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Jubilation as South East Development Bill Passes Second Reading in House of Reps

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A bill for an Act to establish the South East Development Commission to serve as catalyst for the development of commercial potentials of the South-East has passed second reading at the House of Representatives amidst jubilation.

The bill has been passed by the Senate and was sent to the green chambers for concurrence on Thursday in Abuja in accordance with the law.

The commission when established would receive and manage funds from allocation from the federation for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and reparation for lost houses and business of victims of the Nigerian Civil War.

The commission would also address any other environmental or developmental challenge and for related matters in the geo-political zone.

Supporting the bill, Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC-Kano), said there is need to look at the bigger picture and the historical background of the civil war.

He said there is also need for government to implement what the entire country agreed upon years ago.

Mr Jibrin said the Yakubu Gowon administration has already began implementation before it was interrupted and the project abandoned.

The lawmaker said though a lot has been done, there is lots of underdevelopment in the zone.

According to him, this is the time to show courage and make the South East feel like a part of Nigeria.

Mr Jibrin said members must raise up above sentiments and pass the bill as it may come back to hunt the entire nation.

Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa), urged members to support the bill as there is need for some reconstructions in the zone.

Mr Namdas, whose constituency is a beneficiary of the North East Development Commission, said it would be unfair for him not to support the bill.

Saheed Fijabi (APC-Oyo), however, cautioned the house to be careful in passing the bill saying that instead of establishing South East Development Commission, a Nigeria Development Commission should be established.

He suggested that rather than establish developmental commission for each of the geo-political zones of the country, a bill establishing Nigeria Development Commission should be considered.

After much debate by members, the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lassun (APC-Osun), put the matter to vote and majority voted in favour of the bill.

Mr Lassun forwarded the bill to the Committee of the Whole for further legislative actions.

(NAN)

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Aftermath of Monopoly Allegation: Dangote Offers to Sell Refinery to NNPC

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Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote said he is willing to give up ownership of his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to the state-owned energy company NNPC Limited.

The billionaire spoke as a new dispute with one of the key equity partners in the plant heats up in the latest phase of a bitter row with regulatory authorities in Nigeria.

The 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery, which came to life last year after a decade of prolonged construction, cost $19 billion, more than double the initial estimate, promising to help wean Africa’s biggest oil producer off its reliance on fuel from overseas and save up 30 per cent of the total foreign exchange spent on importing goods.

“Let them (NNPCL) buy me out and run the refinery the best way they can. They have labelled me a monopolist. That’s an incorrect and unfair allegation, but it’s OK. If they buy me out, at least, their so-called monopolist would be out of the way,” Mr Dangote told PREMIUM TIMES in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“We have been facing fuel crisis since the 70s. This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery.”

The multisectoral investor’s big bet on oil and gas, which he ventured into following years of relatively stress-free dominance of Nigeria’s cement, salt and sugar industries, is turning out problematic in its early days.

Set for its first roll-out of petrol to the Nigerian market in August, the mammoth plant has been operating just above half its capacity since the January start of refining operations, constrained in part by difficulties in sourcing crude from international producers.

Dangote Refinery said those companies are either demanding outrageous premiums before agreeing to supply crude or simply claiming the product is unavailable.

NNPC, once a sweetheart of the refiner before the current dispute soured relations, had delivered only 6.9 million barrels of oil to the plant as of May since last year, according to S&P Global Platts, a tracker of supply data.

NNPC Limited has a supply deal with the company dating back to the commencement of operations and previously agreed to a 20 per cent equity participation, the refinery saying only 7.2 per cent has been fully paid for before the deadline issued to the company to acquire the stake.

Starving the refinery of the feedstock required to keep it running at present capacity means it has turned to countries like Brazil and the US to bridge the gulf in supply.

“As you probably know, I am 67 years old, in less than three years, I will be 70. I need very little to live the rest of my life. I can’t take the refinery or any other property or asset to my grave. Everything I do is in the interest of my country,” Mr Dangote told PREMIUM TIMES.

“This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery. At least the country will have high-quality products and create jobs,” he added.

Mr Dangote said the obstacles his refinery is facing seem to have vindicated friends and associates who conselled him to tread with caution as he pumped billions of dollars into the Nigerian economy.

“Four years ago, one of my very wealthy friends began to invest his money abroad. I disagreed with him and urged him to rethink his action in the interest of his country. He blamed his action on policy inconsistencies and shenanigans of interest groups. That friend has been taunting me in the past few days, saying he warned me and that he has been proven right,” the businessman said.

Culled from Premium Times

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Media Office Alleges Plot to Arrest Peter Obi by Tinubu’s Govt

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The Peter Obi Media Reach has refuted allegations made by the presidential spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, linking the 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to a planned protest.

The media office described the allegations as wild, wicked and baseless, saying that the presidency was planning to use the planned protest to arrest Obi.

In a lengthy post on his verified X handle on Saturday, Onanuga claimed that Obi’s supporters are behind the planned nationwide protests against the Tinubu administration.

