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To tackle inflation, Buhari insists no forex for food import

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President Muhammadu Buhari has again directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to grant foreign exchange for food importation.

He said this was one of the strategies by his administration to stem the rising cost of foodstuffs in the country as from early next year, adding that diversification from oil to agriculture had saved Nigeria from the harsh economic realities of COVID-19.

He spoke on Tuesday during his fifth meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council at the State House, Abuja.

Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said since seven states produce enough rice that the nation would need, it made no sense to import the food item.

“The CBN must not give money to import food. Already, about seven states are producing all the rice we need. We must eat what we produce,” he stated.

The President had in September explained that Nigeria which hitherto had only three fertilizer blending plants now has 33.

He said, “Going back to the land is the way out. We depended on petrol at the expense of agriculture. Now, the oil industry is in turmoil. We are being squeezed to produce at 1.5 million barrels a day as against a capacity to produce 2.3 million. At the same time, the technical cost of our production per barrel is high, compared to the Middle East production cost.”

The President emphasised the place of agriculture in the efforts to restore the economy but agreed that measures must be put in place to curtail inflation in the country:

He said, “We will continue to encourage our people to go back to the land. Our elite is indoctrinated in the idea that we are rich in oil, leaving the land for the city for oil riches. We are back to the land now.

“We must not lose the opportunity to make life easier for our people. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t encourage agriculture and close the borders. We would have been in trouble.”

The meeting, which was for a review of  and reflections on the global and domestic economy in the outgoing year was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, as well as Ministers of Finance, Zainab  Ahmed and her  Humanitarian Affairs counterpart Sadiya  Farouk.

The meeting noted the sharp deterioration in international economic environment and its impact on Nigeria’s continuing but fragile economic recovery; that Nigeria’s economic growth continues to be constrained by obvious challenges, including infrastructural deficiencies and limited resources for government financing.

It also noted the need to make the private sector of the economy the primary source of investment, rather than government.

It reviewed progress towards structural reforms in response to the economic crises, including the institution of the Economic Sustainability Plan, the changes in electricity tariffs and fuel pricing regime, the partial re-opening of the nation’s land borders, the movement towards unification of exchange rates and budgetary reforms through Finance Bill 2020 and 2021.

It also agreed that to prepare the country for the challenges ahead, it is imperative to ensure macro-economic stability, create certainty and re-build investor confidence in the economy.

The meeting stressed the need to deepen structural reforms initiated by the Buhari administration as a basis for stimulating investments from domestic and international sources with a view to raising productivity in key sectors of the economy.

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Bloody clashes: Sanwo-Olu’s RTEAN ban timely, say auto journalists

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The Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA), the umbrella association of automotive reporters in Nigeria, has commended the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his swift action in suspending all activities of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state following the recent restiveness between rival members of the group in Iyana-Iba, Ojo and Lagos Island areas of the state.

Mike Ochonma, Chairman of NAJA, made the commendation in a press statement he issued after the ban on the activities of RTEAN.

The chairman of NAJA stated that the ban by his the governor became imperative to prevent further breakdown of law and order in the state.

He called for more restraint and caution from RTEAN members to allow the state government to take necessary steps that would not only restore peace and decorum from the association, but more importantly, guarantee the security of lives of defenseless Lagos commuters going about their normal business.

The governor had also announced the constitution of a 35-man caretaker committee to take over activities of the union henceforth.

Heading the committee is Sulaiman Adeshina Raji with Bamgbose Oluseyi as deputy chairman.

During the clash last Wednesday, the transport union members were seen in a trending video clip engaging themselves in a free-for-all, hauling stones, bottles, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons at each other.

Two persons were reported killed during the clash.

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Major marketers hail NNPCL’s acquisition of top downstream firm, OVH Energy

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Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of NNPCL, Mallam Mele Kyari

The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), an umbrella body of the largest downstream oil and gas companies in the country, has congratulated the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) on the successful acquisition of OVH Energy Marketing (OVHEM) Limited, a major downstream operator.

MOMAN in a statement issued yesterday by its Chairman and Managing Director of Ardova Plc, Mr. Olumide Adeosun, welcomed and encouraged the ongoing market consolidation geared towards bringing stability, cost and logistics optimisation in the downstream sector.
OVH is the owner and operator of the Oando- branded retail service stations across the country, and the company and NNPCL are member companies of MOMAN.

