IMF: Policy Reset Urgently Needed in Nigeria, Others to Secure Growth

In order for Nigeria and other economies in Africa to harness their strong potential, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stressed the “critical need” for a substantial policy reset by policy makers in the countries, adding that their response to date has generally been insufficient.

IMF: Policy Reset Urgently Needed in Nigeria, Others to Secure Growth
IMF: Policy Reset Urgently Needed in Nigeria, Others to Secure Growth

The IMF stated this in its latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa released on Tuesday.

The report showed that growth fell to three and a half per cent in 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa, the lowest level in 15 years, and growth this year was expected to slow further to three per cent, well below the six per cent average over the last decade, and barely above population growth.

According to the multilateral donor institution, in commodity exporting countries such as Nigeria, where fiscal and foreign reserves are depleting rapidly and financing is constrained, the response to the shock needs to be prompt and robust to prevent a disorderly adjustment.

In addition, it advised countries outside monetary unions to use exchange rate flexibility, as part of a wider macroeconomic policy package, to absorb the shock.
“As revenue from the extractive sector is likely durably reduced, many affected countries also critically need to contain fiscal deficits and build a sustainable tax base from the rest of the economy.

“Given the substantially tighter external financing environment, market access, countries with elevated fiscal and current account deficits will also need to recalibrate their fiscal policies to rebuild scarce buffers and mitigate vulnerabilities if external conditions worsen further.

“The required measures may come at the cost of lower growth in the short-term. However, they will prevent what could otherwise be a significantly more costly disorderly adjustment.
“These policies would lay the ground work needed for the region to reap the substantial economic potential which still lies ahead,” it advised.
In two background studies, the Regional Economic Outlook also examined the current commodity terms-of-trade shock and policy responses against past downswings, and the economic impact of progress made in financial development.

“The region has made strides in broadening access to financial services through the use of mobile technology, and the expansion of home-grown pan-African banks,” the report said.
It noted that after a prolonged period of strong economic growth, sub-Saharan Africa was set to experience a second difficult year as the region is hit by multiple shocks.

The steep decline in commodity prices and tighter financing conditions, the IMF said, had put many large economies under severe strain, just as it called for a stronger policy response to counter the effect of these shocks and secure the region’s growth potential.

“The commodity price slump has hit many of the largest sub-Saharan African economies hard. While oil prices have recovered somewhat compared to the beginning of the year, they are still more than 60 per cent below 2013 peak levels— which is a shock of unprecedented magnitude.

“As a result, oil exporters such as Nigeria, Angola, and five of the six countries within the Central African Economic and Monetary Community continue to face particularly difficult economic conditions.

“The decline in commodity prices has also hurt non-energy commodity exporters, such as Ghana, South Africa, and Zambia.

“Compounding this shock, external financing conditions for most of the region’s frontier markets have tightened substantially compared to the period until mid-2014 when they enjoyed wide access to global capital markets.

“However, the impact of these shocks varies significantly across the region and many countries continue to register robust growth, including in per capita terms. While the immediate outlook for many sub-Saharan African countries remains difficult, the region’s medium-term growth prospects are still favourable.

“The underlying domestic drivers of growth at play over the last decade generally continue to be in place. In particular, the region’s much improved business environment and favourable demographics should help bolster growth in the medium term,” the IMF said in the report

BoI increases on-lending fund for SMEs under YES scheme

Following the turnout of applicants for its N10 billion facility earmarked for on-lending to small businesses under the Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) programme, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has concluded plans to expand the fund size as well as accommodate more candidates under the scheme.

BoI increases on-lending fund for SMEs under YES scheme
BoI increases on-lending fund for SMEs under YES scheme

Specifically, the bank noted that due to the high rate of applications received for the YES initiative, it would increase the size of the fund from the initial N10 billion, while considering an increase in the number of would-be loan beneficiaries from 1,200 yearly to 4,000 candidates.

Speaking at the assessment exercise of the initiative and inauguration of a seven-man panel to serve on the application screening committee in Lagos, BoI’s Acting Managing Director, Waheed Olagunju, noted that out of the 40,000 applications received, 15,000 or 37.5 per cent were properly completed and thus qualify for consideration for the first segment of the entrepreneurship capacity building programme which is the eight weeks online training component.

