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N30bn Palliatives: Akpabio Eats the Humble Pie, Apologises to State Governors

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The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has apologised to the state governors over his comment on the N30bn hardship allowance allegedly paid to them from the federation account.

Akpabio, during plenary last Tuesday, had said an “unverified report” indicated that state governors received N30bn each from the Federal Government to cushion the effect of inflation and high cost of food prices.

He made the comments during deliberation on the alleged N30trn Ways and Means advances  from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The Federal Government in September 2023, said N2bn was released to governors out of the N5bn loan it promised them as a palliative to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.

In response to the Senate President’s unverified claims, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, and the Akwa Ibom State government had denied receiving the N30 billion Federal Government’s cash disbursement to states to cushion the effects of the prevailing socio-economic hardship as stated by Akpabio.

However, Akpabio ate the humble pie Monday night when he apologised to the governors and regretted making the statement while relying on unverified information.

The Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Hon Eseme Eyiboh, said Akpabio held the governors in high esteem.

The statement was titled, “N30bn to state governors from unverified report: I hold governors in high esteem – Akpabio”

It reads in part, “The office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to various misconceptions in the public domain on the statement credited to the President of the Senate in plenary of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, during the presentation of a report of the joint Committees on Finance, Agriculture/Food Sufficiency, Banking and Insurance.

“During the session the President of the Senate commented on the payment of an unverified cumulative sum of about #30bn to the sub-national governments by the Federal Government for various interventions to ameliorate the food situation of our citizens at the sub-national governments.

“The unfortunate conjectures to take away the kernel in the material facts of FAAC payment are rather regretted.

“In considering the well-intended motive of urging state governments to collaborate with the Federal government of President Bola Tinubu to facilitate strategic interventions to mitigate the prevailing economic situation in the country remains the underpinning motivation in the comment.

“The President of the Senate is not oblivious to the fact that state governments are functional partners in all the efforts of the current administration of President Bola Tinubu.

“They are also valuable stakeholders’ in the various legislative engagements of the legislature in creating the nexus between the legislature and the people.

“The President of the Senate has always demonstrated commitment to team building and shall not do less in the circumstance.

“He therefore urges the sub-national governments not to be distracted by any misunderstanding of the context and true meaning of the statement.

“The President of the Senate recognises and appreciates the current efforts of the governors at ameliorating the adverse effects of the current inclement socio-economic environment and therefore invites more hands on the plow to complement the renewed hope agenda.”

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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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JAMB Denies Setting Admission Cut-off Mark, Says No Such Thing

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The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has denied setting cut-off marks for admissions into higher institutions across the country.

In a statement posted on its official X account on Thursday, the Board dismissed reports that it had set 140 as cut-off marks for universities, and 100 for polytechnics respectively.

“There’s no such thing as ‘cut-off mark’ in admission process to tertiary institutions in Nigeria, what’s obtainable is minimum tolerable score determinable by individual institutions,” it said.

The denial comes just one day after it was widely reported, that the Board had pegged 140 as a cut-off mark for admission into universities, and 100 as the minimum cut-off point mark for admission into polytechnics and colleges of education.

The statement attributed to JAMB Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, quoted him as announcing the development in Abuja at the 2024 Policy meeting of the Board.

The meeting had in attendance the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, vice-chancellors, rectors and registrars of higher institutions and other stakeholders.

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We Communicated Our Stand to Dangote, NNPC Reacts to Owning Only 7.2% Stake in Refinery

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has explained why it holds only a 7.2% equity in the $19 billion Dangote Refinery, instead of the widely speculated 20%. 

A statement released on Sunday by Femi Soneye, the Chief Corporate Communications Officer of NNPCL, addressed the company’s recent decision regarding its investment in the Dangote Refinery.  

Soneye said that the decision to reduce their investment was carefully considered and communicated several months ago to Aliko Dangote. 

Dangote mentioned to newsmen on Sunday that NNPC no longer holds a 20% stake in the refinery.  

He explained that this change occurred because NNPCL failed to pay the balance of their share, which was due in June. 

Reacting, NNPC said:  

“NNPC Limited periodically assesses its investment portfolio to ensure alignment with the company’s strategic goals.

“The decision to cap its equity participation at the paid-up sum was made and communicated to Dangote Refinery several months ago,” NNPC said.

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