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Dangote Begins Sale of Diesel to Marketers Nationwide

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By Lubem Myaornyi, Abuja

Dangote Petroleum Refinery has commenced the sale of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) popularly known as diesel to oil marketers nationwide, dealers and officials of the plant confirmed yesterday.

The company pegged a minimum of one million litres of diesel per marketer.

The National President of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi stated, “The least volume a marketer can buy is one million litres.

Even now as I dropped the call someone was telling me they wanted to start.

“They started pumping out diesel to marketers since last week. They also promised to sell aviation fuel soon.

“Some of my members confirmed this to me after making purchase,” the National President IPMAN said.

He said this will crash diesel prices as the commodity rose to a high of about N1,700/litre recently.

According to Maigandi, “The price of diesel is going to fall because of the release of products from Dangote Refinery. In fact, it is already coming down in Lagos.”

Dangote Group Chief Communications Officer Anthony Chiejina did not confirm this.

However, a senior management official of the company confirmed the sale of diesel to marketers noting that petrol will also soon be released to the market.

The $20 billion worth Dangote Refinery has faced a series of hurdles as it strives to release refined products into the market after it was officially inaugurated by former President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2023.

On Feb. 8, indications emerged that lingering regulatory approvals stalled Dangote Petrochemical Refinery’s plan to release aviation fuel (Jet A1) and diesel for sale in the Nigerian market.

On Jan. 12, the company announced that it had commenced the production of AGO and aviation fuel.

Weeks after Jan. 31 timeline set by the management of refinery to begin the sale of its petroleum product in the local market, the refinery was still battling to cross the hurdles of the several layers of regulatory approvals.

It stated that the development came after the refinery began the production of refined petroleum products.

Aliko Dangote, in a statement issued by his firm at the time, thanked President Bola Tinubu for his support, encouragement, and thoughtful advice towards the actualisation of the project.

Dangote also thanked the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NMDPRA) and Nigerians for their support and belief in the historic project, as he revealed that the facility would pump out diesel and aviation fuel in Jan. subject to regulatory approvals.

The refinery, Africa’s largest with a nameplate capacity of 650,000 barrels per day, was built on a peninsula on the outskirts of the commercial capital Lagos.

Nigeria has for years relied on expensive imports for nearly all the fuel it consumes but the refinery is set to turn it into a net exporter of fuel to other West African countries in a huge potential shift of power and profit dynamics in the industry.

Located in the South-East of the Lekki Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, this colossal project covers an area of approximately 2,635 hectares which is six times the size of Victoria Island.

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PDP National Chairman Must Go, Angry Lawmakers Insist 

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

Political crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a new dimension yesterday after meeting of the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers loyal to the party’s Acting National Chairman, Umar Damagun and FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike attempted to pass a vote of confidence on Damagun but were blocked.

The meeting convened by the Leader of the Caucus and House Minority Leader, Hon.

Kingsley Chinda was held for about two hours at the National Assembly, Abuja ahead of Thursday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.

Last week, a group of 60 PDP federal lawmakers threatened to quit the party if the doctored list of Caretaker Committees in Rivers and 10 other states which was filled with members and loyalist of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is not nullified.

The group under the aegis of Opposition Lawmakers Coalition also demanded the resignation of the acting chairman of PDP to pave way for a north-central person to emerge as acting chairman of the party pending the conduct of convention as required by the party’s constitution.

Chinda said, “We have just concluded the third meeting of the People’s Democratic Party caucus in the 10th Assembly and have resolved to tell all of us and the world that we are united and we are one and remain united, indivisible, committed and out to perform its duty as the watchdog on behalf of the Nigerian people.

“In the same vein, we x-rayed the security situation in our country and we resolved that we can no longer take this situation where Nigeria is today almost tagged as one life, one minute silence.

“The government is therefore called upon to immediately take steps to ensure that the security situation in the country is normalized and the caucus have also given three-month ultimatum for government to normalize the security situation in our country.

“After three months, the caucus will take further steps to sensitize and mobilize Nigerians to perhaps take their security into their hands.