“This programme was launched in response to the alarming unemployment problem among Nigerian youths. Having noticed the huge volume of registration on the online portal of 40,000 which has far outstripped the 10,000 entries earlier envisaged by 300 per cent over the six-week period, we have come to the realisation that Nigerian youths have enormous entrepreneurial appetite waiting to be unleashed on the nation’s economy in a positive sense.

“We have therefore come to the conclusion that we should provide more opportunities for the youth by increasing the number of would-be loan beneficiaries from 1200 to 4000. Efforts would be made to ensure a fair distribution of the beneficiaries in consonance with the proportion of entries received from the six geopolitical zones”, Olagunju added.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu E. Enelamah, while inaugurating the committee, commended the bank for the initiative, saying, “I am quite satisfied with the implementation of the YES-Programme thus far, considering the calibre and quality of the facilitating institutions. The candidates’ screening and evaluation process are transparent, merit-based and in line with global best practices.

“The synergy created by the consultants working in concert with BoI’s in-house team, will undoubtedly manifest in the quality of young entrepreneurs that will be produced under the programme.

“The import of the overwhelming response by our youths to the YES-Progammes is a manifestation of their desire to take control of their destinies via the entrepreneurial route by being self –employed. It is therefore apparent that the earlier envisaged 1,200 would-be loan beneficiaries would fall far short of the yearnings of the aspiring young entrepreneurs.

“I would like to assure our youths of Federal Government’s absolute commitment to its financial inclusion programme. Government will endeavour to meet the aspirations of youths by providing the support needed by BoI to successfully implement the YES-programmes”.

Members of the application screening committee include the Acting Managing Director, Waheed Olagunju, Executive Director, Financial Inclusion, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, Divisional Head, SME (North), Abdul-Ganiyu Mohammed, Divisional Head, SME (South), Umar Shekarau, and three other eminent members made up of successful entrepreneurs, professionals, retired bankers, SME consultants.

LASUTH Records First Successful Bone Bridge Surgery in West Africa

In order to meet the demand of current health challenges in the state and provide quality health services, the Lagos State Government will embark on renovation of its primary healthcare facilities.

LASUTH Records First Successful Bone Bridge Surgery in West Africa
LASUTH Records First Successful Bone Bridge Surgery in West Africa

The Commissioner of Health, Jide Idris, said on Tuesday, while giving an account of the State’s activities in the health sector in the last one year, said the planned renovation would also ensure that the secondary healthcare facilities in the State were decongested.

Idris noted that the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), during the year under review, carried out the first successful bone bridge surgery in West Africa as well as successful cochlear implant surgeries on three deaf patients without the support of foreign doctors.

Further, Idris said that with the renovation, patients that could be appropriately managed at lower levels of care would not need to go to the tertiary health facility.

“We are not unaware of the state of our severely overstretched secondary care facilities.

“We are currently doing assessment of all those facilities, especially at the primary and secondary levels, and the renovation process will be done in phases for repairs,” Idris said.

He said that the burden on the state’s hospitals, especially the Mother and Child Centres (MCCs), was huge with patients coming in from neighbouring states to access services.

While reeling out the various completed and ongoing projects in medical centres across the state, Idris said a new Critical Care Unit at LASUTH and Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) was ready for commissioning, while the contract for renovation and extension of the Old Ayinke House has been re-awarded with immediate commencement of work.

In the secondary health care, the Commissioner said projects already completed included the purchase of 26 Ambulances for General Hospitals and LASUTH, procurement and installation of 26 Mobile Toshiba X-ray machines, construction and equipping of Accident and Emergency Centre in Ikorodu General Hospital, construction of sewage treatment plant in Apapa and Somolu general hospitals, installation of internet facility at the Health Service Commission for improved effectiveness and seamless performance of its activities, while major renovation works are currently ongoing in all the general hospitals in the state, as well as LASUCOM and School of Nursing Hostel, Igando.

Under the school health intervention programme, Idris said 16, 124 pupils in 33 public primary schools in 22 Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas in the State were screened for medical, dental and ear, nose and throat morbidities, while 11, 327 were treated.

He also said that 1, 718, 400 milk sachets were allocated to an average of 56, 297 pupils in 1, 018 schools across the state.

