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Time to Take Back Our Oil

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BY IJEOMA NWOGWUGWU

Exactly a year ago, a news story published in quite a few papers failed to gain traction. Senator Omotayo Alasoadura who chairs the Senate Committee for Petroleum Resources (Upstream) was reported to have revealed how he resisted pressure from unnamed “high places” to kill the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB). According to Alasoadura, he rejected huge sums of money offered as bribe in order to frustrate the passage of what has essentially become an offshoot legislation of the omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), first presented by the Umaru Yar’Adua administration 10 years ago to the National Assembly. The senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District spoke of the political landmines that he had to sidestep and how he had to lobby his colleagues who were resistant to the PIGB to get it passed by the Senate.

For those of us who had followed the lack of progression of the original PIB, Alasoadura had not said anything new. That the PIB and its revised version, presented by former petroleum minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, never got passed by the sixth and seventh National Assemblies arose from the fact that the legislators succumbed to alleged bribes and the pressure brought to bear by the same people in “high places” and operators in the oil and gas sector. Often enough, the lobby to quash the PIB, and later the PIGB, did not just come from compromised legislators but from officials of government-run parastatals, the petroleum ministry inclusive, whose preference was to maintain the status quo. They were beneficiaries of the inefficiencies, rot and corruption in the system, after all. So why would anyone in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Inspectorate, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), the international oil companies, et al, who had been living fat off the food of the land support the passage of a legislation that would reform and plug the loopholes in the system?
Unsurprisingly, our current so-called petroleum minister, President Muhammadu Buhari, has towed the well-trodden path of others before him. The reason he proffered to the legislature for vetoing the PIGB was abundantly evident. Buhari reportedly withheld his assent to the legislation because it would whittle down the powers of the petroleum minister and transfer same to the technocrats who will be appointed to run the National Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC) – the industry regulator envisaged by the bill. Throwing more light on the president’s ill-advised decision, his National Assembly liaison, Senator Ita Enang, clarified a day after the news of Buhari’s veto sent shockwaves through the system, that the NPRC would have been allowed to retain 10 per cent of the funds it generates to the detriment of the three tiers of government and the Federal Capital Territory. Citing constitutional and legal breaches, Enang went on to say that the PIGB also seeks to expand the scope of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) in a manner that is “antithetical to the policy of his (Buhari’s) administration and consequently stipulates provisions that are in conflict with an independent PEF”. The third reason was that the PIGB consists of some legislative drafting concerns, which he said had the capacity to create ambiguity and conflicting interpretation.
While the third concern raised by the executive could be rectified by the legislature by revisiting the PIGB and expunging and consolidating potential areas of ambiguity and conflicting representation, the other reasons given by the presidency were absolute bunkum. The PIGB came into being with the input of all stakeholders in the industry, including the petroleum ministry that Buhari supposedly superintends, in an effort to unbundle what was deemed an unwieldy PIB that had been pushed back and forth between the executive and the parliament for years. With the latter’s decoupling into smaller more manageable legislations comprising the PIGB, the Administration Bill, Host Community Bill and the Fiscal Bill, the architects behind the unbundling were of the view that badly need oil and gas sector reforms would be easier to implement and manage through guided legislations for specific aspects of the industry.
Hence, the PIGB, the first of the four bills, was passed in March 2018 by the National Assembly to provide the legal framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit-driven petroleum entities, to ensure value addition and elevate the petroleum industry to international standards, through the creation of efficient and effective governing institutions with distinct and separate roles.
In summary, the bill envisages that the Ministry of Petroleum shall be responsible for setting the overall policy and strategy for the oil and gas sector. It also grants the minister preemptive rights over all petroleum products in the country in the event of a national emergency. However, the powers to grant, renew, amend, extend or revoke licences for oil and gas acreages were taken away from the minister. The bill also provides for the establishment of the NPRC, which shall replace the DPR, Petroleum Inspectorate and PPPRA. It shall be wholly independent, and shall among other functions, be responsible for regulating the entire gamut of the oil and gas sector as well as the conduct of bid rounds and or processes for the award of any licence or lease required for oil and gas exploration and production.