“The house of representatives caucus also agreed to call on all party caucuses, the board of trustees, national executive committee and the national working committee of the party to embark on reconciliatory measures with the view to resolve all litigations that are pending and that has hindered the party in anyway whatsoever from having a substantive national Chairman.

“We call on our leaders, leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party to continue to demonstrate unconditional loyalty to the party and ensure that the party is moved to abide or place where she enjoyed the position of the largest party in Africa and to take back the Aso Villa which is actually supposed to be our birth right. And so for us, we are going back as we resume the session to commence a strong, virile and purpose driven opposition to give the people a voice in the parliament.

“We call on our leaders in the PDP to continue to demonstrate unconditional loyalty to the party and ensure that the party reclaim her pride of place where she enjoys the position of the largest party in Africa and to take back the Aso Villa which actually supposed to be our birth right.

“For us, we are going back as we resume the session to commence a strong, virile and purpose driven opposition to give the people a voice in the parliament. We also called on the Senate Leadership to please take steps to recall our colleague and senior brother, a veteran politician, a parliamentarian per excellence, Abdul Ningi.”

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FG to Strengthen Agric Dev’t through Land-Based Investment

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Federal Government has reiterated its commitments to adopting responsible and inclusive land-based investment principles in the agricultural Sector.

To this end, the State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) Programme, is poised to reward States with over US$4.

5 million each for successfully setting up the requisite Governance Systems, Guidelines and Piloting Investment(s) in line with Established Principles.

The National Programme Coordinator, SABER Programme, Dr. Ali Mohammed noted that “This reform will also strategically position your States for local and Foreign Investment, hence, creating more jobs and eventually, propel the much desired Economic Growth”.

The National Programme Coordinator, SABER Programme disclosed this at the commencement of a workshop on the Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land-Intensive Agriculture (FRILIA) being jointly organized for Sub-nationals by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in Abuja.

The SABER Programme is a three-year (2023-2025) US$750m program for results that seeks to incentivize States to implement critical reforms aimed at improving (1) efficiency in land administration (2) the regulatory framework for private investment in fiber optic deployment (3) services provided by investment promotion agencies and public private partnership units and (4) the efficiency and transparency of government to business services in participating States.

Disbursements will be on-lent to the States upon annual verification by an Independent Verification Agent (IVA) that a State has successfully implemented the associated reform. FRILIA is one of the many reforms advocated by the program.

Dr. Mohammed lamented that although food production has been increasing steadily, attaining Food Security remains a major challenge noting that while the government has intervened in terms of making financing and inputs available, more systemic issues around land administration and compliance with best practice standards remain an issue.

“As we seek out increased investment in the Sector, we must ensure that impediments to doing business are removed and that investors adhere to principles and guidelines that safeguard the rights of host communities.

“They should also employ operating models that have the least impact on livelihood and the environment. It is our belief that the Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land-Intensive Agriculture (FRILIA) provides the roadmap for attaining these objectives”.

The National Programme Coordinator further disclosed that in order to provide the right enabling environment, the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) through the World Bank-assisted SABER Program, has engaged the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to assist in providing a suite of technical assistance services including Advisory, Guidelines, Peer Learning Sessions and Technical Workshops.

In his remarks earlier, the Director General of NGF, Mr. Asishana Okauru disclosed that under SABER Programme, NGF is working collaboratively with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the World Bank to deliver advisory and capacity building support to States.

Okauru observed that Land-based investment in Nigeria has been marred by various challenges ranging from lack of clarity on governance mechanisms; weak administrative support systems for stakeholders; poor data; little or no recognition for inclusion, gender equality and cultural values; poor engagement with host community; disproportionate compensation and resettlement for persons displaced.

“These have impacted negatively on the cost of doing business, agriculture value chain, livelihood, environment and ultimately, economic development”.

To address these challenges, the Director General emphasized that State Governments seeking out investment for intensive Land-based agriculture, must think through strengthening their governance and administrative systems by ensuring that issues of inclusion, gender equality, fair compensation, environmental as well as social sustainability are prioritized, and that established guidelines thereof are adhered to by all stakeholders.

He recalled that in 2021, the NGF in collaboration with the World Bank convened the first Sub-national dialogue on the adoption of a Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land-Intensive Agriculture (FRILIA). This will facilitate experience sharing from front-runners such as Kaduna and Ogun States which have since then set-up governance systems and guidelines for implementation.

