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Local oil firms walking a tight rope

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Local oil firms walking a tight rope

Indigenous firms are the worst-hit by myriads of challenges bedeviling the oil and gas industry. ADEOLA YUSUF reports on how many of them are running into bankruptcy

 

 

Aiteo, an indigenous oil firm, made the headlines penultimate week; basking in the euphoria of its new status as the biggest Nigerian- owned oil firm in terms of production, hitherto known by many as the petroleum product trading firm, it announced the production of the largest share of the 313,602 barrels per day output from indigenous companies.

The firm’s management cannot be blamed for flaunting its new status as the oil industry is battling with cash crunch and little or nothing was expected from the local firms who are the worse-hit by the crisis.

Aiteo is not alone, a few other firms put up sterling performances, even though they still ranked far below the 77,000 barrels per day production figure of Aiteo . The sad aspect is that tens of indigenous firms are faced with bankruptcy while their productions are near to nothing.

Investing in Nigeria’s future

On April 1, 2015, the media was awash with news that the ownership of OML 29 had been formally transferred from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to Aiteo Group.

This information was dismissed by many industry watchers and stakeholders, considering that the divestment programme of the oil major, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), had not been without controversies and rumours of litigations.

On the other hand, IOCs, which have indelibly etched their names in gold and local investors who play big globally had not only shown keen interest in the divestment offer, they had submitted seemingly irresistible bids to corner it.

As such, Aiteo Group was not reckoned with by bookmakers. But a document by Aiteo revealed: “But with conviction in its impeccable track record of safe, reliable and environmentally conscious energy development and a clear vision for the future, Aiteo snapped up a 45per cent stake in one of Nigeria’s largest onshore oil blocks, in addition to the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, which marked a turning point in oil and gas business in Nigeria. Thus, Aiteo secured the potential to hold as much as 300 million cubic feet of gas and 2.2 billion barrels of oil.

“From when they first indicated interest in the lease, the owners and managers of Aiteo Group were unmistakable about their commitment and bold ambition to be a major part of the world’s energy solution.

The march towards that global vision was gradual, steady and without any publicity stunts. The leadership, management and staff of Aiteo rolled up their sleeves and went to work in silence.

The result of those quiet efforts came out resoundingly when, a few days ago, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) announced a peak production of 90,000 barrels per day less than one year into the operatorship of the reputedly largest onshore oil bloc OML 29.

Agog with excitement hidden beneath journalistic curiosity, pressmen have lately turned the headquarters of the integrated energy company to a Mecca of some sort, as they besiege its officials to know how Aiteo has been able to break into the league of big players within such a short period.

This is no mean feat when considering that SPDC could barely produce 23,000bpd prior to the divestment.

“Top among Aiteo’s landmark achievements since its foray into the upstream sector is the production of 90,000bpd. In 2016, the company traded petroleum products worth over $11 billion.

Only recently, it announced a further $4 billion medium-term investment aimed at boosting both gas and oil output by, amongst other tactics, bolstering infrastructure asset.”

Aiteo, the document explained, has not only risen to be Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil producers with ownership and operation of petroleum storage facilities in Lagos and Port-Harcourt, including the Abonnema Storage Terminal with total capacity of over 110 million litres, the company also holds the second spot in petroleum products tankage in Nigeria.

It has also constructed a jetty to accommodate growing vessel traffic to the Port Harcourt Terminal, which accommodates up to 30,000 metric tons dead weight. Aiteo’s founder and Vice- Chairman, Benedict Peters, had said: “Aiteo was one of the companies sought after and issued permits to import petrol under the Federal Government’s Refined Products Exchange Agreement.

It was also among the indigenous companies awarded oil lifting contracts, valued at $40 billion in 2012/2013. The company also entered into a Management and Operation Agreement with Duke Oil to operate and manage its Crude and Product Exchange Agreement on behalf of NNPC and Pipelines Product Marketing Company (PPMC) from 2011 till 2014.

“Its trajectory to prominence is steeped in a culture of excellence marked by periods of varied fortune. The imperative to explore growing opportunities in the upstream sector of the petroleum industry birthed the Aiteo Group idea in 2008.”

Upbeat about a future that belongs to Aiteo, Peters has highlighted several existing and developing projects that would grow Aiteo’s asset production to over 150, 000 bpd and 200 million sft3/d. He said: “Our outlook is bright with three producing oil fields and viable crude exports via Bonny terminal.

