Jonathan replies Soludo over “missing N30 trillion” claim

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Read Time:6 Minute, 21 Second

President Goodluck Jonathan seized the opportunity of an interview with a Nigerian newspaper last week to hit back at a former Central Bank governor, Charles Soludo, who accused his government of failing to account for at least N30 trillion, and allowing corruption to flourish.

Mr. Jonathan dismissed Mr. Soludo’s claim as politically-motivated, and ridiculed his academic standing, saying it was illogical for that sum to be “stolen” as his government had not generated that much in all its years in power.

In an elaborate article on the state of the Nigerian economy mid-January, Mr. Soludo had tackled Nigeria’s finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over her management style and inability to steer the nation aright amid an oil crisis.

Mr. Soludo, a first-class economist and professor, said whatever fiscal reserve Nigeria would have fallen back on during the crisis, had been badly depleted by corruption and poor management by the Okonjo-Iweala-led economic team of the Jonathan administration.

“Our public finance is haemorrhaging to the point that estimated over N30tn is missing, or stolen, or unaccounted for, or simply mismanaged,” the former CBN governor said.

Mr. Soludo said the sharp decline of the naira against the dollar was an indication of trouble for the nation.

He said his article was written for Nigerians to be informed ahead of the 2015 elections.

“Part of my frustration is that five years after, everything I warned about has come to happen and we are conducting our campaigns as if we are not in a crisis. As a concerned Nigerian, I have a duty to speak out again,” he said.

At the time, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala dismissed Mr. Soludo’s concerns as those coming from a sore political loser who wished the country ill. In a vicious tit-for-tat article, the finance minister labelled Mr. Soludo Nigeria’s worst CBN governor ever.

In his interview with Thisday newspaper last week, President Jonathan repeated some of those claims, and questioned Mr. Soludo’s scholarship.

The president made the remarks as he sought to explain widespread impression of his government as being terribly corrupt, saying such allegations are often fed by spurious claims made by notable figures like Mr. Soludo.

“So you’ll see that there is a lot of politicking about some of the serious issues. Not too long ago I read in one of the papers, I think Vanguard, that former chief economic adviser to President Obasanjo who also went to become a CBN governor… Soludo is a professor and first class material. Yes, making a first class in economics, he is a brilliant person. His secondary school records are fantastic. So by all standards he is a brilliant person. So the Vanguard wrote that he accused Ngozi; that N30 trillion was stolen under the watch of Ngozi in four years,” the president said.

“Ngozi became a finance minister, let’s say from 2011 till date. From that time till now, our annual budget is between N4.3 trillion and N4.9 trillion. So even if you put all together, it is about 18 plus trillion naira, and not 30 trillion. The budget for these four years is less than N20 trillion, but Soludo said that under Ngozi’s watch they stole N30 trillion. This is in the papers, social media, stored in the clouds and will continue to be there. And when you type it in it will come out that during President Jonathan’s time they stole N30 trillion.”

But while the president hinged his explanation on realized budget figures for Nigeria annually, Mr. Soludo, in his article, based his N30 trillion claim on funds available to the government, amounts not reconciled and what the country should have earned earn if there had been quality economic policies.

“Under you as the Minister of Finance and coordinator of the economy, the basket of our national treasury is leaking profusely from all sides. Just a few illustrations,” he wrote to the finance minister in January.

“First, you admit that ‘oil theft’ has reduced oil output from the average 2.3 – 2.4 million barrels per day to 1.95 mpd (meaning that at least 350,000 to 450,000 barrels per day are being ‘stolen’). On the average of 400,000 per day and the oil prices over the past four years, it comes to about $60bn ‘stolen’ in just four years.

“In today’s exchange rate, that is about N12.6tn. This is at a time of cessation of crisis in the Niger Delta and the amnesty programme. Can you tell Nigerians how much the amnesty programme costs, and also the annual cost for ‘protecting’ the pipelines and security of oil wells? And the ‘thieves’ are spirits?

“Second, my earlier article stated that the minimum forex reserves should have been at least $90bn by now and you did not challenge it. Rather, it is about $30bn, meaning that gross mismanagement has denied the country some $60bn or another N12.6tn. Now, add the ‘missing’ $20bn from the NNPC. You promised a forensic audit report ‘soon’, and more than a year later, the report itself is still ‘missing’. This is over N4tn, and we don’t know how much more has ‘missed’ since Sanusi cried out.

“How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?)? How many trillions (in actual fact) have been ‘lost’ through customs duty waivers over the last four years? As coordinator of the economy, can you tell Nigerians why the price of Automotive Gas Oil, popularly called diesel, has still not come down despite the crash in global crude oil prices, and how much is being appropriated by friends in the process?

