Sterling Bank’s forthcoming Agriculture Summit Africa will play a significant role in Nigeria’s quest to achieve food security, the lender has said.
Executive Director, Corporate and Investment Banking, Sterling Bank, Mr. Yemi Odubiyi, stated this during a press conference in Lagos where the Bank briefed journalists on the Agriculture Summit Africa billed for September 5 and 6 in Abuja.
The summit themed, “Agriculture – Your Piece of The $1tr Economy,” is geared towards the attainment of the $1trillion Africa agribusiness economy dream of the World Bank by 2030.
Noting that achieving food security was a major objective of the Federal Government, Mr. Odubiyi pledged that Sterling Bank will continue to play a leading role in helping the country achieve this goal.
He said: “Food security is a major threat in Nigeria. We will not be able to stabilise this country until we solve the issue of food security, which we are at the forefront. We are trying to address issue of food security and job creation in the country. We believe that supporting the initiative of the current administration, we will be able to solve challenges of food security.”
He further stated that:”About 10 per cent of our loans are on agriculture because the sector is a very important area for us. We are working with other stakeholders for us to achieve the $1 trillion target of the World Bank by bringing back the good old days of agriculture boom where cocoa and other cash crops were faring well in the country.
He announced that during the summit, Sterling Bank would launch several inititaives, including a digital platform, based on blockchain technology to address post-harvest losses and other areas to boost the agric sector.
Also speaking at the event, the Group Head, Agric Finance and Export, Bukola Awosanya said that this year’s summit will build on the huge success of last year’s event. She disclosed that due to what they benefited from the summit last year, over 4,000 people have already said they would register for the event next month.
Last year, Sterling Bank brought together smallholder farmers, input suppliers, agro processing entrepreneurs, development finance agencies, policy makers and captains of industry through a technical workshop on the agriculture value chain in Abuja.
The workshop, which focused on co-creating a sustainable Nigerian economy through rural agricultural enterprise, was chaired by Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
This year’s agriculture summit is a more ambitious attempt to discuss issues that will propel Africa to attain her full potential in the Agriculture sector.
Barge, boat operators face NIWA’s sanction from January 2020
arges and tug boat operators, who fail to register with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), will not be allowed to operate on Nigerian inland waters from January 2020.
While the authority said that the move is to curb incessant accidents caused by illegal dredging company and some rickety boats, operators complained that some of the accidents was not caused by them.
They told New Telegraph that the authority should first address the problems of wrecks and sand bar before applying sanction.
They said it was not their responsibility to remove wrecks, sand bar and punish illegal boat operators.
Nevertheless, the authority warned the operators that they must adhere to a speed limit of six knots around jetties and a maximum of 15 knots as service speed.
The authority said canoe/ dinghy operator would pay N1, 500 as operational certificate.
Other river craft of between 5 tonnage and 41 tonnage operator would N30,000; 41 tonnage -80 tonnage,N60,000; 81 tonnage and 120 tonnage, N120,000; 121 -200 tonnage, N150,000, while craft above 1000 tonnage would attract N750,000.
It also said that dredgers must obtain permit before they are allowed to operate in Lagos State.
It was learnt that a lot of boat mishaps were caused by wrecks and dredging companies on the nation’s inland waterways.
The authority had complained that dredgers were the problems of inland waterways, saying Ibeshe and Langbasa were filled with abandoned wrecks and pipelines, which block the navigational routes.
Reacting to the plan by NIWA to enforce law from January, 20220, Mr. Felix Ayoleyi, a boat operator, who said he had been operating boat for 25 years, explained that some accidents were caused by derelicts inside waters.
He noted that if the waters had been properly marked by the regulatory authority, some of the accidents would be avoided.
Ayoleyi said that government should put necessary facilities in place before thinking of sanction.
He said: “It is not the responsibility of the operators to remove wrecks and derelicts.”
Also, Mr. Adonye Alawei said that most of the accidents were caused by sand bar gathered by dredger inside the lagoon.
He noted that it was the responsibility of government to ensure that waterways are not impeded by activities of sand miners.