Economic downturn: Passenger traffic, aircraft movements tumble

The volume of traffic in the Nigerian aviation industry has tumbled against the backdrop of the downturn in the economy. Total passenger traffic, which had been on decline since second quarter 2015, dipped further by end of the year, with fourth quarter figures at 3,810,758, showing a significant 8.5 percent dip from 4,163,762 passengers recorded in the corresponding period of 2014.

Though domestic traffic picked up in the second quarter of 2015 and increased quarter-on-quarter to reach 2,723,769 at end of the year; the fourth quarter domestic traffic was still lower than the corresponding period of 2014 by 245,971, showing about 8.3 percent drop. Similarly, number of international passengers also declined by a massive 16.2 percent to 1,086,989 in the fourth quarter of 2015 against 1,296,822 in the corresponding period of 2014. *Airport According to the Nigerian Aviation Industry report unveiled by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, yesterday, Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA, in Lagos, remained the busiest domestic airport in the second half of 2015, with 983,903 travelling through the airport in the fourth quarter, which represented 36

.1 percent of Nigeria’s domestic passenger traffic within the period. However, the report also shows a continued decline in MMA share of domestic passenger traffic, while Abuja domestic airport, which is the second largest in terms of passenger traffic, increased its share of passenger travel relative to 2014, although the share declined between the third and fourth quarter of 2015. In absolute terms, Abuja domestic airport recorded the largest year-on-year increase in passenger numbers in the third quarter of 2015, with an increase of 116,350 passengers.

In Maiduguri Surprisingly, despite the Boko Haram insurgency, Maiduguri domestic airport reported the largest rate of increase in absolute terms. As with domestic travel, MMA Lagos continued to account for the largest share of international passengers.

Whereas with domestic air travel, MMA’s share of passengers was only slightly higher than Abuja Airport, in the case of international travel MMA dominated massively, controlling 71.1 percent of the total international passenger traffic in Nigeria. Abuja International Airport was the second busiest international airport in the second half of 2015. Whereas Port Harcourt was the third largest domestic airport in passenger turnover, Kano was the third largest international airport in each period considered.

Though total number of aircraft that arrived at, or departed from Nigerian airports, increased by 3,988, or 6.9 percent to reach 61,692 aircraft in the fourth quarter 2015, probably as a result of yuletide period, it still presented a significant 13.6 percent decline, relative to the same period of 2014.

West Blue unveils online payment for prompt cargo clearance

To facilitate prompt clearance of cargo and lower cost of doing business, West Blue Consulting, operator of Ghana’s National Single Window Project has unveiled an online payment system.

West Blue unveils online payment for prompt cargo clearance
West Blue unveils online payment for prompt cargo clearance

The online payment solution for cross border trade, the first of its kind in the sub region, was launched recently. A statement issued by the company explained that the process offers shippers (importers/exporters) easy and flexible payment options such as card payment (Visa and MasterCard), mobile money powered by telecommunication operators and the various online payment platforms of commercial banks.

It explained that the new system comes with multiple advantages such as secured transactions, increased transparency, and financial inclusion, adding that it “frustrates the use of cloned or forged trade documents”.

The company said: “The system has rendered obsolete paper invoices and bank confirmations with the attendant delay and inconvenience to members of the trading community”.

It added: “Perhaps what is very significant is that the new addition to the single window project will make it possible for port users to clear and take delivery of their consignments within 24hours”.

Impressed with the noticeable improvement in trade processing at the port, the Director General of Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA), Richard Anamoo has commended West Blue Consulting for deploying innovative Information Technology (IT) solutions to modernize Ghana’s cross border trade.

The Director General made the remarks while on a one-day working visit to the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB), a unit under the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), to familiarise himself with the operations of the Bureau and implementation of the country’s Pre-arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) developed by West Blue Consulting.

He expressed his delight with the technical support provided by West Blue Consulting to the Revenue Authority via Ghana Customs (CEPS), especially in the implementation of the Ghana National Single Window project.

In his remarks, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, George Blankson, explained that the Ghana Single Window system has made it possible for Ghanaian importers and exporters to electronically lodge their documents, including customs declarations, certificates of origin, invoices at a single location to be accessed by all regulatory and trade agencies, instead of sending copies of the same documents to different agencies.

The Ghana National Single Window system provides the platform for an integrated clearance process to minimize the human factor as much as possible and, to a large extent help to reduce the processing time for trade documents.West Blue Consulting developed the PAARS for Ghana Customs.

