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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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Animals replace humans on Kenya’s new currency

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Kenya has dropped the images of presidents from newly minted cash coins, in what is seen as an attempt to prevent their glorification.
Previous coins bore the images of Kenya’s three ex-rulers: Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki.
Many Kenyans saw this as an attempt by their leaders to promote themselves, and to personalise the state.
The new ones have images of the country’s famous wildlife, including lions, elephants, giraffes and rhinos.
President Uhuru Kenyatta – the son of Kenya’s first leader Jomo Kenyatta – said the new coins were a “big change” and showed “our nation has come a long way”.
All three of the incumbent’s predecessors had their images printed on the currency during their rule.
Mr Kibaki, who won elections in 2002 ending Mr Moi’s 24-year rule, broke a promise not to have his image printed on money.
Intense public pressure led to a new constitution, adopted in 2010, to entrench democracy and human rights. It states that the currency “shall not bear the portrait of any individual”.
The central bank has fulfilled the requirement in the case of coins, and is likely to do the same when it prints new notes.
The bank said the choice of animals gives “physical expression to a newly reborn and prosperous” Kenya, and shows respect for the environment.

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Nigeria’s cabinet approves N7.13bn for maritime security

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Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council has approved N7.13bn (about $22.995million) for security in Nigeria’s coastal waterway.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi said the contract was approved for six companies to protect six sections of the coastal waterway.
He said that the contract was approved to enhance security in the maritime sector.

Steady recovery from recession
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said that he presented a report to the cabinet meeting that indicated that the economy, when measured by real GDP, grew at 1.81% in the 3rd quarter 2018 compared to 1.5% in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
He stated that the Federal Executive Council noted that economic growth continued to be driven by the non oil sector which grew by 3.32% in the 3rd quarter.
“This has been the strongest growth in non-oil GDP in twelve consecutive quarters since the fourth quarter of 2015,” he said.
Udoma said the non oil growth was driven by transportation, electricity, telecommunication, metal oils, quarry among others.
“In addition, agriculture and manufacturing sectors also grew, agriculture by 1.91% manufacturing by 1.92%.
“These are stronger growth than in the 2nd quarter, so overall, council most encouraged by these results shows improvement in the economy.
“It also shows that our plans are working it equally shows that we need to intensify our economy and keep fit with our reforms through continuous implementation of the ERGP in order to continue to attract investments and set the economy on a more sustainable inclusive growth trajectory.”
Udoma said the cabinet was encouraged by this and believed that the economy would do even better in the 4th quarter.

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Nigeria Is An Investment Destination Of Choice, – Osinbajo Tells German Investors

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria is a leading investment destination for potential and serious investors.

Speaking at the first Nigeria-German business dialogue in berlin, the vice president said investment opportunities in Nigeria are abundant and increasing.
Professor Osinbajo explained that given the economic and trading developments in other parts of the world, Nigeria has become an investment destination of choice.

Referencing a recent McKinsey report, the vice president pointed out that, “consumer spending in Africa was $1.4 trillion by 2015, with Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa accounting for more than half of that total.
He noted that there is also increasing economic opportunities in Nigeria because of deliberate actions by government to diversify the economy and improve the business environment.
While applauding the existing relations between Nigeria and Germany, the vice president said that Nigeria is a natural partner of Germany, which is also the largest economy in the European Union, and also its most populous country.
Professor Osinbajo maintained that both countries are potential locomotives of growth, trade and investment between Africa and Europe, and this has led to a significant exchange of high-level visits between both countries, including, most recently, the visit to Nigeria by Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of august.

The vice president told the gathering that the various investment opportunities strengthen the resolve of the buhari presidency’s strong commitment to the diversification policy; because of abundant untapped resources in some critical sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mining and technology.
Citing areas investors could tap into, Professor Osinbajo remarked that, “agriculture perhaps presents one of the best investment opportunities in Nigeria.
He noted that only three years ago, Nigeria was importing five million dollars worth of rice daily but is now producing locally ten million metric tonnes of paddy rice annually.
The vice president pointed out that diversification of the Nigerian economy is also reflected in the manufacturing sector, in mining and oil and gas.

