Obateru: Celebrating A Quintessential PR Man at 60

Official Handover of the former Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, to his successor, Mr. Garba Deen Muhammad, held at the NNPC Towers Abuja
Official Handover of the former Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, to his successor, Mr. Garba Deen Muhammad, held at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.

By Obinna Nwachi

The job of managing the image and reputation of a company that many love to hate and others hate to love is no mean task. Very often, one leaves the job inheriting the ‘enemies’ of the company as personal enemies. Very rarely does one leave the job in a gale of accolades as Dr. Kennie Obateru is doing today from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) upon clocking the statutory retirement age of 60.

Obateru assumed office as the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC in March 2020 at a time when various countries across the world, including Nigeria, were going into lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. He quickly retooled the Division to be able to promptly respond to the challenges of the time. This saw the robust engagement of the Corporation’s publics with the Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, leading the charge in clarifying the issues around production cuts, decline in crude oil sales and efforts to shore up revenues for the nation.

Apart from ensuring the vigorous implementation of the corporation’s Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) through timely communication of NNPC’s operations and activities, Obateru maintained an open-door policy which ensured prompt handling of all enquiries. This obviously resulted in a near-zero bad press for the NNPC in the one and half years he held sway as the chief reputation manager.

Speaking on Obateru’s style and professionalism, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, stated that he owed the very cordial relationship his agency enjoys with NNPC to Obateru’s engaging human relations skills. “It is with mixed feelings I learnt about Kennie’s retirement. Kennie Obateru is a very tall man, taller in ideas but tallest in competence and integrity. He’s a man of details, learns lessons from opportunities and from the ups and downs of life. We had a smooth working relationship with the NNPC during his tenure and it was all due to his style,” he declared.

Stakeholders from across all sectors of the oil and gas industry who had the good fortune to encounter him in his long career that spanned 29 years across various subsidiaries and the Corporate Headquarters of the Corporation are all agreed about Obateru’s excellent human relations skills. One of such is Sopuruchi Onwuka, the publisher of Oracle News who traced his first encounter with Obateru to his days at the Manager, Public Affairs Department, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He described Obateru as a thoroughbred public relations professional and a perfect relationship manager who succeeded in getting the public to see NNPC through him.

“He is down to earth in his dealing with people. He is polite and urbane. He doesn’t talk down on you or force you to accept his point of view, he wins you over. Another thing I find particularly fascinating about Dr. Obateru is his ability to listen patiently and respond to issues no matter how busy he is. If his busy schedule makes it difficult to take your call and respond to your questions immediately, he will send a text message that he will get back to you, and he returns with answers,” Onwuka stated.

From colleagues and media practitioners who had to deal with daily in the course of his job, none could think of anything negative to say about Obateru as a person or his style as a reputation manager. A veteran energy journalist, Mr Olusola Bello, who related with him closely for years in the course of his job described Obateru thus: “He is a very competent public relations man, he knows his job. He is very accessible and always reaching out. In fact he has a way of drawing people close and taking them into confidence about developments in the industry. This style made it difficult for a lot of us to do stories that could impact on NNPC and its subsidiaries negatively because it would make you feel guilty that you are betraying your source”.

Bello’s submission holds the secret to the general positive reportage NNPC enjoyed throughout Obateru’s tenure as the corporation’s spokesman, a job for which he came fully prepared by virtue of his vast experience within the NNPC and the oil industry. Before his appointment as the Group General Manger, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC in 2020, he was the General Manager, NNPC London Office.

He joined the services of the Corporation in 1992 as an experienced hire and since then has held several key and strategic positions in the Public Affairs Division.

He was Manager, Public Affairs of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a corporate service unit of the NNPC between 2010 and 2015.

Prior to that, he was Manager, Public Affairs Department, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) between 2008 and 2010 and was Manager, Media Relations in the Group Public Affairs Division from 2007 to 2008.

Dr. Obateru was Deputy Manager, Media Relations in GPAD between 2006 and 2007, and served as a team member in Project PACE-SMS, CP Core Process Teams between 2005 and 2006.

From 2001 to 2005, he served as Supervisor, Budget & Planning in GPAD. He also doubled as Supervisor, Audio Visual, between 2000 and 2001. His versatility was brought to bear on the print side of the corporate communication business when he diligently served as Editor, NNPC News, a monthly publication of the Group Public Affairs Division from 1998 to 2000.