It was flagged off on September 1, 2015, and its implementation is to compliment the country’s single window environment.
Already, the statement said PAARS has significantly reduced the time and cost of doing cross border trade in Ghana.

The statement said: “Previously, it takes an average of two weeks for trade documents to be processed; the PAARS implementation has cut processing time for complaint cases to two days and in some cases two hours.

“African countries have been admonished to embrace the single window concept so as to put an end to excessive bureaucracy, which has been described as the most severe constraint to cross border trade in the continent.

“With the GNSW system, Ghana’s goal is to enhance her trade competitiveness by 50 percent within the next five years. The system will save tax payers not less than $200million annually”

Nestle plans N15b production line expansion for Ogun plants

Nestle Foods, the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, has unfolded plans for a N15 billion production line expansion for its plants in Ogun State, to be executed in two phases- N6 billion in 2016 and N9 billion in the year 2017.

Nestle plans N15b production line expansion for Ogun plants
Nestle plans N15b production line expansion for Ogun plants

The company already has some production lines and warehouses in three locations in the state, in Agbara, Sango-Ota and Sagamu-Interchange, on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, where about 2,000 residents of the state were directly employed, in addition to other factory workers sourced from other parts of the country and abroad.

Speaking during a working visit to Governor Ibikunle Amosun in Abeokuta, the state capital, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Dharnesh Gordhon, disclosed that the expansion drive became necessary in the state, having observed the government’s efforts in terms of security and enabling business environment.

Gordhon, who said the visit was to commend investor-friendly disposition of the government, whicha has attracted huge investment opportunities to the state, said the state’s industrial policy has inspired the company to propose an investment of N6 billion and N9 billion this year and next year respectively next year, as part of measures to boost the company’s profile.

He said 2,000 residents of the state were directly employed in Nestle’s operation and distribution lines while another 2,000 employees, including workers from other parts of the country and abroad, were also employed, adding that the expansion drive would create further employment opportunities and wealth creation in the state.

The state’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Bimbo Ashiru, said “Nestle is investing over N6 billion in the state this year and between N7 billion and N9 billion next year. So, they are expanding their base, they are creating employment opportunities; they have employed about 2,000 people in this state.

“And we are looking at taking advantage of backward integration, whereby larger percentage of raw materials used will be sourced locally, our focus now is that we must be able to have industries that will be servicing other industries, so that the value chain will be completed, where we have goods being manufactured one company and raw materials being supplied by another factory.

“For example, Nestle has Olam, Olam is a major supply of what they need, Nampak Bevcan is taking another part; they do their packaging. We want our manufacturers to be nearer to their raw materials”, Ashiru added.

Amosun declared that investments worth over N70 billion had been attracted to the state in the last five years, saying that the administration would do more in terms of security, networking, favourable tax policy as well as more provision of enabling business environment for both existing and prospective investors operating in the State.

Amosun, who commended the company’s investment drive in spite of economic challenges confronting the nation, assured the company of further government’s support as it plans to expand its production lines this year and next year, saying that government would continue to collaborate with investors not only for mutual benefits, but to further increase investment in the State.

The Governor, however, enjoined industries in the State to always maintain clean and safe environment and endeavour to source their
materials from local farmers, explaining that it would go a long way in promoting grassroots farming and socio-economic development of the people, translating into more wealth and employment opportunities.

UBA Looks to Africa for Growth

In furtherance of its strategic vision to grow its revenue and franchise across the African continent, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group has announced plans to extend its banking operations to 25 countries on the continent.

UBA Looks to Africa for Growth
UBA Looks to Africa for Growth

Currently, UBA subsidiaries operate in 18 African countries, which at the end of the first quarter of 2016, contributed up to 28 per cent of the group’s operating revenue.
UBA Group Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu, disclosed this on Tuesday in an interactive session with journalists.

The group recently held its inaugural Senior Leadership Forum to review the impressive growth that the bank’s African network had made over the past 11 years, as well to provide a platform to reaffirm and embolden its strategic goals.

The forum, timed to coincide with UBA’s annual general meeting and group board meeting, which was convened by Elumelu, brought together 90 participants, including the entire board of UBA, all chairmen and CEOs of UBA subsidiaries across Africa and the United Kingdom.

