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FG moves to stop $1.9bn monthly loss to oil theft

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The Federal Government has stepped up moves to halt oil theft, costing Nigeria a monthly loss of $1.9bn, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said.

He said Nigeria was not meeting its production quota at the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, due to oil theft.

Sylva, who led a Federal Government delegation on anti-oil theft to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, said the team was in Asaba to seek the support and buy-in of the state government on measures to be adopted to check oil-theft in the country.

He said, “As a country, we cannot sustain this kind of theft perpetually, oil theft has become a national emergency, especially as the nation has not been able to meet its OPEC production quota.

“Our production has dropped drastically to very unsustainable levels. So, we have decided to take the bull by the horn by putting some structures in place and those structures cannot function effectively without the collaboration of the state government.”

On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who is coordinating the security intervention against oil theft, said security agencies had been dealing with issues of illegal refineries and oil bunkering across the Niger Delta in the last five months.

Irabor advocated the engagement of indigenes and host communities in the fight against the criminal activity.

Mele Kyari, who was also part of the delegation, lamented that Nigeria was currently losing about $2 billion monthly to the activities of oil vandals, with its attendant effect on environmental degradation.

Kyari said, “As a country, we hardly meet our OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day with our current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day, which is currently being threatened by the activities of these economic saboteurs.

“This has done extensive damage to the environment and losing 1.9 billion dollars every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment.”

He held that the team needed the support and buy-in of Delta State government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the Federal, State Governments, oil companies and security agencies”.

In his remarks, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa advocated a review of surveillance contracts on oil facilities to involve host communities in order to check the high rate of oil theft in the country.

Okowa insisted that reviewing oil surveillance contracts based on performance of the contractors and engagement of host communities would ensure effectiveness in securing the nation’s oil and gas assets.

While admitting that the challenge of oil-theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, the governor expressed joy with the steps being taken by the authorities to curb the menace.

He said: “I am glad that we are discussing this hydra-headed issue which impacts directly on our economy and the environment.

“It impacts on the health of the people and sustainability of the environment and I am glad that we are taking some steps because there are so many issues that led us to this.

“We went through situations where gaps where created between host communities and oil companies, and unfortunately criminality set in.

“It has gone so bad but we are doing our best as a state. I am also glad about this collaboration,’’ pointing out that it was often difficult to secure the facilities, especially when the persons given the contracts did not have adequate information on the environment or not have the buy-in of host communities.

“We know that the impact of the nefarious activities on the health of the people cannot be immediately ascertained, and this collaboration is, therefore, very imperative.

“Any measure that will deliberately reduce the level of oil thefts is definitely worth supporting, and as a state government, we pledge our continued support.

“Why investment of the communities is needed is because there are some parts of the creeks that cannot be accessed by the surveillance contractor. Therefore, surveillance contracts should not be such that communities are not involved.

“The surveillance contracts should be tied to performance such that when there are oil thefts you terminate the contract and it is always good that communities are involved because they know the environment better”.

The governor berated oil companies for not keeping faith with their Memorandum of Understanding, MOUs, thereby making the stakeholders to lose confidence in the system.

He explained that when oil companies failed to sign or implement MoUs, “it becomes very difficult for the state government to mediate when there are issues.

“The security agencies must heighten their operations and they need to be resourced to enable them to also increase their level of surveillance and for this to succeed, there must be sincerity on the part of all stakeholders.

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Protect the poor from galloping inflation, World Bank advises Nigerian govt, others

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… lowers Nigeria’s economic growth forecast 

The World Bank has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria and other governments in the Sub-Saharan African region to urgently implement measures to restore macro-economic stability and protect the poor from the high inflation and current slow economic growth.

The World Bank has also lowered its economic growth forecast for Nigeria in 2023 to 3.2 per cent from 3.3 per cent due to the slowdown in global growth, the war in Ukraine and declining demand from China for commodities produced in Africa.

It projected that the Sub-Saharan African region would record a lower economic growth of 3.3 per cent in 2022 as against the 4.1 per cent recorded in 2021.

The forecasts were contained in the October edition of the World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse, a biannual analysis of the near-term regional macroeconomic outlook, and economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Highlighting the growth factors for Nigeria’s economy, the World Bank said, “The Nigerian economy is projected to slow in 2023, down to 3.2 per cent (from 3.3 per cent) and persist at this level the following year. Growth will be supported mainly by the rebound in private consumption prompted mostly by accommodative monetary policy as inflationary pressures subside.