Alawei said: “Nigerian waterways are not properly marked. In some places no buoy to indicate where it is dangerous for navigation or safe for voyage. It is NIWA’s responsibility to mark the water and properly delineate passable areas.
“Let them put the necessary facility in place and then issue permit but they must make the permit affordable.”
He said that the authority lacked capacity and human resources to enforce rules on Nigerian waters.
However, the authority has mandated that survey and registration of tug boats and barges must be strictly from NIWA Lagos office.
It added that NIWA would not give certificate to a barge that was not surveyed by it.
The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Eng Sarah Briahma, said in Lagos that by January 2020 ending, anybody that did not have NIWA permit would not be allowed to sail or dredge in Lagos State.
She also said that a directive to barge operators had been issued the barge operators to desist from double stacking containers while on transit.
Briahma noted that the authority had recorded two mishaps on Lagos waters since the movement of containers by barges from Apapa Port was introduced.
She said: “Within two weeks, we recorded two mishaps, we had containers falling on water, we use to hear that containers fell on Ojuelegba bridge but it on waterways.”
The area manager said that the first mishap recorded was when a tug boat with only one engine took 12 containers from Ikorodu terminal to APMT in Apapa.
Briahma said: “Unfortunately the single engine developed fault at Elegbata and the pilot could not control the tide.The second mishap, the pilot loaded from Dangote Jetty, he was going to ECN, he double stacked the containers.
“Unfortunately, the tide was high around Elegbata, there was a bridge, he thought the tug would be able to pass, but when he got there the tide changed and the containers hit the bridge, the tug boat went down and sank.”
Top brokers trade N1.2trn shares in 10 months
Market operators have continued to express concerns over low positive sentiment in the nation’s bourse
en top dealing firms in the Nigerian capital market ended the first 10 months of the year 2019 with an exchange of 73.991 billion shares worth N1.155 trillion as the stock market recorded low sentiment during the period.
Available statistics showed that the 10 stockbrokers were responsible for 71.09 per cent of the total value between 02/01/2019 and 31/10/2019.
Also, the stockbrokers were responsible for 55.30 per cent of the total volume during the period under review.
Analysis of the transactions revealed that Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited dominated with 18.67 per cent or N303.386 billion exchanged in 12,421 billion shares.
Rencap Securities Limited followed with a record of N210.786 billion or 12.97 per cent exchanged in 7.933 billion shares.
EFG Hermes Nigeria Limited accounted for N145.493 billion or 8.96 per cent invested in 6.858 billion shares.
CSL Stockbrokers Limited traded N102.664 billion or 6.32 per cent in 6.875 billion shares, while Tallimer Capital Limited accounted for N91.884 billion or 5.66 per cent. APT Securities Limited traded N73.927 billion or 4.55 per cent.
Chapel Hill Denham Management Limited traded N61.497 billion or 3.79 per cent exchanged in 5.501 shares while Coronation Securities Limited staked shares worth N59.342 billion or 3.65 per cent.
FBN Quest Securities Limited traded N57.709 billion or 3.55 per cent traded in 3.819 billion shares. Cardinal Stone Securities Limited exchanged N48.385 billion or 2.98 per cent exchanged in 6.346 billion shares.
Market operators have continued to express concerns over poor sentiments in the nation’s bourse. As the Nigerian and global investment climate continues to be challenged, foreign investments continue to dwindle and foreign investors whose countries are also economically challenged move their funds back home where earnings are rising.
Speaking on factors that will make investors return to the market, Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst, Forextime UK Limited (FXTM), in a chat with New Telegraph, said: “A key factor that will magnetise investors to the Nigeria market is the health of the economy. Consistent signs of improving economic fundamentals in key sectors, easing inflationary pressures and foreign exchange stability and transparency will be warmly received by investors. Given the unfavourable global macroeconomic conditions and gloomy predictions from major institution, robust core economic metrics should make Nigeria stand out from the crowd.
“Although Nigeria remains exposed to external shocks in the form of oil, an appreciation in the commodity will most likely stimulate economic growth. However, it remains uncertain whether oil prices will ever be able to reach triple digits in the face of slowing global growth. Oil markets remain influenced by demand side factors revolving around trade uncertainty.