In his opening remarks, Elumelu said: “We are one bank, the United Bank for Africa, bringing together our senior leadership talent from across the continent and the distinguished leaders who chair our subsidiary businesses are a powerful demonstration of our commitment to forge one bank for Africa.”

He added: “As long-term investors and pioneers in pan-African commercial and investment banking, we are deeply committed to the markets in which we operate and to harnessing the potential represented by the wider African economy.”
He restated the group’s goal to be the leader in Africa’s financial services sector, pointing to the group’s recent transaction track record as a testament of its coverage on the continent.

Elumelu said the bank is increasingly recognised as a strong pan-African brand, hailed for democratising banking in its countries of operation whilst participating in landmark financial transactions.

He listed the transactions to include the $1.2 billion oil financing agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Chevron, for which UBA will provide funding for Chevron and NNPC to develop 36 new oil wells that will significantly expand Nigeria’s oil production capacity.

Other landmark transactions include a $315 million facility to the Government of Ghana for road projects on the strength of road fund levies domiciled with UBA Ghana; the $250 million crude pre-payment facility for the Democratic Republic of Congo-based Orion Oil, representing the largest reported transaction structured by an African investment bank in 2015 involving fresh capital within the African market; and the 234 million euro oil and gas financing deal with Société Africaine de Raffinage (SAR) of Senegal.

Elumelu said the bank also released $180 million to Delta Energy Zambia for the procurement and supply of petroleum products to marketing companies in Zambia and the $90 million University of Dakar hostel construction project financed solely by UBA Senegal – African capital, building African infrastructure for African education.

The three-day leadership forum focused on the critical issues and drivers for success across the continent. Seminars were held on corporate governance, corporate institutionalisation, board effectiveness, compliance, accountability, and more.

Chairman of UBA Senegal, Mr. Fogan Sossah commented: “We have done a lot but in some sense we are only beginning to reap the rewards of our network and potential. We are a truly pan-African institution and after a period of consolidation, we know that the continuing expansion of our African footprint is a key goal.
“We must ensure that we have presence in at least 25 countries in the near to medium-term, starting from the UMOA and CEMAC zones.”

On her part, Chairman of UBA Democratic Republic of Congo, Mrs. Gisele Mudiay said: “Our aspiration for the next five years is to pool the knowledge of our individual operating environments and leverage that knowledge to help our customers realise their business goals.”
The Chairman of UBA Cameroon, Mr. Ekoto Mukete did not leave out the difficulties that exist in operating in the diverse economic environments across the African continent.

He said: “While we operate in challenging business environments, we benchmark ourselves against global standards, which means we are able to add real value to our stakeholders.
“This forum has ensured that we are an army of one, working in each corner of Africa and driving toward one common goal.”

The approval of additional injection of capital into its East African subsidiaries in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania was communicated at the forum, as the group re-affirmed its commitment to growth in its countries of operations across the continent.

Commenting on the importance of consolidating pan-African financial expertise and exporting the successful Nigerian model, the incoming Group MD/CEO and previous head of UBA Africa, Kennedy Uzoka said: “I have experienced the potential of our pan-African businesses. I know that we can and I commit to ensuring our leadership across Africa.

“The Senior Leadership Forum reaffirms UBA’s ambition to be the leading pan-African bank across key indices – brand equity, human capital, customer service and profitability.”
Other issues discussed at the forum included Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies and compliance standards across the group.

The Group Compliance Officer, Uche Ike stated that “compliance is non-negotiable. We operate as a global bank, in global centres. We have seen how swiftly, internationally and within Africa, banks have lost hard earned reputations, through laxity in policy compliance and we will not tolerate this in the UBA Group”.

The forum coincided with the 54th Annual General Meeting of UBA, where participants were also able to celebrate the bank’s strong financial performance, just as the week-long activities culminated in the recognition of staff at the annual UBA CEO Awards ceremony.
UBA reported strong financial results in 2015, in what is largely recognised as a challenging macro-environment. Gross earnings were N315 billion, while operating profit stood at almost N70 billion.

UBA Africa operations contributed approximately 24 per cent of these earnings but are expected to grow significantly and over time contribute as much as 50 per cent to overall group profitability.
Other than Africa, UBA has operations in three global financial centres: London, Paris and New York.