The vice president also availed investors of opportunities in the service sector, with particular reference to the hospitality sector and budding tourism industries.
He stated that, “about 1.8 million international travellers spend two nights on average at Nigeria’s estimated 10,000 hotel rooms yearly.
According to him, this generated about US$210 million in revenue for the industry in 2017, which barely reflects on Nigeria’s US$500 billion GDP size.”
Investors who spoke earlier expressed delight and confidence in the growth capacity of the Nigerian economy and the on going impact of the economic blueprint of the buhari administration.

The chairman of the German-African business association Stefan Liebing acknowledged the huge investment potential of Nigeria and hoped for improved relations between the two countries

 

 

PHOTOS:
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Nigerian-German Investment Dialogue in Berlin, Germany.

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Vice President launches free wifi service in Abuja Market

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Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has launched the Google Station at the Wuse Market, Abuja.
The station, which he launched on Thursday, would provide free internet access to traders, workers and all those engaged in commercial activities at the market.
Idea from the US
Speaking at the event, the Vice President said that he got the idea of setting up Google stations in markets when he visited the Silicon Valley in the United States a couple of months ago.
According to him, during his discussions with the officials of Google, he was informed about Google Station Free Wifi in railway stations in India and suggested that it could also be set up in markets in Nigeria.
“The CEO of Google was talking about this and I said if you can put this in railway stations in India, then you must put them in markets in Nigeria.
“I’m sure at the time he wasn’t quite certain what markets would look like but we agreed on principle and they have been working on it since then.
“It’s incredible that today we have here at the Wuse market free wifi facilities in fulfillment of that promise that was made two, three months ago,” he explained.
Professor Osinbajo said that the station was important because it gives access to the common man.
“One of the key reasons it is important for us to do this is because of our own policy as a government to ensure that we democratise access in various ways so that the man in the street, the common man, can have access to the things that other people have,” he stated.
The Vice President said this informed the provision of solar power in markets in various parts of Nigeria.
He said; “We were in Sabo Gari market the other day, where we have 39 shops that are now powered by solar power and also by bio-fuel power.”
Professor Osinbajo said that apart from Sabo Gari, Ariaria Market in Aba, Abia State, South East Nigeria and Sura Market, Lagos, have also been provided with solar power.
“As a matter of fact, Ariaria has solar and a formal plant right there. We have also one in Lagos at the Sura Market and several other markets.
“The reason of course is that economic sites, where many of our people do their business must be powered. We must give them the same sort of access that bigger industries have.
“That bottom of the pyramid, the people in the streets not just the people who buy and sell…You find such guys, who after retiring from pushing their barrows and trying to get their business done, have access to the Wifi,” he stated.
“We are told that our own interaction with the wifi is almost a hundred times more than the likes of India, Thailand and Malaysia.
“It just shows you the massive potentials out there of Nigerians who are waiting to be connected to the internet to benefit in one way or the other.
“So, I think it is a very exciting moment for us and we are looking for the expansion of this service and all of our efforts to as many markets as possible,“ Professor Osinbajo explained.
The Vice President stressed that the country would be more prosperous if more Nigerians have access to the internet.
He commended Google and its Nigerian partner, Backbone Communication Network for establishing the station in the Wuse Market.
The Managing Director of the Backbone Communication Network, Ibrahim Dikko, said the partnership of his firm with Google would bring free, high quality, wifi to all possible locations in Nigeria.
He said this would be done in the markets, motor parks, hospitals and other public places in the country.
Also speaking, the Next Billion User Partner Lead for Africa, Seidu Abdullahi said the best interaction the firm has seen, in terms of time spent on the internet, comes from Nigeria.
Vice President Osinbajo also used the opportunity of the visit to Wuse Market to inspect the distribution and impact of the TraderMoni scheme at the market, amidst the cheers of traders.