“Private consumption expenditure is forecast to decrease this year and grow next year. This performance will likely continue in 2024. On the production side, growth in 2023 will be supported by industry (with the growth of 5.1 per cent) with the mega-refinery project.”

On its growth forecast for the Sub-Saharan African region, the World Bank said: “Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is set to decelerate from 4.1% in 2021 to 3.3% in 2022, a downward revision of 0.3 percentage points since April’s Pulse forecast, mainly as a result of a slowdown in global growth, including flagging demand from China for commodities produced in Africa.

On the factors undermining economic growth in SSA, the World Bank said, “The war in Ukraine is exacerbating already high inflation and weighing on economic activity by depressing both business investments and household consumption. As of July 2022, 29 of 33 countries in SSA with available information had inflation rates over 5% while 17 countries had double-digit inflation.

“Elevated food prices are causing hardships with severe consequences in one of the world’s most food-insecure regions. Hunger has sharply increased in SSA in recent years driven by economic shocks, violence and conflict, and extreme weather. More than one in five people in Africa suffer from hunger and an estimated 140 million people faced acute food insecurity in 2022, up from 120 million people in 2021, according to the Global Report on Food Crises 2022 Mid-Year Update.

“The interconnected crises come at a time when the fiscal space required to mount effective government responses is all but gone. In many countries, public savings have been depleted by earlier programs to counter the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, though resource-rich countries in some cases have benefited from high commodity prices and managed to improve their balance sheet.”

“Debt is projected to stay elevated at 58.6% of GDP in 2022 in SSA. African governments spent 16.5% of their revenues servicing external debt in 2021, up from less than 5% in 2010. Eight out of 38 IDA-eligible countries in the region are in debt distress, and 14 are at high risk of joining them. At the same time, high commercial borrowing costs make it difficult for countries to borrow on national and international markets while tightening global financial conditions are weakening currencies and increasing African countries’ external borrowing costs.”

Stressing the need for governments to improve the efficiency of existing resources and to optimize taxes in response to the above challenges, the World Bank added that, “In the agriculture and food sector, for example, governments have the opportunity to protect human capital and climate-proof food production by re-orienting their public spending away from poorly targeted subsidies toward nutrition-sensitive social protection programmes, irrigation works, and research and development are known to have high returns.”

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FG sues Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta over adverts, demands N30bn

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has said it filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court, Abuja against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and its agent AT3 Resources Limited.

The country’s apex advertising governing agency revealed on Tuesday that the advertisements on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the Nigerian markets are not vetted and approved by the federal government.

ARCON then asserted that such continued unscrutinised adverts and other publications emanating from Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta-owned social media platforms are illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising Law in Nigeria, thus seeking N30 billion for punitive damages.

It revealed this in a statement titled “ARCON sues Meta platforms incorporated, seeks N30b in sanction and penalties.”

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The statement read:  “The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has instituted a suit against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms) and its agent AT3 Resources Limited at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division.

“ARCON is seeking declaration among others that the continued publication and exposure of various advertisements directed at the Nigerian market through Facebook and Instagram platforms by Meta Platforms Incorporated without ensuring same is vetted and approved before exposure is illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising Law in Nigeria.

“ARCON stated that Meta Platforms Incorporated’s continued exposure of unvetted adverts has also led to a loss of revenue to the Federal Government.

“ARCON is seeking N30b in sanction for the violation of the advertising laws and for loss of revenue as a result of Meta Incorporated’s continued exposure of unapproved adverts on its platforms.

“ARCON reiterate that it would not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising on the Nigeria’s advertising space.

“ARCON further stated that it’s not regulating the online media space but rather advertisement, advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in line with its establishment Act.”

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NNPC declares over 100% profit in one year, with N674bn for 2021

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited recorded a profit after tax (PAT) of N674 billion for the year ended 2021.
This is more than 100 per cent profit over the N287bn declared in the previous year (2020).

The Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari,  disclosed this at a briefing on Tuesday.

He said, “Today, I’m happy to announce that the Board of NNPC has approved 2021 audited financial statements & NNPC has progressed to a new performance level, from N287bn profit in 2020 to N674bn profit after tax in 2021, climbing higher by 134.8% YoY profit growth.”

The 2021 financial year made it the fourth consecutive year that the NNPC will be opening its book for public scrutiny.

In 2018, when the NNPC first made account statement public, it reported a loss of N803.9bn.

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