From a single country operation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, UBA has evolved into a pan-African provider of banking and related financial services, to more than 11 million customers through diverse channels globally.

Disposal of Dangote boosts Tiger Brands

The disposal of Tiger Brands’ Nigerian business boosted its interim earnings by up to 28%.
Disposal of Dangote boosts Tiger Brands
Disposal of Dangote boosts Tiger Brands

Excluding the gain from the sale of Dangote Flour Mills in February, headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the six months to end-March were roughly the same as in the matching period last year, the fast moving consumer goods group said on Tuesday morning.

Tiger Brands said it expected to report on May 24 that interim HEPS excluding the sale of its Nigerian business would be in the range of 2.5% lower to 2.5% higher than the matching period’s R9.75.

Basic earnings including the sale are expected to be 23%-28% higher than the matching period’s R8.32.

Tiger Brands said it expected to report solid operating results for the period under review, reflecting a 9% increase in turnover and 7% increase in operating income from continuing operations, notwithstanding the significant cost push experienced from rand weakness and the effects of the drought on soft commodity prices, particularly within the grains division.

Rhodes Food Group, which listed last year, also issued a trading statement on Tuesday morning. It expected to report on May 23 that, excluding the R21.8m listing costs, HEPS for the six months to March 29 had nearly doubled from the matching period’s 26.7c.

Including listing costs, Rhodes Foods said it expected to report growth in normalised HEPS of between 35% and 40% from the matching period’s 36.6c.

FG Slams N1.3tn Claim on Shell for Bonga Spill

President Muhammadu Buhari has authorised  the  Attorney General of Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)   to commence legal action against  Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company  on behalf of 350 communities in Delta and Bayelsa States affected by Bonga Oil spills of 20  December 2011.

FG Slams N1.3tn Claim on Shell for Bonga Spill
FG Slams N1.3tn Claim on Shell for Bonga Spill

The country is  demanding  N784billion as compensation for oil spill that destroyed the affected communities.
The Nigerian government, according to The News,  is also demanding another  sum of N495billion  as restitution and restoration of the devastation of the economic zone of  the Nigeria territorial waters, and N50million as cost of this legal action.

Joined as co-defendants in the  legal battle are, Shell Petroleum N.V, B.V Netherlandse International Indusrie-E Handel Maatschappij, Shell Transport and Trading Company Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which are all allied companies of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company.

A Deputy Director, Oil Field Assessment Department of, NOSDRA, Mr. Akindele Olubunmi, in an affidavit filed at the Federal High Court Abuja, said he  had the consent and the authority of, President Buhari, AGF and the Director General of NOSDRA to bring  the legal action  in relation to the damage and devastation done to the exclusive economic zone, ecosystem, marine life, and the environment caused by Bonga crude oil spills of December 20, 2011.
A Lagos lawyer,  Awosika Dada Adekunle, is handling the case.

The Nigerian government alongside, NOSDRA are also suing in order to protect the interest of fishermen and persons affected by the Bonga crude oil spill numbering about 285,000 persons from 350 communities and satellite villages with their consent to institute this suit.

Olubunmi averred that around  December 20, 2011, Shell in the course of their oil and gas exploration activities within OML 118 approximately 120 kilometres off the coast of Guinea, recorded a record oil spill.

This happened when the  export line linking their Float Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel at their Bonga Field deep offshore, which was  supplying crude oil to a tanker (MV NORTHIA), ruptured thereby spewed out crude oil into the sea.  The incident was reported to the federal government that same day through NOSDRA.

The defendants admitted spewing out 40,000 barrels of crude oil into the sea, causing devastation and degradation of the aquatic life, marine environment including the territorial waters of Nigeria along Niger Delta axis and destroying the sea beds and aquatic lives in the continental shelf within the Nigeria exclusive  economic zone. There were severe disruptions to communities, persons, properties and lives of people in the shoreline area as a result of the spill.

The plaintiffs, inaugurated consultants and expert, in collaboration with other stakeholders including, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Assembly Committee on Environment and Ecology to carry out the mapping area that suffered economic losses and damages.