Between1993 and1998, Dr. Obateru was the Protocol Officer to the then Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources. He cut his teeth in the Corporation as a Protocol and Consular Officer between 1992 and1993.

He is an alumnus of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos; University of Ilorin and University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, where he obtained a Certificate in News Reporting, a B.A. (Hons) Performing Arts and an M.Sc. in Public Relations respectively.

In 2012, Obateru joined the doctoral club of eggheads when he was awarded a Doctorate Degree in Management (Honoris Causa) by the Commonwealth University, Belize.

He has attended numerous professional courses and conferences at home and abroad which included three (3) International Public Relations Association Conferences, five (5) World Petroleum Congresses (WPCs) and 15 OPEC Ministerial Conferences among others.

Dr. Obateru is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, a member of the International Public Relations Association, a senior member of the Africa Public Relations Association as well as a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management.

His hobbies include Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis, reading and dancing. Dr. Obateru is happily married and his union is blessed with four children.

Dr. Obateru bows out after 29 years of meritorious service to the NNPC.

Obinna Nwachi, a public commentator and analyst, wrote in from Abuja.

Nigerian Inflation Slows…What Next?

In an encouraging development, inflation in Africa’s largest economy fell for the fourth consecutive month in July.

Consumer prices rose 17.4% from a year earlier, lower than the 17.8% witnessed in June and below the 17.5% estimates in a Bloomberg survey. While other major countries across the world are grappling with rising inflationary pressures, Nigeria seems to be experiencing a period of cooling prices. This is a welcome development for the Central Bank of Nigeria and offers more room to leave interest rates unchanged for the time being in an effort to stimulate economic growth.

USD on the rise after Fed taper steps

We wrote yesterday about how the FOMC Minutes would offer clues on when the bank might start tapering its bond purchases. Well, officials confirmed that inflation was now comfortably above their average 2% target and one or two more strong job reports will now be required for “substantial progress” to be made in the economy.

The Fed is still split on timing, but most members judged tapering could start this year. The minutes do not seem to set up a taper as early as next month. But the timetable is well within the consensus on Wall Street. This means with the bumper July payrolls already working their magic (and notably after these minutes), a solid August report could see a taper pathway announced at the September meeting.

Markets reacted quite modestly to the minutes initially. But this morning, dollar bulls are emboldened and have pushed to new long-term highs. The DXY breached the March top at 93.43 so a strong weekly close is probably needed to really rubber stamp the next leg higher for the greenback. Bulls will aim for last year’s November peak at 94.28, while long-term buyers may have the September high at 94.74. in their sights.

Oil sinking on broader market selloff

Commodities and oil have come under more pressure this morning with Brent off nearly 1% today and below $67. The spread of the Delta variant is clouding the demand picture. Output data from China also showed the least crude is being processed by Chinese refiners in 14 months. No doubt OPEC+ will be keeping their eye on prices and the demand side. The group recently left its forecasts unchanged and any rollback in the easing of production cuts could spark ire from the US.

Regarding technicals, May lows look like next major support at $64.60 with the 200-day moving average just below $64.

For more information, please visit: FXTM

Disclaimer: This written/visual material is comprised of personal opinions and ideas. The content should not be construed as containing any type of investment advice and/or a solicitation for any transactions. It does not imply an obligation to purchase investment services, nor does it guarantee or predict future performance. FXTM, its affiliates, agents, directors, officers or employees do not guarantee the accuracy, validity, timeliness or completeness of any information or data made available and assume no liability for any loss arising from any investment based on the same.

Written by Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM. on 19/08/2021

By Bolaji Israel

With an electrifying mix of pulsating musical performances, music training, glamorous fashion and life enriching entertainment, The Voice Nigeria 3 continues to dazzle to the very grand finale.

The fate of eight amazing music talents now lies with the viewers votes for a chance to fight for the grand prize as the world acclaimed music talents reality series, the Voice Nigeria 3 sponsored by FirstBank, Baba Ijebu and Airtel entered the much awaited Live Shows stage in Nigeria. The music show is produced by UN1TY Limited and Livespot360.

Out of the twelve talents that made it to the live shows, the four celebrity coaches cum judges only picked one each following spectacular performances, leaving eight badly in need of the voters life-lines.

