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Subsidy: NNPC says FG owing it N170.6 billion in outstanding payments



NNPC discovers crude oil, gas in Northern Nigeria

…As Reps panel, Fashola disagree over $1.5bn loan, German consultant***

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday injected a fresh twist to the fuel subsidy controversy with a claim that the Federation Account was indebted to the corporation about N170.6 billion in unpaid arrears.

The Chief Financial Officer of the corporation, Isiaka AbdulRazaq, told the Senate Committee investigating fuel subsidy payments that the amount covered the period between January 2006 and December, 2015.

The Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Maikanti Baru, triggered the controversy in the wake of the fuel scarcity that resurfaced in the country late last year.

Mr. Baru had said the NNPC was again paying subsidy on the supply and distribution of petroleum products, despite a federal government decision in 2015 to remove the payment from the fuel pricing template by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA,

He said with landing cost of imported petrol at N171.40 per litre and the retail price fixed at N145 per litre, the NNPC was bearing as extra cost a minimum of N26.40 for every litre of petrol supplied.

However, the NNPC refused to accept the N26.40 difference as subsidy. Rather it preferred to count it as part of its operational costs deductible from the revenue transferable to the Federation Account.

But the Senate had demanded an explanation from the NNPC management on how the extra cost was funded for months without appropriation by the National Assembly as required by the Constitution.

On Monday, Mr. Baru led the NNPC management before the ongoing investigative hearing to explain the components of the alleged N5 trillion subsidy payments from 2006 to 2016.

In his presentation, the GMD said the figure was arrived at after deduction of N4.95 trillion received as payments from the N5.12 trillion approved as subsidy claims for the corporation from January 2006 to December 2015.

Mr. AbdulRazaq traced the subsidy regime to October, 2003 when NNPC was directed by government to commence the purchase of domestic crude oil at international market price without a corresponding liberalisation of the regulated price of petroleum products.

Mr. AbdulRazaq explained that under the subsidy regime, NNPC and other suppliers of refined petroleum products were entitled to file claims for subsidy to the PPPRA.

Unlike other oil marketers, he said NNPC had not been receiving cash payments for subsidy claims since its claims were deducted as operational cost payment to the Federation Account after due certification by PPPRA.

”In summary, NNPC submits that the amount of over N5.1 trillion was duly approved by PPPRA as subsidy claims for NNPC. Out of this sum, NNPC is still being owed N170.6 Billion,’’ the NNPC CFO said.

The NNPC asked the Senate Downstream Committee to assist in ensuring that the outstanding debt was settled to enable it effectively achieve its mandate as “the supplier of last resort to the downstream sector.”

The chairman of the committee, Kabiru Marafa, said the National Assembly will continue to support all players in the oil industry to ensure uninterrupted supply and distribution of petroleum products.

In the meantime, House of Representatives committee on power yesterday disagreed with the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola over the $1.5 billion loan it obtained for electricity distribution in the country.The loan was obtained on behalf of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

This was revealed at an investigative hearing by the committee on power on the interim management of the TCN over a $1.5 billion World Bank loan facility and its adherence to the Fiscal Responsibility and Public Procurement Acts.Disagreement also ensued over delay in the execution of the National Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NEGIP).

But Fashola said his productive time was being wasted due to duplicitous nature of the probes over the activities of his ministry. He urged the House leadership to streamline ‎the number of hearings involving his ministry so that he could concentrate on the task of achieving results. His words: ‎”We have a letter dated December 20, 2017 and that letter is issued under the name of one Nnamdi D. Onuigwe Esq, Committee Clerk.

“The letter from the House stated that it had constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the Fiscal Responsibility and Procurement Acts by the TCN. It was pursuant to House resolution 114/ADHOT/TCN2 of the 20 December.

”Now, we were waiting to be invited by the ad hoc committee when we got this letter asking us to come today, signed by Committee Clerk, Ibrahim Sidi, pursuant to House resolution 189 of 5th December 2017.”

Fashola also faulted the committee decision to hire a German consultant, Ron Van Arnault, who he accused of working for Manitoba, a company that he said, caused the problems faced by TCN leading to the probe.He argued that the consultant apart from having worked for Manitoba, also benefited from contracts awarded without procurement approval in the ministry, and would not be totally professional in providing advice to the committee.