The presidential aide said Obi and his supporters should be held responsible for any mayhem that may occur in the protest, alleging that “they are not democrats but anarchists.”

Onanuga accused the protest organisers of lacking the patience to wait for another election in 2027 and instead, “destabilise Nigeria by staging a civilian coup against President Bola Tinubu.”

He claimed that those organising the protests were also behind the ENDSARS protest of October 2020, which later turned violent and urged security agents to interrogate the “agents of destabilisation” behind the demonstrations.

However, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Yunusa Tanko, on Saturday, the media office said the “unsubstantiated allegations are being orchestrated to arrest Obi and limit his freedom and association”.

Tanko also stated that the allegation was an attempt to stop Obi’s propagation of good governance, which the presidency found injurious to their lavish lifestyle.

He added that the former Governor of Anambra State has not in any way shown or been associated with violence, even in the most obvious provocations.

The statement reads, “The attention of the Peter Obi Media Reach, POMR, has been drawn to the wild, wicked and baseless allegations by one of the Spokespersons in the Presidency, Bayo Onanuga, accusing the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, of being the mastermind of a planned protest in the country.

“The statement even said that Obi should be held responsible for any mayhem that may occur in the protest. But POMR can report from good and reliable authority that these unsubstantiated allegations are being orchestrated to arrest Obi, limit his freedom and association and stop his propagation for good governance which they find injurious to their lavish lifestyle.

“Peter Obi, by his mien in and out of political office, has not in any way shown or been associated with violence even in the most obvious provocations. He has always shown, even during the electioneering, that he is issue-driven as he carries on without calling anybody’s name.

“POMR is also aware that multiple attack dogs have been hired and strategically deployed to ensure that Obi does not enjoy the ear of the Nigerian populace who are keen on hearing his voice on issues.

“These spine doctors and hirelings, to justify their pay, indulge in all kinds of falsehood ostensibly to distract Obi and confuse Nigerians who already see Obi as a suiting balm in the current turbulent political and economic environment.”

The media team urged Nigerians to ignore the Presidency’s cheap blackmail as Obi and his supporters all over the country and in the diaspora remain resolute in their search for a new Nigeria.

“It added, “All the problems, real and imagined, created by their insensitivity and lavish lifestyle they have curiously tried to link to Obi. Notable challenges of the administration, which are a consequence of their actions and inactions like fuel subsidy fallouts, growing poverty in the land, inflation, nepotism and unresolved historical conflicts, among others they blame all on Obi.

“POMR, therefore, wishes to urge Nigerians to ignore the Presidency’s cheap blackmail as Obi and the Obidient family all over the country and in the diaspora remain resolute in their search for a new Nigeria that is possible and would not be cowed or be made to lose focus.”

The Punch

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FG Dismisses Dangote Petroleum As Inferior, Says Refinery Not Yet Licenced, Not Completed

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By Eric Elezuo

A Federal Government of Nigeria petroleum regulatory agency, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, (NMDPRA), has dismissed petroleum products from the Dangote Refinery as inferior, in the guise of those f4om Watersmith and Aradel, making a case for superiority of imported ones.

The revelation was made by the Chief Executive Officer of NMDPRA, Mr. Farouk Ahmed, while responding to questions from a section of the press, a video of which is trending online, adding that the refinery is only 45% completed, and yet to be licenced for operation by the Nigerian government.

Earlier, the Vice President of Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, had alleged that most fuel products imported into Nigeria are substandard, blaming International Oil Companies (IOCs) of frustrating Dangote’s quest for production.

In the short video, which lasted a little over a minute, Mr. Ahmed debunked theories attached to the functionality of the Dangote Refinery, saying it does not have the capacity to ‘feed’ the nation of its petroleum needs, as it stands. He however, refuted arguments that some elements within the oil and gas sector were trying to scuttle the Dangote Refinery.

A transcript of the NMDPRA’s boss short response is as follows:

“It about concerns of supply of petroleum products acros the nationwide, and the claim that we are trying to scuttle Dangote. That is not so. Dangote Refinery is still in the pre-commissioning stage. It has not been licenced yet. We haven’t licenced them yet. I think they are about 45 per cent completed, or completion rather.

“We cannot rely on one refinery to feed the nation, because Dangote is requesting that we suspend or stop imports, especially of AGO and DPK, and direct all marketers to his refinery. That is not good for the nation in terms of energy security, and it is not good for the market because of the monopoly.

“Dangote Refinery, as well as some modular refineries like Watersmith Refinery and Aradel Refinery, are producing between 650 and 1,200 PPM. Therefore, in terms of quality, their products are inferior to imported ones,” he stated.

It will be recalled that only last Sunday, the President, Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, while hosting senior journalists from across various media concerns, revealed that the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) owns only 7.2% of stakes in the refinery, and not 20 percent as widely circulated. He also revealed that the refinery is set to begin fuel supply in August 2024.

Many stakeholders and respondents have alleged that there’s no love lost between the government of the day and the Dangote Group, and that explains the hiccup situation surrounding the takeoff the $19 billion refinery.

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