The lucky four were Eazzie, Naomi Mac, Esther and Kitay while the highly gifted and promising Dapo, Kpee, Inioluwa, Nuel Ayo, Jeremiah, Toeseen, Anu and Tamara can now only be saved by the viewers votes by dialing *894*7*talent’s code#. More details of the show can be gotten via this link https://www.firstbanknigeria.com/the-voice-nigeria/

Fifteen weeks into the FirstBank- powered world-class show, eight outstanding talents had earlier emerged from the pack while viewers saved Toeseen, Jeremiah, Nuel Ayo and Tamara offering them an opportunity to perform at the live shows and raising the tally to twelve.

All four saved talents are now in need of a second chance as they are part of the eight that needs viewers votes again.
Meanwhile, all twelve talents had given their best with the performances of various songs at the live shows witnessed for the first time by not only judges but also a small audience.

It was team Waje that first opened the live show kicking off with a powerful singer, Eazzie in a vibrant performance of Omawumi’s “If You Ask Me” then Inioluwa with a soulful delivery of “Essence” by Wizkid featuring Tems followed by Nuel Ayo with an angelic delivery of Diamonds by Rihanna. Coach Waje chose Eazzie leaving Inioluwa and Nuel to the viewers vote.

Team Darey then took over the stage first with Esther who wowed the audience with a superb delivery of another Omawumi classic, “In the Music” followed by Jeremiah with a princely delivery of Teni’s Billionaire and the flamboyant Kpee in a different mode singing Roju by a Voice Nigeria alumni, Chike. At the end, Darey chose Esther, leaving Kpee and Jeremiah.

It was soon Team Yemi’s turn to dazzle with Toeseen performing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, then Kitay delivering an emotional Luther Vandross classic, “Dance with My father” followed by Anu’s rendition of “Feeling Good” by Nino Simone. Expectedly, Yemi saved Kitay.

Tamara’s rendition of Beyonce’s “Halo” ushered in Team Falz, followed by Dapo’s performance of John Legend ‘s classic, Ordinary People, and Naomi Mac’s delivery of John Legend’s revolutionary song, Glory. At the end, Naomi was saved by Falz, leaving Dapo and returnee Tamara to the viewers votes.

With an electrifying mix of pulsating musical performances, music training, glamorous fashion and life enriching entertainment, the The Voice Nigeria 3 continues to dazzle to the very grand finale.

Lead show sponsor, FirstBank in a statement by its Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney, reiterated that The Voice Nigeria 3 is a Reality TV show designed to discover and promote talented singers to actualise their dreams of becoming international stars which aligns with FirstBank’s commitment to providing a platform for nurturing and showcasing talents and driving social cohesion.

The Financial giant added that its support for The Voice Nigeria 3 is a demonstration of FirstBank’s commitment to contributing to the projected revenue of US$86m by 2021 from Nigeria’s music industry aimed at promoting a diversified economy in line with the Federal Government’s diversification policy.

FirstBank’s Sponsored Movie Ayinla Premieres In Lagos.


Ayinla Creative Movie
Ayinla Creative Movie

FirstBank of Nigeria Limited has announced its lead sponsorship of the movie titled ‘Ayinla’, which is billed to premiere on Sunday, 13 June 2020.

The movie is suspense-driven, narrating the life of Ayinla Yusuf, popularly known as Ayinla Omowura (an Apala musician), his rise to fame, his identity, the depth of his craft and music, and the basis for his relevance after his tragic death forty years ago as a result of a stab from his manager, Bayewu, during a bar fight on the 6th of May, 1980 in Abeokuta.

Ayinla is directed by multiple award-winning and globally acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker and director, Tunde Kelani, and produced by Jadesola Osiberu.

According to Tunde Kelani, filmmaker and founder, Mainframe Opomulero Productions,” the making of Ayinla allows us to throw a glance over our shoulders to our often-neglected intangible heritage. Nigeria is blessed with huge cultural diversity and locked away are thousands of stories we can share with a global audience.  FirstBank’s partnership with us at this stage is not a mere coincidence, owing to its over hundred years of historical contribution in unlocking the huge potentials in Nigeria which can offer continental and global audiences”.

With the sponsorship of similar socio-cultural initiatives in the creative arts industry like Moremi, Makaliki, Oba Esugbayi stage drama, October 1st (a movie) and the Calabar Festival. The Bank’s sponsorship of ‘Ayinla’ affirms the Bank’s support for the development of arts in Nigeria under its First@arts initiative.

