Access Bank doles out more millions in savings promo

Access Bank Plc yesterday rewarded four more winners with a prize of N1 million each under the March edition of Diamond Xtra Season 11 promo. Following the success of previous editions of Diamond Xtra savings promo, the bank had expanded the scope of the Season 11 promo, where 4,750 customers will win about N400 million in the reward scheme.

At the presentation yesterday in Lagos, Executive Director, Retail Banking, Access Bank Plc, Victor Etuokwu, said the continuation of the promo, which was started by the former Diamond Bank, was a fulfilment of the bank’s promise to keep all those things that customers have enjoyed with the former Diamond Bank.

He noted that with the merger between Diamond Bank and Access Bank, the savings promo would get bigger as Access Bank intends to make the product a flagship savings product in the market within the country and beyond.

“We have kept our promise to our customer and I am sure they would reciprocate,” Etuokwu said.

In his remarks, Head, Consumer Liability Product, Access Bank Plc, Osita Ede, said that a special draw would come up in May 2019 to celebrate the coming together of Diamond Bank and Access Bank, where 1,017 winners would emerge for various prizes, ranging from salary for life, rent for a year and education grant among other.

One of the winners, Mrs Adeniyi Aderayo, a trader, could not hide her joy, having become a million naira richer.

“I am really excited to be a winner. When I was called I couldn’t believe my ears since I have been operating the Diamond Xtra Saving account for three years now without winning. I wanted to quit but my account officer, Margaret encouraged me to maintain the account. I’m glad I listened to her and I’m grateful to her,” Aderayo said.

Other winners for the March draw are Stephen Obinali, Shokunle Shakir and Chukwuemeka Edozien.

NNPC spends $1.2b on Brass LNG project

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday said only  $1.2 billion has so far been committed to the Brass LNG project.

Speaking at the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the expenditure and implementation of the $22 billion Brass LNG project,  General Manager, New LNG Venture of the NNPC, Engr. Ahmed Dikko, said the $1.2 billion was about the total money spent so far by the various shareholders to get the project to its current stage.

“This sum included the cost of acquiring project land, which covers approximately 606 hectres, cost of early works contract, Front End Engineering Design (FEED), Pre-FEED Concept Evaluation Study (PFCES), Project Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), comprising both onshore and offshore studies, dredging, EIA activities and ambient noise survey, displacement and settlement action plan (FED-RAP), cultural site heritage study, staff and administration project cost from inception, sustainable development cost, among others,” he said. Dikko said the project which was conceived and designed to assist in monetising the nation’s abundant natural gas resources, reduce gas flaring, and create jobs for the Niger Delta youth, was already at a critical point of Final Investment Decision before its major partner, the Conoco Philips, pulled out.

He said as contained in the shareholders’ agreement, Conoco Philips, whose investment value was $192 million received only one dollar as entitlement.

He said the exit of the oil firm was a serious setback, adding that the corporation’s decision to work with the firm to deliver the project was due to its readiness to provide the needed technology to drive the process.

Customs seizes goods worth N2b

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), through its Federal Operations  Unit (FOU) Zone A, Ikeja, said it has seized goods valued about N2 billion in the last six weeks.

Its Controller, Aliyu Mohammed, who spoke to reporters in Lagos yesterday, said the seizures were made between February 6 and April 16 this year.

The seizures include 113 units of exotic vehicles with duty paid value of N1,339,088,544 and other seizures valued at N610,470,320.

Among the seizures were various smuggled and prohibited drugs without National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) number.

He reiterated the Unit’s resolve to sustain the fight against illicit drug smuggling as a way of justifying recent World Customs Organisation (WCO) and NAFDAC Awards for his contributions to the fight against drug smuggling.

“I am ready to do more in the fight against fake and unregistered drugs. The award given to me is serving as a motivation to continue in stopping the illegality of drug smuggling.

”Some of the smuggled drugs concealed with other goods do not have NAFDAC number and they are capable of destroying lives.

“Our duty as Customs officers is not only to collect revenue and facilitate trade, we are working to save lives too. Those who are complaining about our presence on the roads are not sincere in their dealings.

”We make these seizures daily and we rely on intelligence to uncover what smugglers are hiding. On the allegations of harassment of smugglers by customs officers, our men work with information and endeavour not to inconvenience travelers while performing our duty.

