***pleads for understanding as it moves for total deregulation
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mele Kyari on Wednesday proffered solution to the Fuel Subsidy Dilemma the burden of which the corporation has been shouldering even when it has no budgetary provisions.
Speaking before the Senate Committee on Anticorruption and Financial Crimes during a session to assess the level of implementation of the National Anti-corruption strategy 2017-2021 on Wednesday Kyari said, the subsidy is no longer sustainable.
He therefore sought the support of the National Assembly on complete deregulation of Premium Motor Spirit.
“The issue needs the help of not just this committee but that of the entire National Assembly to achieve results to ensure that the pricing of Premium Motor Spirit is not regulated and have a framework that protects Nigerians from exploitation.
“We know for sure the way to resolve issue of subsidy is to make sure that PMS is fully deregulated. It is a policy issue which I am also aware that the National Assembly is involved in some of these engagements to make sure that we have a lasting exit.
“That is the sure solution to the subsidy dilemma. What is happening today is that NNPC buys this product at a price which is very far from the N162. We practically discount and sell to oil marketing company because we are not able to shift from the current price to the market price.
“Until that engagement which must involve all of us, including the National Assembly. Once that is completed we would have no issues around it.”
“You are aware that in the 2020 and 2021 appropriation act there is no provision for subsidy in the appropriation act.
“In 2020 Something terrible happened to the industry it is called COVID-19. COVID-19 threw a big challenge in the oil industry. The end result is prices collapsed to extremely low level. That countries were not coming for crude oil.
“The reaction of the producer community is to bring down that production because the demand was not there so that when the prices normalise we can go. We became part of that relationship As a country that was the best decision at the time.
“The end result was that because prices were low that time we also went ahead to reduce the prices that Nigerians were paying for PMS but because of the pair revenue issue that the COVID-19 created, in the reversed legislative appropriation act we suggested that there should be no provision for subsidy.
“First we had to exit the pre regulation of PMS and secondly we don’t just have resources anymore. “That picture did not change until September 2020 when the prices rebound to where you are not l sell PMS at the price of N145 before COVID-19.
He said the ENDSARS protest also made it impossible to increase prices as at the time because there was practical uprising to any changes in fuel prices so there were engagements with the organized Labour and other groups.
Engageme t from Labour
That we continue to engage u
He said the corporation has made a major breakthrough as it is now buying the product at a price that is very low making it possible to save $1b for the country every year
“What we have taken care of today is that we are buying this product in a price that you have never seen
“Before this Government there is what we call premium in this business which is the value you add to the published price of Petroleum product where you buy.
“The difference between what we are doing today and what was done in the past is that we are saving $1b of cost every year.
“This is monumental, this is very fundamental what it means is that we are not paying $1 more than it is required. That is why we are very proud to publish all the records you see on our website.
“We will ensure that we control the pricing before the full deregulation in the price of PMS.”
Bricks to Cribs CEO urges Nigerians to embrace Online Entrepreneurship to boost the Economy
The Chief Executive Officet and Group Managing DirCribr of Bricks to Cribs & Bar (BTCBARS) Akarah Ebenezer Ulochukwu has urged Nigerians to embrace online entrepreneurship to boost the nation’s economy.
This he said is expedient as many economies of the world are gradually recuperating from the heat of Covid-19 pandemic.
He made the call during a virtual interview with journalists in Lagos over the weekend.
“Online entrepreneurship will definitely be a plus to Nigeria’s economy. This is because everyone can do it. It is not secluded to the elites or enlightened anymore,” he emphasised.
If this path is towed, the CEO said, it would be a soothing relief for the nation, seeing that so many youths are out of jobs, a situation orchestrated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He further implored the government to consider such new age ventures, create more opportunities for people to learn, and enact policies that would aid people to give room for more entrepreneurs to emerge.
As the founder of the Royal Niger Green Farms foundation, Akarah, described online entrepreneurship as every other kind of business opportunity.
“It is time-taking, risky, requires dedication and hard work. It is definitely not a get-rich quick scheme as some people have been made to believe,” he emphasised.
For the CEO, today’s world is different hence, he said with a new age comes a new way of doing things. “The internet has taken over, and it’s only right that we exploit opportunities that it offers us.
