We’ll Continue To Protect Nigeria’s Oil Assets – President Buhari

Muhammadu-Buhari-London-Anti-Corruption-SummitPresident Muhammadu Buhari has restated the determination of his administration to continue to protect the country’s oil assets and installations.

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday with the Director of Global Upstream of Shell Oil Company at the State House, Abuja, President Buhari said he will leave a legacy of improved infrastructure, particularly in the power sector, and also ensure better security in the Niger Delta.

“It is only by doing this that investor morale and confidence will return, and the economy will be positioned on the path of growth,” He said.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Buhari commended Shell for their faith in the economy and staying power.

The president also gave assurances on some issues of concern raised by the company especially the protracted issue of cash calls.

The minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, some weeks ago, revealed that the Federal Government has not been able to fund its counterpart Joint Ventures Companies, JVCs, and cash calls totaling $6 billion for several months due to revenue shortfalls.

The President assured other oil firms that the Federal Executive Council will soon consider a proposal for the easing of unpaid arrears owed by the government.

President Buhari said the security of oil infrastructure will continue to be priority of his administration which will include the dialogue with the stakeholder-communities in the Niger Delta.

He, however, urged oil companies to take more responsibility in the protection of oil installations to complement the efforts of Nigerian Navy in the region.

The Shell director, Andrew Brown, revealed that the company has resumed oil exportation through the Forcados terminal following its restoration.

He also commended the anti-corruption stance of President Buhari’s administration as well as the efforts to streamline and stabilize the economy for long term projects.

Nigerians Very Supportive Of Anti-Corruption Campaign – Buhari

buhari, Anti-CorruptionPresident Muhammadu Buhari says his administration is greatly encouraged by the uncommon support from Nigerians in the fight against corruption, as well as initiatives aimed at stimulating the economy.

Speaking in an interactive session in Berlin with representatives of the Nigerian Community in Germany, President Buhari said that his administration will reciprocate the gesture by strengthening critical institutions needed for sustainable development and prosperity.

“We are working hard to empower our institutions especially our educational institutions.

“If you educate a person that is the best you can do for him but if not you make him susceptible to religious, ethnic, negative thinking and action.

“Nigerians are virtually supporting us in our fight against corruption, security and the economy. He referred to “Rolls Royces,” recently discovered in the homes of certain government officials as a clear reference of the rot in society and the fact that the war against corruption in the country is working.

“There are things that are happening, which if such had happened before there would have been major riot, like the removal of subsidy on fuel,” he said.

President Buhari told Nigerians in the Diaspora that it was regrettable that over the years, oil marketers had colluded with banks to defraud Nigeria of much needed revenue from the commodity.

“One third of the activities of the oil marketers are fraudulent, you can see how some of us Nigerians are wicked.

“They just take the money, stamp some papers without bringing the product and this fraudulent activity was between bankers and businessmen,” he said.

The President declared that his administration will continue “to be very hard on corruption”, in addition to encouraging more Nigerians to pay their tax.

“If you work hard and get your money we will try and see how much tax you can pay us, but to take money from government and get away with it no more,” the said.

The President used the occasion of his interaction with Nigerians to underscore the importance of his three-day visit to Germany, the largest economy in Europe, noting that he was upbeat on improved trade ties between both countries because of new investment incentives offered by Nigeria.

President Buhari Ends Germany Engagements, Visits Hospitalized Soldier

President Buhari, Germany, BerlinPresident Muhammadu Buhari’s three-day official visit to Germany ended on a compassionate note on Saturday with his convoy veering off its way back to the airport in Berlin, to visit a Nigerian military officer receiving treatment in a Berlin hospital.

The military officer, Brigadier-General Mohammed Sani Aliyu, the Acting Commander of the 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos survived a ghastly road accident in the course of a duty tour in the North-East.

The head of Training and Operations of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Yusha’u Abubakar, who was in the same vehicle was not so lucky as he died in the auto crash on Maiduguri-Damaturu road.

President Buhari, accompanied by the Governors of Borno and Imo, the National Security Adviser, NSA, the Minister of Interior and that of Foreign Affairs congratulated General Aliyu for the progress he has made in his treatment in the last six months in hospital.