“Another factor that will weigh on oil and the Nigerian economy is the fact that China’s economic growth slowed to six per cent during the third quarter of 2019. China is the world’s largest energy consumer and one of Nigeria’s biggest trading partner with total trade reaching roughly $10.3 billion in 2018. A fall in demand for crude and trade flows with China could threaten Nigeria’s fragile recovery consequently repelling investors to the nation’s markets.
“It will be unwise to overlook external drivers in the trade developments and health of the global economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its forecast for global growth to three per cent this year while the World Trade Organisation (WTO) sees global trade volumes dropping to 1.2 per cent, down from three per cent in 2018.
“This gloomy outlook may encourage investors to avoid riskier assets. A scenario that will not only impact Nigeria, but other emerging markets across the globe. This is already being reflected in the Nigeria stock market with the NSE-All Share Index dropping over 15.5 per cent since the start of 2019.”
Fayemi, PEBEC, hosts South-West L.I.Tuation tour
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State, in partnership with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), hosted entrepreneurs, top government officials, industry regulators, and other stakeholders during the South-West engagement of the Council’s Sub-National tour on Monday in Ado Ekiti.
Themed ‘L.I.Tuation’, the event was focused on providing support for the business communities across Nigeria by creating an opportunity for entrepreneurs to engage directly with regulators and policy makers, and also access information on reforms and suggest areas of improvement, when necessary.
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Fayemi, outlined his administration’s achievements, as he explained that “the past year has been focused on steadying the ship, readying the land, and reclaiming our values. We have now paved the way for smart solutions to the problems of business owners to enable them thrive.”
Speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business and Head of the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole said: “There is nothing as inspiring as a gathering of young problem-solvers willing to turn obstacles to stepping stones and achieve greatness. And who else agrees with me that there’s a good reason to take Ekiti from being just the ‘Fountain of Knowledge’ to the ‘Fountain of Knowledge and Enterprise?”
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Investment, Trade and Innovation, Mr. Akintunde Oyebode, presented an overview of the business reforms being undertaken, while listing outcomes that project the administration’s vision for the future of business in Ekiti State.
Entrepreneurs at the event, including Molola Aluko, CEO, Leonzora’s Place and Kolade Ige, CEO Mideal Functional Foods, highlighted the impact of PEBEC reforms on their bottom lines and challenges they still face in running their businesses.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council will continue the Listen, Implement and Track (L.I.T) sub-national tour in other states, with a view to reducing the cost, time, and procedures required to starting and efficiently running businesses in Nigeria.
Oil slips as concerns over US-China trade talks drag on
U.S. oil prices fell for the second straight day on Tuesday amid market jitters over limited progress between China and the United States on rolling back trade tariffs, while expectations of a rise in U.S. inventories also jangled nerves.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 dropped 32 cents or 0.56% to $56.73 a barrel by 0803 GMT, slipping further away from an eight-week high hit last Friday when hopes for the trade deal rose.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 26 cents, or 0.42%, at $62.18 a barrel, reports Reuters.
A Chinese government source was quoted by broadcaster CNBC on Monday as saying there was gloom in Beijing about prospects for a trade deal, with Chinese officials troubled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s comment that there was no agreement on phasing out tariffs.
“We had reports overnight that the mood in Beijing was pessimistic,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at brokerage CMC Markets in Sydney. “The lack of announcement is really concerning for the demand outlook … the market is very nervous about the trade talks.”
The lingering trade battle that has seen the world’s two biggest economies impose tit-for-tat tariffs on each other has hit global growth prospects and clouded the outlook for future oil demand.
Meanwhile, a preliminary Reuters poll on Monday that showed U.S. crude oil stockpile are expected to rise for a fourth straight week also squeezed prices. [EIA/S]
The American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release its data for the latest week at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Tuesday, while the Energy Information Administration’s official weekly report is due on Wednesday.
“Unless we get further concrete signs of global growth rally or an extension in production cuts by OPEC+ (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and associated producers including Russia), WTI will struggle to attempt to recapture the $60-a-barrel mark,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.
One possible factor supporting prices going forward was a renewal in geopolitical tensions, with news from Dubai that armed members of Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement had seized a vessel towing a South Korean rig at the southern end of the Red Sea over the weekend.