“Be honest: Do you really know (as coordinator and minister of finance) how many trillions of naira self- financing government agencies earn and spend? I have a long list but let me wait for now. I do not want to talk about other ‘black pots’ that impinge on national security.”

Mr. Soludo added, “My estimate, Madam, is that probably more than N30tn has either been stolen, or lost, or unaccounted for, or simply mismanaged under your watchful eyes in the past four years. Since you claimed to be in charge, Nigerians are right to ask you to account. Think about what this amount could mean for the 112 million poor Nigerians, or for our schools, hospitals, roads, etc.

“Soon, you will start asking the citizens to pay this or that tax, while some faceless ‘thieves’ are pocketing over $40m per day from oil alone.”

In his interview with ThisDay, the president said after reading the former CBN governor’s claims, they (cabinet members) simply asked Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala about the impression of her former colleagues at the World Bank, about Mr. Soludo’s charges. He said they were convinced it was political.

“We asked Ngozi how her colleagues in the World Bank saw the accusation and she said they were laughing and couldn’t believe it. There are certain things that you just cannot believe and if that is coming from somebody considered to be cerebral like Professor Soludo, then of course you know what the ordinary person would say. It is all political,” the president said.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Sanusi/Soludo: Where to find the unaccounted billions

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Read Time:5 Minute, 5 Second

When in late 2013, Lamido Sanusi, then Central Bank governor wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan  asserting that about $20 billion was not accounted for by NNPC, many Nigerians dismissed the claim with a wave of the hand. The Federal Government, incensed by the claim, appointed an audit firm to carry out a forensic audit of NNPC account.

The report has passed a verdict that no money was actually missing. In fact, an audit report will always come out with the fact that no money is missing. Many still do not understand the basis on which Sanusi and in more recent time, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Sanusi’s predecessor, accused the NNPC of billions of dollars leakage from the federation account.

In real terms, these figures are not found in any books nor can they be found lodged in any account. They are equally not imaginary figures. They are broad estimates of what the nation has lost as a result of the use of discretionary powers by the powers that have held the nation hostage for years.

For years now, stealing of oil from pipelines has been rampant and quantifying the amount surely is in the region of billions of dollars. But each time, the government pleads helplessness. How can a nation’s major source of revenue be allowed to be under the control of known thieves? Yet, a country that has a viable navy came out to tell the world that rogues are stealing oil. Are these thieves ghosts, and the vessels they use both invisible and invincible?

A look at the revenue profile of Nigeria reveals mounting waste, mismanagement and cash ‘leakages’ in Nigeria’s oil industry. Those who are conversant with developments in the Nigerian oil and gas industry will agree that there exists billions of proceeds of unaccounted for  oil contracts, confidential government letters, top private government correspondence and legal opinions.

Nigeria has been suffering from financial hemorrhage and the high rate of cash leakage has resulted in the dire straits the economy has found itself today. There are three key observable mechanisms in Nigeria through which some privileged few allow middlemen to channel oil funds away from the country. Among those involved in this act are government officials and high-flying society figures. The three mechanisms are  contracts awarded non-competitively to companies that did not supply services but sub-contracted the work; a kerosene subsidy that doesn’t help the people it is meant to help; and a  series of complex, unclear ‘swap deals’ that has short-changed Nigerians.

It is common knowledge in the industry that the 2011 sale by Royal Dutch Shell of its interests in five oil fields were fraught with under-the- table deals. The blocks were majority-owned by NNPC.

*Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo

According to Reuters reports, Shell sold its interests in the fields to companies in Poland and Britain. But the new owners did not get the same rights Shell had. To promote local control, the NNPC gave the rights to operate the fields to its own subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). Without soliciting bids, the NPDC signed “strategic partnership agreements” worth around $6.6 billion with two other local firms to manage them. In this deal, Seven Energy signed for three fields; and Atlantic Energy, for two.

Seven Energy was co-founded in 2004 by Kola Aluko, an oil trader. Aluko also co-owned Atlantic with Jide Omokore. Atlantic was incorporated the day before it signed the deals. Geneva-based Aluko is a high-profile member of Nigeria’s elite.

Omokore has also become rich from oil and gas. Forbes has estimated annual revenue at another of his companies, Energy Resources Group, at $400 million.

A review of the contracts  the firms signed with NPDC showed that NNPC gave Seven Energy 10 per cent of profits in the three oil blocks it operates, while Atlantic gets 30 per cent of profits in its two blocks. The contracts also show that unlike Shell, neither firm pays royalties, profit tax or duties to the Federatio Account. Here is another of the leakages.