Commercial institutions contemplated by the PIGB include the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (the successor company of NNPC) and the National Petroleum Assets Management Company (NAPAMC), which shall take over and manage all the assets currently held by the NNPC under the Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) and back-in-right provisions of the Petroleum Act of 1969. Ancillary institutions include the PEF; Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated (MOPI), to hold on behalf of government, shares in the successor commercial institutions that shall be incorporated pursuant to the provisions of the PIGB; and the National Petroleum Liability Management Company (NAPLMC), which shall take over the stranded assets and liabilities of NNPC and DPR.
From the condensed outline of the PIGB above, it is apparent why a Buhari would not support the passage of the bill. For him, he sees the petroleum ministry as his personal fiefdom whose powers must be retained so that his office can continue to dispense favours and patronage in the oil industry. It must be added here that from the outset of his administration, Buhari, in his capacity as petroleum minister, has never uttered a word about the PIB, or its unbundled elements. This could be blamed on a number of factors: The first is the absence of mental wherewithal to understand the need for oil and gas sector reforms. The second is his inordinate old school belief in the concentration of political and economic controls in the state. The third is the need to keep government institutions in the oil sector as bastions of sleaze and slush funds.
Even the attempt by the administration to hide under constitutional and legal breaches does not hold water. That the NPRC shall be allowed to retain a certain percentage of the revenue it generates is not strange to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Indeed, quite a number of regulatory agencies in the country are statutorily allowed to retain a certain percentage of the funds that they make as provided for in their establishment Acts. These include the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Communications Commission, National Pension Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, etc. The framers of these Acts included such clauses in order to grant them the autonomy that they needed to operate efficiently and effectively. That the PPPRA has not been able to function with the same independence and has operated without a governing board for years can primarily be traced to regulatory capture. The agency was subsumed hook, line and sinker by the petroleum ministry from the days of Alison-Madueke and has not been able to wriggle out of the stranglehold ever since.
This aside, it will be misconceived for the executive arm to insist that the NPRC should be dependent on budgetary allocations that are often dispensed at the pleasure and discretion of the finance ministry. A completely independent NPRC with a strong governing board is desirable for the oil and gas sector for so many reasons, chief of which is that it will gradually bring to an end the discretionary award and revocation of oil industry leases, licences, permits and authorisations.
One notable snag, however, with the NPRC and by extension the PIGB is that the proposed industry regulator shall still be responsible for establishing the framework for determining the fair market value of petroleum products and tariffs for gas processing and transportation. This in itself suggests that the legislature is aiding the executive arm in its price fixing regime – one of the major impediments to growth and investment in the down- and midstream oil and gas subsectors. It need not be over-stressed that the price fixing of petrol is one of the primary reasons for the bottomless black hole in the books of NNPC, it is the same reason the country keeps wasting billions of dollars on subsiding petrol, and is the main reason for the revenue shortfalls accruable to the three tiers of government. This same provision in the PIGB further raises the issue of ambiguity over the pricing of diesel and aviation fuel – two petroleum products that have long been deregulated by past administrations. That is what the executive arm of government needs to focus on, not the 10 per cent of total revenue that shall be retained by the NPRC.
However, all hope is not lost for the PIGB. The legislators should take Buhari’s veto of the legislation as a challenge to salvage the oil industry from the decay that has enveloped it for decades. At the very least, they should heed the cries of their state governors who have been doing battle with the NNPC for several years over lack of transparency and under-remittances to the Federation Account. They should seize on the president’s lack of foresight and knowhow by cleaning up the bill and amending any areas of ambiguity and conflicting representation, including fortifying and shielding the position of the chief executive of the NPRC with the inclusion of a provision requiring the approval of two-thirds of the Senate before the person can be removed from office by the president.
The long and short, Buhari’s veto should be considered irrelevant and of no consequence whatsoever to a bill whose time has come. In any case, he never had any interest in it in the first instance. Enough of the pussyfooting with oil sector reforms. It’s time we send the right signals to serious investors who have kept investment decisions on new projects in abeyance or departed for other climes due to the uncertain climate fostered by successive administrations on the sector. With the powers vested in them by the constitution, the National Assembly must as a matter of urgency override President’s Buhari’s veto of the PIGB!