He explained that the procurement of TCN facilities were contracted out even before the assumption of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, adding the major preoccupation of the ministry was to execute the projects and ensure the distribution of 7,135 megawatts generated across the country.

But Chairman of the Committee, Daniel Asuquo insisted that Fashola lacked the powers to determine who the committee engages as consultant.Asuquo alleged that he had text messages exchanged between Fashola and the consultant where the minister solicited his professional advice. He said: “Just as you have your reasons for taking decisions, I also have my reasons for hiring Ron and it’s not up to you to question our decision”Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara restated the commitment of the legislature to tackling challenges in the power sector.

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Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges



Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has called for the use of innovative technologies in resolving the economic and social challenges of the country.

Sanwo-Olu said this on Wednesday during the pioneer graduation of the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy (LJLA) at Konga Place in Lekki.

He said that the new platform of globalisation and Internet of things must be significantly employed to resolve new challenges encountered in the course of improving the living standards of citizens.

30 students, 15 men and 15 women, between 18 and 35 years, graduated from the academy after a one-year course and mentorship in leadership.

The Lagos Leadership Summit (LLS) is a pivotal platform dedicated to empowering Nigeria’s young professionals with the skills and insights essential for success in various leadership roles.

With a focus on leadership excellence, ethical governance, and youth inclusion in governance, the summit offers a unique opportunity for participants to engage with renowned leaders and industry experts.

” You have to be able to innovate for us, you are here as leaders of not tomorrow but today. Proffer solutions that the government can use as a tool, to solve the challenges that we are facing today but more importantly to solve global issues.

“And that is why we started the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy. For us as a government, we felt how well can we honour a man than for us in public sector to set up a cream of new leaders.

“So we set up this school that has the first set, the one-year fellowship, who indeed have not only shown us that we took the right step, they have been outstanding individuals,” the governor said.

The guest speaker and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, noted that it was important for followers to trust their leaders for a successful outcome.

“The people need to trust the government, they must know the capability of their leaders so that when issues beyond human expectations happen, the followers can show empathy to the plight of their leaders.

” I have always been an advocate that believes that the process is as important as the result, the end shouldn’t justify the means, the process is crucial, it serves as a blueprint for others coming behind,” he said.

Similarly, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Governor, who spoke on “Leadership And Community Engagement”, stated that to achieve effective leadership in Nigeria, there was the need to navigate complex political, economic and social landscapes.

Hamzat urged the citizens to be involved in governance while stressing the need for collaborations with private stakeholders and the public sector.

According to him, community engagement with government at all levels is pivotal to the nation’s development.

In her address, Mrs Ayisat Agbaje-Okunade, LIJA’s Executive Secretary, noted that the challenges faced required leaders who are not only capable but compassionate, visionary, and adaptable.

According to her, leadership must transcend rhetoric and manifest tangible outcomes.

“We need leaders who inspire confidence, foster unity, and drive transformation.”

Agbaje-Okunade urged the participants to embrace the responsibility that comes with leadership and pave the way for a generation of new leaders.

The keynote speaker, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank, said that leadership is about leading people on a new purposeful journey.

Suleiman said being a strategic thinker and a transformational leader was what makes leadership different from management, adding that the future is being crafted in leadership.

“In essence, as a leader, you must be able to lead people to the future hence, you must be convincing for people to be bold to follow you, able to trust and believe in you.

“For one to be a leader, the people must be able to believe and trust you to take them to the future where you have never been to,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Tunbosun Alake, Commissioner, Innovation, Science and Technology, stressed that leadership had nothing to do with being young or old but having good values and character.

The commissioner advised the participants to pursue excellence in their various career paths to succeed in life.

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Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu Urges Sacrifice, Integrity For National Rebirth



Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu urges sacrifice, integrity for national rebirth

 President Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices and exhibit integrity for national development.

Tinubu said this after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Eid Ground at Dodon Barracks on Wednesday in Lagos.