The third cash leakage is a decades-old subsidy regime provided to retailers of kerosene. Nigeria lacks the refining capacity to make kerosene, so it imports instead. The government then sells the kerosene to retailers at a cheaper price than the import price. This subsidy is meant to make kerosene affordable to the poor. In June 2009, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua ordered a halt to the scheme on the grounds that it was not working. But the subsidies continued regardless. The kerosene subsidy is a “racket” that lines the pockets of private kerosene retailers and NNPC staff. The cost of the subsidy is estimated at  $100 million a month.

The fourth leakage involves other types of refined petroleum products such as gasoline. Like kerosene, this is also imported. To pay for the imported products, Nigeria barters its crude oil. These barter exchanges are known as ‘swap deals.’ The idea is that importers who bring in refined fuel worth a given amount,  receive an “equivalent value” in crude oil. How that equivalent value is determined is unclear. It is estimated that between 2010 and 2011,  traders involved in swap deals  effectively bartered 200,000 barrels of crude a day — worth nearly $20 million at average crude prices over the period — for a loosely determined equivalent value in refined products.

These traders only account for petrol. The others such as diesel and kerosene are not accounted for, but subsidy is paid. It is the aggregation of these leakages that in the mind of an economist, amounted to the estimated billions of dollars that are not accounted for.

Nigeria is a farm for the privileged few; ask me again if any money is unaccounted for.

– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/02/sanusisoludo-where-to-find-the-unaccounted-billions/#sthash.ngfbycLI.dpuf

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Capital flight: Economy hard hit by $22.1bn outflow in 5 weeks

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Read Time:8 Minute, 28 Second

The Nigerian economy is facing huge financial haemorrhage as politicians, corporate bodies and foreign investors are moving funds massively out of the country as well as from Naira to dollar.

In a survey of payments made by the CBN on behalf of the public, a total of $22.1billion went out of the country in five weeks, an average of $4.5 billion a week. While about $3.083billion went out in the week ending 31st July 2014, the amount of foreign exchange flowing out of the country rose to $4.2 billion for the week ending 30th August. It however dropped to $4.1billion on the 30th of September and moved astronomically to $5.29 billion for the week ending 31st October 2014. The foreign exchange outflow went further up to $5.35billion for the week ending November 30th.

This capital flight has resulted in the crash of the Naira exchange rate which had remained stable before the election and the crash of the international crude oil price. But CBN has attributed the collapse of the Naira at the inter-bank to currency speculators who buy and hold currency for them to sell at a future date to make some gain. The movement of funds out of the country comes by way of Nigerian residents buying up dollars with their Naira and moving it offshore.

The trend became more noticeable in July 2014 where in fact, in a matter of weeks, several billions of dollars were purchased through the banks and bureaux de change. The movement of funds is noticeable from CBN records of direct remittances, whole Dutch Auction sales of dollars etc. According to data obtained from CBN in the five weeks, the total amount of foreign exchange that went out through direct remittances amounted to $3.33billion, Debt service/payment — $155million. The bulk of the outflow went through the wholesale at the Dutch Auction market where a total of $18.6 billion was purchased from the CBN. Curiously, foreign exchange purchases backed by Letters of credit in the five weeks amounted to just $108.8 million.

Capital flight has led to the depletion of Nigeria’s foreign reserves, thus weakening the Naira. Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, which was $5.4 billion in 1999, rose to an overwhelming level of $51.3 billion at the end of 2007 and further to $53.0 billion in 2008, but owing to the crash in the international price of crude oil in 2008 and the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the reserve declined to $42.4 billion in 2009, further declined from $38.138 billion at the end of April 2014 to $33.04 billion in February 2015.

Market operators are however seeing it from the perspective that the reduction of credit line to Nigeria banks by their foreign counterparts as a result of the crash in crude oil prices and the uncertainty surrounding the 2015 elections is partly responsible for the high volume of funds leaving the country as the usual 90-day trade credit line has dried up in some banks which have had to meet the needs of their customers through direct cash payments.

CBN on Wednesday last week scrapped the Retail and Wholesale Dutch auction of foreign exchange saying that all genuine importers should source funds from the inter-bank market. It however said that it will continue to intervene in the inter-bank foreign exchange market.

The apex bank in a statement signed by its Director of Communication, Mr. Ibrahim Mu’azu, said: “The managed float exchange rate regime, which the bank had adopted following the liberalisation of the foreign exchange market, has for the most part been successful in ensuring exchange rate stability in line with its mandate.

“In recent times, however, with the sharp decline in global oil prices and the resultant fall in the country’s foreign exchange earnings, the bank has observed a widening margin between the rates in the inter-bank and the RDAS window, thus engendering undesirable practices including round-tripping, speculative demand, rent-seeking, spurious demand, and inefficient use of scarce foreign exchange resources by economic agents.

“This has continued to put pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange reserves with no visible economic benefits to the productive sector of the economy and the general public.