Kylie Jenner sells stake in cosmetics company for $600m
Kylie Jenner will sell the majority of her cosmetics company for $600 million (£463 million).
The 22-year-old’s brand, including Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin, will be controlled by beauty giant Coty.
Kylie says she is building the brand into an “international beauty powerhouse”.
Forbes reported that she made $360 million in sales in 2018, making her the youngest self-made billionaire ever, reports the BBC.
The chairman of Coty’s board called Kylie a “modern-day icon, with an incredible sense of the beauty consumer”.
Her online influence is so powerful that she reduced Snapchat’s stock market value by $1.3bn (£1bn) when she tweeted that she does not use the app anymore.
The reality TV star launched her brand in 2015 with a line of lipsticks, and has since then branched out into face make-up and skincare.
Although she’s the youngest, Kylie is the highest earner in the Kardashian family.
She faced backlash after being named a “self-made” billionaire, but defended herself saying that none of her money has come from inheritance.
She has more than 151 million followers on her personal Instagram account, as well as 22 million on her Kylie cosmetics account.
Coty, which owns brands like Burberry and Hugo Boss, will have a 51% stake in the company.
It said the deal will be completed in 2020.
NSE opens week negative, loses N190bn
The equities market closed yesterday on a negative note, to commence the weekly trading activities on the downswing after the market closed last Friday positive.
The market performance indices, NSE ASI depreciated by 0.59 per cent.
The downswing according to market watchers was due to profit takings by investors.
Consequently, the All-Share Index dropped by 160.59 basis points or 0.59 per cent from 26,851.68 index points last Friday to 26,691.09 while the market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N190 billion to close at N12.882 trillion from N13.071 trillion.
On the activity chart, premium sub-sector dominated in volume terms with 88.6 million shares exchanged in 2,058 deals. The sub sector was enhanced by the activities in the shares of Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc.
Banking sub-sector boosted by the activities on the shares of Fidelity Plc and Wema Bank Plc followed with 32.3 million units traded in 649 deals.
In all, investors exchanged a total of 307.9 million shares exchanged in 4,609 deals.
Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Plc led the gainers chart with 10 per cent to close at 44 kobo per share while Jaiz Bank Plc followed with 9.89 per cent to close at 78 kobo per share and Ikeja Hotel Plc with a gain of 9.47per cent to close at N1.04 per share.
On the flip side, Wema Bank Plc led the losers’ chart with a drop of 7.89 per cent to close at 70 kobo per share. FCMB Plc followed with a loss of 7.50 per cent to close at N1.85 per share while Caverton Nigeria Plc dropped by 7.41 per cent to close at N2.50 per share.
Waning hope for national carrier
Nigeria has tried unsuccessfully to set up a national airline and is ready to pour money into the project. How realistic is the agenda for the a new national airline for Nigeria? WOLE SHADARE writes
In 2014 before he was elected, President Muhammadu Buhari made the setting up of national carrier one of his priorities if he got to be elected as Nigeria’s president.
Five years has gone past and the country is yet to be bequeathed with one of the promises of Mr. President.
The President did not forget he made such promise.
Since he assumed office, his ministers in charge of aviation and transportation have pursued the project vigorously but it has been described as one step forward, many steps backward not for wont of not taking steps but they have not been clear cut.
It is heartbroken that one of the few countries that started the race with Nigeria has progressed better than Nigeria and has actually set up its own national airlines because of the huge gaps domestic airlines have not been able to fill.
Amid slow pace of action on setting up national carrier for Nigeria, some stakeholders even suggested that Arik and Aero Contractors, two airlines that technically belong to the Federal Government, be merged to make it easier if government is in a conundrum on what to do after boxing itself into a corner.
Minister expresses hope
But the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, would not even discuss that because of the huge liability of the two airlines.
Sirika looks more determined to match his words with actions. He looks committed to delivering on this huge project and has not hidden his determination to achieve this.
The buzz around what people described as a wonderful idea if the government pulls it through is waning as this may end up as another failed project considering the fact that the governments before now had tried unsuccessfully to give the country a national airline, which has divided opinion among those who believe in the idea and others who see it as an unprofitable venture.