“Our warehouse is filled with rice seizures and more are being seized. We encourage Nigerians to patronise our high quality locally grown rice,” he said.

The seized drugs are codeine syrup, diclofenac, paracetamol injection and Chest and Lung tablets

Other seizures shown to journalists are trucks of rice valued at N190,961,320; 180 Jerry cans of 25 litre vegetable oil worth N1,440,000; 157 bales of used clothes valued at N9,420,000; frozen poultry products worth N1,400,000 and 265 pieces of used tyres worth N1,855,000.

Also seized are 280 pieces of machetes and tomato paste worth N462,000 and N62,000 respectively.

Axxela, NGMC joint mini-LNG project get purchase order

Axxela, NGMC joint mini-LNG project get purchase orderThe Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria (GACN) has given a gas purchase order (GPO) to the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC) for the development of a joint mini-liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Ajaokuta, Kogi State, with Transit Gas Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Axxela Limited.

With gas supply assured, the project considered as a milestone, will help commercial and industrial businesses across Nigeria adopt the LNG solution for their power and process needs and achieve over 40 per cent in cost-savings compared to alternative fuels.

The liquefaction plant is located in the middle of the country to enable easy access of the LNG trucks to the north’s stranded gas market and other parts of the country.

LNG storage facilities will also be installed at customer locations to ensure continuous gas supply.

Natural gas is an environmentally friendly fuel that burns cleaner than other fossil fuels. Gas-fired equipment are more efficient and have significantly contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across the world. The LNG plant is expected to be completed by next year and will boost the productivity of existing industries, attract new investments into the country, and also create jobs for Nigeria’s growing populace.

In 2017, Axxela’s Managing Director, Mr. Bolaji Osunsanya, when the company was known as Oando Gas and Power (OGP), said the project would be implemented as joint venture with the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), which has been split into two – the Nigerian Gas Processing and Transmission Company (NGPTC) and the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC).

According to Osunsanya, the mini- LNG plant will be liquefying 20 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) of gas. He told The Nation in Abuja that the essence of building the Ajaokuta mini-LNG is to create other ways of bring natural gas to industrial and commercial concerns because pipeline vandalism was taking a toll on their operations.

He said: “OGP is developing LNG facility via its newly-created Transit Gas Nigeria Limited (TGNL) subsidiary in partnership with Nigerian Gas Company (NGC). The facility aims at meeting the gas supply requirements for captive power plants, embedded generation, and industrial clusters in the Northern region, as well as stranded customers in the South, adding that the firm has developed over 260km of gas pipeline distribution network, and pioneered the development of gas infrastructure and solutions across the south.

According to him, the company is increasing gas sales levels, complete and inaugurate Greater Lagos 4 (GL4) project and the Central Horizon Gas Company (CHGC) expansion as well as regional expansion opportunities into Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Senegal.

Osunsanya said the firm’s five critical flanks were to ensure gas supply security, develop virtual pipelines asset stable and gas processing infrastructure and expansion of last mile distribution infrastructure with focus on regional growth, among others.

Fed Govt approves $20m foreign loan for Lagos transportation plan

Ambode EpeThe Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a loan of $20 million for Lagos State strategic transportation plan.

The money is part of the $247 million loan approval granted at yesterday’s weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The other $227 million loan is for rural electrification and West Africa Power projects.

The Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who announced the loan approval, said the Lagos transportation project will be beneficial to 1.8 million residents.

Lagos State, she said, has the capacity to repay the loan.

The minister briefed State House Correspondents alongside the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Bello Mohammed and the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Mrs Ahmed explained that the nation’s borrowing is still within limit.

She said: “The third loan approval is $20 million, for the Lagos State Strategic Transport Master Plan. This facility is from the French Development Agency. The objective of the project is to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of Lagos urban area and promote urban development sitting by efficient and effective transport system.

“The project has two major components. The first is to rehabilitate urban roads and the creation of minimum of eight equality bus corridors and the creation of two multi-model inter-changes at Marina and Mile 2. The second objective is to provide technical support for implementation and management.

“When completed, the project is expected to impact 1.8 million inhabitants of Lagos State and accumulative 1.5 million users per day for inter-model inter-changes without about 620,000 boarding at Mile 2 and 480,000 boarding at Marina. Another estimated 630,000 boarding at QBS.

