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NCC directs MTN, Airtel, others to effect Twitter ban

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Nigerian Communications Commission has asked all telecom operators including MTN, Airtel and Glo to effect suspension of Twitter announced by the Federal Government on Friday.

The telecom operators acknowledged that they had received the NCC directive and were acting accordingly.

The Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria said in a statement that they had conducted assessment of the request according to international best practices.

Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo’s statement, read in part, “We, the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria wish to confirm that our members have received formal instructions from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the industry regulator to suspend access to Twitter.

“ALTON has conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.

“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of the NCC the industry regulator.

“We will continue to engage all the relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC.

“We remain committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.

“As an industry, we endorse the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online.

“This includes respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.”

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African economies lost $190bn to COVID-19, says AfDB

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President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said the economy of Africa has lost over $190 billion due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He stated this on Wednesday during the AfDB’s 2021 virtual Annual Meeting, adding that the pandemic had forced 30 million people into extreme poverty with “an estimated 39 million people could fall into poverty by the end of 2021.”

He however said the bank took prompt actions to African economies with the launch of a $3bn social impact bond on global capital markets, “which was at the time the largest ever US denominated social bond in world history. We announced a $10bn Crisis Response Facility. We provided $28m to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. We saved lives and livelihoods.”

With an average projected GDP growth of 3.4 percent in 2021, he said the continent was recovering.

He stated that to tackle Africa burgeoning debt, it has launched a Debt Action Plan and a new Strategy for Economic Governance in Africa and both would support countries to tackle debt, and embark on bolder economic governance reforms to forestall a debt crisis.

The Managing Director of IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, said the global economy is projected to grow by six per cent, but half of 3.2 per cent would come from Africa.

She added that public debt in sub-Saharan Africa had risen six per cent to 58 per cent of GDP in 2020 which is the highest in almost two decades.

She said interest payments reached 20 per cent of tax revenue last year in the region and exceeded one-third of revenue in some countries.

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Nigeria bleeding from rising petrol smuggling, says NNPC GMD

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About 42 million litres of petrol are being smuggled out of Nigeria daily through the borders, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has lamented.

The corporation said the country was bleeding from such huge amount of fuel smuggling, which had increased daily consumption of petrol from 60 million litres to 102 million litres.

The NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, stated this in Abuja when he met with stakeholders, adding that smuggling had gone beyond what the NNPC could handle.

This is contained in a statement by the corporation’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Dr Taiye Obateru.

He also put the subsidy on petrol being paid by the government every month at N150bn, a situation meant to keep the pump price of petrol at N162 per litre.

Those that attended the meeting were the leaderships of the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), he Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and chief executives of agencies in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Other groups that attended the stakeholders’ meeting organised by the corporation to halt fuel smuggling were the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association (DAPPMA).

Kyari said fuel smuggling was increasing the country’s subsidy payment and exacerbating the foreign exchange crisis.

He said the gathering was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari who mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the NNPC, the EFCC and all other security agencies to do everything possible to stop crude oil theft and illicit truck-out of petroleum products, which he described as major economic crimes that have hindered Nigerians from enjoying the benefits of subsidised petroleum products.

He urged all industry stakeholders to collaborate with the NNPC to ensure that the daily national petroleum products consumption, which shot up to 102 million litres in May, is reduced to about 60 million litres.

He added that it was obvious that that huge volume of petrol was not consumed by Nigerians alone.

Kyari said, “We all agree that smuggling is not a business that should be condoned because even for deregulated petroleum products, it brings extra cost burden on this country both in terms of safety and security of supply and in securing of foreign exchange.

“It even constitutes more burden to this country when the product involved is a regulated product like Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).”

He noted that with the increasing price of crude oil at the global market and the OPEC+ production cuts, the country could not afford to shoulder the cost of smuggling.

“We all know that our daily consumption is not up to 60 million litres. We all know that, and that is why we have to pull it down. We will pull it down by every means necessary,” he said.

He said the NNPC would introduce advanced cargo declaration in line with global best practices to tackle crude oil theft.

Kyari stated that going after smugglers was beyond the call of the corporation, adding that with the involvement of the EFCC, the situation would improve considerably.

 “But we in the NNPC, we are not in control of that, we are not in every depot, we don’t keep products in all the depots, but when the volume goes down, it comes down to us. When there is tight supply, it comes back to the NNPC and we solve the problem,” he added.

Kyari said, with the extant directive from the President that smuggling had to be halted, all the stakeholders must begin to work together to address the problem, especially with the involvement of the security agencies.

He said Buhari had instructed that the menace must be stopped by every means necessary, and called on the stakeholders present to think outside the box since all the layers of controls that had been put in place before now seemed to have failed.

He stated that with the current exchange rate and considering other price determinants, the pump price of petrol should be N256 per litre.

“What we sell today is N162; so the difference is at a cost to the nation,” he said.

Kyari said, “I know that so much work is going on, and then we have to manage the volume that we are exposed to between this price of N162 and N256. The difference comes back to as much as N140bn to N150bn cost to the country monthly.

“And as long as the volume goes up, that money continues to increase and we have two sets of stress to face, the stress of supply and the stress of foreign exchange for the NNPC.”

Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, also said, “We brought in the big hammer, and the big hammer as you can see is the EFCC because it is economic sabotage and I believe with the EFCC in the picture, the system will work even better.”

Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said smuggling of petroleum products was worrisome, and assured Nigerians that the EFCC was fully committed to the special operation, codenamed “Operation White” designed to check illegal exportation.

He said since part of the commission’s duty was to ensure the reduction of financial crime, the EFCC would do all it could to stop smuggling.

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13 million Nigerians face deteriorating food crisis – UN report

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  • Nigeria among six African nations with worst food insecurity

Nigeria may witness a serious deterioration in food security this year with about 13 million people falling into acute food insecurity during the season.

The 2021 Global Report on Food Crises stated this, whose latest findings also placed Nigeria among six countries in Africa with worse food crises.

The GRFC is prepared by 16 leading global and regional organisations belonging to the Global Network Against Food Crises.

It is released annually by the Food Security Information Network, led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme, and International Food Policy Research Institute.

The report listed other countries with worse food crises as Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Sudan, and Zimbabwe, Republic of the Congo.

According to report, the number of people around the world facing severe food insecurity skyrocketed by 20 million in 2020.

It stated that acute food insecurity had now affected at least 155 million people across 55 countries and territories, with some regions facing famine-level hunger.

In West Africa and the Sahel, the report said market disruptions, rising food prices, and falling incomes stemming from COVID-19 containment measures also contributed to increasing hunger in the region, as did severe flooding in some areas.

It highlighted the high severity and numbers of people in crisis or worse or equivalent in 55 countries and territories, driven by persistent conflict, pre-existing and COVID-19-related economic shocks, and weather extremes.

The number identified in the 2021 edition is the highest in the report’s five-year existence.

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