State airlines boom
Uganda is the latest African country to pour money into a national carrier. But the aviation industry faces some particularly tough conditions on the continent before it can turn a profit.
Just over three months, a plane belonging to the newly revived Uganda Airlines lifted off from Entebbe for its maiden flight. Fifty minutes later, the jet full of dignitaries landed safely in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya.
Ugandans took to Twitter and Facebook to celebrate the successful flight of the Bombardier CRJ-900, one of two such planes currently flying for the relaunched national carrier.
“In some ways this airline is beginning to feel like we are sending someone on the moon if you look at the reactions online,” Angelo Izama, a Ugandan journalist, said.
It’s taken Uganda nearly two decades to get its national carrier back in the skies – the airline was grounded in 2001 after years of losses.
Its relaunch has sparked national pride, with President Museveni describing the inaugural flight as a “historic moment” for all Ugandans.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda hopes the new carrier will also contribute to the economy.
Ugandans spend $450 million ($405 million) flying with foreign airlines, he said at the inaugural ceremony. That money could rather flow to Uganda.
African countries resurrect airlines
Like Uganda, a number of African countries are championing the idea of a national carrier and are either planning to resurrect their state airlines or pouring money into expanding their fleet and routes.
Ghana, which has been without a state airline since the collapse of Ghana International Airways in 2010, is planning a new national carrier in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines.
In a similar deal, Zambia plans to relaunch its state carrier in late 2019 more than two decades after it was shut down.
Senegal commenced domestic flights with its newly revived national carrier, Air Senegal, in 2018 while Tanzania has announced plans to buy new Airbus jets in order to increase the routes of its state-owned national carrier.
On the one hand, the air passenger market in Africa shows great potential. More Africans are flying than ever before and the numbers are expected to grow by five per cent annually in the next 20 years.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the continent will see 274 million air passengers by 2036.
People are flying for tourism and also for education or for medical treatment. And a large part is for business reasons.
It’s also an underserved market. It can be necessary to fly from one African country to a neighbouring nation via hubs such Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Nairobi – or even via Europe or Dubai – because there are no direct flights. African carriers could help fill these connection gaps.
Industry experts also say for African carriers to succeed, the continent needs an open-skies agreement to free up the aviation sector from protectionism.
But so far only 28 African countries have signed the Single African Air Transport Market and only ten of these have begun changing their own laws to implement the deal.
Costly national carriers
National carriers are also costly to run. According to IATA projections, African airlines will lose $100 million this year and most state-owned flag carriers in the region are losing money.
Ethiopian Airlines is sub-Saharan Africa’s only profitable large state-owned airline. Carrying 11 million passengers in 2017, it serves over a hundred destinations on all five continents.
South African Airways, one of the continent’s biggest airlines, has been making massive losses since 2011 and has only survived thanks to huge government bailouts.
The airline is also without a permanent chief executive and has yet to file annual results for the two most recent financial years because of concerns about its viability as a business, reports Reuters.
Anxiety mixed with palpable joy could best describe plan by the Federal Government to put in motion process that would help to establish a national carrier for the country. Apparently worried by loss of huge revenue from the aviation industry, the government had concluded plans to regain some grounds by floating a national carrier before the end of 2018.
It was unpleasant revelation recently that Nigeria has been losing more than $1.5bilion yearly from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) because of non-utilisation of its international flights allotments. Such a report is a call to duty for any responsive government to find the best way to recover such losses or reduce it. And since from the onset, he (Buhari) has shown the zeal in the possibility of returning the national carrier, the BASA report and others like it, have made it ideal and created appropriate time for something to be done.
First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that the majority of countries in Africa and possibly in the world have national carriers with ownership ranging from private entities to a majority or minority state ownership shareholding.
It remains to be seen if the proposed national carrier will bring the hope for return on Nigeria’s investment.
Seplat, stakeholders harp on pitfalls for FCCP Act
Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc has drawn the attention to critical factors necessary for the successful implementation of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) in oil and gas industry.
The oil firm, according to a statement, made this known in partnership with legal firms, Olaniwun Ajayi LP and London-based, White & Case Law LLP.