The President also called on Nigerians to continue to have faith in his government and remain patriotic citizens.

Tinubu said that the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration, aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigerians, was being diligently implemented.

Encouraging Muslims to extend the values of sacrifice and resilience beyond the fasting period, Tinubu emphasised the need for Nigerians to prioritise the exhibition of love for their country.

‘’The resilience and sacrifice that we have shown and made during these months should be preserved.

“Be a kind and cheerful giver. We must love our country more than any other country because this is the only one we have.

‘’We must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The Renewed Hope Agenda is alive, well and fine, and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful. Without hope, there is no salvation.

“Without hope, there is no development. Without hope, there is no life. Eid Mubarak,’’ the President said at the end of the prayers led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla.

Earlier in his sermon, the Chief Imam urged Nigerians to shun all acts of violence, ensure peaceful co-existence, and continue to have faith in the country.

He asked those in leadership positions to remain faithful to their oaths of office and work towards alleviating the suffering of the less privileged.

‘‘Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Gaza and other areas of conflict,’’ the Chief Imam said.

He offered prayers of God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for the President and the Lagos State government, as well as for peace and stability in the country.

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Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta



Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta), on Wednesday, disclosed that he had secured the release of four family members involved in manufacturing arms at the Onicha-Olona Illegal Arms Factory in Delta.

Nwoko representing Delta North Senatorial District, who disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, said that the release of the four persons was through collaborative efforts.

On March 12, troops of 63 Brigade, Asaba, uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Onicha-Olona, Delta North Senatorial District and arrested eight family members in connection with the crime.

Nwoko disclosed that efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“Following my recent visit to the headquarters of 63 Brigade, Asaba and productive discussions with the Brigade Commander, I am pleased to announce progress in addressing the situation regarding the illegal arms factory discovered in the Onicha-Olona community, Delta.

“Efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“I am pleased to reveal that through collaborative efforts, I have successfully secured the release of four family members implicated in the illegal activity.

“However, our commitment to upholding the law remains unwavering, and endeavours continue for fair judgment and potential pardon for the remaining four individuals,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed that the underlying issue highlighted by the discovery, however, remained of paramount importance.

“We must seize the opportunity to redirect the talents demonstrated by those involved towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“The young man in the family, known for his passion and ability to build drones, exemplifies this potential.

“His skills should be harnessed and put to good use,” he said.

Nwoko added that the Industrial Revolution served as a pertinent historical precedent where individual efforts catalysed transformative change and made possible by governments that created conducive environments.

“We can emulate this model here. We can provide support and opportunities for talented individuals like the young drone builder, and stimulate a new wave of innovation and economic growth in Nigeria.

“As previously stated, Nigeria’s economy faces significant challenges exacerbated by escalating imports, particularly in the realm of arms and weaponry.

“Therefore, we must harness our indigenous talents for the greater good and bolster our local industries,” he said.

Nwoko further said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, have crucial roles to play in this regard.

According to him, by engaging with individuals possessing such skills, we can offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish.

“The aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms or other weapons manufacturing but also to channel these talents towards legitimate industries for national development.

“I reiterate the need for the government to support and integrate such offenders with specialised skills and talents into the formal economy.

“This initiative should focus on recognising their capabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to the development of our local indigenous technology.

“As noted earlier, an individual capable of modifying an AK-47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, holds immense potential for greater achievements.

”Such individual can do more with proper legal support and access to adequate resources.”

He disclosed that he was committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partnering with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.

“I am committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partner with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.”

“They have the intelligence and insights of the potential beneficiaries of this “amnesty” drive towards creating a new cadre of indigenous technologists.

“This law would establish an agency dedicated to providing government support and resources to rehabilitate and engage these individuals in legal and productive activities.

“I tentatively suggest naming this proposed law the “National Talent Rehabilitation and Integration Act”.

“This legislation will not only focus on rehabilitation but also on harnessing the skills and talents of offenders for the benefit of society.

“By providing a structured environment and necessary support, this agency will facilitate the transition of individuals from illicit activities to lawful and productive ventures.

”And they will be contributing to both their personal rehabilitation and national development,” Nwoko added.

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