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No Plan for Mass Retirement of Staff – NNPC

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…As Baru Tasks Staff on Innovative Ideas to Move the Corporation Forward

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has reiterated that there was no plan to carry out mass retirement of staff.
The Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, gave the assurance yesterday at a programme tagged “CS Connect”, organized by the Corporate Services Autonomous Business Units (ABU) to showcase its products and services to the public.
In a keynote address at the event, the GMD charged the management and staff of the Corporation to go about their duties and continue to give their best to the corporation and ignore the rumors of sack.
He explained that the recent retirement of some staff following the last management promotion exercise was restricted to those who had been performing below par, stressing that “they were a disincentive to those remaining in the system and it was only appropriate to disengage them to allow some fresh air for others to rise”.
Dr. Baru harped on the need for staff to be law-abiding, resourceful and disciplined, and urged staff “to come up with innovative ideas and best-in-class practices to reposition the Corporation and sustain our pride of place in the national economy as we strive for global recognition”.
He commended the Corporate Services ABU for being in the forefront of service delivery and for enhancing the overall business success of the Corporation, adding that the CS Connect was aimed at improving current support services with a focus on cost-reduction and greater efficiency.
In his opening remarks, Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, Mr. Isa Inuwa, said the occasion was primarily for the Corporate Services Autonomous Business Unit to account for its mandate.
The theme of CS Connect programme which is in its second day is: “Integrate, Automate and Elevate NNPC’s Business to Next Level”.


NDU UGHAMADU
Group General Manager,
Group Public Affairs Division,
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,
NNPC Towers,
Abuja.
5th December, 2018.

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World Bank sees Nigerian 2018 GDP growth at under 2 percent

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The World Bank expects Nigeria’s economy to grow slightly less than 2 percent this year, largely driven by the non-oil industry and services sectors, as the approach of elections keeps foreign investors away, it said on Wednesday.

Nigeria emerged from a recession last year but growth remains fragile, with the government borrowing both at home and abroad to help fund its budget. It has raised almost $9 billion from the eurobond market since 2017 to boost growth.
“Nigeria’s emergence from recession remains sluggish, and sectoral growth patterns are unstable. In the second quarter of 2018, the oil sector contracted by 4.0 percent,” the bank said in a statement.
GDP grew by 0.83 percent last year after shrinking by 1.58 percent in 2016, its first annual contraction in 25 years. For this year, Nigeria’s central bank is projecting growth of 1.75 percent.

The World Bank said growth in the farm sector, which has been resilient in the past, had slowed to 1.2 percent under the impact of security challenges in the north.
The World Bank said non-oil industry and services, which make up more than half of Nigeria’s economy, had been boosted by growth in construction, transport and communication technology.
But it said investment in human capital, which the government has been seeking to boost, remained low compared with other countries.
Nigeria is largely dependent on its oil sector for government revenues and foreign exchange, but it has been constrained by a subsidy on petrol and other deductions, the bank said, noting that foreign investment was stagnant.

It said higher oil exports had helped current account data in the first half but non-oil revenue had come in lower than expected despite reforms to improve the economy.
The World Bank expected the fiscal deficit to widen in 2018, with portfolio investors exercising caution ahead of the election, despite rising local yields.

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Naira depreciates, sells at N364.22 to dollar

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The Naira on Tuesday was sold at N364.22 to the dollar at the investors’ window in Lagos, with a turnover of 147.30 million dollars, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
While it was sold at N306.80 to the dollar at the official CBN window, it exchanged at N364 to the dollar at the parallel market in Lagos.
The Pound Sterling and Euro closed at N480 and N415, respectively.
NAN reports that in spite of the weekly interventions of the CBN on the exchange rate, the naira continues to depreciate.
Reports show that the CBN has since the beginning of the year injected close to 11 billion dollars into the foreign exchange market to shore up the value of the currency. (NAN)

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CISI partners with NSE to reinforce finance professionals in Africa

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The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) announced a new partnership with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to provide training for CISI qualifications in Nigeria, under the auspices or X-Academy, the knowledge platform or NSE.

The partnership will result in CISI accreditation X-Academy as its training partner in Nigeria for qualifications including the International Introduction to Securities & Investment (IISI), International Certificate in Wealth & Investment Management and Certificate in Derivatives. X-Academy will be offering both face-to-face and online training for these qualifications.

