The Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to proffer solution to the lingering fuel scarcity and its attendant hardship on citizens. The call followed a motion raised by the Majority Leader of the House, Mr Sanai Agunbiade and seconded by Mr Segun Olulade, the Chairman, House Committee on Health, under matter of public urgent importance.
Agunbiade said a lot of workers were lamenting over gridlock caused by fuel queues. “In Lagos, every minute counts. Many workers now get queries for coming late to work. People now store petrol at homes. “Prices of goods and commodities are high, and fares have increased. The President should address the issue of fuel scarcity and deal with everyone involved,” he said. Olulade, on his part, said: “A lot of people are facing serious hardship; we have hospitals that cannot provide electricity in case of emergency because of scarcity. The President should address the issue quickly.” Contributing, Mr Tunde Braimoh, the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, described the situation as ‘’embarrassing’’, saying that the President has all it takes to salvage the situation. Also, Mr Yinka Ogundimu, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, said all agencies in Lagos were overstretched and a lot of time was wasted queuing for fuel. “We should call on the President to come up with immediate solution,” he said. The Speaker of the House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, said it was not necessary to start apportioning blames or identifying scapegoats, but the Federal Government should find a lasting solution to the problem. “I saw people carrying kegs all over the city and I understand that some of them sleep at filling stations. “The roads from my house were deserted as I was coming to the office and this is a bad signal. “Mr President should look for a solution; we should not look at the past or blame the Petroleum Minister for what he said recently since he has apologised. We must take action now. “Whatever it is, our people should get fuel to move around for their businesses. We must avoid whatever can lead to angry mobs. It is becoming so unbearable and it must not be allowed,” he said. The Speaker directed the Clerk of the House, Mr Ganiu Abiru, to write a letter to the President to find a lasting solution to the problem and make fuel available in Lagos State. The House said that the President should address the people on the situation and appealed to residents to be calm until a solution was found to the problem. It also called on Buhari to direct all the necessary Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that have direct connections with the distribution of fuel to help the masses by curbing the hardship. The lawmakers said that special attention should be given to Lagos State as the economic nerve centre of the nation as many workers now sleep at filling stations. The House also called on Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to direct the necessary agencies in the state to effectively control gridlock occasioned by scarcity. It noted that the indiscriminate queuing at filling stations had affected traffic flow and many people were getting to their offices late. (NAN)
The manager of Oando filling station at Otedola Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Lagos state was on Tuesday arrested by the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad, RRS and the Department of Petroleum Resources Task Force.
The manager was arrested alongside his assistant for allegedly hoarding fuel and selling in Jerrycans exorbitantly.
Confirming the arrest, the Commander of the RRS, ACP Tunji Disu said there was enough Premium Motor Spirit, PMS in the reservoir of the filling Station, but the manager denied selling to the public.
According to Disu, they were arrested during a routine checkup.
Abuja — The President in Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu, has said the body is strategizing with Ministers of Aviation of Nigeria, Cameroun, Niger, Somali, Egypt and countries within the region to stem terrorist attacks at their airports.
One of the strategies, Aliu said, will be the adoption of biometric passport or the e-passport to monitor closely the movement of passengers within and outside the region.
He admitted that ICAO has been having very close relationship with the Ministers of Aviation on aviation security challenges in Mali Somali, Egypt and Nigeria, adding that aviation security is very a sensitive issue which ICAO cannot put in public domain.
The ICAO boss who is seeking re-election bid for a second term made the disclosure at a get together dinner organized on Sunday night in Abuja for him by the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika.
He assured that ICAO is working hard to make the airports safe across Africa, adding that bombing at airports is one of the critical issues that we are discussing at the moment, adding that ICAO and Nigeria will have to collaborate very closely on this matter.
The last 18 months have been damaging for Nigeria’s economy. Already battered by a drop in the price of oil—its main export and source of earnings—the country has also seen its currency, the naira, lose almost half of its value against the dollar. Nigeria’s foreign cash reserves sharply declined as the country—largely dependent on imports from refined petroleum to toothpicks—was spending quicker than it was earning.
To buck the trend, the country fixed its exchange rate at around 200 naira to the dollar rather than allow its currency to devalue to around 320 naira versus the dollar—this is where the naira trades on parallel markets. To keep the value fixed the Central Bank of Nigeria has to limit access to dollars to help conserve what’s left of the reserves. The impact of all this on the average Nigerian has been harsh. Major cities like Lagos and Abuja are clogged up by snaking lines of cars at gas stations caused by a shortage of fuel. The irony of Africa’s biggest oil exporter being short on fuel is not lost on its citizens who resort to buying unsafe black market supplies.
Despite drilling vast quantities of crude oil, Nigeria’s has allowed its local refineries to fall into disrepair. This means it depends on imports for local use. With the state oil company, NNPC, unable to cater to imports on its own, it enlists independent marketers who import refined petroleum and distribute to the gas stations across the country. But with the government maintaining a choke-hold on the country’s official exchange rate, independent importers of fuel, whose import allocations account for 58% of the country’s supplies, have complained about not being able to access dollars at the favorable government rate. As a result, the ability to import refined fuel by the marketers has been hobbled.