We also have contingent resources to appraise and prospective ones to explore in the medium-tolong term, including full 3D coverage and 2P NNS reserves at 1.6 billion bbls. Put simply, we have a clear vision for the future with the experience and assets crucial to providing oil and gas consistently on a regional and global scale.”

These statements of assurance could not have come at a more auspicious time than now when the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 -2020 just disclosed that government plans to reduce petroleum product imports by 60 per cent by 2018, as it looks forward to becoming a net exporter by 2020.

According to the report, the Federal Government’s intention with regard to the oil and gas sector “is to increase the production of crude oil and gas while adding value in the downstream petroleum sector.”

Bankruptcy threats

In a bid to boost local participation, the Federal Government encouraged the international oil companies (IOCs) to surrender their marginal fields for assignment to indigenous concession holders. A marginal field is defined as any relatively moderate field that has reserves booked and reported annually to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and has remained unproductive for a period of 10 years.

The programme has brought about the emergence of a new generation of smaller Nigerian producers, who have increased the share of production from local players to 10 per cent of the total oil output, data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) showed.

Over 100 blocks are in the control of indigenous operators, who were awarded some 50 marginal blocks through discretionary allocations in the 1990s, another 24 through marginal fields bidding round in 2003, and 60 more blocks through conventional bidding rounds in 2005 and 2007.

Dubril Oil Company Limited, which was incorporated in 1987, is described as the first indigenous petroleum producing company in Nigeria. In 1991, the company drilled the first exploration well by a private indigenous company.

Other early entrants include Conoil Producing Limited (formerly Consolidated Oil Limited), founded in August 1984; Oriental Energy Resources (1990); Famfa Oil (1991); Nest Oil Plc (1991); Moni Pulo (1992), Niger Delta Exploration & Production Plc (1992); Amni International Petroleum Development Company (1993) and SAPETRO, which was formed in 1995.

Other indigenous firms are Oando Plc, Frontier Oil Limited, Seven Energy, Seplat Petroleum Development Plc, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria, Emerald Energy Resources, Energia Limited, Midwestern Oil & Gas, Neconde Energy Limited, Network Oil & Gas, Newcross Petroleum Limited, Orient Petroleum Resources and Sahara Group.

Most of these local players have, however, ran into troubled waters financially. Head, Energy Research, Ecobank Capital, Mr. Dolapo Oni, confirmed this by telephone in a chat with New Telegraph.

Most of them are not very liquid right now. He said : “They are having cash flow problems. Servicing their debts is a bit of an issue. A lot of banks are currently restructuring debts. Almost 100 per cent of the debts that are being restructured are owed by indigenous oil and gas companies.”

Chief Executive Officer, Frontier Oil Limited, Mr. Dada Thomas, described the impact of the oil price drop on indigenous firms as “grievous and grave.” He said: “The reason is that we don’t have the economics of scale that the larger national oil companies and international companies have.

Therefore, our unit cost of operation is far higher than theirs and you can understand that if you have a high unit cost of operation and yet your unit price of sale is dropping, you are in trouble.

Survival of the fittest

Current output breakdown showed that Aiteo, Eroton, NPDC, Oriental, Seplat produce 77,000 -90,000 barrels per day, bpd 54,000 bpd, 42,654 bpd, 24, 000bpd, and 21,881bpd respectively.

Newcross, Midwestern, Belemaoil, Amni, Conoil, Niger Delta, Walter Smith and Erin Energy produce 20,000 bpd, 13,000 bpd, 12,000 bpd, 11, 000 bpd, 9, 130 bpd, 7,000 bpd, 5, 837 bpd and 5,000 bpd.

Others – Energia, Moni Pulo, Prime Energy, Platform and Pillar Oil – also produce 4,500 bpd, 3,200 bpd, I,200 bpd, 1, 100 bpd and 1, 100 bpd respectively. Investigations showed that the companies have intensified efforts in developing their assets to produce more in future.

A tall dream

Indigenous companies in Nigeria have, however, concluded plans to increase oil production by 60 per cent at end 2018. This is expected to increase their collective output from the current 313,602 barrels per day (bpd) to 500,000 bpd in 2018.

This will also enable them to increase their contribution to the nation’s daily output from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, leaving 80 per cent to the IOCs that currently produce 90 per cent of Nigeria’s total output.

The Managing Director of Seplat Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Austin Avuru, had predicted that the indigenous companies will also produce about 1.5 billion Cubic Feet of gas daily in 2018.

