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CBN disburses N149.21bn COVID-19 relief loans to 316,869 beneficiaries

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N149.21 billion to 316,869 beneficiaries through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank to alleviate the plight of households and businesses and drive economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disbursement was part of the N150 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) for affected poor households and Small And Medium Enterprises.

Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, which stated this also noted that digital economy would help the Federal Government to drive growth in the next few years.

He said that as the pace of technological adoption increased, government and the private sector must find ways to leverage the digital channels to improve access to finance and credit for all Nigerians.

Emefiele spoke at the opening of the 30th CBN seminar for finance correspondents and business editors, themed, “Leveraging Digital Economy to Drive Growth, Job Creation and Sustainable Development in the Midst of a Global Pandemic,” which held simultaneously in Abuja and Lagos.

Emefiele said the country needed robust digital platforms to boost the economic prosperity of the citizens.

Represented by Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Directorate, CBN, Mr. Edward Adamu, Emefiele observed that one of the strongest advantages of technology was its ability to compress time and space and reduce the world to a global village by providing connectivity at the click of a button to anyone anywhere in the world. He said to further drive growth, Nigeria needed to build a solid digital economy, by focusing on the improvement of digital infrastructure, most importantly, Internet connectivity, digital literacy and skills, digital financial services, digital platforms, and digital entrepreneurship.

The CBN governor said as the biggest economy in Africa with one of the largest youth populations in the world, Nigeria was well positioned to develop a strong digital economy. He stressed the need to focus on accelerating improvements across the five fundamental pillars of the digital economy: digital infrastructure, digital platforms, digital financial services, digital entrepreneurship, and digital skills.

He said, “In our effort to drive change and development, the CBN has over the last decade and a half worked to build an effective and efficient payment system.

“The Payment System Vision 2020 strategy document was published in 2007 and the main objective of the strategy was to promote and entrench electronic payments, as the major channel for payment and settlement by all economic agents, away from the current dominance of cash-based transactions.”

Emefiele said the robust regulatory framework put in place by the bank opened up the payment system to innovation with several new players across Payment Service Banks, Payment Terminal Service Providers (PTSP’s), Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSP’s), Mobile Money Operators (MMO’s), Payment Terminal Application Developers (PTSA’s), and agent banking.

He pointed out that a combination of these payment initiatives had helped to create employment opportunities and further the bank’s effort to build a more financially inclusive economy.

“Today, an SME in Ibadan is able to leverage digital channels to sell their products and services to a wider market beyond their immediate environment,” he stated.

He said the CBN regulatory sandbox was available for fintech companies to explore the use of blockchain technology in areas that would be beneficial to the Nigerian economy.

Emefiele said, “Given the resounding success of this programme and its positive impact on output growth, we have decided to double this fund to about N300 billion, in order to accommodate many more beneficiaries and boost consumer expenditure, which should positively stimulate the economy.

“In line with the growing need to go digital, the application process is done online and requires limited paperwork from prospective applicants.”

He added, “The bank continues to improve our remittance infrastructure in order to provide Nigerians in the diaspora with cheaper, convenient and faster channels for remitting funds to beneficiaries in Nigeria.

“In a bid to reduce the cost of remitting funds to Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria on March 8, 2021 introduced a refund of N5 for every $1 of fund remitted into the country through IMTOs licensed by the CBN. We believe this measure would help to support improved foreign exchange inflows and enable Nigerians in the diaspora to use more formal channels relative to informal channels.”

Emefiele explained that these measures were not new, as several countries had adopted similar processes to reduce the cost of remitting fund by their diaspora communities, and it led to surges in remittance inflows through formal channels.

He said following the outbreak of COVID-19, the country was able to benefit from some of the measures put in place by the CBN to develop a robust interoperable payment system.

He said the presence of these digital channels, along with various mobile and web-based channels, helped to support households and the business continuity and remained critical in mitigating the negative effect of the pandemic on GDP growth in 2020.

Emefiele noted that as a result of the CBN interventions, the ICT sector grew by 14.7 per cent in 2020, relative to 10.16 per cent in 2019.

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NNPC takes over operation of Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for 4 oil wells from Addax

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) said it has taken over the operation of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for four oil wells from Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Ltd.

In a statement on Tuesday, NNPC said it amicably terminated Addax 24-year PSC relationship.

It said three months after the execution of the Addax Transfer, Settlement, and Exit Agreement (ATSEA) for the PSC oil blocks, OMLs 123/124 and 126/137, operated by Addax all closing obligations have been concluded and the assets have been transferred to the Concessionaire, NNPC Limited.

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“Consequently, NNPC has taken necessary steps to take over the assets and oversee a clean, amicable, and speedy exit for Addax Petroleum Ltd., operate the asset on an interim basis as a first step and subsequently appoint a competent replacement PSC contractor while NNPC continues to remain the Concessionaire,” it noted.