The President and his delegation wished him a quick recovery and an early return to his family and duties in Nigeria. He gave a further assurance that his administration will continue to accord priority to the health and wellbeing of service personnel.

Doctors said General Aliyu could barely move his head only when he was stretchered in, with the rest of the body torn and broken in many parts. Now, he can move around with very little assistance.

He thanked the President for his visit, saying his spirit to serve Nigeria remains unbroken.

Buhari Seeks Increase In Trade Between Nigeria And Germany

muhammadu-buhari-on-wife-commentNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is seeking increase in trade relations between his nation and Germany.

President Buhari, who addressed a German-Nigeria Business Forum in Berlin where he was on official visit, urged German businessmen to explore different sectors of Nigeria’s economy that had not been opened up.

He told the gathering that a new bank, Development Bank of Nigeria, would soon begin operations to strengthen the government’s economic diversification programme.

Improving Access To Financing

The Nigerian leader explained that the bank, when fully operational, would support small and medium enterprises in the country, by improving their access to financing.

“Our ambitions of creating a diversified and inclusive economy in Nigeria can only be achieved by having a mix of small, medium and large businesses.

“This is why we worked with the German Development Agency, KFW, in designing the Development Bank of Nigeria which will support the small and medium size enterprises both financially and technically to ensure they take their rightful place in the industrialisation value chain.

“I am pleased to announce that Development Bank of Nigeria will be taking off soon and should be a game changer in our economic diversification plans,” he said.

muhammadu-buhari-and-german-joachim-gauck
Muhammadu Buhari and German President Joachim Gauck held talks

President Buhari, who described Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria from Germany as modest, urged prospective investors at the gathering to go beyond the expressions of interest and make binding commitments for trade, investments and industry in the key priority sectors of Agriculture, infrastructure, solid minerals and digital economy.

In a statement by the President’s spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari said Nigeria, which recorded a trade volume of $2.96 billion with Germany in 2015, still had a great deal of unexploited potential and room to diversify its exports to Germany and increase overall trade volumes.

“In A Hurry To Develop”

According to the President, trade relations between both countries primarily take the form of oil and gas exports from Nigeria, machinery, vehicles and vehicle parts, telecommunications technology and chemical products in the other direction.

“Nigeria has remained a country of potential. Now we are in a hurry to develop and realise that potential.

“Nigeria is not yet where we would like it to be, but I am confident that the Government and people of Nigeria are determined to create a CHANGE and be where we would like Nigeria to be:

“A major economy, that is subject to good governance on the basis of the rule of law and constitutional order and a responsible member of the international community,” he said.

muhammadu-buhari-and-angela-merkel
President Muhammadu Buhari met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

President Buhari, who had earlier met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, told the business gathering that “with the successes recorded in the fight against terrorism and the administration’s resolute commitment to the war against corruption, Nigeria is open for business and broader relationship with Germany”.

He had told the German Chancellor that he would continue to press for the release of other girls abducted by Boko Haram members in April 2014.

Twenty-one of the over 200 girls were released on Thursday.

On corruption, he said: “We have boldly set out to bring an end to a culture of impunity and abuse of public trust. Corruption is the reason why we went through years of an oil boom and came out with very little to show in terms of savings or investments.

“Corruption is the reason our military struggled for so long against Boko Haram. Corruption is one of the reasons that in spite of our rich human and natural resources as a country, seventy percent of our population continues to live in poverty.

“Now we have said enough is enough. It is time to make public funds work for the public good. And that is why we are bringing culprits to book and recovering looted funds and assets”.

Ogun Govt. Records Success Of Present Administration

Araya Scale Up, Ibikunle Adekunle, Ogun StateThe Ogun State Government, South West Nigeria, says it has attracted over a 100 companies with well over 515 billion Naira Foreign Direct Investment in the last five years of the present administration in the state.

The State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Bimbo Ashiru made the disclosure while on the inspection tour of a private company at the Isheri area of the state.

While assuring business owners, investors in the state of adequate security and conducive atmosphere for business growth and development, the Commissioner was quick to ask them to always fulfill their social responsibilities to communities where they operate.

He also expressed the readiness of the state to collaborate with private sector in the development of infrastructure across the state.