The CISI is the 45,000 strong, global not-for-profit professional body with members in over 100 countries. It has been working in Africa since 2012 offering exams and membership across the continent, with regulatory approval for its examinations in eight countries. It opened its first African office in Kenya in June. Over the last 18 months, almost 3,500 CISI examinations have leg in Africa, making it CISI’s fastest growing market.

The CISI is an Associate Member of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) in a partnership that aims to promote professionalism and development for professionals in Africa.

Helena Wilson Chartered MCSI, Assistant Director, CISI Global Business Development said:

“We are delighted to partner with the Nigerian Stock Exchange to provide training for CISI’s recognizable qualifications in Nigeria, supporting the development of human capital within the fast-growing Nigerian capital markets. CISI qualifications are fast becoming a benchmark across Africa, and this partnership is symbolic of Nigeria’s growing influence both within Africa and on the global stage. ”

Pai Gamde, Chief Human Resource Officer or NSE, said:

“This partnership is a testament to the years of investment that we have made in the Nigerian capital market. In 2017, we launched X-Academy to offer our ecosystem a blended learning approach and the curriculum across CISI programs reflects the same intent. We are quite excited about this development and we look forward to a long lasting relationship with CISI “.

Candidates interested in studying for CISI qualifications through X-Academy should contact the X-Academy team via email at x-academy@nse.com.ng or call +23414485836.

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Nigeria’s Opposition Leader Promises Cryptocurrency Policy If Elected President

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Nigeria’s main opposition leader and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has said the country will adopt blockchain technology and cryptocurrency if he is voted into power. In his policy document, Abubakar revealed plans to create a legal policy that, among other things, will see blockchain and cryptocurrencies taught from primary school through university.

‘Comprehensive Policy’
More than 50 candidates are jostling to defeat Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent president, in general elections slated for February. Abubakar is the main contender as the representative of the People’s Democratic Party. The business tycoon — who owns companies cutting across the agriculture, logistics, media, and food and beverage industries — previously served as vice president under the former government of Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.

In his campaign policy document, released Nov. 19, Abubakar promised to “produce a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies” if he is elected as president of Africa’s biggest economy in the 2019 election. He revealed plans to build a knowledge-based economy powered by information and communication technologies, including blockchain and digital assets. Abubakar stressed that his government will improve literacy in these technologies by altering the school curriculum, so students can learn about them from primary school.

Hostile Government
The current Nigerian government has not particularly embraced cryptocurrencies. Godwin Emifiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has likened cryptocurrencies “to a gamble.” The authorities hold this stance in spite of the fact that Nigerians continue to flood into the digital currency space in search of cheaper and faster ways to send money abroad, or receive it. They have also been using cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation and exchange-related losses of the naira, the local fiat unit. According to Citigroup, Nigerians account for the world’s third-largest holdings of bitcoin as a percentage of gross domestic product, after Russia and New Zealand.

However, the Nigerian government has launched an investigation into the pros and cons of adopting bitcoin as a means of payment. Financial technology startups in the West African country have called on the CBN to provide legal guidelines for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. A lack of regulation is driving investment out of Africa’s biggest economy to nations like Rwanda and regions such as Europe while fomenting uncertainty, they say.
In his “Get Nigeria Working Again” policy document, Abubakar said: “Nations that will prosper are those that embrace (a) comprehensive, agile approach that infuses the influence of rapid technological advancement into every area of governance and policy to address the issues of inadequate technological infrastructure, funding and poor database.”

Do you think Abubakar will fulfill his promise?

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PRESS RELEASE :N-POWER PROVIDES TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN EDUCATION BEYOND TRADITIONAL CLASSROOMS TO BOOST KNOWLEDGE-DRIVEN ECONOMY – VP OSINBAJO

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*FG considers education bond for public universities to finance its infrastructure
*Says Nigeria will continue to invest in technology-driven education for accelerated development
*Talks ongoing with ASUU