The Act, which is a codified set of rules signed into law in January 2019, established the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal.
It was enacted for the promotion of competition in the Nigerian markets at all levels to eliminate monopolies, prohibit abuse of a dominant market position and to penalise other unethical restrictive trade and business practices.
The Chief Executive Officer, Seplat, Mr. Austin Avuru, the statement read, stressed Seplat’s strong regard for compliance and strict adherence to corporate governance ethos in the industry.
Avuru said Seplat remained very concerned about its current and future business environment in Nigeria and will continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to advocate for good laws that will positively impact businesses, especially in the oil and gas industry.
“As an organisation, Seplat is at the forefront of understanding, practicing and advocating proper compliance and corporate governance principles. In these areas, we lead from the front line.
“We have put together this event to draw attention to the gaps in this Act, with a view to getting stakeholders to accommodate the peculiarities of the oil and gas industry in future reviews of the Act,” he said.
The General Counsel at Seplat, Dr. Mirian Kachikwu, expressed optimism that continuous engagement with relevant stakeholders would not only address grey areas in the FCCPA, but also inform possible amendments as may be relevant for businesses in Nigeria, especially in the oil and gas space.
Speaking on the event, Kachikwu said: “Seplat organised this policy dialogue to create ample awareness and enlighten key stakeholders in the oil and gas sector about the challenges that the new law could have on the smooth operation of the industry. The goal is to work with the regulator and government to shed light on grey areas.
“Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Babatunde Irukera, noted that “it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to work together to effect the necessary change identified by a stakeholder.”
The oil and gas industry in Nigeria, Irukera was quoted to have said,”is peculiar in many respects, both in terms of the legal and regulatory framework. The industry is particularly sensitive therefore if players in the industry notify of the need to make changes to a clause in the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to work together to effect the necessary change.”
In the oil and gas industry, the FCCPA provides guidelines on the maximum amount of funds that can be raised by oil and gas companies; how collaborative bidding should be done and other important matters that directly affect the oil and gas industry.
In particular, the Act stipulates that the FCCP Commission’s oversight over mergers extends to Joint Ventures, which are critical to the oil and gas sector.
In a presentation facilitated by Kadijah Yusuf and Folashade Oluyadi (both senior associates at Olaniwun Ajayi), Jonathan Aluju, Managing Associate at Olaniwun Ajayi and Marc Israel, Partner White & Case LLP, discussants at the event drew attention to the need to amend sections of the FCCPA, which hamper the growth of the oil and gas industry or restrict expansion plans of participants in the industry.
The event brought together dignitaries from the oil and industry, legal community, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and other arms of government.
It was attended by Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, President Nigerian Gas Association (NGA), representatives of companies including Shell Petroleum Exploration and Production Company, Platform Petroleum, Oando, First E&P, Petrobras Nigeria, among others.
Mixed grill over fuel supply to border communities
The NNPC trucked out N2.5 trillion worth of petrol in 10 months despite stoppage of supply to filling stations in border communities, and the closure of border in three out of the 10 months. Adeola Yusuf reports
What started with outright closure of land borders that link Nigeria with its neighbouring countries climaxed with a memo dated November 6th 2019.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali [rtd], directed, according to the memo, that henceforth no petroleum product, no matter the tank size, is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within 20 kilometers to the borders.
Expectedly, the marketers of petroleum products kicked and the dust raised by this has figuratively mixed with the fresh air that originally pervaded smooth supply of fuel to millions of Nigerians in border communities.
Order from above
In a circular to zonal and sector coordinators, Operation Swift Response and area controllers, and others, entitled: E11/2019 circular No.027: SUSPENSION OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS SUPPLY TO FILLING STATIONS WITHIN 20 KILOMETERS TO ALL BORDERS, dated November 6, 2019, the Comptroller-General of Customs directed that henceforth, no petroleum product, no matter the tank size, is permitted to be discharged in any filling station within 20 kilometers to the borders, stressing that “Consequently, you are all to ensure strict and immediate compliance, please.”
The circular was signed by Chidi A. Deputy Comptroller – General (E I & I) for: C-G.
Product load rises
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), it was gathered, trucked out N2.517 trillion worth of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol in 526,000 trucks across the country in the last 10 months.