Top among Aiteo’s landmark achievements since its foray into the upstream sector is the production of 90,000bpd. In 2016, the company traded petroleum products worth over $11 billion. Only recently, it announced a further $4 billion medium-term investment aimed at boosting both gas and oil output.

Conclusion

Scores of indigenous firms, which have gone under could increase their market share by diligently following the footsteps of the market leaders.

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Border closure: Spurring rise in rice milling plants

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Border closure: Spurring rise in rice milling plants

It is reported that the Federal Government’s decision to partially close the country’s land borders since August this year is already yielding fruits in rice value chain with more rice milling plants springing up nationwide. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

 

The Yuletide season is around the corner and all eyes are on the country’s rice sector as processors and merchants are going to step up to meet demand for the number one staple food of many Nigerians. 

There is no doubt that the border closure has cleared the way for rice millers and producers in the country to produce abundant rice for consumption at a period smuggling of the commodity has drastically reduced.

However, against all odd, reports have, however, showed that hundreds of rice milling plants have sprung up in the country, while those that were moribund are now being reactivated in many rice-producing states.

A number of rice millers are now floating milling plants by adding to their production lines in a bid to ensure sufficiency and also key into government’s diversification agenda to promote agriculture.

Genesis

For the record, Nigeria is now a rice producing nation following Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (APB), which has opened gateway of opportunities for the development in the country.

The current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would be remembered for the active role it played towards sustainable development of rice production in Nigeria.

At the launch of ABP scheme on rice development at Birni Kebbi, Kebbi State in 2015, there were lots of doubts among some sections of Nigerians about government’s capability to deliver on its promises on developmental project in the country.

Emphatically, the Anchor Borrowers Programme has been a success story in all ramifications and it is even being replicated in some neighbouring countries.

In 2015, at a Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) in Abuja, it was agreed that to float rice APB to be managed by the apex bank, with focus to attain self-sufficiency in rice production.

Rice millers’ impact

Following Federal Government’s intention to ban rice importation in favour of local rice production, there has been aggressive move by private sector–led firms to invest in rice mills.

Particularly, many rice millers have commenced rice cultivation in line with government’s policy to ensure sufficiency in the country by year end.

Some of the major rice milling companies in the country that have heeded the clarion call have intensified their efforts to see that more rice mills are established in the country to meet national demand.

These rice companies include Olam Nigeria Limited owned by Stallion Group, WACOT rice mill, Dangote rice mill, Sunti Rice Limited, a subsidiary of FMN Plc, Miva rice mill and BUA rice mill.

Others are Umza Rice, Ebonyi Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Mill Limited, Coscharis Farms Limited and others.   

Dangote Group is also planning to establish a multi-billion naira rice processing mill in Hadin, Jigawa State. The Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, who laid the foundation stone for the construction of the mill, said it had the capacity to process 16 metric tons of paddy rice per hour when completed.

He said that in a year, the mill would process paddy rice worth N14billion, bought directly from famers in Jigawa at market rate.

Apart from the large millers, there are many medium-scale ones upgrading their facilities to strengthen production. They include NFG-CS Rice Mill in Ga’ate and many more in Lafia and Doma in Nasarawa State; Ogoja Rice Mill in Cross River.

Recently, the management of Tiamin Rice Mill Limited disclosed that about $13,370,500 was invested to boost its production capacity from the current 320 tonnes to 1,520 tonnes per day.

The Managing Director of the company, Aminu Ahmed, explained that the policy of the current administration, especially the ban on smuggling and the interventions given to them by CBN, had helped immensely in boosting local production of rice.

He also revealed that the company was established in 2016 in Kano and started production of rice in 2018 with 320 tonnes per day.

Ahmed disclosed that the existing production line in Kano would be expanded from 320 tonnes to 920 tonnes next year, just as a new production line would start production of 600 tonnes per day in Bauchi by May 2020.

New rice mills

In order to sustain the momentum in rice production, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the sum of N10.7 billion for the construction of 10 new rice mills to sustain the actualisation of rice-sufficiency programme last year.

Speaking at the press briefing after the council’s meeting, a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Heneiken Lokpobiri, said FEC approved the establishment of 10 rice mills with capacity to produce 100 tonnes per day, which would be managed by private rice millers.

Lokpobiri said the FEC approved the construction of 10 large rice mills to boost the milling capacity of rice value chain in the country.

“A few years ago it was reported that this country needs a minimum of 100 large rice mills. As of today we have about, 21, but the Federal Government in its wisdom decided that today we should approve the establishment of 10 at the total cost of N10.7 billion,” he added.