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Elumelu Foundation disburses $15.2m to empower 3,050 entrepreneurs

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has disbursed 15.25 million dollars to 3,050 selected candidates for the 2019 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs.
The Chairman of the foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu, at the unveiling of the applicants on Friday in Abuja, said that 5,000 dollars would be disbursed to each candidate.
According to him, the amount will serve as seed fund to empower the entrepreneurs in their various businesses.
Elumelu said entrepreneurship was the way to go at impacting on humanity and growing the continent, hence it was important to invest in it.
“We should contribute our quota to humanity as we do in the foundation”
“We have decided to use this as opportunity to unveil the selection of 3,050 young entrepreneurs so that there will be more prosperity on our continent.
“We urge the President Muhammad Buhari’s led administration to improve access to electricity in the country for the benefit of the entrepreneurs,” he said.
Elumelu also revealed that the foundation had spent about 50 million dollars in the last five years to empower 4,470 African Entrepreneurs.
“We spend like 10 million dollars every year.”It’s a ten year commitment’
“Every year we spend five million dollars directly for seed capital. We spend money for forum, the training, mentoring and so many other things.
“So about 10 million dollars is spent every year in supporting this programme.
“We are spending a little more now because of the additional number; we have an additional 2,050 and we have to train them,” he said.
Elemelu said the foundation had set up a TF connect which is helping African entrepreneurs to connect and almost 700,000 of them were already on the platform.
He said: “we are helping them to find markets, investors, connections and to solve some of their problems.”
The chairman said that the eradication of poverty on the continent was the responsibility of all and urged well-meaning people to support the course for the benefit of all.
“What I see happening, if others were to come on board, we will be progressively reducing the level of poverty, increase female participation in economic activities on the continent and the number of jobs we create.”
Earlier, Ifeyinwa Ogochukwu, the Director of Partnership, who is also the incoming Chief Executive Officer of TEF commended the various partners of the foundation while urging more to come on board.
According to Ogochukwu, if we are going to thrive on the continent, it is only through entrepreneurship.
She said that the foundation was able to increase the number of candidates to 3,050 because of the support of its partners.
She said out of the 3,050 successful candidates, 1,000 would be directly funded by the Foundation and an additional 2,050 supported by the its partners.
“African Development Bank will be sponsoring 1000 entrepreneurs and would be supporting the foundation with about five million dollars.
“United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is sponsoring 754 candidates with 1.4 million dollars and International Committee for the Red Cross is sponsoring 180 with 900,000 dollars commitment.
“Benin Republic is supporting 50 additional citizens of their country with 200,000 dollars,
Botswana, 20 candidates with 100,000 dollars and Anambra State Government is sponsoring 15 candidates,” she said.

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30,000 PETTY TRADERS HAVE RECEIVED TRADER MONI LOANS SINCE AFTER ELECTIONS