The corporation noted that 17.36 billion litres of PMS were trucked out between January and October, 2019.
Releasing this data as a part of measures to ensure safety and smooth operation in the petroleum products distribution value chain, the NNPC, in collaboration with other stakeholders in the petroleum industry and the Federal Government, said on Wednesday that it had activated the Safe-to-Load initiative to mitigate incessant petroleum products tanker accidents and ensuing fire outbreaks across the country.
The meeting of the stakeholders, which held Wednesday at the corporation’s Towers, Abuja, was sequel to the initiative of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Haulage Operations in Nigeria.
It was aimed at ensuring safety in the whole gamut of bridging process across the country.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, said proffering a lasting solution to the challenge had become imperative given the frequent fire incidents from petroleum tankers with attendant loss of lives and properties.
Safety, digital loading facilities
Mallam Kyari stated that the corporation as a socially responsible entity placed high premium on the lives of workers and citizens, noting that safety was one of the core values of the organisation.
“As an organisation founded on operational excellence, NNPC has a safety checklist for loading of petroleum products from its terminals and is interested in ensuring harmonization of the Safe-to-Load checklists being used by all terminals across the country,” he said.
He stated that the corporation had commenced digitising all its analogue-loading facilities to ensure that all trucks leaving the NNPC depots comply with the required axle limits, emphasizing that the corporation has kick-started installation of weigh-bridges and sprinklers across all loading gantries to forestall incidents.
The NNPC boss said that the corporation currently relied much on the land transportation system to get its products across various locations in Nigeria, stating that a total of 19.23billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was moved by 583,000 trucks in 2018, while 526,000 trucks transported 17.36billion litres of PMS between January and October 2019.
Using a N145 litre modulated price, the 17.36 billion litres of petrol stood at N2.5172 trillion.
He hinted that efforts were on to fix the corporation’s pipelines to efficiently move petroleum products across the nation.
Kyari, who recognised the support of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, in the Safe-to-Load project, stressed that NNPC as a player in the hydrocarbon business in the country would continue to champion any cause geared towards efficient products distribution for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Speaking at the event, Mustapha, who was represented by a staff of the SGF office, Mr. Ademola Ali, said his office remained committed to ensuring safe roads for petroleum products distribution in the country.
Making a contribution at the event, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) President, Alh. Kassim Bataiya, solicited the intervention of government in funding the subsector, saying safety on the road was the responsibility of all stakeholders, drivers, law enforcement agencies, among others.
He called for local manufacturing of vehicle components to curtail costs being incurred by transporters.
In his remark, the President, Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), Mr. Otunba Oladiti, commended the management of NNPC for its consistent interventions in cushioning the hardships faced by tanker drivers in their task of distributing products across the country.
He expressed the view that fixing the roads should not be the sole responsibility of the government.
Earlier in his presentation, the President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Akporeha Williams, lauded the corporation for always complying with all safety standards in all its depots and restated the union’s commitment to work with the NNPC management in ensuring the success of the Safe-to-Load initiative.
The event had representatives from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Federal Road Safety Corps, Federal Fire Service, the Nigerian Police, National Association of Road Transport Workers, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria.
Others were Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Equalization Fund, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
The dissenting voice
The fuel marketers, however, kicked against the suspension by Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) of fuel supply to filling stations within the border communities.
The Lagos State Chapter of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), which stated this, expressed displeasure against the directive of the comptroller-general of customs, to suspend supply of petroleum products to fuel stations, within 20 kilometers to all the borders.
In a statement issued at the weekend in Lagos and signed by the state Chairman, Mr. Akin Akinrinade, and Secretary, Mr. Akeem Balogun, IPMAN described the decision as punitive and uncalled for, “because the fuel stations are not serving people outside the borders.”
The IPMAN therefore called for the immediate reversal of the order so as not to punish the border communities, the fuel stations owners and the staff working at these stations.
Reacting to the circular issued by the customs, IPMAN reminded the customs that the affected fuel stations were established legally and licensed to serve the communities at the border towns and their environs.
The IPMAN pointed out that apart from jeopardizing the business interest of the fuel station owners, there are thousands of staff and other stake holders that will lose their jobs, thus compounding unemployment problem in the country.