According to the former minister, the rice mills would be given to the private sector for proper management as they would pay back within a given time frame as agreed between the Bank of Agriculture and the rice millers.

Lokpobiri noted that the mills wouldbe located in Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Anambra, Kaduna, Ogun, Niger and Bauchi states.

Last line

With brisk business at full swing for local rice millers at this period despite challenges of sophisticated equipment to improve on paddy processing, some agric experts still doubt the capacity of the rice millers to meet national demand.

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Bank lauded for supporting young entrepreneurs

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Bank lauded for supporting young entrepreneurs

Ecobank Nigeria has been commended for supporting budding entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

The bank got the commendation for giving weight to young entrepreneurs who were selected as beneficiaries of the ‘Unusual Entrepreneurs” programme, an initiative of the Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki Lagos.

Speaking at the presentation of cheques to the 251 young entrepreneurs, the Parish Priest, Monsignor Pascal Nweazeapu, said this action by Ecobank showed a clear alignment to the vision of supporting employment amongst the teeming youth population in the country.

He noted that the scheme was initiated to empower those who show demonstrable interest in business to enable them bring the ideas to fruition. The beneficiaries were given seed funding ranging from N50,000 to N1million to start their businesses.

Also speaking, Chairman of Unusual Entrepreneurs Committee and President of Transcorp Hotel, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, said the ‘Unusual Entrepreneurs’ programme was to empower the participants to grow their businesses, improve their economic status and fend for themselves and their families and also contribute meaningfully to nation’s economy.

Ozigbo added: “The essence is to be able to empower men and women economically as they are also filled spiritually. We believe that with this combination, they would have more reason to believe and trust in God.

“But beyond that, they are able to fend for themselves, and those around them. We want them to run successful businesses, hence we matched them with mentors; people who have been so well established in what they do. So basically, they handhold them, watch them all through the journey, and we have seen a lot of testimonies already. We are highly delighted that Ecobank is partnering with us in this laudable initiative.’’

In his comment the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan pledged the bank’s continuous support to budding entrepreneurs to enable them grow and nurture their businesses to support the rapid development of the nation’s economy.

He said the decision to partner with Unusual Entrepreneurs was part of a deliberate policy of the Bank to assist upcoming businesses to grow, stressing that the main objective of the pan African bank is to contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

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Maritime: N2.5trn loss triggers doubt over FG’s policy

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Maritime: N2.5trn loss triggers doubt over FG’s policy

More than three years after, the Presidential Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business signed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to facilitate trade in the nation’s maritime sector, has been stalled by lack of single window platform and corrupt practices.

The executive order was signed on May 18, 2016, to reduce cargo clearance and ship turnaround time.

However, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) and its relevant maritime industry members, in a recent survey produced by Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) stated that negative operational elements had made the ports lose N2.5trillion annually.

The survey further explained that wide discretionary powers were used by some port officials on clearing processes, fees, charges that have created opportunities for graft and extortion of port users.

With regard to port operations, there were six reform initiatives introduced by the executive order but lack of single window platform and bottle neck created by government agencies had impeded the order from working.

In the executive order, all agencies physically present at the ports are supposed to harmonise their operations into a single interface.

In addition, it noted that Apapa Port would have 24-hour operations. However, the order exists only on paper as cargo dwell time has risen to 22 days, while the ship turnaround time has increased to eight days at the various due to lack of single window platform to help eliminate human contact at the port.

The CBI survey revealed that officials of the Nigeria Customs Service and port operators function at the supply side of the system.

It noted that they were very influential in manipulating the system for and/or against the demand side of port users.

Also, a Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Nigerian Shippers’ council (NSC), Mrs Celine Ifeora, said lack of single window at the port was currently breeding corruption and delay in cargo clearance.

She stressed the need to put the platform in place in order to eradicate all manual processes, which bring about delay and corruption.

Ifeora said in Lagos that despite efforts by the council at ensuring efficiency, absence of a single window platform had robbed the country the gains of port reform exercise carried out in 2006.

The director noted that Cotonou Port had been experiencing reduction in cargo dwell time from 14 days to seven days after implementation of the single window platform, while some neighbouring countries have three days.

She said:  “Although the ports have been concessioned in order to ensure low cost of doing business, but we are still having so many problems. We want to bring in efficiency but efficiency is running away from us. Most of the cargoes that come into our country today still undergo physical examination, even the scanners that we have, most of them are not working, and cargo dwell time is still going up.”

Ifeora also explained that the turnaround time of vessels was equally going up in some of the terminals.