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With repayments, some have started collecting 2nd (improved) loans of N15, 000. Contrary to speculations in some quarters, the TraderMoni scheme and other GEEP micro-credit products (MarketMoni and FarmerMoni) – a component of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme, are still very much in operation, Mr Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President (Office of the Vice President), has said. Mr Akande disclosed this in a progress report on the GEEP micro-credit products (TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni).
According to him, “So far, a target of 30,000 minimum beneficiaries per state has been achieved in majority of the 36 states and FCT since after the national and state polls.” Besides, he added that “what the implementing agency has been doing since the last phase of disbursements is generating the balance of program funding while ramping up on the states with shortages.”
“Consequently, disbursements have continued to happen in the states; for instance, we have had over 28,000 disbursements across 10 states since after the elections. Our priority is ramping up these numbers in the balance of states before we move to phase two of the program after detailed reviews and structural enhancements for larger scale. Under the Next Level agenda, Trader Moni loans will target ten million petty traders, a significant ramp up from the initial target of two million beneficiaries.
On the role of the Ministry for Industry, Trade and Investment in the implementation of the scheme, he said, “it is actively involved in the project.” Mr Akande said, “that ministry is, in fact the oversighting Ministry of Bank of Industry, which is the deploying agency. The office of the Minister executes the GEEP program via the Bank of Industry. “The governance structure of GEEP includes the office of the Vice President (National Social Investment Office), The Ministry of Trade and Investment, and the Bank of Industry.”
Speaking on measures adopted to enhance repayments, the Presidential Media Aide said GEEP has pioneered innovative solutions to drive repayment compliance. “Working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), we successfully piloted the concept of the BVN as digital collateral; and we saw repayment go up significantly on the MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans.
“For TraderMoni, beneficiaries can pay back at any commercial bank in the country just like a NEPA or WAEC bill; all they need to provide the bank teller with is their phone number. We also developed and successfully piloted scratch cards as a repayment option for beneficiaries who stay kilometres away from the nearest banks in their community. The cards are loaded the same way Telco recharge cards are loaded, thus requiring no new learning curve. “This improved repayment received compliance to the extent that in January, the Bank of Industry began second level disbursements – disbursements of N15,000 – to beneficiaries in Lagos, Borno, Ogun and Oyo states for trader who had successfully paid back their first N10,000 loans,” Mr Akande disclosed.
According to him, “GEEP’s vision (in the long term) remains to empower the over 30 million MSMEs in Nigeria with interest-free, collateral-free loans.” The GEEP programme, a component of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme (SIP) has since inception about two years ago, impacted many lives, improved living conditions and expanded opportunities for ordinary Nigerians to do petty trading as well as small and medium scale businesses.
Under the Trader Moni scheme, an initial N10,000 loan is given to petty traders and once they repay within six months, they can receive a new N15,000 loan and when they repay that they can get another N20,000 loan until they get as much as N100,000

Media & Publicity Unit
Office of the Vice President

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Kindly ignore false claims as regards the suspension of the Trader Moni programme

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The Trader Moni customer care lines are still available to all beneficiaries. Feel free to lodge a complaint or make inquiries.
Customer care lines:
07006275386
07001000200
Beware of fake news!

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No plans to sell Lagos Trade Fair Complex – FG

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An agency of the Nigerian government, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on Tuesday said there are no plans to sell the Lagos Trade Fair Complex as speculated.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Bureau states that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) does not intend to sell the Complex, rather the facility would be concessioned through a competitive transaction process,” BPE spokesman Amina Tukur Othman said in a statement.
Prior to Othman’s statement, traders at the complex protested a rumoured sale of the complex by the government to a private company.

The Bureau on August 23, 2017, had announced that the government had terminated of its lease agreement with Aulic Nigeria Limited in some national dallies with effect from August 23, 2017.
However, Othman said the complex had not been sold, instead, the government plans to concession the facilities through a private firm- Messrs Feedback Infrastructure Services.
He explained that the government had “met with the entire traders’ associations to explain the essence of the planned concession.”
Othman cautioned traders not to transact with anyone on “any purported allotment, buying, selling, letting, leasing, charging, and subdivision, construction upon or dealings in connection with the said property and parcels of land in any other manner howsoever without the written permission of the FGN represented by the BPE is unlawful, illegal, fraudulent and amounts to trespass.”
She further warned that any person(s) interfering with the said parcels of land “stand to lose their money as the FGN through the BPE will neither honour agreements, contracts or arrangements entered into – to transact the property and or parcels of land whether.
The BPE spokesman added that government will not refund any monies paid in respect of such transactions.

 

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OCP fertiliser deals take Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency

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Morocco’s OCP expects to finalise a deal by the end of 2019 to build a $1.5bn ammonia plant in Nigeria, providing the latest boost to the country’s push for food security.

Indorama’s $1.5bn urea fertiliser plant at Port Harcourt is the largest in the world.

The state-run Moroccan fertiliser manufacturer – one of the world’s largest phosphate exporters – it is collaborating with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for this investment. A memorandum of understanding was signed last June during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Rabat.
The announcement comes as a welcome news to stakeholders in the agriculture sector; despite agriculture contributing about 24% of its Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) annually, an overwhelming majority of farmers are still at subsistence level.
When complete, the new plant will have a capacity of over 1 million tonnes. Its establishment is part of a larger trend of commitments over the last few years to build fertiliser plants in Nigeria.
*As part of a commitment to ensure food security, the Buhari administration set out to revive 20 fertiliser plants last year.
*The Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) claims a majority of them have now been revived and are operational. It adds that the country should soon be exporting NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) fertilisers.