“In view of the foregoing, it has become imperative that appropriate actions be taken to avert the emergence of a multiple exchange rate regime and preserve the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

“Consequently, we wish to inform all authorised dealers and the general public that, with effect from the date of this press release, the Retail Dutch Auction System (RDAS/WDAS) foreign exchange window at the CBN is hereby closed. Henceforth, all demand for foreign exchange should be channeled to the INTERBANK FOREIGN EXCHANGE MARKET. For the avoidance of doubt, all authorised dealers and the general public should note that the CBN will continue to intervene in the inter-bank foreign exchange market to meet genuine/legitimate demands.

In a flash note to investors, Afrinvest, an institutional investor said: “This is a positive development as we have always clamoured for a one-way quote to reduce speculation and unhealthy malpractices. The development can be tagged a tacit devaluation of the Naira given that the CBN will sell at the pre-existing inter-bank rates. As a result, we expect to see some stability at the inter-bank market in the short term as there will be no incentive to round trip or speculate given the minimal spread between the inter-bank rate and the parallel market. In addition, the banks will likely forfeit the huge spread earned on forex trading as offer will be filled on “demand basis”.

“Whilst this move may suggest that the CBN has jettisoned the managed floating exchange rate regime, we note that the new system still appears to be linkable to a “guided floating exchange rate” as prices will be market-driven.

“However, the banks will still be able to play at the inter-bank window alongside CBN’s intervention as may be genuinely or legitimately required.

“On the economy, this decision may reduce the pressure on the exchange rate in the interim. However, foreign investors may still remain wary of foreign exchange risks in view of depleting external reserves (5.2 per cent decline YTD) and other concerns around the domestic polity. Nevertheless, it is instructive that the volatility and uncertainties within the foreign exchange market space would be taken care of by this policy as speculation is more or less taken out.

“This decision is expected to compel the banks to look more inward and focus on real banking generating activities so as to improve their bottom line. The pressure that has confronted the Naira recently has been aggravated by speculative attack mounted at the inter-bank for which the banks have enjoyed certain income spreads. With the new policy, the banks need to remain committed to creating risk assets allowable within the capital adequacy threshold in order to earn more interest income that will enhance profitability.

“This decision more or less confirms the new normal of Naira/Dollar at sub N200.00/US$1.00 hence increasing the cost of imported inputs for the FMGCs thereby impacting profit margin. Investors are expected to price-in the new development into the share prices of the FMGCs when taking investment decisions.

“The most impact of this decision will be felt in the capital market as we expect equities and bond markets to feel the impact. We do not expect increased inflow from Foreign Portfolio Investors, FPIs as foreign exchange risks remain evident despite the re-assurance from the CBN to defend the Naira. Other risks around Nigeria’s credit rating, interest rate and domestic polity will continue to determine the direction of these markets. While we expect bond yields to remain high owing to various macroeconomic risks, we expect the equities market to continue to trade sideways. The pressure on the naira at the foreign exchange market might continue to mount and see further depreciation in value of the naira this year.

Official reserves at the beginning of this week stood at $32.7bn, 18 per cent below end-February 2014 levels. In December, the central bank spent $2.3bn defending the naira. Despite intervening occasionally, the pressure on the naira intensified, leading to the CBN having to shift demand out of RDAS to the inter-bank market. While this brought some relief to the RDAS (the average dollar sale per auction in January was just $248m the inter-bank rate diverged sharply from the official rate. The hand writing was on the wall for de-facto devaluation.”

FBN Capital in its note to investors said: “With this announcement, the central bank has effectively shifted all (RDAS) foreign exchange demand to the inter-bank market, thus minimising its role as the “prime” market maker. The move is a necessary one towards ensuring that the naira stabilises and reflects demand and supply dynamics, and should assist in improving market depth and efficiency. It effectively closes the arbitrage opportunity for “round-tripping, speculative demand, rent-seeking and spurious demand.

“The markets had been expecting some kind of adjustment to the foreign exchange rate, discounting the CBN’s regular insistence that the naira was appropriately priced, although the exact timing was difficult to call. As long as the CBN continues to intervene to meet “genuine/legitimate” demand as it stressed, the inter-bank rate should hold at current levels, even with the expected spill-over demand from the RDAS.

With oil prices staging a slight recovery recently to $60/barrel, the naira should see some slight support.

Given that all transactions have now been shifted to the inter-bank market, we expect consumer goods companies in particular to feel the impact of CBN’s decision, given that a significant proportion of their raw materials is imported.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Buhari jets out to United Kingdom and denies going for hospital checkup

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Read Time:33 Second

Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari Thursday left Abuja on a short working visit to the United Kingdom.

A statement by the Director, Media and Publicity Directorate of All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organization, APCPCO, Mallam Garba Shehu said that “in the course of this visit, General Buhari is expected to hold meetings with key members of the British political establishment and interact with some global institutions with stakeholder interest in the affairs of Nigeria.”