First@arts is FirstBank’s platform for consolidating all its efforts in the arts, supporting the entire value chain of the creative arts, providing much-needed financing and advisory support, showcasing and facilitating the successes of the industry, and enabling customers to explore and access the wealth of opportunities the creative industry has to offer.

Achieving these and a host of many others have been implemented through strategic partnerships with organizations like the British Council, Duke of Shomolu Productions, Live Theatre Lagos, Freedom Park, Terra Kulture, and the Cross Rivers State Government (Calabar Festival), amongst many others.

Ayinla appeals to a multifaceted audience that cuts across fans of highlife and afrobeat music, the youth, and the elite Yoruba demography. It features some of Nollywood’s favorite stars including Adedimeji Lateef who played the role of Ayinla Omowura, Kunle Afolayan, Bimbo Ademoye, Mr. Macaroni, Omowunmi Dada, Ade Laoye, Jumoke Otedola, and Bimbo Manuel.

Speaking on the movie, Jadesola Osiberu, Movie Producer & Founder, Greoh Studios said, “Working with the great Tunde Kelani is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I am so glad that we were able to do it on a project like Ayinla. This collaboration was an interesting experience, and I am glad everyone finally gets to see the film we made in the cinemas nationwide from 18 June 2021. I’d like to thank the management of First Bank of Nigeria Limited for choosing to come on this journey with us.”

Expressing her delight on the movie, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank said; “For over 127 years, FirstBank has been at the forefront of nation-building; enabling Nigeria and Nigerians through resourceful partnerships to build the Nigerian creative industry value chain, especially the arts and entertainment sub-sectors.  We remain proud of this sponsorship that creates an excellent platform to showcase Nigeria to the world as being part of a collective goal to continually keep dreams and hope alive; holding strong to our commitment to reignite cultural heritage.”

“Without a doubt, the movie industry remains part of the creative and entertainment industry value-chain across the globe and indeed a powerful channel to drive our heritage and culture, which resonates with our legacy of being woven into the fabric of society.”

According to research disclosed in PWC’s recent Entertainment & Media Outlook report, Nigeria’s entertainment is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to a $10.5 billion market by the end of 2023. In addition, with this initiative and other sponsored event, FirstBank is committed to strengthening its contribution to the development of the entertainment industry in the country.


 NCC Commiserates With Board Chairman Over Loss Of Daughter

NCC Chairman, Prof Adeolu Akande
NCC Chairman, Prof Adeolu Akande

The Board, Management and entire staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) express grief and commiserate with the NCC Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Prof. Adeolu Akande over the loss of his daughter, Miss Feranmi Fasunle. 

Miss Fasunle, aged 19, was a promising 200-Level student of Political Science at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, who dreamt of reading Law as a second degree.

She died in the early hours of Thursday, May 13, 2021 at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State, following spirited efforts to save her. The Commission, therefore, expresses the heartfelt condolences of its Board, Management and entire staff over the sad development.

While we, at the Commission, identify with the entire family at this grieving period, we are, however, consoled by the fact that the young lady died pursuing an intellectual vision that would have added great value to humanity.

It is our solemn and collective prayer that God grant her eternal peace and give the entire family of our Chairman the grace and fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

Firstbank Unveils FIRSTSME Account, Restates Commitment To Continued Growth Of SMEs

Dr.-Adesola-Adeduntan, MD,  First Bank
Dr.-Adesola-Adeduntan, MD, First Bank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its SME specific accounts designed to rein for of the Bank’s role in putting SME’s at an advantage whilst contributing to national growth and development.

The SME accounts – which are in two variants – FirstSME Classic and FirstSME Deluxe – are offered to SMEs, irrespective of industry, and tailored to have SMEs exposed to a wide range of services and opportunities that are essential for their continued growth and role in contributing to national development. The advantages and features of these accounts include; access to Temporary OverDrafts (TODs) and other facilities subject to meeting Risk Adjustment Capital (RAC) of each product; immediate enrollment on all digital platform; free access to FirstBank SME events; free access to extensive business promotional and networking opportunities on the SMEConnect portal; access to a wide range of discounted and promotional offers

Amongst the many opportunities available to holders of FirstSME account is the SMEConnect initiative of FirstBank which is a platform through which SMEs access the Bank’s unique propositions that will equip them with the essential tools needed for the growth of their business. The SMEConnect portal is also designed to help SMEs identify various gaps that hinder their business growth. With FirstBank’s over 126 years of impacting the economy, the Bank’s SME innovative Business Diagnostics Tool will also help proffer tailored solutions, whilst creating avenues for business improvement, profitability and sustainability.