*In July 2017, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo launched what is considered the world’s largest single-train urea plant, with a production capacity of 1.5m tonnes of urea fertiliser, in Rivers State. It is owned by Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemicals Limited, the Nigerian affiliate of the Indonesia-based Indorama conglomerate. There are reports of a second plant underway, with support loans from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

*Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, will not be outdone. He plans to commission another urea fertiliser plant later this year with an expected capacity double that of Indorama.

When full on-stream, all the plants together should ensure self-sufficiency in fertiliser production and vastly improve crop production as Africa’s most populous country prepares to grow enough for its own, ever-increasing population.

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AU to establish African Central Bank by 2045

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The plan to establish the African Central Bank (ACB) by the African Union will likely come to fruition by 2045.
Ms Naglaa Nozahie representing the Association of African Central Banks (AACB), said this while presenting the progress report on the convergence of criteria for the ACB to the African Union on Thursday.
The briefing was part of proceedings at the third session of the Specialised Technical Committee of the African Union (AU) on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration, holding in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The meeting, which was organised in collaboration with the African Capacity Building Foundation, had as its theme: “Public Policies for Productive Transformation in Africa’’.
Nozahie, who is also a Special Advisor to the Governor, Central Bank of Egypt, said the purpose of ACB was “to build a common monetary policy and single African currency as a way to accelerate economic integration on the continent’’.
She said the AACB held several meetings from 2002 to 2017 and came up with the proposed macroeconomic criteria that must be met by each member state before the African Central Bank could be established.
She said inflation must be three per cent or less by 2038, overall budget deficit must also be less than or equal to three per cent by 2033.
Similarly, she said the ratio of central bank financing to the government must be zero by 2038 and that each country must have foreign reserves to cover at least six months of importation by 2038.
“In addition, the ratio of public debt to GDP must be less than 65 per cent while the ratio of total tax revenue to GDP must be more than 20 per cent.
“The ratio of government capital investment to tax revenue must be greater than 30 per cent,’’ she said.
Nozahie said experts, who worked on the convergence criteria, also agreed that member countries must maintain the stability of the nominal exchange rate at plus or minus 10 per cent.
She further said that analysis of member countries’ performance showed that only 18 countries, out of 52, currently met all the primary criteria for macroeconomic convergence.
It would be recalled that the AU Assembly in January 2005, which held in Abuja, outlined decisions for the establishment of some African financial institutions to improve intra-African trade.
Part of the decisions was that the African Central Bank should be located in Nigeria, the African Investment Bank in Libya, and the African Monetary Fund in Cameroon.
When it is fully implemented, the ACB will be the sole issuer of the African Single Currency and would become the banker of the African Government and Africa’s private and public banking institutions.
The ACB will regulate and supervise the African banking industry and will set the official interest and exchange rates, in conjunction with the African Government’s administration.

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Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) chief says world loses trillions to gender inequality

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Citing a World Economic Forum report, Ms. Songwe said it will take Africa 102 years to close the gender gap and that globally, it will take 217 years.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — “When you have women in positions of leadership, business does better and there’s more innovation, more value creation and more profit,” said Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA).

Speaking at the launch of the Global Health 50/50 2019 Report – titled Equality Works – in Addis Ababa on the eve of the International Women’s Day, she said the world’s economy loses USD 160 trillion in wealth due to gender inequality.

She said political empowerment is one of the areas in which the least progress in closing gender gaps has been made, adding “And we know that policy and politics are where decisions that affect women are made.”

Ms. Songwe pointed out that gender gap in health and survival has reduced by 96%. Meanwhile, in the areas of economic participation and education, progress in bridging gender gaps stands at 58% and 95% respectively.

The ECA Chief applauded the Global Health 50/50 Report as an advocacy initiative that advances action and accountability for gender equality in global health.

The 2019 edition focuses on gender in the workplace. It reviews the gender-related policies and practices of about 200 organizations that are either active in global health or seek to influence it.

The report reveals that gender equality in the workplace is still far from being achieved, especially regarding gender leadership gap, gender policy gap and the gender pay gap in global health.

The executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, noted that his organization is ranked among the 17 high performers in terms of gender parity policies and practices, stating:

“I’m committed to building an organization with gender equality at the centre of whatever we do. UNAIDS has achieved gender parity at professional and higher levels. We have moved from 26% female directors of our country offices in 2013 to 48% today.”

President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia commended the report for being data-rich and reader-friendly. She noted that the report’s findings, especially on pay gap, are a clarion call to Sub-Saharan Africa where gender pay gap is 6% higher than the global average.

Ms. Zewde stated, however, that there’s some good news in Africa where “women are increasingly challenging these norms by claiming positions of power.”

A handful of African countries, she said, have some of the most gender equal parliaments in the world, adding that “besides Rwanda where more than 50 % of MPs are women, we need to recognize progress in Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal and South Africa where women hold 40% or more of the seats.”

Citing a World Economic Forum report, Ms. Songwe said it will take Africa 102 years to close the gender gap and that globally, it will take 217 years.

Addressing young Ethiopian female students shortly after the launch, Ms. Songwe noted, however, that given the increasing rate of academic and professional excellence exhibited by African females, she was optimistic that the content does not need 102 years to bridge gender gaps.

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Tax Claim Could Delay Shell’s Major Nigerian Offshore Oil Project

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Nigeria seeking nearly US$20 billion from international oil majors in back taxes could delay the approval of a major offshore oil project, Shell’s Upstream Director Andy Brown told Reuters on Tuesday.
Nigeria has asked the oil majors operating in the country to pay a total of almost US$20 billion in outstanding taxes and royalties that it says is owed to various Nigerian states, Reuters reported last week, citing government and industry sources.
Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Eni, and Equinor have each been asked to pay the federal Nigerian government between US$2.5 billion and US$5 billion, according to Reuters’ sources who saw letters sent to the oil majors earlier this year via a government debt-collection division.

Shell, a major investor in Nigeria’s oil industry, will have to take the tax claim seriously, “but we think it has no merits,” Brown told Reuters on the sidelines of the International Petroleum Week conference in London on Tuesday.
The oil major, however, will have to resolve that tax claim issue with Nigeria before considering the final investment decision (FID) on the Bonga South West oil project, the manager said, noting that the FID “may slip into next year.”
Earlier this month, Shell’s Nigerian unit, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), announced the Invitation to Tender (ITT) to contractors for the development of the Bonga South West Aparo (BSWA) oil field. The tender is for engineering, procurement, and construction contracts for the 150,000-bpd project in the Gulf of Guinea.

“This is a new vista for deep offshore oil and gas exploration in Nigeria based on a revised commercial framework embraced by government and the project investors,” SNEPCo’s Managing Director, Bayo Ojulari, said on February 14.
“We now have a clear commercial framework, supported by the government and project investors, toward a potential Bonga South West Aparo Final Investment Decision (FID),” Ojulari said.
While a new offshore Nigerian project could be delayed, Shell is looking to fast-track the development of the Whale discovery in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brown told Reuters today.


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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BREAKING: Zenith Bank records N193.424bn profit after tax

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Zenith Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s tier one lenders announced a profit after tax of N193.424 billion for the year which ended December 31, 2018, from N173 billion in 2017.
While profit before tax rose from N199 billion in 2017 to N231 billion in 2018, the bank’s gross earnings dipped from N745 billion in 2017 to N630 billion in 2018.

The bank has also declared a final dividend of N2.50 per share, just as its shares are currently trading at N24.20 in today’s trading session on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, up 1.25 per cent.

Details later…

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Nigeria, Ghana enter EU blacklist for money laundering