To make up the deficit, NNPC has upped its fuel importation quota but hasn’t yet been able to make up the for the shortfall.
Nigeria’s fuel shortage is having a drastic effect on an already faltering economy. Some businesses are now closing earlier in the day to ration their fuel. Inevitably, the economy is starting to crawl. This is similar to last May when media, banks and telecoms firms were forced to shut down operations.
“The economy is already slowing down. If marketers cannot import and circulate fuel soon, then the situation could get worse,” Cheta Nwanze, a researcher at Lagos-based SBM Intel says. “As it stands, the NNPC is burdened with servicing national demand and with its inefficient processes, that is an impossible ask.”
The offshoot of the fuel shortage has been harsh on Nigerians. Food prices are shooting up and transportation costs have nearly doubled. Michael Idowu, a cab driver, says he has been forced to sit out business days. “I lose money everyday when I don’t drive because I can’t buy fuel. The queues are crazy and the only way to get fuel is to buy on the black market at four times the official price—it makes no sense.”
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Nigeria’s over $13bn annual crude oil exports to India may be under threat as the South Asian country plans to tap its $40 billion worth of oil and gas reserve by attracting $25 billion investments into the sector in a policy aimed at reducing dependence on imported energy.
According to FT, India expects to attract $25 billion in investments within the next few years for exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the country, following the implementation of reforms known as “HELP”. Under HELP, companies will now enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with the government as opposed to the profit-sharing mechanism now in place. Firms will be able to bid for E&P rights for all hydrocarbons in blocks of their choosing.
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan also said recently the new hydrocarbon exploration and licensing policy (HELP) and a more liberal gas pricing structure that would help India reduce reliance on oil imports over the next 10-15 years. The country currently imports 75% of its oil, out of which Nigeria has had a sizable share of India’s crude imports.
Lagos – Nigerian internet provider ntel is seeking more than $1 billion to invest in 4G mobile broadband by 2020 as the owner of the former state landline company seeks to take advantage of a rising number of smartphone users in Africa’s most populous country.
“We are speaking to investors and to banks who are interested in a growth story for Africa,” Chief Executive Officer Kamar Abass, 51, said in an interview on March 31. “We are seeing the very beginnings of a shift from a voice-oriented communications market in Nigeria to one that will be dominated by mobile broadband.”
Sub-Saharan African mobile Internet companies are attracting investment because of a lack of fixed-line infrastructure to support rising demand for online access. Smile Telecoms Holdings raised $365 million in August to expand its wireless Internet network in Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania, while Lagos-based MainOne Cable said in July it plans to raise $300 million.
Africa’s biggest economy had about 149 million active mobile-phone lines as of end January, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission, yet most users are restricted to 2G voice and text messaging due to the low penetration of smartphones. Nigeria’s population is forecast by the World Bank to reach almost 207 million by 2020 from about 170 million now, and ntel expects Nigeria’s mobile-broadband customer numbers to rise significantly by 2020, Abass said.
MTN Group, Nigeria’s biggest mobile-phone operator, plans to expand Internet services after agreeing to buy broadband provider Visafone Communications in January. MTN went ahead with the deal, which was challenged in court by Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Group Co, even as the Johannesburg-based company battles to reduce a record $3.9 billion fine in the country for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers.
ntel’s investment target includes the $252 million that the company paid to acquire state-owned landline provider Nigerian Telecommunications and its mobile unit MTel in 2015. It is owned by Nigerian investors including Olatunde Ayeni, the chairman of Skye Bank, and has a partnership agreement with closely held Hong Kong Telecommunications, according to the company.
ntel will compete with Nigeria’s four mobile-phone companies, MTN, Etisalat, Bharti Airtel of India and local provider Globacom. The company will start services in in Lagos and Abuja, the capital, on April 8.
Cassius: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
– Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
Fate is not what drives men to their conditions or situations, but decisions and actions, or lack thereof. The ubiquitous and perennial market fires in Nigeria are mostly caused by poor design, mismanagement and greed. And the toll would keep rising, unless we face these simple truth, if the case of the fire that gutted Kano’s Abubakar Rimi Market (better known as Sabon Gari Market), penultimate weekend, is anything to go by.
Said to have started in the wee hours of Saturday last week, from just one shop, the inferno raged on for hours, and by the time it was finally extinguished Sunday evening it has, according to The National Emergency Management Agency [NEMA], gutted about 3,800 shops, because the access road was blocked by hundreds of wheelbarrows chained together for the night. The market traders’ association estimated property losses at over N2 trillion, adding that over 75 per cent of the market has been burnt. Given the usual habit of many traders, especially of northern extraction, of keeping their cash in their shops, we could be safely assume that the losses were much more, amounting to almost half of our Federal Budget.