While the TSEA was signed in November 2022, the transfer of the oil wells to NNPC took place on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

NNPC Ltd has also appointed the Transition Team lead, Mr Sagiru Jajere, as the Managing Director of Antan Producing Ltd.

Addax and NNPC had a long-running battle over the operation before the latest amicable settlement.

Daily Trust

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Chief of Defence Staff threatens action as petrol prices hit N400/litre

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Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, yesterday threatened that the Federal Government would not fail to activate alternative actions should the marketers of petroleum product fail to end the prolonged fuel scarcity.

The CDS and Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) held a meeting with Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN); the Depot Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), and Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) in Abuja.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPCL, Malam Mele Kyari, said pricing was an issue and not petrol supply as NNPCL has over 800 million litres of petrol in marine and over 700 million litres on land across retail outlets, sufficient for 30 days.

“We do have 24-day sufficiency for AGO (diesel) and the aviation we have 45 days of stuffiness for ATK aviation fuel,” he said.

He added that there is fuel in every depot and evacuation  was ongoing.

The NNPC boss noted that petrol smuggling was on the rise as over 67million litres of petrol has been evacuated daily but the crisis has prevailed.

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“We have evidence now and we’re following this through that some of our customers are actually taking products to other countries. And we’ll get to the root of this. And the appropriate government security agencies will deal with this,”  Kyari said.

The NNPC head also blamed the marketers, saying they did not follow the official petrol price rate at the depots and increased prices arbitrarily as some depots sell from N172 to N260/l above the agreed price, saying the marketers could not buy at that rate and sell at official rate.

“We have challenged IPMAN to bring documents on depots selling at N260 to them, but no one will bring a record,’’ he added.

The Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, confirmed there were several pacts with the marketers and transporters but such deals had not been followed through.

“But again, the more we agree, the more you lift the lever. We cannot continue like that,” he said.

He said recently NMDPRA sanctioned seven depots as deterrents but that did not work.

He urged marketers to help provide names of depots selling above ex-depot price but they refused.

CDS Irabor said: “It’s a crisis of internal nature which security and Police should lead but if it gets above that, there is an alternative.

“If there is no solution, let me reiterate that the government is not handicapped and there is an alternative and we pray that we don’t get to the level where the alternative will be activated,” Irabor said.

The Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba, said the problem is in distribution, and urged operators for increased monitoring of the process.

“I think it is our role to assist the NNPC in monitoring the process of distribution if that will help us leverage the problem.”

Chairman of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MoMAN) Adetunji Oyebanji, said there are other costs that operators incur outside the ex-depot price. As he urged members to work to ensure products are supplied at the official rate.

Chairman of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mrs Winifred Akpani, said the depot owners met last week on how to solve the price problem and distribution too.

She urged NNPC to only deliver products to depots (members) that will supply the right way, alleging that DAPPMAN does not regulate depot owners who are non-members.

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“We have all determined to ensure that we can help where we can help,” adding that profiteering is causing many problems to the country.

NARTO president, Yusuf Othman, lamented the increase in freight rate due to market reality saying officially it is N42 per kilometre but in reality it’s over N50 and so truckers give preference to marketers that pay cash and the market rate.

He decried the rising cost of buying trucks which he now said is over N60m as well as rising diesel cost of N880/l.

He noted that only major marketers pay twice for freight and that only OVH/NNPC give diesel at rebate, others do not.

According to Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), President, Comrade Williams Akporeha, said marketers have no right to increase the price because petrol is subsidized.

“Our position at NUPENG is that any depot or filling station that sells above the price must have the wrath of Nigerians to face,” he said.

The price of petrol across the country averaged between N380 and N400 per litre yesterday as the scarcity of the product assumed a disturbing dimension, nearly grinding economic activities.

Our correspondent who monitored some petrol stations in Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia state reports that most major marketers were out of stock of the product.

A visit to MRS filing by Asa road and among others revealed that they dispensed their PMS to customers at N400 per liter.

Commercial bus and tricycle operators operating within Umuahia capital city and Aba have since increased their fares with N50, N100 or more depending on the distance.

In Osun State, petrol was sold for N400, N370 and N365 per liter.

Although there is no long queues at the petrol stations selling at these prices, there are still are still long queues in other stations where it is sold for cheaper rates.

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Long queues still surfaces at Bovas, NNPC, Matrix, NIPCO among others in the city.

Residents of Makurdi, Benue State capital and its environs are passing through hell to buy petrol too.

Yesterday, petrol was sold at #355 per litre in all the Independent marketers filing stations in Makurdi.

Getting the products was difficult as motorist remained on long queue for hours lamenting in frustration

The situation remained same in Adamawa State.

Car owners and commercial vehicle operators queued up in the few filling stations dispensing fuel where prices ranged at between N370 and N390 per litre within the state capital, Yola, and as much as N500 per litre in rural communities in the southern and northern tips of the state.