It further stated that ” Buhari would hopefully give a talk at the prestigious foreign policy hub, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatam House in London.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Obasanjo Is Right Endorsing Muhammadu Buhari. By Ngozi Okonjo Iweala,

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Read Time:3 Minute, 45 Second

Economy Minister – Why am taking a swift from supporting General Buhari . Just few hours ago, Obasanjo endorsed General Buhari as the man to deliver this nation. I was personally shocked, when I heard the news. This is because, I was expecting Baba to stay at the touch line, and leave Nigerians to study his body language.

But the masquerade could not control his dance in the public market. Hence he mistakenly flogged his own mother who is also a trader in the market. Nigerians, I am left with no option than to tell us that, these ex-generals and their boys are up to something.
The issue at hand is not all about the presidential seat. But rather, the national cake (oil blocks). Less I forget, is it not the same Obasanjo who woke up and hand picked his puppet 2011, who eventually grew like Joseph the messiah of Egypt?

**Is it not the same Obj that told us 2011, that General Buhari is too old to rule this country?
**Is it not the same Obj that told us Buhari is a dictator? Somebody should have a rethink like me.
We must understand the preacher’s language before decoding his message. If Obj can take a swift and prefer General Buhari to Jonathan, a puppet he dedicated his energy and resources to win 2011 election, then as an average Nigerian, we should have a rethink and ask our leaders what is so special in Aso Rock.
If leadership is to serve the people, why is it that,the ex-generals finally gang up against their new recruit on account of change? If we’re to outline the sins of Mr.President, are the ex- generals not guilty of such sins? One may ask why is SPEAKER taking a swift? Everybody wants change. But I am astonished the way and manner these ex- general joined the train of change. Is it that, this is the first time they heard the word change? If NO, why did they not change this country when they were given opportunity?

**Why advocating for change now when the puppet body language shows he Will not renew their oil blocks licence?
**Why advocating for change now, when the puppet purchased equipment to monitor and reduce vandalism?
*Why advocating for change now, when the strong headed puppet wiped out their ghost names from the civil service payroll?
**Why advocating for change now, when the puppet sacked your boys as corrupt ministers?

**Why advocating for change now, when the puppet refused to dump Sambo for another puppet?
**Why advocating for change when he refused to kill Nigerians indiscriminately.

But rather he is exploiting all means of dialogue. Unlike your Odi brutal killings and destruction. Why advocating for change now, when the puppet refused to twist governors hands with EFCC to pave his way like you did?
Why advocating for change now, when at 72 years, you still tell your children of 50years they are the leaders of tomorrow?
Why advocating for change now, when the puppet refused to give you the fertilizer deal?
Why advocating for change now, when the puppet refused to jail your enemies?
Why advocating for change now, when the puppet refused to rig election for your daughter?
Why advocating for change now, when in your time railways were not working?
Why advocating for change, when in your time, our judiciary could not delivered a fair judgement in favour of oppositions?
Baba, Nigerians are fed up of you sitting in Otta, deciding their future. We want to decide our destiny with the help of God. We want to practice true democracy by using our votes to decide our future. Let the good works or antecedents of our leaders speak volume for them. Just after the presidential chat with Mr.President, we discovered that, you, your colleagues and errant boys, are spreading false informations to pave your way to aso rock.
Lastly, I challenge you Baba, ‪#‎Tinubu‬ , ‪#‎Atiku‬ and others to tell Nigerians that you don’t have oil blocks or you Generals are not fighting the last battle to protect your oil blocks.
They won’t come out and speak my brothers and sisters. They want us to believe they are fighting for us. When they have their own local refineries at their backyards. R..I.P Fela: Animals wan dash me my human right. – Hope For Nigeria.
We BELIEVE IN GOODLUCK JONATHAN and supports his re-election Bid.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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N10bn jet story against me mere fabrication – Alison-Madueke

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Read Time:2 Minute, 11 Second

Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday, described as mere fabrication, allegations by her traducers that she spent N10 billion in leasing jets for her use.

The minister, who spoke in an interaction with some senior journalists in Abuja, said she was being framed by her accusers for merely rising up to change the Nigerian oil industry for the benefit of the country.

According to her, the lease of jets to run the highly technical and competitive oil industry is a common practice around the globe, since it is more cost-effective than buying.

The minister said it would have been unwise for anyone to spend N10 billion in leasing jets, an amount which can conveniently buy three new jets depending on the type.

She, however, admitted that although the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had a jet that was meant for her use, she was advised by aviation experts to sell it off since it was bought and parked abroad for some years, thereby raising safety concerns.

