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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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VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State

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Lagos State government on Thursday said it has a strong case in its demand to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).

It said its claims were also about fiscal federalism.

The state said VAT collection would neither impoverish other states nor would the process be cumbersome.

Commissioner for Information Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, who spoke on ‘Your View’ on TVC, said: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness.

“Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate to the law.

“No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true fiscal federalism.”

The commissioner noted that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the state’s infrastructure.

He added that additional revenue from VAT would facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services, as well as economic growth for the benefit of Lagos and other states since prices will fall.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described Lagos as a ‘giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he insisted.

Omotoso noted that other states can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such states.

According to him, Lagos almost became an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja in 1991, resulting in modest support from the Federal Government.

He was confident there would be resources for more infrastructure and facilities in transportation, health, education, e.t.c, that will benefit Lagosians and others who troop in every day if the state is allowed to collect VAT.

Omotoso added that the state will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

Also yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel said states were entitled to collect VAT.

He was a guest on Arise TV News ‘Morning Show’ aired to mark the state’s 34th anniversary.

According to him, it was wrong for the Federal Government to collect and share revenue from VAT because it is generated from businesses and activities in states.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday asked all taxpayers to continue remitting VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

She said in an advertorial: “The ruling of the Court of Appeal employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.”

But, Emmanuel said despite the huge oil and gas investments in the state, Akwa Ibom receives a paltry N2 billion from VAT.

He backed his Rivers and Lagos states counterparts, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, both of whom have signed their VAT bills.

Emmanuel said: “If my brother state has gone to court, it is the same principle that we stand on. I think we are all in the same bucket, the same basket.

“All the 36 states do not need to join at the same time. Today my brother in Rivers State has gone far enough.

“I think the case has gone to the Appeal Court and there is also a stay of execution.

“Let me allow the rule of law. But for states saying they do not need VAT, maybe they do not know the hidden treasure in VAT.

“If today I sell a house in Uyo, or any other person sells a property, the value is enhanced because of the good roads, electricity, security and water I have created, and the value I have added to the property. Why should the VAT on the property not come to me 100 per cent?

“Just look at the money I have spent on capital projects in the first quarter put at N143 billion, if you take 7.5 per cent of that, why should all not come to me?”

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No going back on mega protest at UN Headquarters – Yoruba Nation, others

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Self-determination agitators operating on the platform of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have vowed to go ahead with the grand finale of its one-million-man freedom march at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States on Friday.

The grand finale of the march coincides with the ongoing UN Assembly where President, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to address the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Akintoye in a statement, on Thursday, made available to The Nation by NINAS Director of Communications, Maxwell Adeleye, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring a counter-protest at the United Nations Headquarters tomorrow.

He alleged that the Nigerian Government has started hiring black foreigners living in the United States of America with $500 per head to stage a Pro-Buhari and One Nigeria March opposite the United Nations Headquarters.

Akintoye vowed that the will of the people would prevail no matter how the Federal Government tries to scuttle the NINAS Grand Finale March.

Apart from Akintoye, the Secretary-General, Tony Nnadi, who represents the Lower Niger Congress and Prof. Yusuf Turaki, who represent the Middle-Belt Movement at NINAS have also jointly called on the UN to take urgent step to prevent Nigeria from descending into chaos.

NINAS, which described the 1999 Constitution as a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt, having been “enacted without the consent of the people,” demanded the conduct of a regional referendum so that the indigenous people can decide on their nationhood, among others.

All the indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt in the United States and Canada have been urged to troop out in large number tomorrow.

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TCN lost N1.7bn to Borno vandal activities in nine months – Minister

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria says it has lost N1.7 billion in nine months owing to the destruction of electricity infrastructure in Maiduguri, Borno State. Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, stated this on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Maiduguri.
He said the TCN made the revenue loss from January to September this year.
Aliyu, who was represented by TCN Chairman, Sule Abdulazeez, said the loss recorded was on vandalised electricity lines at an average of 740 megawatts per day.
The minister added that in one month, TCN lost an average of N139 million on the wheeling charges and energy lost in the area.
He said a total number of eight 330Kv towers had been brought down by insurgents in Damaturu and Maiduguri within the period.
The minister said an average cost of reconstructing each tower is about N110 million, translating to about N880 million.
“Five towers were successfully erected and stringing completed on Sept. 17, awaiting energisation before the insurgents brought down another two sets of tower (1193 and 1194) at Auna village the next day September.
“Six towers in Oronta village in Abia state were brought down by vandals in Umuahia, while ten drums of aluminium conductors were carted away disrupting erection of a new tower.
“Also, the Escravos to Lagos pipeline was blasted by vandals disrupting gas supply to over six power generating stations in the western part of the country in 2016.”
As a way forward, the minister recommended executing embedded generation such as the proposed NNPC 50MW gas plant, solar farm, and wind farm in Maiduguri.
Maiduguri and environs have been cut off from public power supply since January as a result of the destruction of power infrastructure by terrorists.

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