday February 13, 2014.

Jonathan Launches Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company

President Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has launched the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

At the presidential launch of the company, President Jonathan decried the short tenure of loans to Nigerians by commercial and mortgage institutions.

He said that he would do all in his powers to alleviate the constraints to rapid housing development in the country.

He also called on state governments to improve land registration systems in their states to enable Nigerians have access to land titles.

He charged the private sector to assist in the development of skills of young Nigerians to stem cases of militancy and Boko Haram in the country.

NNPC Insists No Funds Missing

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is insisting that there are no funds missing from the un-remitted $49.8bn oil revenue.

The corporation said that despite its efforts at clarifying the issues on the funds based on the allegations, there is still misinformation.

The agency insists 30 billion dollars of the alleged un-remitted oil revenue had been reconciled by all the parties involved and that the Coordinating Minister of The Economy, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, explained last year that the reconciliation was an ongoing process and the balance of $10.8bn is still being reconciled.

The NNPC however stated that the yet to be reconciled $10.8bn can be located in the expenses on some of the responsibilities which the corporation carries out on behalf of the Federal Government with respect to the domestic crude oil utilization.

These include, fixing and management of vandalised pipelines and facilities, also is the unpaid subsidies on kerosine and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which for kerosine the NNPC said has been paid since 2007.

The NNPC said that it has about 32 days’ sufficiency of petrol at the rate of 40 million litres of PMS national consumption per day. It says the cost incurred in this mandate is also part of the $10.8bn yet-to-be-reconciled outstanding figure.

Nigeria’s External Reserves Hits $45.43 Billion

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disclosed in its latest data provided on its website that the country’s external reserves reached a total of $45.43 billion. This was recorded on January 23rd.

The new figure represents an increase of 2.87 per cent over the preceding figure of $45.35 billion published on January the 22nd.

Nigeria’s external reserves grew by 34.76 per cent in 2012 to over 44 billion dollars and have continued the upward trend in 2013 as oil prices rise at the international market.

However they fell below the Federal Governments $50 billion target set for 2012.

Men in Black 3 beats Avengers in box office

The suits have been able to knock off the superheroes at the box office, Men in Black debuted as No.1 over the weekend with $55 million from Friday to Sunday.

That leaves Avengers into second place after three blockbuster weekends on top for the superhero sensation.
“The Avengers” took in $37 million over three days to push its total to $514 million and become the fourth movie ever to top half a billion dollars.

The original “Men in Black” debuted in 1997 and “Men in Black II” premiered in 2002.

“Men in Black 3” reunites Smith’s Agent J and Jones’ Agent K as they battle a new alien menace that travels four decades back in time to do away with the younger Agent K (Josh Brolin).

FCMB losses N11.35 billion in 2011

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) said on Monday it had made a pre-tax loss of N11.35 billion in 2011, compared with a N9.02 billion profit before tax in 2010, on underwriting losses and bad loans.

Revenues rose to N80.39 billion, from N62.68 billion the previous year, it said.

FCMB attributed the loss to the underwriting of several share issues dating back to 2009, and on some non-performing loans sold to Nigeria’s state-backed rescue bank AMCON (Asset Management Company of Nigeria).

“All legacy loans and weaknesses associated with capital market and oil and gas transactions have been fully regularised through sales to AMCON or outright provisioning/ write-offs,” the bank said in a statement.

FCMB said it expects that the first half of 2012 will see improvements and is likely to exceed its released forecasts.
The bank’s shares fell 2.49 percent to 3.70 naira per share on Monday.

Dangote to open US$35M cement factory in Liberia

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Cement Nigeria PLC, Aliko Dangote on Friday his company is planning to infuse over US$35 million dollar into the Dangote Cement Liberia limited a subsidiary of the Dangote Cement PLC of Nigeria.

Speaking during the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Liberia government and the company, held at the head office of the National Port Authority, in Monrovia on Friday, the Mr Dangote spoke highly of the interest his company has in helping to robustly boost the growth of the Liberian economy.

He also said that his company which is expected to start operation in the next six weeks will employ hundreds of Liberians, and other nationals.

He said that the parent company of Dangote Cement Liberia (Limited), Dangote Cement PLC Nigeria which was established in 1978 has to its credit over US$15 billion investment capital, and therefore, promised to infuse similar assets into the Liberian economy.

Signing on behalf of the Liberian Government, the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Matilda Wokie Parker welcomed Mr Dangote and his delegation to Liberia, and lauded the initiatives being applied by his company to come to Liberia and invest.

Speaking to reporters immediately after the signing ceremony, Mrs Parker said the NPA will play host to the operation of the new cement factory, noting, “We are glad to have this multimillion dollar company to begin operation here at the NPA.”

After the signing ceremony, Mr Dangote and his 5-man delegation including the Group Managing Director, Knurt Ulvmoen visited the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The opening of a new cement factory in Liberia will bring to two the number of cement factories in Liberia. CEMENCO which is currently enjoying monopoly in the sector has been around for over fifty years.

Police gives conflicting report on Kaduna attack that killed 10

The Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Abubakar said on Saturday that Thursday attack in southern Kaduna villages that killed at least ten persons was a reprisal attack by herdsmen who lost their relations during the April 2011 post-presidential election violence in the area.

The police commissioner claimed that the attack was only at Nayida Talakkwacha village. This claim was hoever refutted by the Chairman of Chikun Local Government, Auta Maman Busa who insisted that the killings took place at Kufara, Dukunu and Dayi villages.

Eyewitnesses said the bandit wielding AK47 riffles attacked the villages from 10pm on Thursday to the early hours of Friday.

Innocent Chukwuemeka Mari a pastor of the Assemblies of God’s Church in the area was amongst those killed. His wife was also seriously injured while their church was burnt.

However the state police boss, at a news conference in Kaduna said although investigations into the killings were still on, preliminary findings revealed that relations of Fulani herdsmen who lost family members during the last April post-election violence must have carried out the attacks on the villages.

According to Mr Abubakar, victims of the last Thursday incident could not immediately contact the police for help because of lack of telephone networks in the area.

He said even when the police got information and responded the long distance and the difficult terrain to the villages did not help matters as the attackers had fled before his men got to the village.

He denied that a church in the area was burnt, stressing, “no church was burnt in the scenario”.

The council chairman however confirmed that musical instruments in the church were vandalized and burnt by the Fulani marauders.