The director noted: “Not long ago, I was in Cotonou, where Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) had a programme about single window, you won’t believe that Cotonou Port for example told us that when they put the single window in place, their revenue increased by 38 per cent which is quite high. Secondly, their cargo dwell time reduced from 14 days to 7 days, we need to join people who are doing the right thing in order for us to be competitive.”

Worried by the spate of corruption at the port, founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, at a forum in Lagos, had stressed the need for the adoption of individual declarant in the cargo clearing operation.

He explained that the current system, where the declarant in trade documents was a corporate body, as recognised by the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), was responsible for trade malpractices at the nation’s ports.

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Envoy: Nigeria, others can halt $35bn food import

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Envoy: Nigeria, others can halt $35bn food import

Nigeria and other African countries have been advised to prioritise the importance of good land governance, effective land administration and sustainable land management within the continent as a way of stopping the over $35 billion spent on food importation from the West annually.

Counsellor for Economic Cooperation at the Germany Embassy in Abidjan, Cote D’ Ivoire, Benjamin Laag, in an interview with this newspaper at the 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA2019), which held in Lagos, said it was time for governments in the continent to finally tackle the alarming food import bill that has rendered the continent underdeveloped for decades.

Laag said due to technological improvements in agriculture, as well as in geospatial sciences and other relevant land sectors, tools were available to implement policies to ensure fair and sustainable land policies on the continent.

According to him, corruption is behind the continued spending on food importation and unless there is a change in perception towards agriculture development in the continent.   

“Almost every person on the continent has been affected by corruption and very often the distribution and registration of agricultural and urban land is the reason for it. The importance of good land governance as well as effective land administration and sustainable land management is needed for the African continent which spends over $35 billion annually importing food from the West,” he said.

He disclosed that the German Government had supported Nigeria and some other countries in the continent in its efforts to address land corruption in its bilateral and global programmes on land just as it has also supported transparency initiatives such as the Land Matrix and Land Portal, as well as financing Transparency International’s programme on land and corruption in Africa.

“Data and research on the linkages between land and corruption is now available and I am personally looking forward to hearing from participants presenting their findings.

“We need African solutions to African challenges. And in this regard, Germany appreciates the huge effort that the AU is making through the African Land Policy Center and other AU institutions, to promote and implement the AU agenda on land,” he said.

The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, had revealed that Nigeria and other countries in the continent were spending over $35 billion annually on food import.

The AfDB chief, therefore, called for land tax for unused agricultural land to provide incentives for faster commercialisation of agriculture and unlocking its potential in Africa.

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IPPIS: Lecturers restate revulsion for scheme

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IPPIS: Lecturers restate revulsion for scheme

As the battle between Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the latter’s refusal to enroll in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Scheme (IPPIS) remains unresolved, some lecturers have restated their abhorrence for the scheme as it tends to shortchange them in the course of doing their job.

Recall that the Federal Government had directed all lecturers on its payroll to register on the IPPIS platform, warning that any lecturer that refuses to register should forget receiving his salary, beginning from October.

The IPPIS project, which commenced in 2007, is responsible for payment of salaries and wages directly to the bank accounts of Federal Government employees.

It is also in charge of deducting and remitting third party payments from the salaries of Federal Government workers.

Some of these third party deduction channels include Federal Inland Revenue Service, State Boards Of Inland Revenue, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Housing Fund, Pension Fund Administrator, Cooperative Societies, Trade Unions Dues, Association Dues And Bank Loans.

Reacting to the directive, ASUU charged its members not to register under the scheme as it will jeopardise the current arrangement in the university system.

In a chat with our correspondent, a lecturer in Department of Mass Communications, University of Nigeria, Nsuka, Mr. Robert Ezeanwu, said there were some errors in the scheme, which the government should to look into.

He said, for instance, that as regards the age or retirement, lecturers would be forced to retire at the age of 60, as against 65or70, stressing that the scheme also tend to restrict lecturers from moving freely from one institution to another as well as preventing them from sabbatical leave.

Also reacting, Mrs. Edith Ohaja, who is Head of Department, Mass Communications, UNN, said the scheme would centralize a lot of things to the discomfort of lecturers.

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ABP: Association begins N4bn loan recovery from cotton farmers

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ABP: Association begins N4bn loan recovery from cotton farmers

Prior to the disbursement of a N4 billion loan to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) across some cotton-producing states, the Cotton Producers and Merchants Association (COPMA) has said it is setting out to recover the loan from beneficiaries.