Given the radical changes that technology has brought to bear in both the challenges and opportunities in education, the N-Power employment scheme of the Buhari administration provides a technology platform to train teachers quickly and efficiently, aside from the traditional training institutes, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, as Visitor to the University of Ibadan, stated this on Saturday on the occasion of the University’s 2018 Convocation and 70th Foundation Day Ceremony.
Noting that the N-Power programme of this administration is technology driven, the Vice President said, “N-Power, our employment and skills training programme, now employs 500,000 young men and women who were hired using a technology platform developed by young Nigerians.”
“We have had the collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Oracle Academy, Microsoft, Cisco Academy and IBM. How do we train teachers quickly and efficiently, aside from traditional teacher training institutes which must be refitted to deal with new technology-driven pedagogy? We must use technology platforms to train. We have had a few eye openers in this regard when we launched our N-Power programme.”
Continuing, he said, “we trained them and provided materials for continuous training using our open platform and each of them was provided with an electronic tablet which contains a lot of training and teaching materials for the large number who teach in schools in every local government in Nigeria.”
Prof. Osinbajo noted that in the next few years, both teacher training and teaching will be largely driven by technology; with university education, especially scientific research, made easy by virtual reality and Artificial intelligence tools.
According to the VP, “there are four big issues that call for incisive thinking, the first is the population challenge and opportunities. By 2050, Nigeria will be the third most populous country and over 60% will be under 25.
“The second is climate change and the threat of desertification. The third is the education challenge. That is, how to chart a course for educating this generation of young people for the competitive globalized knowledge economy. Also, how do we equip teachers with the skills required and, in the numbers, required? How do we fund education to prevent the slide in standards in the past two decades and the frequent disruptions of the educational calendar due to strikes?”
The Vice President further said, “the current gaps in educational attainment in the country has made it clear that we had to change both the substance of education our children receive and the methods by which they are taught. The early stage investment in primary and secondary school education is key to becoming a knowledge-driven economy.”
“Our policy is to develop and introduce STEAM education – Science Education, Engineering, Arts and Math – curriculum in primary and secondary schools. This curriculum covers training in Skills in cross disciplinary, critical and creative thinking, problem solving and digital technologies, coding, digital arts, design thinking, and robotics.”
While reiterating that education cannot be left to Government alone, Prof. Osinbajo stressed that none of the world’s leading Universities depend wholly or even substantially on government funding, adding that all have evolved innovative means of financing and investment, to meet their funding needs and become financially sustainable.
He also added that one of the solutions that must be explored is the alumni network, noting the University of Ibadan’s vast alumni network, by virtue of its age and the breadth of its academic offerings.
“Amongst other options we are working on the details of an education infrastructure bond for public universities, to involve raising money from the capital markets to give a push to infrastructure in our universities.
“Our ongoing talks with ASUU are a fallout of the chequered history of negotiations concluded in 2013 with government. There is no question that ASUU has a point. However, we must seek to resolve it amicably and with minimum disruption to the academic calendar,” the VP stated.
While congratulating notable personalities that were conferred with honorary degrees and fellowships of the university, Prof. Osinbajo also joined a host of other dignitaries to pay glowing tributes the University.
According to him, “there are many great successes and spectacular failures, but we have by and large run our show, warts and all. In those years, UI and our nation were defined by the many icons of scholarship and social activism; Wole Soyinka (who would win the Nobel prize for Literature in 1986), Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Chukwuemeka Ike; the pioneering work in research and teaching of history led by Prof Kenneth Onwuka Dike. The Ibadan school of history series was crucial in ensuring an accurate and nuanced interpretation of African history.
“UI was also to later develop its own world-acclaimed academics in various disciplines — J. F. Ade Ajayi (history), Akin Mabogunje (geography), Ayo Bamgbose (linguistics), the late Prof Benjamin Osuntokun (Medicine), Emeritus Prof Ayo Banjo (English), C. Agodi Onwumechili (physics), among many others.
“Even in its earlier days, UCH, UI’s medical school, attracted students from across the world, including residency candidates from the US, and up till now is a Centre of Excellence for Neurosciences, which carried out, a few years ago, the first awake Brain Surgery on a female patient with brain tumour.”
Other eminent Nigerians who spoke at the occasion were Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi; Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Rtd); the Chancellor of the University and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III; and Pro-Chancellor, Nde Joshua Waklek. Many other dignitaries were also present including first class traditional rulers and goodwill messages were given by visiting chancellors of other universities.
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President
Office of the Vice President
18th November, 2018

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Ogene Anuka Aguleri

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