“The world is now connected globally, giving you access to the other parts of the continents in just a click,” continuing he said globalisation is one of the main ingredients in the new type entrepreneurship. “You can buy, sell, trade, discuss, and sign deals almost immediately.”
In a swift switch, he shared an insight into BTCBARS, which is a group of companies that has invested in making impacts in various sectors including real estate, agriculture, entertainment, logistics, finance, and a few other industries.
With the aim to creating a stable market that offers high-quality and reliable services and products, he enthused, “Our main goal is to be a pathway to financial freedom in Africa.”
Its group of companies include BTCBARS, a real estate firm; Afri D Ltd, a courier and logistics company; ZL Empire Ltd, our entertainment arm of the group; Afri Festival Ltd, African Financial Revolutionary Innovators (AFRI); and Royal Niger Green Farms, an agricultural investment firm.
“We also have ZILLYBRAIN — this is a branding for my stocks business they nicknamed me the Blackwolf of Wall Street. ZEE AUTOS LTD- we do car mortgaging. ZL SOUNDS is a record label,” he highlighted.
In what he termed a wake up call to the youth, the GMD suggested, “You should be willing to take your time, experiment, see what works for you, and everyone you choose to work with.”
According to this youth business guru, in the end, it is a transaction, and that can’t be done alone. Hence, he chipped in, “Take your time, learn, adapt, and innovate.”
As commercial activities begin on the Lagos-Ibadan railway corridor
By Goodness Adaoyiche
As part of the infrastructural development drive of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the President commissioned the 157-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project for full commercial activities at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos, on Thursday, June 10, 2021.
The $1.5 billion project, which is a product of a loan agreement between Nigeria and China, is in line with the Buhari administration’s plan to revitalise the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.
Speaking at the event, President Buhari noted that when completed, the project would link Lagos-Kano and Kano – Maradi rail line in Niger Republic.
‘‘This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country,” Buhari said.
‘‘In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos-Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic,” he announced.
The President noted that Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the East – West Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
A testament of FG’s investment in Lagos – Sanwoo-olu
While expressing the gratitude of his people to President Buhari, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, who spoke on behalf of the governors of Ogun and Oyo states, noted that the standard gauge rail project is a testament of the federal government’s investment in the state.
“It is indeed a thing of pride to see a project start and end within the lifespan of an administration. The social and economic importance of this project cannot be over emphasised. The commissioning of this rail line has made it possible for people to work in Lagos and live in Ibadan,” the governor stated.
He added that it was the first time President Buhari would be visiting Lagos state since he became governor in 2019.
I lost my car while inspecting this project – Amaechi
While appreciating President Buhari for his commitment towards revamping the railway sector in Nigeria, Transport Minister Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi recalled how he lost his car during one of the many inspection tours of the project.
“Mr President, I will like to let you know that I lost my car during this project,” Amaechi announced.
“I was driving to inspect the project and my car caught fire. I spoke to the Permanent Secretary about a replacement but she said the Federal Government does not replace cars for anybody. So, that car is gone,” he added.
The minister who had attended the event with his wife, Dame Judith, was also quick to mention the many times he had to explain to her the reason he had to be in Lagos at least once every month. She was also a part of the inspection a couple of times.
“Mr President, I brought my wife here today so that she can see why I was always coming to Lagos. I am glad that she is happy at what she is seeing,” he added.
The obviously elated minister noted that he does not pay attention to criticisms of “politicians who have lost power” but was more concerned at how history would judge him.
“When politicians leave power, they become critics. The moment they get power, the stop criticizing. Let history judge us. This is history,” he said.
Continued partnership with Nigeria – Yigao
Chairman of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which handled the project, Mr. Jiang Yigao, said the company has been in Nigeria for forty years.
Describing the Lagos-Ibadan railway as a “real way of impacting the lives of the people.” Yigao expressed China’s commitment towards greater partnership with Nigeria in the coming years.
Full commercial operation begins June 15 – NRC
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has announced that it will commence full commercial operations of the standard gauge railway service from Lagos to Ibadan on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
This was contained in a statement issued by the management of NRC and signed by the corporation’s Lagos District Manager, Mr Jerry Oche, in Lagos on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
“The updated timetable for Tuesday to Friday is as follows: Lagos to Ibadan: 8:00 a.m from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji, Ebute – Meta Lagos. Also, the train will take off from Ibadan to Lagos: 8:00 am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.