The National President of COPMA, Alhaji Lawal Matazu, explained during the inauguration of the recovery committee that the programme was part of government’s policy to revamp the nation’s agricultural sector to enable farmers get economic freedom.

Matazu stated that recovery of the loan from his members was critical at this period because it shows that government has confidence in cotton farmers to pay back the APB loans. 

He said: “The programme is aimed at providing an opportunity for the common man, the peasant farmer especially, to have access to an agricultural loan at its doorsteps without any collateral or all those conventional protocols and at cheaper rate charges.”

He said the programme engaged 22,000 farmers across the country, and it covered 24,000 hectares of farms with an expected yield of 36,969 metric tonnes of cotton that will cost N4 billion.

“The minimum guaranteed price for the produce is agreed at N150 per Kg. The price is believed to be a reasonable one for the farmers to make a profit after repaying their loan. In the event that the market price of the produce is above the minimum agreed price, the produce will be collected at the rate of the market prevailing price,” Matazu explained.   

The association’s president admonished the recovery committee to use all available and peaceful avenues to recover the loans for the sustainability of the programme as it was designed as a revolving loan.

On his part, National Secretary of the association, Alhaji Kamilu Sheikh Munnir, stated that the programme was initiated by the Federal Government in 2016 for cotton farmers to easily access inputs, as it is designed as a simple loan.

He said: “COPMA came into the programme in 2017 and each farmer/beneficiary was allocated three hectares. All that was distributed to them were in the form of seeds, pesticides and other inputs and the repayment is expected to be with the cotton produced by the farmers, not in cash.”

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Outsourcing: Whyte Cleon to promote entrepreneurial training

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Whyte Cleon Limited, a leading human resource outsourcing and consulting company, has revealed that it will commence an entrepreneurial development training designed for its former employees to make them become solution providers in outsourcing industry.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Mrs. Nireti Adebayo, made this known in Lagos during the company’s pre 10-year anniversary scheduled for the first quarter of 2020.

She stated that entrepreneurial development training was a platform in which the firm wants to give back to the society by equipping its former colleagues with a new mindset that will enable them become more productive in their chosen profession.       

Adebayo said: “Over time, we have delivered unrivalled quality service to our clients and provided practical solutions to our clients assisting them in strategy formulation and execution, talent acquisition, organisational performance and human capital investment.

“The entrepreneurial development training is a platform through which we aim to give back to society by equipping our former colleagues with a new mindset that will enable them become more productive, flourish, and ultimately become solutions provider and employers of labour, thereby helping to lift others out of poverty.”    

The chief executive officer explained that this initiative, which is the first of its kind by any organisation in the outsourcing space, attested to the status of Whyte Cleon Limited as Nigeria’s fastest growing , “future forward” human resources solution provider.

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Failed contracts: Architects seek professionals’ inclusion in procurement

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In order to prevent cases of failed contracts, poor contractual performances, escalating corruption and incidence of collapsed buildings arising from loopholes in the Public Procurement Act, the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) is seeking the inclusion of  seven professional regulatory bodies in the construction industry.

This is part of a memoranda submitted  by  ARCON before the Senate  Committee on Public Procurement, which conducted a two-day public hearing on three bills (SB 106, SB 109 and SB 158) seeking to amend the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007.

According to ARCON’s President and the Registrar, Dipo Ajayi and Umar Murnai, respectively, the bills amongst their propositions should include all seven professional regulatory bodies in the construction industry to strengthen and sustain effectiveness of the procurement process.

They said it was evident that omission on professional regulatory bodies accounted for failure of the Act amongst other factors, given that over 60 per cent  of the national budget in the last twenty years had gone into construction-related procurement of goods or services or related  expenses.

ARCON’s registrar, in a document signed and made available to New Telegraph in Lagos, said the primary target of the body’s contribution was to improve performance of the construction industry, which, according to him, is second to a agriculture in contribution to National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Murnai said: “As pointed out by the sponsors of the three bills, there are evident failures of the Act after twelve years which shows clearly the limitations and constraints that continue to plague the nation in public procurement circles.

“This has adversely affected the construction industry in failed contracts,poor contractual performances, escalating corruption and incidence of collapsed buildings arising from loopholes in the ACT which allow quackery.”

According to him, the window offered by the sponsors of the proposed bills to amend the Act offered construction industry an opportunity to contribute to the consolidation of the gains of the exercise, which will result to increase in the national GDP, thus leaving a lasting legacy.