The whole of Yola had just one NNPC mega station selling fuel at the ‘sane’ price of N199 per litre yesterday, but the queue is usually so long that only people with the luxury of servants or unattached staff could send such persons, usually to buy large volumes of the commodity.

In Kaduna State, scarcity of petrol persisted in Kaduna, as price of the product reached N625 in the black market.

Also, our correspondents observed that, few major and independent petrol stations dispensing petrol for N210 per litre, had unprecedented queue, while filing stations on the outskirts of the metropolis, especially on Kaduna-Zaria highway, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kachia roads, were selling for between N350 to N380 per litre.

The Nigeria Midstream and Down Stream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said it has intensified routine patrol and monitoring of servicing stations to enhance steady fuel supply in Adamawa.

While going round some of the filling stations in Yola , it was observed that a team of officials led by the State Coordinator  of the   Regulatory Agency directed all filling stations which had products to begin selling to consumers or risked being sanctioned.

In Edo State, Godwin Obaseki led administration promised quick end to the scarcity and hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), thereby receiving 780,000 litres of petrol.

It also set up of a task force to monitor the distribution and sale of petrol in filling stations across the 18 local government areas of the Southsouth state.

Edo Commissioner for Mining and Energy, Ethan Uzamere, an engineer, who was accompanied by his counterpart in the Ministry of Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, and the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, made the disclosure yesterday afternoon in Benin at a news conference.

The news conference took place after the meeting between the representatives of Edo government and leaders of the protesting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the state.

Uzamere revealed that the supplied product (780,000 litres) would be distributed among the major and independent marketers of petroleum products in Edo’s three senatorial districts.

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He stated that Edo government would monitor the sale of petrol in the state, in order to ensure that members of the public were not exploited by the owners of the various filling stations.

The commissioner for mining and energy in Edo disclosed that members of the petroleum monitoring task force would be unveiled later yesterday evening, while assuring that all efforts would be put in place to ensure that no product supplied to the state was diverted.

He said: “Edo government has heard the cries of the residents of the state on the issue of fuel scarcity in Edo. The state government is working to ensure the availability of the product.

“As part of the measures, Edo government has set up a task force to monitor the situation, and ensure that no resident of the state is exploited. We also wish to announce that already, the state has received 780,000 litres of petrol, which will be distributed to major and independent marketers.

“The task force, whose members will be announced before the close of work today (Tuesday), will monitor the distribution and sale of petroleum products in Edo State.”

Nehikhare, in his remarks, gave an assurance that the welfare of the residents of Edo was very crucial, and being taken seriously by the state government.

Edo commissioner for communication and orientation also hailed leaders of CSOs for the maturity displayed in handling the protest that erupted on Monday, over petrol scarcity and price hike, while assuring that Obaseki’s administration would continue to engage all the major stakeholders, in order to find a lasting solution to the fuel challenge.

Osagie, while also speaking, noted that part of the duties of the task force’s members would be to monitor prices of petroleum products in Edo, while warn the marketers against arbitrary increase in the prices of the products,.declaring that anyone caught would be severely punished according to the dictates of the law.

The Nation

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$1bn investment recorded in auto industry – Minister

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The Federal Government has recorded more than one billion dollars’ worth of investments in the automotive industry. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, said this in Abuja on Tuesday when he featured at the 20th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration scorecard series organsied by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

“Over one billion dollars in investment has been recorded in the automotive sector and we are ready to move on to the next phase for the automotive industry,” the minister said.

He said the review of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) was almost completed, adding that the plan was going through validation process.

Adebayo restated the ministry’s commitment toward enabling business environment to attract and retain investments.

According to him, the ministry and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) are committed to attracting and protecting investments that genuinely benefit Nigeria and its citizens.

He said that the revised Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) would boost investment.

“Nigeria has successfully revised its model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to include a specific provision for investment facilitation, which institutionalizes the principle of assisting investors in completing their investments.

“We are proud to offer Nigeria’s first investment policy to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

“This strategic statement, which will outline our priorities, aims, commitments, and expectations, is a turning point for the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment and Nigeria as an investment destination,” he said.

Adebayo, who said that Nigeria had Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments, said the ministry was developing more.

“We have IPPAs with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments. The president ratified both accords on Sept. 16, 2022 and we are developing more IPPAs,” he said.

Adebayo said the ministry also distributed 5,571 acceptance certificates worth N7.7 trillion to 2,665,800 firms.

“The acceptance certificates allow businesses claim tax reduction when computing Company Income Tax.

“We also issued more than 130 Production Day Certificates, a crucial Pioneer Status Incentive step,’’ the minister said.

To further accelerate industrialisation, Adebayo said that the ministry was expediting the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.

According to him, the special economic zones will increase infrastructure availability and provide fiscal incentives for value addition.

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