Ogun State Govt. Set To Reform Industrial Sector

Industrial sector, Ogun stateThe Ogun State Government has affirmed the readiness of the government to deepen reforms in the industrial sector of the state economy, to attract more foreign direct investment to the state.

The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Bimbo Ashiru, made the disclosure in Abeokuta, the state capital during the 3rd annual retreat on the promotion of industrialization, organized by the Ogun State Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Mr Ashiru challenged participants to be up and doing as the state makes giant stride in the industrialization drive.

He said that the state has grown its foreign direct investment to a level of no return.

As a strong emerging economy in the country, he noted that Ogun State has been named among the top five states where businesses are done with ease.

But while the state is proud of this feat, the state government was asked to evolve reforms in some sectors to further reduce the challenges of doing business in the state.

Guest Lecturer, Wole Adeyanju, challenged the state government to create a specialized commercial court to effectively deal with industrial disputes and improve protection for small businesses operating in the state.

The 3rd edition of the retreat was attended by the commissioners, the Head of Service and senior members of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

It was to evaluate past performances of government in its industrialization drive and proffer ways of doing business in the state with ease, as well as equipping officers with requisite knowledge to fast track industrial development.

At the end of the retreat, participants are expected to come out with new ways and resolutions that would aid and ensure industrial promotion of the state.

No Intention To Devalue Naira – CBN Governor

NairaThe Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele has stated that there was no intention by the federal government to further devalue the naira.

Addressing State House correspondents, Mr Emefiele said that the apex bank was rather concentrating on how to improve and deepen the foreign exchange market by improving supply of foreign exchange into the market.

He added that the CBN is also concentrating on how to reduce the import of items that could be produced locally.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has also said that devaluation of the naira is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities in the country as it is not healthy for the Nigerian economy.

The Vice President, while receiving the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr Perry John Calderwood in his office on Thursday shared similar views as the CBN Governor.

In his reckoning, FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which is being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, adding that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He disclosed that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses are not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who have previous contracts and loan commitments.

Osinbajo Explains Why Presidency Opposes Naira Devaluation

NairaThe Nigerian Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has given reasons for the government’s disapproval of further devaluation of the nation’s currency, saying it is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities and offers no solutions as far as the Buhari administration is concerned.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier expressed his views that a further devaluation of the Nigerian Naira was not healthy for the economy.

At a meeting on Thursday with the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr Perry John Calderwood, in his office in Abuja, Vice President Osinbajo emphasised President Buhari’s views and said he would also not support further devaluation of the Naira.

He said: “I don’t agree on devaluation of the Naira and it is not that I am doctrinaire about it. In the first place, it is not a solution. We are not exporting significantly. And the way things are, devaluation will not help the local economy.”

“What we need to do is to start spending more on the economy and then things will ease up a bit”.

He observed that the issues around the economy were no exact sciences, stressing that “what is important is to be reasonably flexible in dealing with them”.

To Bring Some Stability

In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant-Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Vice President outlined the Federal Government’s plans to set-up a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund which would be sourced from local and international sources, through Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and the pension fund among others.

He disclosed that already, other Sovereign Wealth Funds had indicated interest in the fund which would be used to address the nation’s decaying road, rail and power infrastructures.

“This is our approach to speeding up the country’s infrastructural development.

Osinbajo on Nigerian Naira
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo totally opposes further devaluation of the Nigerian Naira

“The current foreign exchange restriction is a temporary measure to ensure that “we don’t deplete our foreign exchange substantially at a time when the prices of oil in the international market is dropping,” Professor Osinbajo restated.

According to him, the restriction was put in place to bring some stability to the oil-rich nation’s foreign reserves without which Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI) might be affected.

“The FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which are being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country at this time.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, emphasising that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He further said that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses were not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who had previous contracts and loan commitments.

Professor Osinbajo expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to the Italian and Canadian envoys on behalf of President Buhari and also looked forward to closer and deeper ties between Nigeria and the two countries.

Devaluation Of Naira Not Appropriate In Economic Realities – Osinbajo

Yemi-OsinbajoNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said that devaluation of the Naira is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities in the country and offers no solutions as far as the Buhari administration is concerned.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant – Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier expressed his views that a further devaluation of the Nigerian currency is not healthy for the Nigerian economy.