The minister said the hiring of jets for official function was a normal practice which had been in existence since the inception of NNPC and that it was meant to enable the corporation carry out its oversight functions over players in the sector.

She said: “When I started work as minister, there was an oil aircraft but I was advised not to use it because of safety issues and we had to lease some planes for use. I was advised that it was more cost effective to lease planes for our operations.

“Based on what we were advised, and having added the figures, we felt satisfied it was better to be leasing plane for use. For the N10 billion, one can buy three planes. I don’t know how they came about that huge figure ascribed to me. It is unfortunate for some people to just sit down and accuse people without any fact or figure.

Describing the allegation of spending the huge amount on private jets as disappointing, Madueke said the NNPC, under her, had been most transparent since its inception, as she had tried to improve the system of corporate governance in accordance with global best practice.

The minister, however, decried the tendency by some Nigerians to bring her down, pointing out that she would not be distracted by such antics since she had a job to do for the country.

On the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, the minister blamed it on several factors, among them, key players in the oil industry and vested political interests in the country.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Thousand opposition supporters protest power shortages in Ghana

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Read Time:2 Minute, 35 Second

Several thousand opposition supporters marched through Ghana’s capital on Wednesday to protest against widespread power shortages seen as harming the economy.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) which organised the rally, claims President John Dramani Mahama’s failure to boost electricity output has crippled business in a country viewed as the rising star of West Africa.

“We have a serious problem in this country,” said Isaac Osei, an NPP member of parliament who joined the rally.

Supporters of Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) hold placards during a demonstration in Accra against the worsening power crisis and economic challenges on February 18, 2015. Ghana is facing economic challenges amid the worst blackouts in a decade with the country’s largest power producer lacking natural gas to fuel its plants and the water level at the largest hydropower facility near the minimum necessary to function. AFP PHOTO

“Our people have come out fully to show this government that it is time for them to fix the problem.”

Osei told AFP that the rally was not just a partisan demonstration, noting that business owners and labourers were also marching to show the damage done to the economy by power cuts.

“We don’t have light (electricity) to do our work,” said Isaac Kwaku Asante, who runs a barber shop in Accra. “If you go home, there is no light to power your fridge.”

Experts say power supply has been hampered by underperforming dams, with output partly hurt by lower than normal rainfall last year.

The NPP has also criticised Mahama and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) party for its wider failure to stabilise the economy, hit by a weakening currency, high deficits and worsening debt.

Ghana is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund for an aid package, with negotiations set to wrap up in April.

The cedi currency has fallen 30 percent against the US dollar over the last year and economists have urged Ghana to cut wasteful and unproductive spending in areas like public administration.

Ghana began commercial oil production in 2010 and many hoped the nascent sector would improve power supply while generating extra government revenue for key infrastructure projects.

Production has hovered around 100,000 barrels per day from the offshore Jubilee field but that figure is likely to rise with new fields set to begin output next year.

The country, which is also a major exporter of cocoa and gold, became an attractive target for foreign investment in part because of its reputation as a beacon of democratic stability in turbulent West Africa.

The opposition argued that Mahama has not done enough to maintain that momentum.

The NPP’s Nana Akufo Addo narrowly lost to Mahama in December 2012 polls and has already announced plans to challenge the president again in December next year.

“If (the NDC) can’t fix the (electricity) problem, then they must give way to another government which will take over and run the affairs of this country,” Osei said.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria lacks institutions, systems, processes to prevent corruption – Okonjo-Iweala

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Read Time:2 Minute, 41 Second

Abuja –  The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Tuesday that corruption persisted in the country because Nigeria lacked the institutions, systems and processes to prevent it.

Okonjo-Iweala made this known when she spoke on the Topic: `Preventing Leakages in the Nigerian Economy` at the Catholic Caritas Foundation Forum in Abuja.

According to her, the absence of the relevant systems and institutions that will help check corruption has created opportunities for people to engage in the act.

“This thing has been with us and we must crack it. This is not something that started in this country today; but it is something that we must crack.

“Fundamentally, we have to ask ourselves, why has this continued to be a problem; I am convinced that it is because we constantly look at the symptoms and not the cause of the disease.

“The cause of the disease is we don’t have in place the institutions, the systems and the processes to block and prevent it in the first place.

“That’s the only difference between us and the people abroad.`

The minister assured that people would be compelled to do the right thing always if the appropriate systems were in place to block and prevent corruption.

She urged youths in the country to ask the relevant questions that would help tackle corruption in the country.

She said: “This is so important now because of technology and I am a total fan of the use of technology and electronic platforms to block the leakages in this country.

“We must use them the way they are being used in other countries.“

Okonjo-Iweala said that the introduction of the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMS) had helped to reduce physical movement of cash to make payments and curb corruption.

She said that the Integrated Personnel Payment System had also helped government to remove ghost workers from the system and save money in the process.