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Nigeria, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Panama were named in a proposed European Union blacklist of nations seen as posing a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, the E.U. executive said on Wednesday.
The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at E.U. banks but has been criticised by several E.U. countries including Britain worried about their economic relations with the listed states, notably Saudi Arabia.
Nigerian and Ghanaian officials are yet to react to the proposed blacklist.
The Saudi government said it regretted the decision in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency, adding: “Saudi Arabia’s commitment to combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism is a strategic priority”.
Despite pressure to exclude Riyadh from the list, the commission decided to list the kingdom, confirming a Reuters report in January.
Panama said it should be removed from the list because it recently adopted stronger rules against money laundering.
Apart from reputational damage, inclusion on the list complicates financial relations with the E.U.
The bloc’s banks will have to carry out additional checks on payments involving entities from listed jurisdictions. The list now includes 23 jurisdictions, up from 16. The commission said it added jurisdictions with “strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes”.
Other newcomers to the list are Libya, Botswana, Ghana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four United States territories of American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The other listed states are Afghanistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
Bosnia, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu were removed.
The criteria used to blacklist countries include low sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency over the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
Five of the listed countries are already included on a separate EU blacklist of tax havens. They are: Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and the three United States (U.S.) territories of American Samoa, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The 28 EU member states now have one month, which can be extended to two, to endorse the list. They could reject it by qualified majority.
EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova, who proposed the list, told a news conference that she was confident states would not block it.
She said it was urgent to act because “risks spread like wildfire in the banking sector”.
But concerns remain. Britain, which plans to leave the EU on March 29, said on Wednesday the list could “confuse businesses” because it diverges from a smaller listing compiled by its Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the global standard-setter for anti-money laundering.
The FATF list includes 12 jurisdictions – all on the EU blacklist – but excludes Saudi Arabia, Panama and U.S. territories. The FATF will update its list next week.
London has led a pushback against the EU list in past days, and at closed-door meetings urged the exclusion of Saudi Arabia, EU sources told Reuters.
The oil-rich kingdom is a major importer of goods and weapons from the EU and several top British banks have operations in the country. Royal Bank of Scotland is the European bank with the largest turnover in Saudi Arabia, with around 150 million euros ($169 million) in 2015, according to public data.
HSBC is Europe’s most successful bank in Riyadh. It booked profits of 450 million euros in 2015 in the kingdom but disclosed no turnover and has no employees there, according to public data released under EU rules.
“The UK will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that the list that comes into force provides certainty to businesses and is as effective as possible at tackling illicit finance,” a British Treasury spokesman said.
Criteria used to blacklist countries include weak sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency about the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.

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Aguleri , The Citadel Of Igbo Civilisation

 

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Meet the skin doctor : DR IFEOMA Ejikeme

DR IFEOMA Ejikeme, an NHS medical consultant and highly experienced aesthetic medicine doctor, has achieved more in her 34 years than most of us could hope to in a lifetime.
Medical director of the Adonia Clinic, Dr Ejikeme has travelled the globe for extensive training in medicine, including a postdoctoral fellowship in head and neck surgery.

 

 

ENTER NIGERIA Winning Sunday with The Young Netpreneur for the Week :Ken Nwadiogbu @kennwadio

 

Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994) is a Nigerian born Multidisciplinary Artist, popularly known as KenArt, whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and works on paper.
Nwadiogbu believes that the society speaks- This voice inspires his art, which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In his reply to this society, he is able to inspire one or two people to also re-valuate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change his society and the way people think is what drives him to create art every day. Gender equality, African cultures, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and holds a B.Sc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His art career started in the university, and with no formal training, has pushed him to become one of the most interesting young contemporary artists from Nigeria, creating works that question life- calling out some of the problems and becoming very grounded in human consciousness..
Nwadiogbu has been featured in lots of local and international group exhibitions and fairs, including the Insanity exhibition, sponsored by Frot Foundation, in Omenka Gallery, Nigeria; the TMC’s It’s Not Furniture, curated by Winifred Okpapi; the Artyrama’s group exhibition curated by Mr Jess Castellote; Art X Lagos, sponsored by Artyrama Gallery, in Lagos, Nigeria; the Moniker Art Fair, sponsored by Creative Debuts, in Brooklyn, NYC; the Anti-Trump show organised in UK; the Afriuture Exhibition by Ramati Art Africa in association with Commonwealth Africa Summit, in Toronto, Canada; amongst many others. He has been televised and publicized on different platforms like Guardian Life, Tush Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Candid Magazine, Bored Panda, BBC, CNN, and more as well as inspiring and encouraging young creatives through public speaking appearances like TEDx. He co-founded Artists Connect NG, the largest Nigerian artist gathering that took place at Lekki Leisure Lake, in Lagos, Nigeria.
To Nwadiogbu, Art is indeed timeless, it is his solace and hiding place, a safe haven he has found to be devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.

 


 

 

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