The three proposed bills include an Act to amend the national council on public procurement and the bureau of public procurement by Senator Shuaibu I. Lau, a Bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the public procurement Act, 2007, to    increase the mobilisation fees paid to contractors and suppliers, and other matters related  thereto, sponsored by Senator Uche Ekwunife; a Bill for an Act to amend the public procurement Act ,2007 to provide for specific time frame for the procurement process/proceedings and for other matters connected therewith,  sponsored by Senator Sankara Danladi Abdullahi.

Fundamental to the second  bill, the registrar of  ARCON said, was the exceptions sort for ecological funds office and payments terms deemed delayed payments from 60 days to 180 days.

He said: “It is apt to reiterate the importance of the inclusion of the registered professional in respect of all procurement subject matters in the procurement process of the ecological fund and shall be referred accordingly by the procuring entity.

Moreso, he pointed out that a six-month delay to 180 days in payment was financially injurious to any project, its timelines and ultimately the project outcomes.

“Fundamental to the Act and the proposed bill by Senator Shuaibu I. Lau is the omission of all seven professional regulatory bodies in the construction industry as part of the full-time council, he said, pointing out that this was a critical omission.

Apart from this, the ARCON team added that fundamental to the third proposed bill was the time frame for formalising procurement within 60 days; from initiation to completion of the procurement process.

ARCON team pointed out that the 60-day window for project planning of the procurement process by the procurement entity would depend largely on the  technical capacity of the procurement entity to handle the size in terms of number of staff input needed and technical inputs of subject matter professionals.

“Where the procurement entity lacks the capacity then,the input of appropriate professional regulatory bodies shall be sought and  obtained to facilitate the attainment of the 60 days time frame,” Murnai said.

To forestall a gap in the initiation to completion of the process, ARCON proposed as part of the bill, an inclusion of a precondition evaluation template to be used by all procurement entities to ascertain their professional technical capacity, which would make it mandatory for procurement entities to refer to the appropriate subject matter.

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ILO tasks FG over jobs for returnee migrants

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To ensure a balanced society for all, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called on the Federal Government to make it possible for migrants, who want to return home, get engaged to enable them lead a decent life and be properly integrated.

Giving the advice in Abuja, ILO Workers Specialist, David Dorkenoo, said government should consider multilateral and bilateral agreements, which provide a framework where people can move and earn decent earnings.

According to him, “they should also be able to make provision for people who are migrating from outside back into the country. Talking about healthcare providers, a lot of them want to come back, but when they come back how are they integrated within the system.”

Dorkenoo, while speaking at a workshop to sensitise trade union organisations on labour migration governance, made it clear that potential and returning migrants in Nigeria and Ghana were protected through fair and effective labour migration governance.

He said the project, “Initiative for Labour Migration, Employment and Reintegration in Nigeria and Ghana (LMER), built on existing efforts to strengthen labour migration governance, enhance employment prospects of potential or returnee migrants and support the reintegration of returnees.”

On the status of internally displaced persons, the ILO chieftain said that IDPs were equally as important as migrants because “when you are looking at migration you don’t only look at migration from the perspective of people flying out of Nigeria to another part of the world.

“But even internally, within the country, where there are challenges, insurgencies and people are displaced equally it is important within the frame work of migration to be able to address the challenges of people that are displaced from their traditional place of abode to other parts of the country in terms of providing place for them to be able to stay.”

Explaining further, he noted that when those who are displaced begin to have access to jobs, “they begin to earn income then they will begin to take care of the basic needs because they can take care of their health, their families and education of their children.”

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Rallying Cassava stakeholders for improved yield

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Rallying Cassava stakeholders for improved yield

In continuation of its strategic intervention in select economically viable commodities, CBN rallied cassava stakeholders for a pact aimed at eliminating bottlenecks stifling the commodity’s growth, Abdulwahab Isa reports

 

 

Nigeria is yet to reap one tenth of the economic values embedded in cassava. Like other high yield commodities with economic value that Nigeria accords less attention, cassava remains a potential goldmine for the country.

To change the tide, the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) is leading a cassava revolution to enable the country earn reasonable income and also create jobs for Nigerians.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, is thus rallying stakeholders including  state governors from cassava producing belt, cassava farmers, and  conglomerates using cassava byproducts.

At a meeting between CBN and the stakeholders, including large scale cassava processors, the message at the meeting, which produced  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),  was primarily conveyed to resuscitate cassava value chain in Nigeria.

Prior to CBN signing MoU with the stakeholders, CBN had included cassava on the forex restriction list.