“The train will take off from Lagos to Ibadan: 4:00 pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station Alagomeji, while from Ibadan to Lagos: 4:00 pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.
“The standard gauge train schedule on Saturday from Lagos to Ibadan: 8:30 am from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomeji while the train will leave from Ibadan to Lagos: 8:30 am from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.
“For Saturday evening from Lagos to Ibadan: 6:00 pm from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Alagomji, while the train will take off from Ibadan to Lagos: 6:00 pm from Obafemi Awolowo Station at Moniya.”
He pointed out that Alagomeji, Abeokuta, and Moniya were still the stop stations of the Lagos Ibadan train services.
A cross section of Nigerians who spoke to our correspondent expressed satisfaction over the completion and commissioning of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
Morayo Olatunji, 18, said the project would afford her the opportunity to have her first train ride.
“This (Mobolaji Johnson Station) is beautiful,” she exclaimed. “This place is even finer than the airport. I posted some pictures and my friends cannot believe that this is a railway station in Nigeria.
“We’re are grateful to the Federal Government for this project because some of us will be having our first train rides today or next week. This is really beautiful,” the 100-level student of the Lagos State University added.
For Ransom Maduka, a trader, the project would ease the movement of his goods from one place to another. He, however, expressed concerns over the speed and security of the trains.
“This project will help people like us who buy and sell. But I am concerned about the safety and also the speed. Because time is money. And we hear of vandalism in other places and also security is important so that thieves do not board the trains and attack passengers on the way.
Others who spoke to our reporter harped on the maintenance of the trains and coaches, tracks as well as the stations.
Lawan admits Nigeria’s debt burden is outrageously high, but necessary evil
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Friday admitted that the debt burden on the Nigerian economy is very high, the profile of which is estimated at roughly N32 trillion but said is necessary evil to help Nigeria build needed infrastructure for development.
Speaking at a media briefing on the 2nd anniversary of the Ninth Senate on Friday in Abuja, Lawan noted that a substantial amount is owed by State governments but guaranteed by the Federal Government.
“In fact some of the loans, the bilateral ones particularly are even zero interest rate concessionary so to speak.
“Since we don’t have better options and not to do anything is not an option at all. We have to bite the bullet and accept request.
“We are not doing enough to educate Nigerians on some of these issues because many Nigerians feel the debt burden is too heavy, honestly, it is but I think, it is a necessary burden.
“Because to do otherwise will be irresponsible of any government to keep an economy that is stagnated, we have to move on.”
“But we must ensure also that those projects when completed are able to help in revenue generation to pay for the debts.
“Before us in the Senate are two requests from the executive arm of government.
“One is to construct and rehabilitate rail lines to the different parts of the country. The other one is to boost the economy directly, investments into agriculture and other real sectors of the economy including mining.
“That also includes request for loans guaranteed by the federal government for some states. Because the N32 trillion you are talking about is not all federal government debts. Part of it belongs to the states, only that the federal government gives the guarantee.
He said to develop the country there is need to build infrastructure however he observed that there is need to raise funds to achieve that.
“There are several ways, are we going to raise taxes, can we afford that in the current situation to raise taxes for us to fund the building of our infrastructure and it is a must, that Nigerians must have infrastructure; roads, railways, bridges and many other things.
“So what are the options. Definitely that option is out, that option is not to do anything. Because we can’t afford not to construct roads.
“In fact, what we have is not the kind of infrastructure that will boost our economy and we can’t raise taxes, the option is to borrow.
“And to borrow responsibly. Before we borrow, we have to identify those essential infrastructure that we need to provide for our economy to grow.
“The job of the national assembly is to look at the request; first, are those projects identified as essential projects for funding with the loan.
“Do we really need roads, due we need railways. I’m sure the answer is yes. So it means if the executive is able to convince us that these are the only items they will fund, we will say OK.we agree with that.
He said the National Assembly is concerned with the fair distribution of these projects because Nigeria is so large that we need to touch every part of it.
Another area of concern he said is what the conditions of the loan are, whether it is with favourable conditions, moratorium, the interest rate.
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