Following extensive research by the Bank, 7 strategic pillars have been considered essential for the sustainability and growth of SMEs. The 7 pillars – connect to infrastructure, connect to talent, capacity building, connect to policy and regulation, connect to resources, connect to market as well as connect to finance.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, “FirstBank is delighted to unlock several opportunities for SMEs to thrive. Our FirstSME account is one of the numerous opportunities designed to empower SMEs to continually drive impact as the backbone and contributors to employment and economic growth.

Being woven into the fabric of the society for close to 127 years means that we remain at the forefront of providing the desired financial products and services to fit the needs unique to the SMEs as well as facilitating the requisite tools and resources to efficiently and effectively drive business sustainability and expansion strategies essential to taking SMEs to the next level’’

Gov. Obiano Applauds AYAYA’s Contributions To Ananbra Socio-Economic Dev.

DAZAA DAZAA with one of the scholarship winners and Cornell Anazoba Ekwelum
DAZAA DAZAA with one of the scholarship winners and Cornell Anazoba Ekwelum
The Anambra State Governor,Willie Obiano has applauded the contributions of  AYAYA Carnival Ufuma,Orumba South LGA  for the socio-economic and cultural improvement of the state in the last ten years,saying that the carnival has helped to better the cultural capacity of the people with its entertainment value.

He called on other An amara roans to emulate the achievements of the organisers of the carnival as a way of leaving their foot-marks on the sands of time,maintaining that Anambra needs private contributions to uplift its economy as government can not do everything.

The Governor who was represented by Hon Ifenyinwa Obinabo, the Special Adviser to the Governor  on Public Orientation and Special Duties,stated that his government would continue to do all within its powers to encourage Anambra youths and others in its effort to better the situation on ground in the state. 

Other dignitaries that graced the occasion include the  SA to Governor,Hon Gozie Orji..Diaspora Lord on Culture,majority leader of the House of Assembly Anambra State, Hon, Emeka Aforka and his crew ,Cornell Anazoba Ekwelum, and some Nollywood actors and actresses.

According to a statement from the organisers “AYAYA Carnival Ufuma started in 2010, Powered by Dazaa International. We have witnessed 5 different venues since begining, but in the same town. We have tried AYAYA Carnival night party three times since we began, 2019 marked a new beginning of our Carnival night party .

“We have completed a comprehensive review and studies of showbusines.2020 AYAYA Carnival Ufuma was the beginning of our Talent Hunt Competition on sports, educational activities and international cultural exchange with 9 winners: From Primary and Secondary school students. They are getting 1 year educational Sponsorship (school fees)

“We are Proudly starting an online TV on our Talent Hunt  competition called “SELL Yourself “.We are to promote our Cultures, Traditions and Customs through this programmes 

“Finally, we have started KUDAMM Project, which is our permanent office/headquarters. KUDAMM Project is an International Events,Youths and Cultural Centre with multiple accommodations. We are thankful  for the wonderful support and understandings”from all manner of people over the last 10 years” We remain culturally yours”. 

Support Prof. Obiozor’s Leadership Of Ohaneze Ndigbo – Uko

Prof. George Obiozor
Prof. George Obiozor
Evang. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko , Secretary: Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) and Founder: Igbo Youth Movement( IYM) and as called on all Ndigbo to rally round the winner of the Owerri Ohaneze election, Professor George Obiozor and disassociate themselves from calls to embarrass the Igbos because of jostle for 2023 presidency.

According to him, time has come for the truth to be told. Those grovelling and grumbling characters should kindly shut up and rally round the winner of the Owerri election and stop embarrassing Ndigbo.

They must realise that Igbo masses are merely tolerating them and therefore, shouldn’t push their luck too far, he added.

“They ought to know that the only wise thing to do now is to place group interest above self interest and rally round Prof George Obiozor. Creating factions up and down and ruining the future of the younger generation in their insatiable greed for power, will definitely earn them the wrath of Igbo youths”. 

He said for close to five decades, Igbo elite and political class have unsuccessfully struggled to carry the masses of Ndigbo along in the quest for group identity in Nigeria. Reason: because, they have been trading away the rights and future of Ndigbo for peanuts and crumbs for decades,adding that  Ndigbo and Igboland have suffered a great deal of neglect and denial due to the greed and selfishness of Igbo leaders over the years. 

