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We’re borrowing responsibly by investing in rail, others – Finance minister

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has reacted to criticisms against the Federal Government’s huge loans to finance capital projects, saying the administration is borrowing “sensibly” to cater to the country’s infrastructure needs including rail.

She also said the economy was indeed beginning to pick up on account of the huge contribution from the non-oil sector.

She spoke in Abuja on Monday at a press conference on the recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics on the growth of the economy.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, was also present at the press conference.

Ahmed said if Nigeria failed to invest in infrastructure, “we will regret it”.

Nigeria’s total public debt had hit N33.1 trillion as of March 2021 and many have expressed concern about the rate at which the government is borrowing to finance infrastructure projects.

But the minister said the investments would be beneficial to the country in the future.

“We are borrowing sensibly and we are investing in rail and other infrastructure,” she said, adding, “If we do not do these investments, we will regret. [These] investments will return revenue in the future.”

Speaking on the NBS report, Ahmed explained that the country’s economy would have grown above five per cent in the second quarter of 2021 but the agriculture sector recorded slower growth, owing to security challenges.

“The 2021 second quarter growth reflects better economic performance compared to the same quarter last year. The same quarter last year, we had a negative growth of -6.10 percent. It is also better than the first quarter of 2021,” she said.

The minister also said, “The service sector recorded a strong performance, growing by 9.27 percent this reporting quarter, representing the fastest growth in this sector since 2010.

“The second quarter growth of 2021 would have been much stronger than the 5.01 per cent but for agriculture that recorded a slightly lower growth.

“A number of bottlenecks within the system including insecurity have negatively affected the sector negatively. Also, the industrial sector slowed down to -1.3 per cent.”

She stressed that the non-oil sector contributed majorly to the growth witnessed in the second quarter.

“The non-oil sector recorded a growth of 7 percent which represents the fastest growth since the third quarter of 2014,” she said.

Ahmed noted that the nation’s economic and business activities were fully returning to pre-COVID-19 period.

Railway

Just in: Terrorists shot abducted Abuja-Kaduna train passenger

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A kidnapped passenger of the Abuja-Kaduna train has been shot by terrorists and is critically wounded.

Tukur Mamu, the publisher who has been negotiating with the terrorists, disclosed this and identified the victim as Mohammed Al’amin.

Mamu, who facilitated the release of 11 of the passengers, confirmed the development to Daily Trust.

“I can confirm to you that the said passenger has been shot and the information is credible. It could also be intentional from them for the purpose of sending a message. Killing of their victims is something we know they can do. They have threatened to do that before,” he said.

He said the government must be prepared to take full responsibility if they fail to act on time.

Mamu said there had been constant communication but government was yet to take action.

He said, “I know what is in this crisis and that is why I keep emphasising that President Buhari must be prepared to take painful compromises if they are really committed to securing these innocent victims alive.

“With what we have succeeded in doing, the windows and opportunity we opened which there’s none hitherto, the government has the power to bring this to an end within three to four days.

“I assure them we can do it with their support and cooperation, and if it didn’t happen as long as government do the needful I will agree and accept to take full responsibility. Cases of emergency such as this doesn’t require unnecessary bureaucracy.”

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Weststar: Our dealers are lifeblood of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria

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Weststar Associates Limited says it remains committed to its dealers in Nigeria and will continue to do business with them.

Indeed, the auto firm described its five authorised Mercedes-Benz dealers in Nigeria as its lifeblood and listed them as Barbedos Cars Limited, M-B Automobile Services Limited, Skymit Motors Limited, Sunny Motors Limited and Tetralog Nigeria Limited

Weststar, an authorized general distributor of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Nigeria, was reacting to a statement by Mercedes-Benz of Germany of its plan to reduce its dealerships in some markets.

The auto firm reactng to this in a statement signed by its Marketing & Social Media Manager, Oluwatobi Abimbola, Weststar said it had been the “home of all things Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria for over 15 years. Running its operations as Mercedes-Benz’s representatives in Nigeria the company owes its success not only to a holistic business model and a great team of professionals but also more importantly, to its business partners.”

It also stated, “Weststar Associates Limited runs a dealership network across Nigeria that covers the different regions of the country & is held by successful and innovative companies who have a strong understanding of the business climate in their regions.

“Although the story of Weststar in Nigeria is only a decade and a half old, the story of Mercedes-Benz runs for even longer, with a presence in Nigeria for over 60 years. Many of our dealers have become the lifeblood of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria.

“For decades, these companies have ensured that millions of Nigerians are able to gain access to the world’s most desirable Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Weststar’s key strategy remains to grow the Mercedes-Benz network in Nigeria using our dealerships. Weststar does not intend to cut ties with any of its Authorized Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Nigeria at this time.

“We will continue to promote and strengthen our dealerships as a means to grow the Mercedes-Benz brand in Nigeria.”

 

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FG generates N200bn, $7m from 161 marginal oil fields licences

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The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory (NUPRC) says the 2020 marginal field bid round exercise generated about N200 billion with additional $7 million in revenue for the Federal Government

Chief Executive Officer, NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, stated this on Tuesday while issuing petroleum prospecting licences (PPL) to successful bidders in Abuja.

Marginal fields are smaller oil blocks developed by indigenous companies not exploited in the last ten years.

In May 2021, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) — now NUPRC — completed the first successful bid programme after 18 years of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Successful companies include Ardova Plc, Matrix Energy Ltd, Sun Trust Oil Company Limited, Deep Offshore Integrated Service Ltd, Island Energy Ltd, Sigmund Oil Field Ltd, among others.

Out of the 665 entities that expressed interest in the exercise, Komolafe said 161 PPLs were awarded to successful 2020 marginal fields companies while out of the 57 fields presented in the bid round, 41 were fully paid for.

He said 37 fields were also issued with the PPL, having satisfied all conditions for the award.

Komolafe said the marginal fields award initiative began in 1999 and was borne “out of the need to entrench the indigenisation policy of government in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry and build local content capacity.”

He added that the scheme was also targeted at creating employment opportunities and encouraging increased capital inflow to the sector.

“Since its inception, a total of 30 fields have been awarded, with seventeen 17 currently producing. A breakdown of the allocation of the fields to indigenous operators is as follows: two fields awarded in 1999, 24 in 2003/2004, one each in 2006 and 2007, and two in 2010. 10 years later, in 2020, 57 fields were put up for bidding,” he said.

“It is significant to note that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act has brought an end to the era of marginal field awards. Section 94(9) of the Act states that ‘no new marginal field shall be declared under this Act’.

“Accordingly, the minister shall now award PPL on undeveloped fields following an open, fair, transparent, competitive, and non-discriminatory bidding process in line with sections 73 and 74 of the Act.”

Komolafe also said revenue earnings in the country did not reflect the upsurge in international prices of crude oil owing to sabotage, theft, as well as other operational challenges.

He urged potential licensees to take advantage of the current market realities and promptly bring their fields to production.

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