The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of NNPCL, Mallam Mele Kyari and the Chief Executive Executive Officer of OVH Energy Marketing Limited, Mr. Huub Stokman, had announced the acquisition transaction last weekend at an event held in Abuja.

However, commenting on the development, Adeosun said, “We send hearty congratulations to NNPC Retail Limited and OVH Energy Marketing Limited on the successful acquisition of OVH Energy Marketing Limited by NNPC Limited.

“Both companies are active MOMAN members who are committed to our core values of health, safety, the protection of the environment, quality, customer service, innovation, technology and compliance with international corporate governance codes.

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“MOMAN welcomes and encourages the ongoing market consolidation which will bring stability, cost and logistics optimisation, enhanced competition and best practice sharing as we progress to a deregulated market.”

Kyari had said OVH Energy’s Oando- branded retail service stations would be rebranded into the NNPCL’s brand and merged with NNPC Retail Limited with full integration scheduled to take place by the end of 2023.
Both Kyari and Stokman were, however, silent on the financial implication of the deal and what would be the fate of OVH Energy Marketing’s employees when the formal takeover takes place by 2023.

The acquisition tagged by NNPCL as ‘Acquisition for Growth’, was expected to see the national oil company become the owner of entire assets of OVH Energy Marketing, licensee of the Oando retail brand and ASPM Limited, custodians of the Lagos Midstream Jetty, also known as West Africa’s first privately owned midstream jetty.

OVH Energy boasts of distributing over one billion litres of refined petroleum products annually while ASPM Limited is focused on strengthening Nigeria’s downstream value chain through the Lagos jetty.

In the short term, the acquisition would see the NNPCL receive a jetty (ASPM) with 240,000 metric tonnes monthly capacity, eight Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) plants, three lubes blending plants, three aviation depots and 12 warehouses.

The deal would also bring over 380 additional filling stations under NNPCL retail brand in Nigeria and Togo, on its journey to attaining 1,500 stations, making it the largest petroleum product retail network in Africa.
OVH’s expertise spans the provision of jetty services and the marketing and distribution of refined petroleum products for retail, commercial and industrial purposes.

The NNPCL GCEO had explained that the strategic move was aimed to create the leading downstream energy company in Nigeria and West Africa, driven by operational efficiency, best-in-class management, and physical infrastructure while offering premium petroleum products and related services to customers, in line with global standards.

Through this acquisition, he said the NNPC Retail Limited would build on the existing success of OVH Energy and operate model service outlets leveraging OVH’s extensive asset base and commercial capabilities.

Kyari further stated that the NNPCL was bringing to the table, its 45 years of experience and strong capability to bear on the management of the facilities.He maintained that securing the country against energy poverty would mean access to petroleum products in addition to managing the energy transition, which he said has become a reality.

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NMDPRA seals 16 gas plants, arrests five suspects in Edo

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The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has sealed 16 illegal gas facilities in Edo State.

Some filling stations were also sealed over an alleged breach of rules and regulations.
The agency arrested five suspects during the exercise.
The agency’s state comptroller, Ebi Ogionwo, said the clampdown was to curb the activities of illegal and unlicensed oil and gas operators in the state.
He alleged that some misguided operators were setting up oil and gas facilities in areas not suitable for the business and without necessary approval from the agency.
Ogionwo said, “It is an offence for anyone to site such facilities without due approval from the NMDPRA. The agency is out to bring sanity to the operations of midstream and downstream petroleum business in the state.”

He further warned investors against taking laws into their hands by setting up gas and petroleum facilities in areas not approved by the agency.

Ogionwo said five suspects arrested during the exercise would be charged to court.

“There are laws, guidelines and regulations that people must follow before setting up oil and gas facilities. So, the purpose of the operations is also to check the level of compliance by those who have set up these facilities in the state and take necessary actions that are required,” he said.

Ogionwo added that the illegal operations of oil and gas facilities compromised the safety of lives, property, environment as well as deprived both the state and Federal Governments of the revenue that should accrue to them through taxes and other sources.

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