Aftermath of all the investigations and in line with their statutory duties and obligations, the plaintiffs notified the defendants of their decision to pay $3,600,191,206. representing compensation to the 350 communities and satellite villages impacted by the Bonga oil spill disaster and punitive damage which is to be paid to the plaintiffs as sanction totaling $1.8 billion from the said sum to deter occurrence of such dastardly act

However, it was alleged that despite the facts that the defendants have processed and received insurance claims for the crude oil spillage that occurred at OML 118 Bonga Oil Field on December 20,2011,the defendants have refused and neglected to pay compensation, punitive damage and cost of restoration, restitution and redemption of the environment statutorily assessed by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs punitive compensation was adopted after the United States Supreme Court decision of June 25, 2008, against Exxon Valdez in Wallings Versus Waillings and in line with international best practices as it has been seen in other climes like Equadorian court awarded $9.5billion against Chevron Corporation and most recently in the United States of America, British Petroleum in April 2011 settled and agreed to pay $20billion oil spill at Gulf of Mexico to be shared among various communities directly impacted by the disaster.

Consequently, the plaintiffs are now seeking the following reliefs from the court
*An order directing the defendants to pay the sum of N712.8 billion   to the plaintiffs as compensation to the affected communities

*An order directing the defendants to pay the sum of N71.2 billion representing administrative costs and fees to the consultants and experts engaged to carry out damage assessment.

*An order directing the defendants to pay to the plaintiffs the sum of N495 Billion for restitution and restoration of the damage and devastation of the Nigeria territorial waters occasioned by the negligent conduct of the defendants

*An order of the court directing the defendants jointly and severally to pay the plaintiffs N50million as cost of this legal. action.

Meanwhile, based on an application filed and argued before the court by plaintiffs counsel, Mr. Dada Awosika, seeking the order of the court to serve court process on four of the defendants who are based outside the country,  Justice Binta Murtala Nyako  adjourned the case to June 6, 2016.

She ordered that all the court process in the case should be served on Shell Petroleum N.V,B.V Netherlandse International indusrie-e handel Maatschappij, the Royal Transcorp and Trading Company Plc and Royal Dutch PlLC.

Lagos modular refinery to begin production next year

The Integrated Oil and Gas Limited has confirmed that its 20,000 bpd modular refinery is on course and will be coming on stream in 2017.
Manager, Media Relations/Corporate Affairs, Enyeribe Anyanwu, in a statement said: “The modular refinery which is located at Tomaro Island off the coast of Apapa port zone is expected to come on stream next year,”

Lagos modular refinery to begin production next year
Lagos modular refinery to begin production next year

Emerging from an environmental screening meeting with the Environment Unit of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the technical partners/engineering consultants and the environmental impact assessment consultant, Tayo Ogunbanjo, Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Oil & Gas Limited, Emmanuel Iheanacho, said every necessary step was being taken to ensure that the refinery was delivered on schedule.

Iheanacho said the meeting was part of the imperatives for the acquisition of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (ESR) and other approvals for the refinery.

According to him, the meeting looked at the Front End Engineering Designs (FEED) of the refinery where the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) was explained and analysed to the DPR.

He said after all the loose ends and every environmental concerns have been addressed, the company would get the EIA report. The next stage, he explained, would be the presentation of the Detailed Engineering Design for final screening and approval after which the company would apply for the approval to construct from the DPR.

Ogunbanjo who is driving Eko Petrochem & Refining, the special purpose company that is handling the greenfield refinery project for Integrated Oil & Gas, said the company is not leaving any stone unturned in its determination to enhance the refining capacity of Nigeria and save the citizens the agony of perennial fuel scarcity and unnecessary depletion of the foreign reserves.Environment Manager, DPR, Adeniyi Balogun, expressed satisfaction with the progress of work on the refinery project.

He said as soon as the company and its consultants addressed some issues raised by the DPR team to the workshop and satisfy other requirements as demanded by the nation’s environmental laws, the approval to begin physical work on the project would be given by the DPR.

He said the Federal Government is quite desirous of having private refineries in order to end the problem of fuel importation and its associated depletion of the nation’s scarce foreign exchange and has therefore told all the approving and regulatory authorities to ensure that unnecessary impediments are removed for the private refineries to be established.

Integrated Oil & Gas is a frontline independent downstream oil and gas company in Nigeria involved in the importation, storage and distribution of clean petroleum products. The company presently operates two tank farms in Apapa, Lagos with a combined capacity of 85 million cubic litres and is currently developing new state-of-the-art tank farm facilities in Kano and Calabar.