The association noted that what the customs circular showed was that the customs only exhibited their inefficiency and negligence in their duties which the law saddled them with. Fuel station owners are not the problem at the borders.
It said: “Our position at the IPMAN is that we are not and cannot support any act of smuggling of any petroleum products. Our members are entitled to decent living which cannot be taken away from them.”
IPMAN therefore called upon the comptroller-General to rescind the order immediately and called on their staff to be more efficient in the discharge of their duties to the nation.
If it is a Federal Government policy, the government should not inflict hardship on the citizens in the name of policing the borders, the IPMAN said.
The Federal Government border closure policy has enjoyed tremendous support from Nigerians and citizens of other countries, who are development economists.
However, the citizens of Nigeria, who have found themselves out of fate at border communities, should not be denied access to petroleum products simply because of where they have found themselves.
Government, through the Nigerian Customs Services, has the constitutional responsibility to safeguard the borders. Its inability to efficiently discharge this responsibility should not be blamed on hapless individuals.
CBN seeks speedy passage of mortgage bill by states
In order to promote virile mortgage and easy access to land for housing development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is seeking speedy passage of Mortgage Model and Foreclosure Act by states, New Telegraph has learnt.
According to CBN’s Deputy Director and Head of Nigeria Housing Finance Programme, Adedeji Adesemoye, the apex bank will be working with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to see that the legislative process is scaled up.
He pointed out that for mortgage to thrive in Nigeria, there was need for enabling legal framework that everybody would recognise.
For this purpose, the deputy director said CBN was collaborating with the industry players including the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) in developing the mortgage model and foreclosure act that focuses on providing enabling legal framework for states to use the opportunity.
This, he added, would enable developers have access to land and enable mortgages created to be foreclosed if it is not performing, adding that it would also provide title for people, who want to build their homes and use the particular land as a security to get mortgage in financial institutions.
Adesemoye at a forum with estate developers in Abuja had explained that the model mortgage foreclosure law was already active in states like Lagos, Kaduna and Ogun, while “it is on the way in many other states including Cross River and Plateau.”
He said: “We want the mortgage model and foreclosure act to go through legislative processes in the states to be passed into law.”
Passage of model mortgage foreclosure, he said, would enable states have electronic land registry system and a working mortgage system for easy conduct of searches and timely realisation of collateral of non-performing loans by banks.
‘’We need to streamline all these approval processes, and the fee that is being spent needs to be at the rate than you can do business with,’’ he said.
Apart from this, the CBN’s deputy director also revealed several interventions by the apex financial institution in increasing home ownership in Nigeria through regulations, funding, mortgages, policy frameworks and partnerships.
Adesemoye said the bank was currently addressing the country’s high level of inflation, which has direct effect on mortgages.
He said the National Bureau of Statistics had given an inflation figure of about 11.2, adding that in order to encourage real investment, there was need to have a rate that is above the inflation.
“That floor rate is already set by monetary policy statutory committee responsible for this,” he noted.
CBN and the Bankers’ Committee, Adesemoye said, had been able to put money together from the profit of the bank in order to be able to set up mortgage interest drawback.
He said: “So if you get mortgage loan at 16.5 in the bank today, that loan can actually be drawn back by 40 per cent so that you will be paying 9.9 per cent or below. So it comes back to single digit.
‘’That is to make those who want to raise money particularly in the area where we have the gap, that is the people who want to raise just about N5 million and below where we have the deficit, they can raise money today and be able to pay at that single digit of less than nine per cent.’’
He stated that the contributions of CBN to ensuring affordable housing in Nigeria have been growing over the years.
The CBN’s deputy director restated that the apex bank was partnering with key partners in the industry for the creation of Nigeria Mortgage Guarantee Company.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing, Senator Sam Egwu, has pledged commitment to housing sector bills, while tasking estate developers on affordable housing.
Egwu restated the commitment of the National Assembly to enacting and amending bills necessary for Nigeria housing sector development.
He said that as legislators, the National Assembly was prepared to work with all stakeholders in the housing sector by providing the legislative support required to move the sector forward.
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