“The project is being undertaken by Lagos State agency, LAMATA, under its own strategy. So, the Federal Government is borrowing to unlearn to Lagos following the same terms and conditions that we signed. Our assessment is that Lagos State has the capacity to repay the loan.”

Also, the FEC approved $150 million loan facility from African Development Bank (AfDB) and $50 million loan from African Grow Together Fund to finance the Nigeria electrification project.

The project, Mrs Ahmed said, “is a nation-wide initiative to be implemented by the rural electrification agency. The project aligns with the strategy of federal government on electrifying rural community”.

She said the project has four components: first is solar hybrid mini-grid for rural economic development; the second is productive appliances equipment for off-grid communities; the third is energising education and the fourth component is institutional capacity building.

“When fully implemented, about 500,000 people will be able to have access to electricity for about 105,000 households. The maximum power that will be generated will be 76.5 megawatts (MW) installed generating capacity, part of which is 68,000 megawatts of solar.

“Eight universities will benefit from this scheme and about 20,000 small, micro and medium enterprises across different communities in the nation,” she added.

The other foreign loan approval of $27.3 million is for the West Africa regional power project.

The project, the minister said, aims to connect Nigeria, Niger, Benin Republic, Togo and Burkina Faso with a high voltage 330 kilowatts transmission line to facilitate energy trade among participants.

She said: “The second approval is the North Core Dorsal regional transmission project. This is a project that is part of the pipeline for the pipeline for the West Africa power pull priority projects. The intention is for the creation of regional power pull in West Africa. The post-project aims to connect Nigeria, Niger, Benin Republic, Togo, Burkina Faso with a high voltage 330 kilowatts transmission line, to facilitate energy trade amongst participants.

“The project costs $640 million out of which each of the four countries involved has a component. Nigeria has the smallest component in this pact, which is a total loan of $27.3 million IADE facility. It is a concessionary loan.

“This is a loan that the four countries are taking together; the other three countries have concluded theirs. So, this is one of the final stages for Nigeria to conclude its process.”

NIPR commends NNPC for promotion of PR

The Abuja Chapter of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has commended the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for effective deployment of Public Relations (PR) tools and professionals in managing its image and reputation.

Dr Tayo Haastrup, the Chairman of Federal Capital Territory Chapter of the NIPR, made the commendation in Abuja during a visit to the Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mr Ndu Ughamadu.

He said that the NNPC remained a critical promoter of professional PR practice in Nigeria.

Haastrup also commended the NNPC for appointing a registered and certified member of the NIPR to manage the reputation of the corporation as required by law.

He said that the NIPR took the menace of quackery in the profession seriously, adding that actions were being taken against those on the wrong side of the law.

He called on defaulter organisations to redeem themselves before the law would catch up with them.

Haastrup lauded the expertise and professionalism of the Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC for its competence in managing the image and reputation of a critical organisation like the NNPC.

“As the body regulating the activities of public relations in the country, it is our duty to monitor the activities of our practitioners in the field to offer professional advice or assistance where necessary and commend those who are making the institute proud.

“We have watched closely since your re-appointment as the spokesman of the NNPC and observed that you are living up to expectations as a certified practitioner and a fellow of the institute.

“Since your assumption of office, we are proud to state that the reputation of the corporation has consistently moved upwards.

“Your publications – the NNPC News, NNPC Quarterly Magazine and your weekly television production are very professional in content and packaging.

“They satisfy readers’ industry information needs in most professional manner. They come with variety, simplicity and appealing designs.” he said.

Haastrup said that the chapter was re-positioned to continue to add value to practice of PR in the capital territory.

Responding, Ughamadu, extended the compliments of the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, to the NIPR, saying the NNPC would continue to emphasise professionalism and excellence in its operations.

He said that his division, in demonstration of its value for professionalism, had ensured that its staff were members of the NIPR and had also extended its advocacy to subsidiaries of the corporation nationwide.

Ughamadu commended the FCT Chapter Chairman of NIPR for “excellent work and expressed his readiness to further support NIPR for the continuous growth and development of the institute.”

Court dismisses suit challenging 9mobile sale

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday dismissed a suit challenging the sale of telecommunications firm, 9mobile, by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services.

Justice C.J. Aneke dismissed the suit, after holding that the plaintiff, Spectrum Wireless Communications Limited, lacked the locus standi to maintain the action against Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services.