Untapped potential

Like other commodities of economic potential that are neglected, cassava is one of the economically viable commodities. What is presently derived from it is just one tenth of its untapped full economic value.

At the parley, Emefiele underscored the importance of cassava as an economic commodity.

According to him, “demand for high quality cassava flour in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000tonnes annually while supply  is below 15,000tonnes.  Demand for cassava starch is above 300,000tonnes annually while supply is below 10,000tonnes. Demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup is above 350,000tonnes annually while supply is almost non-existent.

“Potential demand for ethanol in Nigeria as fuel for cooking, power vehicles (E10), and other industrial uses exceeds one billion litres, while production is near zero.  It was on this premise that we included cassava in the FX exclusion list to salvage the industry, encourage farmers to go back to their farms to boost job creation and increase output and improve the capacity utilisation of our processing companies.”

Emefiele noted that the sector had the potential to generate over two million jobs if fully explored.

Tackling bottlenecks

There are obstacles preventing cassava from attaining its economic height. CBN governor noted that without tackling the obstacles, any investment in cassava would amount to economic waste.

He noted that although huge investments were made into the industry during the cassava bread initiative, the industry continues to suffer as a result of low yield varieties, poor farm practices, lack of good quality farm inputs, non-utilisation of available cultivable lands, manual system of production, inadequate funding for small holder out grower schemes and low processing capacity.

“To curtail these challenges and in line with CBNs developmental initiatives, the bank is intervening in the sector through a complete value chain approach. This will involve support to the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association at the production level under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and support to large scale cassava processors under the CACS and DCRR programmes,” said CBN governor.

To get every stakeholder on board, Emefiele said CBN was collaborating with the private sector, states in cassava producing areas and other stakeholders to join hands towards resuscitating the sector.

“We place a high premium on cassava because the commodity can generally be used for different things along the value chain. The value chain has enormous potential for employing over two million people in Nigeria if well harnessed, due to the diverse secondary products that it offers.

“Some of the products include high quality cassava flour, starch, sugar syrups & sweeteners, chips  for domestic livestock feed and for export to China, ethanol/bio-fuels, high fructose cassava syrup (HFCS), fuel ethanol (E10) as well as animal feed from cassava waste among others,” he told his audience, which included Ekiti State Governor, Dr.Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), and Deputy Governor of Ogun State and representatives of big conglomerates like Nestlé, Flour Mills, Promasidor, Unilever and cassava farmers.

It was to deal with issues retarding progress of the commodity that informed the bank’s decision to bring all stakeholders together to agree on a framework for modern production and processing.

“This is by ensuring that we identify and tackle all major challenges in the value chain from seedlings production, land clearing, planting, harvesting, processing, marketing and provision of extension services among others,” he added.

Securing buy-in

Transformation envisaged in cassava value chain is not what CBN alone can achieve. All stakeholders, including state governors, cassava farmers and conglomerates using the commodity must come together to achieve it.

As landlords, governors of cassava producing states are required to make land available to unemployed youths to embrace cassava farming and processing.

Reacting, Fayemi, who is also the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, thanked Emefiele for spearheading the revolution in strategic key sectors of the economy.

He said: “I am happy that this initiative of dealing with farmers who are the out growers. It’s also dealing with the product itself-improving the yield because the CBN governor spoke to us about working with Umudike and working with IITA in Ibadan. If we expand the land available, what will make this more profitable for our growers is yield. The yield per ethanol is very low; we can increase it if we get the right steps for our farmers and if  we also ensure that we reclaim the land for them by clearing the land by  ensuring we give them support in terms of  security.”

Also, Akeredolu said: “Today looks a fulfilling day for us because we have waited for this time to come. We know that CBN has several interventions and on the issue of cassava we have advantage. We have been talking and I want to thank the governor of CBN. He has accepted to look at the issue of cassava and cocoa too.

“Cassava is what we have come here to discuss today. We have so many growers. In Ondo State today, we have an industry that is almost consuming all the cassava that we have and they are still buying from outside.  So it is important that if we are able to have so many people to grow cassava as we intend to do with these facilities we are talking of.”

On his part, National President Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewumi, lauded the initiative. He said Nigeria cassava growers were equal to the task save for threat posed by Fulani headers.

He commended Fayemi for making Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) available for 6,000 hecters of land allocated to cassava growers in Ekiti State.

Last line

The quest to revive neglected commodities that are economically viable entails an all-inclusive approach. To redirect cassava to its economic fortune, every single stakeholder connected to it must get on board, charting a new path.

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