“Igbo elders and leadership cadre consistently bungled every opportunity to earn the trust of the people, by greedily placing their self interest over and above group interest. Early in this new year 2021, they have not disappointed. Same old song of greed and  endless internal squabbles .

According to him the election of officers into the Ohanaeze leadership,  has once again exposed the selfishness and self centered attitude of some Igbo political and contractor class, that is largely responsible for the abysmal performance of Ndigbo in the power play in the larger Nigerian playfield. 

Ukoh said failed politicians are creeping out of their crevices to aspire leading Ndigbo, probably after entering into discreet deals with their Northern masters,  all for 2023 elections. 

Said he :”First of all, all the sudden interest and bickering is purely about 2023 elections and not about the love of Ndigbo nor readiness or commitment to make sacrifices for Ndigbo. Secondly, most of the actors making noise are actually shameless vassals and agents of external political forces. 

“Lastly, they should be told in no uncertain terms, to shut up and stop disturbing the peace of Igboland forthwith, as nobody is fooled by their nauseating pretentious shenanigans. 

“Disturbing the peace of Igboland, bickering over Ohanaeze elections and splitting themselves into three factions of desperate political hustlers, is nauseating and a clear confirmation that they do not give a hoot about Igbo interest and Igbo unity.

“”For decades, over 80% of Ndigbo have remained disappointed with and suspicious of some Igbo leaders and their endless gambits, especially with the precarious condition of Ndigbo in Nigeria. Now same Igbo leaders who expect respect and support from the people, want to  break Ohanaeze into 3 factions. What example are they setting for their children? Sad. 

“It is disheartening to note that these elders seem unaware that the younger generation of Ndigbo are completely tired and frustrated with their self centered hustling that has brought Ndigbo only humiliation and disrespect. 

“Finally, nobody is begging them. They are rather, being ordered to shut up, if they know what is good for them and rally round the winner of the Owerri Ohanaeze elections, to prepare for the task ahead, unless of course they have been pretending all along about their South East Presidency Project and the restructuring agenda. 

“”They have wreaked enough havoc in Igboland, now they are gearing up to destroy the future of Igbo youths. They should take their time. They are trying hard to provoke Igbo youths, who are already seething with subdued anger. I may not be kind enough to warn the power mongers again. This statement serves as last warning.” 

Nigeria Reopens Four Of Its Land Borders

President Buhari
President Buhari
Nigeria has announced its decision to immediately reopen four of its land border crossing points shut about 17 months ago, thus ending weeks of speculations that the borders closed last year to curtail smuggling of light weapons and rice would be reopened before the end of the year.

The country had closed its land borders on August 19, last year as part of efforts to curb smuggling of rice and arms, which the government believed was a threat to efforts to enhance local production, security as well as improve state revenues through import duty

The Federal Executive Council FEC at its meeting Wednesday, approved the reopening of Seme border located on the South West, Illela and Maigatari border in the North West and Mfun in the South. The others will be reopened on December 31.

However, the government retains the restrictions on rice import and some other products.

The reopening of the borders is in line with last month’s ratification its membership of the African free-trade zone due to be launched in January, after initial reluctance to join the bloc for fear of exposing local industries to dumping by countries outside Africa.

Discussions to reopen Nigeria’s borders closed to the movement of goods have been going on for months. The government had insisted on levying duties on goods transiting the country through neighbouring nations to curb smuggling.

Meanwhile there have been speculations that the government would have no other option than to reopen the shut borders before the end of the year to pave the for the January 1, 2020 take off of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement ACfTA, which the country is a signatory to.  

NNPC Explains PHRC EPC Rehabilitation Contract Tender

NNPC Towers
NNPC Towers
The Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has condemned in the strongest term possible, the unwarranted attack on the well-conceived and appropriately articulated rehabilitation programme of the nation’s refineries by some nondescript characters under the questionable cognomen of “Buharites Solidarity Project” just to attract undue attention and relevance.

The group according to the NNPC in a publication attempted unsuccessfully to cast aspersion on the entire system in an unmistakable attempt at disrupting the ongoing process for the award of the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery.

The publication, the Corporation further stated reveal a poorly choreographed attempt to create a wedge of discord between the Management and Board of the NNPC by spewing a cocktail of illogical tales and obvious lies.

NNPC said it is of public knowledge that the Management of the Corporation under the able leadership of Mallam Mele Kyari has demonstrated an impeccable capacity for transparency and accountability in the operation of the National Oil Company.