The judge upheld the preliminary objection by EMTS, which denied any direct shareholding relationship between it and SWCL, to give the plaintiff the right to challenge 9mobile’s sale.

SWCL had sued EMTS and 16 others, including United Capital Trustees Limited, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission, challenging 9mobile’s sale.

The plaintiff had claimed that it acquired indirect holding of 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS after a private placement and was allotted 4,041,096 Class A shares of PTHNV, which owns 99 per cent of the shares in MyaCynth.

The plaintiff also claimed that MyaCynth holds 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS BV; that EMTS BV holds 99.9 per cent of the shares of EMTS and that EMTS’ syndicated loan from the second to fourth defendants was granted without the requisite statutory approval of the CBN.

It further claimed that its investments in EMTS will be lost if the 15th to 17th defendants were allowed to effect the sale of EMTS.

Power generation slumps to 1,675MW after system collapse

The nation’s power generation fell to a record low on Tuesday following the collapse of the national grid on Monday night.

Data from the Nigeria Electricity System Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, stood at 1,675MW as of 6.00 am on Tuesday.

“System disturbance: This is to announce that the grid experienced system collapse at 23:44hrs on 15th April. System restoration commenced immediately and has advanced. TCN management has commenced an investigation to ascertain the cause(s) of the collapse. Attendant discomfort is regretted,” the TCN said on its official Twitter handle.

The system operator put the nation’s installed generation capacity at 12,910.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 8,100MW; and the peak generation ever attained at 5,375MW.

The nation generates most of its electricity from gas-fired power plants, while output from hydropower plants makes up about 30 per cent of the total.

In February, the TCN announced that the national grid successfully transmitted a new power generation peak of 5,375MW on February 7, 2019, at 9 pm.

It said it was the first time that the grid had generated, transmitted and distributed such quantum of power, describing it as evidence of the success of the government’s policy on incremental power.

The TCN, which manages the national grid, is still fully owned and operated by the government.

The grid has continued to suffer system collapse over the years amid a lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.

Spinning reserve is the generation capacity that is online but unloaded and that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission outages

Out of the five power stations meant to provide spinning reserves, none had any actual reserve as of 6.00am on Thursday, with the contracted reserve put at 295 megawatts.

The power stations are Egbin, Delta, Olorunsogo NIPP, Geregu NIPP and Omotosho NIPP.

Gas producers lament power sector debt, low prices

 Gas producers in the country have said the debt owed by the power sector and the regulated low prices of the commodity constitute a drag on gas development.

Operators and other stakeholders, including the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Nigerian Gas Association, highlighted the need to address the challenges in the domestic gas market.

The Chairman, OPTS, Paul McGrath, said to realise the full benefits of gas as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification, several challenges across the entire gas value chain needed to be resolved.

According to him, the challenges include inadequate infrastructure along the value chain; regulated low prices, legacy debt related to gas and power supply and the challenging business environment.

“The commercial and financial structures of the gas-to-power commercial value chain remain weak with growing arrears and uncertainty in the payment system which disincentivises gas investors,” he said at NGA Business Forum in Lagos.

McGrath added, “To date, Nigeria’s domestic gas prices are kept at a regulated low price, which does not cover the cost required to fully develop its gas resources.”

He said of the 162 trillion cubic feet reported gas reserves in the country, about 75 per cent would require the building of new infrastructure to deliver the gas resources to the domestic market.

The OPTS boss said, “The current regulated gas price of $2.50 for one million British thermal units falls short of the price required to attract investment for these new gas developments.

“The gas sector should transit into a liberalised market based on the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle and ensure the existence of a competitive fiscal regime to support upstream gas development.”

According to McGrath, Nigeria lacks sufficient pipelines to deliver gas from the fields where it is produced to the current and potential off-takers (e.g., power plants, manufacturers, etc.).

He said, “In addition, the transmission and distribution systems lack the capacity to deliver the generated electricity to businesses and other consumers. Building infrastructure requires a sustained joint effort of the stakeholders led by the government.”

He said active government support would help enable a stable investment climate, acceptable commercial terms and contractual risks, which would help in attracting the private investments required to strengthen existing off-takers and ultimately lead to emergence of new buyers and suppliers.

McGrath said, “For Nigeria, gas provides a unique opportunity to provide steady, widely-available, cost-effective and generally affordable power to everyone. A shift to gas-fuelled power generation would represent significant savings opportunities over sources such as diesel which is multiple times more expensive than gas at the current price of $2.5/mmbtu.