All these are before adding the tens of thousands who have illegal kiosks, “attachments”, stalls, tables, sheds and what not, who daily make a living from this market. Many more have shops and stalls elsewhere and use the market as a convenient wholesale source, often getting these goods on credit from its bigger shopkeepers. Then there are food and “pure water hawkers, potters, mobile barbers, shoe-shiners, nail-cutters and other “service providers” who make their daily bread from the market.
Kaduna — The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Kaduna has sealed the Kaduna office of Tosco Standard Yogurt, a multi-billion naira business over lack of good manufacturing practice.
The SON officials who stormed the premises of the yogurt and water company located in Kakuri in Kaduna South Local Government frowned at the way and manner the products were being produced in a dirty environment.
Daily Trust reports that the environment was smelly, the floors, widows and walls were covered in smudge, the tiles were cracked, the wall was covered in decades old dirt and the production area was below standard.
State Coordinator of SON, Abba Adamu Bauchi said the company had been given warning letters to sanitise their environment or face seal adding that the company will remain closed pending when they meet up to standard.
“We have to seal the factory pending the time they put in place all the necessary requirements to run such a factory, this is necessary because they are dealing with edible products and it is hazardous to human health,”he said.
On his part, Managing Director of Tosco, Muhammad Gazali who disclosed that the 20 years-old company has a staff strength of 60, added that they do not compromise on their standard.
Labour yesterday threatened to mobilize workers, students, civil society groups, market women, among others, to shut down Kaduna over alleged anti-workers polices, among other alleged excesses of Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, warned that should El-Rufai continue his perceived unfair policies against workers and other ordinary Nigerians in the state, what labour did in Imo State in February 2016, when Governor Rochas Okorocha sacked 3,000 workers, would be a child’s play to what would be done in Kanduna State.
TUC, in a statement by its President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama in Abuja , lamented that all efforts by the TUC, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Joint Council in Kaduna State to prevail on Governor El-Rufai to cease his alleged siege on workers and trade unions in the state had been treated with contempt.
It reads: “As we write, the Kaduna State Governor is compelling workers in the state against their will to choose whether to belong to Trade Unions or opt out of the Trade Union system completely.
“By his bizarre actions, Governor El-Rufai may think that he is destroying the trade unions in the state but what he is actually displaying is his lack of elementary knowledge of labour laws in the country because even though the law permits the worker to opt out of trade union, it is not the responsibility of the Governor to force him or her to do so.
“El-Rufai further exposed his ignorance when he told a national newspaper recently that he decided to destroy the union in Kaduna State because N2,000 was deducted from a worker’s salary as union dues and that when he multiplied that amount with the number of Kaduna State Government employees, including the local government staff, he came to the spurious conclusion that the union collects N170 million as check-off dues.
“It is really a pity that a governor of a state in Nigeria does not know that union dues is not a flat rate of N2,000 for every employee and that there are about 15 unions in the public service of a state that are entitled to union dues based on a rate approved by the Registrar of trade unions. El-Rufai even wants the workers to pay tax on union dues deducted from their own salary.”
TUC noted that Labour Matters, which included the trade unions were listed under item 34 in the Second Schedule of the Exclusive Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and as such the Kaduna State governor has no legal authority to write his own labour laws.
“Besides, El-Rufai is neither the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment nor the Registrar of Trade Unions and so should desist forthwith from rewriting Nigerian Labour Laws through the backdoors to massage his bestial ego. Section 5(3) of the Labour Act and Section 17 (a) and (b) of the Trade Unions Act clearly provide that: ‘upon the registration and recognition of any of the trade unions specified in Part A of schedule 3 of the Trade Unions Act, the employer SHALL make deduction from the wages of all workers eligible to be members of the union for the purpose of paying contributions to the trade unions so recognized.’
“The law didn’t give El-Rufai or any other person for that matter the latitude to start asking workers to indicate whether they want to join a union or not. Check off deduction by law is automatic.
“By his action, El-Rufai now sees himself as headmaster dictating to his pupils on what to do and what not to do. He has no such powers,” the Union reiterated.
Lagos – French telecommunications company Orange is to invest 75 million euros ($85 million) in Nigerian e-commerce group Africa Internet Group (AIG) and become a shareholder, the two companies said on Tuesday.
AIG, which was founded in Nigeria in 2012, already counts Goldman Sachs, South African telecoms group MTN and Germany’s Rocket Internet among its shareholders.
It owns several technology firms across 26 African countries including online retailer Jumia, delivery app , hotel booking platform Jovago and online real estate marketplace Lamudi.
“With this strategic investment, Orange now has the capacity to play a leading role in the fast-growing e-commerce market in Africa,” Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, said in a joint statement with AIG.
“This investment will enable us to significantly develop our ability to market products and services developed by Orange Middle East and Africa over the Internet,” he added.
Orange said last week that it plans to grow in Africa, among other regions, after its talks to buy French peer Bouygues Telecom collapsed.
“We are thrilled by Orange’s equity investment and are eager to translate our strategic partnership into unique offers for our customers,” said AIG founders and co-CEOs Sacha Poignancy and Jeremy Hodara.
Last month AIG announced additional funding worth a total of 225 million euros ($245 million).