She said, “We have been able to weed out about 62,893 ghost workers till date saving N208.7 billion and we have not finished in the system. That is addressing the root cause.“

The minister said that the names of the persons found to be involved in the act had been sent to the ICPC for further action.

OKonjo-Iweala said that through the electronic wallet system introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture, government had been able to reduce corruption in fertilizer distribution in the country.

According to her, 10.5 million farmers have been registered under the system with more than 6 million being able to access the product personally.

This, she said, had contributed to increased food production.

The minister said that with the creation of the Pension Transmission Administration Department as demanded by law, issues with old pension were being handled systematically

She said that 14 people were presently under trial for various pension scams in the country.

Commenting on the outcome of the forensic Audit on the alleged 20 billion dollars missing oil money, she said the ministry had written to the NNPC asking it to remit the amount as directed by the auditors.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigerian Content: Egina Attracts $1bn Investment, Says Nwapa

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Read Time:2 Minute, 36 Second

 Over $1billion has been invested in the Nigerian oil and gas industry to create capacity and execute Nigerian Content scopes provided on the Egina deep water project, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Ernest Nwapa said at the weekend.

Egina-Total Exploration and Production’s $15bn deep water project is the first major oil and gas project to be started under the Nigerian Content Act and it includes an FPSO unit, an oil offloading terminal and subsea production systems such as risers, 52km of oil and water injection flowlines, 12 flexible jumpers, 20km of gas export pipelines, 80km of umbilicals and subsea manifolds.

Speaking in Port Harcourt, Rivers State when he unveiled Saipem’s new double/ quadruple joint plant, the Executive Secretary stated that the investment worth $60million was made towards delivering Saipem’s Nigerian Content scope on the Egina project.

He added that the plant was worthy of celebration as it confirmed that the Board’s strategy to include Capacity Development Initiatives (CDIs) in major projects was working.

He informed that CDIs would promote opportunities for training, knowledge and technology acquisition, adding that shop floors were expanding and capacity to execute work in Nigeria had increased substantially.

Speaking further, Nwapa reiterated that over $5bn worth of investments have been made in Nigerian yards since the signing of the Nigerian Content Bill into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, especially by PETAN member companies and other firms like Aveon, Cameron, Ladol, Nigerdock, FMC, Tenaris, EWT etc while about 40,000 technical jobs were being created per annum.

He credited the President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke for providing the political support and conducive environment to implement the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content and Development Act.

“Their support strengthened the Board to overcome local and international resistance from very powerful forces,” he added.

The Executive Secretary also commended Total for its continued investment in Nigeria despite the challenging economic environment, particularly the fall in crude oil prices, adding that NCDMB was focusing more on its developmental roles owing to the need to build collaboration to achieve targets set by the Act.

In his welcome address, the Managing Director of Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited (SCNL) Mr. Giuseppe Surace, confirmed that the company was in Nigeria for the long term and  invests as a demonstration of its commitment to the nation. He added that the company viewed Nigerian Content as an opportunity for development rather than a requirement for compliance.

The event was attended by representatives of international oil and gas companies, and service providers, especially local partners of Saipem on the Egina project. In their comments, representatives of Saipem’s local partners expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to build their businesses and acquire new capabilities.

Already, their partnership had achieved several firsts in the industry, one of which is PCNL’s qualification to produce the 5LPP coating on pipes and joints. Another company, Mudiame also secured accreditation to carry out high tech qualification tests on the project.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Gote: Now is the Time to Stop Tomato Importation

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Read Time:7 Minute, 24 Second

 In this interview with Ibrahim Shuaibu, the Chairman and promoter of Dangote Tomatoes Processing Company in Kano, Alhaji Sani Gote, speaks on the capacity of his company to meet local demand, stressing the need to stop importation of substandard products

What is the idea behind the construction a tomatoes processing factory?
As you are all aware that for many decades, farmers engaged in farming tomatoes have been suffering huge losses due to lack of processing capacity of any size, so, I came up with a project known as Dangote Farms. It was set up to process each day, 1200 tons of fresh tomatoes and this is the first phase, our plan is to double the size by next year if everything goes well as planned. We have been working together with farmers for the past two and half years since we started building the project to ensure that they are part of the project. As you know, there are over 39 cooperatives with over 42, 000 families that are within this farming community; and they are fully engaged in farming tomatoes and other crops.

I have been working together with an international reputable company to provide high-breed seedling for them. We have been working in conjunction with the state ministry of agriculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and other non-governmental organisations to make sure that the farmers are put together in different cooperatives and give them the necessary awareness and understanding of the importance of this project.