The Vice President received the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr Perry John Calderwood in his office on Thursday and spoke in a similar vein about the Naira.

“I don’t agree with devaluation and it is not that I am doctrinaire about it. In the first place, it is not a solution, we are not exporting significantly. And the way things are, devaluation will not help the local economy.”

“What we need to do is to start spending more on the economy and then things will ease up a bit,” he said.

He observed that the issues around the Nigerian economy required reasonable flexibility in dealing with them.

The Vice President outlined the Federal Government’s plans to set up a $25 billion infrastructural fund which would be sourced from local and international sources including through Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and also the pension fund among others.

He disclosed that the fund would be used to address the nation’s decaying road, rail and power infrastructures.

“This is our approach to speeding up the country’s infrastructural development,” he added.

Foreign Exchange Restriction

Professor Osinbajo also stated that the current foreign exchange restriction is a temporary measure to ensure that “we don’t deplete our foreign exchange substantially at a time when the prices of oil in the international market is dropping”.

He added that the restriction would also bring some stability to the country’s foreign reserves without which Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, might be affected.

In his reckoning, FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which is being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, adding that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He disclosed that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses are not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who have previous contracts and loan commitments.

He expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to both envoys on behalf of President Buhari and also said that he looked forward to closer and deeper ties between Nigeria and the two countries.

A delegation of top executives from Citigroup led by Mr. Jim Cowles also paid a courtesy call on the Vice President earlier on Thursday.

Cross River Governor Proposes 350bn Naira 2016 Budget

ayadeThe Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, has proposed a budget of 350 billion Naira for the 2016 fiscal year.

Christened “Budget of Deep Vision”, the 2016 budget, which is Ayade’s first budget as Governor, represents 273.7 per cent increase over the 2015 appropriation bill of the immediate past administration.

According to Governor Ayade, the increment was as a result of expected funds from Foreign Direct Investments and support for his signature projects by the Federal Government.

According to the Governor, the economic sector is to be allocated 179.7 billion Naira, representing 51.41 per cent, Social Services 53.01 billion Naira, representing 15.21 per cent. Regional Development will also take 53.4 billion Naira, representing 15.31 per cent while General Administration will gulp 63.2 billion Naira, representing 18.1 per cent.

The budget was presented to the State House of Assembly in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, on Monday.

While presenting the budget, Governor Ayade disclosed that, on the direct benefit of the budget to the citizenry, his administration was committed to intensifying effort to meet its recurrent obligation by exploring the available vast potentials for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

The Governor added that in a quest to develop the state, his administration had tried to ensure that the public expenditure structure that prioritises a higher capital budget over recurrent would be maintained.

He explained that the 2016 budget was structured on deliberate principle of capital/recurrent budget ratio of 84 per cent to 16 per cent in order to meet the demands.

Senate Considers Bill Aimed At Strengthening Oil And Gas Export Free Zone

Senate_ChamberA bill to amend the law setting up the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone scaled the crucial second reading in the Senate on Wednesday, recording a major progress in improving the activities in the sector.

The federal government has set up the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone to provide a greater level of Foreign Direct Investment in the oil and gas sector.

The sponsor of the Amendment Bill, Senator Odion Ugbesia and Senator Ben Ayade said the free zone had not achieved the purpose for which it was established as a result of a weak regulatory framework guiding its operations.

Senator Ugbesia said the bill, if passed into law, would to address some of the deficiencies in the enabling Authority Act that was enacted before the free trade zones was set up.

He further said that it would strengthen its legislative framework and provide a tax holiday for investors.

Violence Has Hindered Nigeria’s Economic Development – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the violence that has adversely affected parts of the country, has posed a major stumbling block to economic development of Nigeria.

The president said this while receiving the 2013 Africa Peace Award from the United Religions Initiatives (URI) at the presidential villa.

He noted that there can be no meaningful economic development where people are fighting, adding that differences cannot be resolved through the barrels of the gun.

Presenting the award to the president, the regional director of URI, Ambassador Mussie Hailu, said the award is in recognition of President Jonathan’s contributions to religious harmony in Nigeria and peace-keeping operations under the United Nations.