Needless to highlight that the processes and procedures leading up to the bid cum tendering exercise for the award of the PHRC Rehabilitation EPC contract have not only remained in the realm of public scrutiny but have been heavily subjected to all statutory provisions as provided in the Public Procurement Act and with all relevant agencies of government carried along.

For the purpose of clarity and in deference to the over 200 million Nigerians who we regard as our shareholders, the insists it is necessary to provide a timeline of activities relating to the matter below:

The Corporation explained that on October, 2016, NNPC sought approval to engage Original Refinery Builders (ORB), JGC Corporation, to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) to optimal performance and commercial profitability.

JGC Corporation instead proposed a joint execution approach and thus nominated Messrs Tecnimont SpA Italy (TCM) as its representatives on the Rehabilitation project.
The submissions by the Messrs Technimont was extremely exorbitant as a result of that single sourcing strategy used. Therefore, NNPC sought and obtained Mr. President’s gracious approval on 22nd May, 2020, for the change of strategy from Original Refinery Builders (ORBs) to selective tendering of Global reputable Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) Companies including the ORBs to tender for the Refineries rehabilitation projects.
The NNPC Tenders Board (NTB) on Friday, 19th June, 2020 approved the shortlist of Thirty (30) Global Reputable EPC companies including the ORBs; ranked by a globally recognized resource tool of the Refining and Petrochemical Middle East for the selective tendering of the EPC phase of PHRC Rehabilitation Project.

At the deadline of bid submission, the NNPC Said only Ten (10) companies responded to the Prequalification Request out of which Messrs. Linde Engineering & Messrs. Chiyoda Corporation declined to participate in the tendering process, while Messrs. DAEWOO Engineering and Construction only indicated interest as a Sub-Contractor.
· Only seven (7) EPC Companies made submissions and their bids were virtually opened and endorsed via Microsoft Teams/Zoom on Friday, 24th July, 2020 in the presence of the bidders, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and other Internal NNPC stakeholders.
The bids were, thereafter, evaluated in line with the approved evaluation criteria by the approved evaluation sub-committee (inclusive of external Representative) from the 27th to 29th July 2020. A cut-off mark of 75% was required to progress to the next stage of the tendering process.

Subsequently NTB approved the 7 underlisted ( Prequalified bidders)EPC companies to progress to the technical/Unpriced and commercial.
TechnipFMC, Saipem, Marie Tecnimont, Hyundai Engineering Company Ltd, Petrofac,Tecnicas Reuinidas and Worley Parsons were listed.
A Certificate of “No objection” to the Contract strategy was requested for and obtained from BPP on 14th August 2020.
The Technical/Unpriced and priced commercial was published to the EPC companies on the 14th September 2020 with a bid closing deadline of 23rd November 2020.
A total of 4 EPC companies declined further participation arising from their inability to submit competitive tenders due to a variety of reasons including challenges with their sub-contractors, the COVID-19 and the tight bid submission period.
Meanwhile, following Clarification Meetings held with the bidders, the bid closing deadline was extended to 30th November 2020. Along the tendering process, 12 clarification requests were received from the bidders and responded to accordingly. However due to requests from the bidders for submission of alternative bids, the ITT document was amended to accommodate alternative bids and communicated to the bidders. Furthermore, the PHRC Technical Audit Report was shared to all the 7 EPC Companies as well.
At the bid submission deadline of 30th November 2020, only one company, Messrs Technimont, submitted a proposal for the Refinery Rehabilitation.
The submission of a proposal by just one company was considered not satisfactory by NNPC.

Hence the NNPC Management in line with the PPA 2007, approved the re-tender of the project to all the prequalified 7 EPC Companies with a bid submission deadline of 7 January, 2021 to enable NNPC have a competitive commercial offer; also to ensure transparency and fairness of the process and to all bidders.

From the foregoing, it could be seen that the insinuation that the entire contracting process was ‘dubious’ or ‘rigged in favour of Technimont’ was nothing but a figment of the imagination of the faceless ‘Buharites Solidarity Project’ which, clearly, lacks any understanding of the ongoing process and refused to educate themselves nor get an update on the current position of things; all in an attempt to malign the reputation of the Corporation and its able leadership.

The Corporation and its leadership will, however, not be deterred and will remain focused in the pursuit of excellence and taking the Corporation to greater heights, the NNPC added.