We are also able to work with them hand-in-hand to ensure the success of the project and improve their farming practices so that they can get the maximum yield. This factory is to work throughout the year to ensure that farmers also plant throughout the year and also be able to provide tomatoes paste that will serve the need of Nigerians throughout the year. We also ensure that we have the capacity not only to meet the local demand but also to export. By God’s grace, in few years from now, Nigeria will be proud to become a net exporter of tomatoes paste. And our delight is that this factory will enrich over 100, 000 different people; most especially, the farmers who now can see their tears wiped away.

What is the size of the workforce?
Like I said, there are about 40, 000 families farming in this community and they are all planting tomatoes that will be processed in the factory. There will be the logistic side in the employment; there will be people who will be supplying things like basket, fertiliser and other needs of the farmers. There are other industries that will need the paste. What we are doing here is to package 240 kilos which many industries that need tomatoes paste are importing from China, Italy and the USA.  They no longer need to import because we are producing 100 per cent of what they import and these are made by Nigeria and for Nigerians. So, I cannot count the number of people that are going to be directly employed. I know directly, there are over 40, 000 families that are farmers. Secondly, the industry will employ over 200 workers. If we double our capacity, that will be more. Then, there are other services that are going to be around. I can assure you that in two months’ time, the value of land around this area will be different because of the factory.

The only call we are making to the government is to ensure that they stop importation of tomato paste because it will kill the ambition of the farmers and our own ambition. So we call on all the stakeholders, from the farmers, the factory, the state and Federal Government to work together and make it a success. We pray that we Nigerians will wake up and ensure that it is a success because there is nothing better than empowering your farmers, your own people rather than empowering other countries; and become dependent on their products while we can produce it 100 per cent and even export to other countries. So, I believe that the number of employment is enormous and poverty can only be eradicated by providing jobs and meaningful life to the society.

How would you describe the quality of the product?
Quality is hundred per cent fresh. There is nothing fresher than what we will be producing here. As you can see, the factory is situated right in the middle of the farm. So, it takes few minutes or less than an hour for the tomatoes to reach the factory from any area; and once it is processed, we keep it for two days for quarantine to ensure that there is no bacterial infection. Then in the next two days, it is going to the market and Nigerians are buying tomatoes that are just produced and not the ones that are produced more than a year even before they were imported. You can go to the farm and you will see the trucks bringing in fresh tomatoes every day. This factory can consume 40 trucks of fresh tomatoes every day.

How do you intend to distribute the products to the market?
We are talking to the importers to stop importation. We sensitise them that they no longer need to go and start looking for foreign exchange, take our money and go there for importation. They should come to us, they don’t even need to be here, they can send their orders and we guarantee them delivery within six days; unlike when it took them 40 days to 60 days from where they are importing; and these are fresh tomatoes. They will directly pay in naira; they don’t have to pay in dollars. So, the country’s foreign reserves will not be depleted by importation of tomatoes paste.

What about the market?
The market is there. Nigerians consume over 300, 000 tons of tomato paste which if you convert it; it is over 1.5 million tons of fresh tomatoes, which is crazy. So, the market is here because Nigeria is the biggest importer of tomatoes paste in Africa. So, whatever we are producing is just certain percentage of the demand. We are sure that if the right policies are put in place, by next three years, this factory can come to the size that it can meet the demands of the country.

How much money is committed in building the factory?
So far, we have invested over N2.5 billion; and it is ready as you can see. There is more money to be spent because we want to make sure that we build certain collection centres so that farmers can weigh their products at the collection centres. There, they already know the weight and when they reach our factory, they also weigh again and we are engaging a reputable superintendent company that will work with them and monitor them on a daily basis to make sure that they are putting the right agricultural practices to ensure that they get the maximum yield. We will continue to spend more money so longer as all the stakeholders are making necessary efforts to ensure the success of the factory.

You see, one of the most important thing we need to look at is that currently, all the tomato paste we eat are coming from China and the Chinese too are now becoming jittery because of this factory coming into operation which means we are going to stop their market. The natural thing the Chinese will do is to reduce their price of paste so as to under-cut whatever we are going to supply to the local market; so, that is one area the government will have to come in with policies to put tariff in place so that all these pastes, most of which are substandard, coming into Nigeria be stopped from coming. That is one of the things that will ensure the survival of this country and the economic viability we are trying to build up here that has to do with the farmers because if this factory stops running, the investment of the farmers will go for nothing.

Currently, from the survey we have, the farmers yield is about 10 tons per hectare. From the trial of the high breed, we have seen 60 tons per hectare. This is a seed that can grow up to 100 tons per hectare. It has been tried in other countries in Africa that has similar climatic conditions with Nigeria. The farmers can hit up that value. So you can imagine in the same piece of land that you get 10 tons, now you are getting 50 to 60, so, you can imagine how it can boost the economic conditions of farmers in this area.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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