Also in 2023, the Forum had similarly supported 7 States (Borno, Edo, Ekiti, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger and Zamfara) with the development of an Executive Order mandating the adoption of FRILIA.

According to him, the model Executive Order being advocated by NGF sets out in-part the governance and administrative mechanisms, commitment to international and proven principles that guarantee recognition, respect and protection of land and human rights.

“It also outlines commitment to ensuring inclusion and gender equality, environmental and social sustainability, food security, responsible natural resource management amongst others”.

Okauru also thanked the World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Finance for their continued support and collaboration in advancing reforms for sub-national development.

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Kaduna Assembly Probes Loans Obtained by El-Rufai Administration

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By Lubem Myaornyi

Kaduna State House of Assembly yesterday set up a 13-man committee to probe financial dealings, loans, grants and other project implementations from 2015-2023 under former Governor Nasir El-Rufai administration.

The House also mandated the committee to invite notable personalities that served during the period, including contractors to show how the loans and grants received during the period under review were spent.

The constitution of the adhoc committee followed a motion by member representing Kaura Constituency, Hon.

Yusuf Mugu.

Mugu said it was a matter of public importance that the loans borrowed by former Governor Nasir El-Rufai be investigated arguing that there is a need for the people of the state to know what the loans were used for.

He said, “There have been uncomplimentary comments and assassination of character on the leadership of the state, which the assembly cannot sit and watch.

“That is why I came up with this motion that the Speaker constitute a committee to investigate the allegations and negative comments on them.

“This is the only way the state can rekindle its confidence in its development partners, collaborators, and also those who give us loans and grants. Failure to do this will push the indicators of the state to a situation whereby nobody will want to do business with us.”

Speaking on the matter, former Speaker Yusuf Zailani noted that he denied approval of some of the loans but the governor still found his way.

Zailani who represents Igabi West constituency said, “I suffered a lot in order not to give approval for the loan to be collected.

“Even the then Deputy Speaker, Isaac Auta Zankhai was against me because I disagreed with the loan to be collected. I told the former governor to look at the number of loans we had on hand and he didn’t listen to me.”

Samuel Kambai and Henry Marah representing Zangon Kataf and Jaba constituencies respectively explained that the duty of the legislators is to give approval before the governor goes ahead to collect loans but in Kaduna the case was different.

Speaker Yusuf Dahiru Liman, who presided over the plenary session, urged the ad hoc committee to invite the Speakers of the 8th and 9th assemblies and all other relevant stakeholders and agencies for investigation.

He assured the House that the matter will be properly looked into, saying they will give everyone the liberty to speak the truth.

He said, “We just want to analyze the last administration’s spendings so that we can stand with our shoulders high by the time we finish from the Assembly.

“We do not want anyone to call us rubber stamp legislators. We’re not going to do this investigation to ridicule anybody but we’ll do the right thing.”

The House however unanimously requested to hand over notes given to incumbent Governor Uba Sani by the previous administration so that it would guide the committee.

The 13-man committee includes: Aminu Anti, representing Doka Gabasawa as Chairman; Yusuf Mugu Kaura as Deputy Chairman; Munira Tanimu; Shehu Yunusa as members and nine others.

The panel was mandated to investigate El-Rufai’s top associate and senior counsellor on investment, Jimi Lawal.

The Assembly also mandated the committee to invite notable personalities, including the former speakers of the 8th and 9th Assembly, commissioners of finance, former managing directors of Kaduna markets, and commissioners of budget and planning, among others.

Governor Sani, during a town hall meeting with stakeholders said the huge debts he inherited from El-Rufai were making it difficult for him to pay salaries as well as carry out projects.

Sani said his administration inherited a huge debt burden of $587 million, N85 billion, and 115 contractual liabilities from his predecessor.

This revelation generated cracks in the Kaduna chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The governor lamented that the state was left with N3 billion, an amount he said was not enough to pay salaries, as the state’s monthly salary bill stood at N5.2 billion.El-Rufai’s son accused the governor of incompetence but the former governor refrained from public comment.

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