“Additional opportunity exists in leveraging gas to develop industries that use gas as feedstock, to produce methanol and ammonia used in fertiliser production.”

Citing Trinidad and Tobago as a good example of a country that had accomplished much with its gas resources, McGrath said, “With a small population of 1.4 million and only 11 Tcf of proven gas reserves, the country has developed a globally competitive petrochemicals industry.

“Today, Trinidad and Tobago is the world’s largest exporter of ammonia and second largest exporter of methanol leading to this industry contributing significantly to the country’s GDP. Nigeria, with significantly larger gas reserves, has the potential to achieve even bigger success.”

According to him, gas has a leading role as a key enabler to the diversification and growth of Nigeria’s broader economy through adequate power generation, provision of feedstock for value-adding manufacturing, and increased government revenue from Liquefied Natural Gas.

McGrath noted that the development of the nation’s vast gas resources and strengthening of the gas value chain should be a national priority.

“OPTS is well positioned to collaborate with the government and other stakeholders in this regard,” he added.

The President, NGA, Mrs Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, described gas development as critical in rapidly catalysing the attainment of the nation’s economic recovery and growth agenda.

She said, “The established correlation between the volume of gas consumed on the domestic front and the level of economic development of any nation provides the impetus for the current focus on growing our domestic gas industry.

“We must, as a nation, ensure we are more deliberate about gas-to-power, in-country value addition through gas-based industrialisation, and the building of local capacity if we are to rapidly impact positively on the socio-economic wellbeing and empowerment of our citizens.

“The world is counting on Nigeria to propel economic development using her natural gas resources as a catalyst. We recognise several strides that have been attained with Nigeria’s gas industry over the years but believe that the pace and scale of advancement must be rapidly accelerated in the interest of the entire nation.”

Investors gain N84bn as stock market rises further

Investors in the country’s stock market gained N84bn on Wednesday’s trading session as the market capitalisation of equities listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange increased to N11.257tn from N11.173tn recorded on Tuesday.

The All Share Index increased by 0.76 per cent to close at 29,970.86 basis points, compared with the 29,746.24 bps recorded on Tuesday.

Price appreciation in Nestlé Nigeria Plc continued while bargain hunting persisted in Dangote Cement Plc and Access Bank Plc.

Activity level weakened as volume and value traded declined by 32.8 per cent and 30.7 per cent to 216 million units and N3.2bn, respectively.

The top traded stocks by volume were Access Bank (39.2 million units), United Bank for Africa Plc (24.2 million units) Lasaco Assurance Plc (20.8 million units), Zenith Bank Plc (16.3 million) and First City Monument Bank Plc (10.9 million) while the top traded stocks by value were Nestlé (N1.5bn), Zenith Bank (N342.5m) Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (N311.6m), Access Bank (N259m) and UBA (N156.9m).

The sector performance was majorly negative as three out of five indices declined.

The oil and gas index shed the most, down by 1.4 per cent due to sell-offs witnessed in Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc.

Similarly, the industrial goods index declined by 0.4 per cent on the back of major losses recorded in Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc.

The banking index dipped by 0.2 per cent due to losses in GTB and Wema Bank Plc.

On the flip side, the consumer goods index emerged the biggest gainer, up by 2.7 per cent on the back of buying interest in Nestlé.

The insurance index increased by a marginal three basis points.

Investor sentiment as measured by market breadth (advance/decline ratio) took a negative turn to 0.9x from 2.1x recorded on Tuesday as 17 losers outnumbered 16 gainers.

The best-performing stocks were Access Bank, Chams Plc, First Aluminium Plc, A.G Leventis Plc and Nestlé, which saw respective gains of 9.92 per cent, 9.09 per cent, 8.57 per cent, 7.69 per cent and 5.31 per cent.

The top five losers were Trans-Nationwide Express Plc, UACN Property Development Company Plc, Associated Bus Company Plc, Learn Africa Plc and Wema Bank Plc, whose share prices shed 9.76 per cent, 9.64 per cent, 8.33 per cent, 8.22 per cent and 5.56 per cent, respectively.

“The relatively weak investor sentiment portends that the last trading session of the week may be dominated by profit-taking activities, especially in bellwethers that had recorded gains in previous sessions,” analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited said.