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Fuel Pump Price, Saudi Arabia and Grubby Arguments

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By Jerome-Mario Utomi

While waiting for the independence anniversary broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday morning October 1, 2020, I stumbled on a statement by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirate and Ruler of Dubai, where he stated thus:

God blessed UAE with a leadership of achievers, not egotists.

When we compare our development experience in the United Arab Emirates with others, we find that there are some leaders who destroy their countries, while others promote the status and prosperity of their people.

“Our leaders walk down the street without armoured cars and a large entourage of cars and motorcycles because they are not afraid of their people – they are one with them.

They feel and understand the pulse of the man in the street. With such a close and deep relationship between the leadership and the people, any decision taken by the former will be in the interest of the latter.

This is the basis of a true vision – it is in the interest of the people”. To be sure, I listened afterwards with real curiosity to Mr. President’s broadcast while reflecting on the above.

Placing  Al Maktoum words beside the content of Mr President’s broadcast enables one to understand more fully the essential ingredients of leadership foresights and objective.

At the end, not only did the analysis assisted me in understanding their priorities, but further clarified the age-long belief that the interest subjects take in their leader does not lie in the leader’s physical and intellectual abilities, but rather in what he can add to their lots in life’. Now, let’s be clear about what happened.

President Buhari during the broadcast, among other things, declared, in the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions. Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre.

A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point. Chad, which is an oil producing country, charges N362 per litre; Niger, also an oil producing country, sells a litre at N346. In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre.

Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia. Clearly, Buhari’s arguments are well understood but not without difficulties. 

And it will be naïve to proceed without spot incongruities while underlining his (Buhari) created ‘realities and the actual realities confronting the nation’.

To add context to the discourse, there is absolutely nothing wrong with comparing, admiring/copying other people/nation’s progress. Afterall, Tam-David West encouraged humanity to appreciate and admire the success of those who have really succeeded. And examples abound. First and very key, it is documented that before World War 11, Japan copied its corporate system from the West.

There were capitalists and labourers, haves and haves not. The big capitalists came into being in the late 19th century as a direct result of the Meiji government’s determination to catch up with the strong Western nations. Copying is by no means limited to Japan. When China discovered its potential to become a modern economy, it copied other nations by joining the World Trade Organisation, WTO.

Today, China has experienced a period of economic growth, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Its model blazes a new trail for other developing countries to copy and achieve modernisation as well as offers a new option for other countries which want to speed up their development. But there is a very big distinction to make.

In the present circumstance, there is a reason for concern that Mr. President’s recent comparison and inconsiderate declaration that it makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia, suggests that what the nation is experiencing is no longer the first half of a reoccuring cycle but rather the beginning of something new.

And if we fail to change this mindset, chances are that we may as a nation continue in this thought-system that allows poverty, powerlessness and economic stagnation to thrive. It rings apprehension that the nation will continue to face new challenges.

Indeed, when one critically examines Mr. President ‘comparative analysis’, which for yet to be identified reason(s) was silent on the steps Saudi leadership is taking to reduce cost of governance and improve the life chances of citizens, it again amplifies the claim by Nigerians that if our founders could see the current state of their generation’s handiwork and access the quality of the present administration, they would be amazed at what leadership has become in the country.

At this point, it is important to ask: what suddenly informed the choice of Saudi Arabia as benchmark for determining petrol pump price in Nigeria as against market forces earlier claimed by the Federal Government?

Has President Buhari forgotten that unlike Nigeria, small scale businesses in Saudi Arabia are not petrol-dependent for their daily operation and the masses not preoccupied with buying of fuels for their cars/vehicles as Saudi Arabia is blessed with stable electricity and efficient transportation network?

At the moment, this is what this piece is proposing. If we must copy, let the Federal Government of Nigeria first copy the fact that Saudi Arabia, going by reports is dotted with the following refineries (government and private), all producing in various installed capacities and replicate same here at home: Riyadh Refinery 120,000 bbl/d (19,000 m3/d); Rabigh Refinery, 400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d); Jeddah Refinery, 100,000 bbl/d (16,000 m3/d); Ras Tanura Refinery 550,000 bbl/d (87,000 m3/d); Yanbu’ Refinery, 225,000 bbl/d (35,800 m3/d); Yanbu’ Refinery (SAMREF) (Saudi Aramco/Exxon Mobil), 400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d); Jubail Refinery (SATORP) (Saudi Aramco/Total), 400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d); YASREF Refinery (Yanbu, KSA) (Saudi Aramco/Sinopec), 400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d);  Jazan Refinery (Saudi Aramco, opens 2016), 400,000 bbl/d (64,000 m3/d) and Jubail Refinery (SASREF) (Saudi Aramco/Shell), 305,000 bbl/d (48,500 m3/d). Again, as a country that had in the past met with challenges Nigeria still battles with, let Mr. President begin by asking Saudi Arabia how they are able to get the International Oil Companies, IOCs, to build refineries in the country.

And find out how their governments’ refineries function seamlessly, producing in their installed capacities unlike ours that gulp billions of Naira without result.

Most importantly, as part of the 60th Independence gift to Nigerians, the Federal Government urgently needs to understand why leaders in UAE can walk down the street without being afraid of their people instead of moving in  armoured cars and large convoys of cars and motorcycles as is the case in Nigeria. This is the crux of this piece.

Utomi, is a Lagos-based media consultant, could be reached on jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

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Fire Guts Minister’s Private Residence

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

The private residence of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister of State, Dr Mariya Mahmoud was completely razed down by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Reports suggest that nothing was salvaged from 9 Justice Roseline Ukeji Close, Asokoro, Abuja as fighters were said to have arrived late.

Media Aide to the minister Mr.

Austine Elemue said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

The Ag. Director, FCT Fire Service, Mr Amiola Adebayo confirmed the fire outbreak.

The Acting Director in a text message to our correspondent said the fire started around 10:40am on 7 Roseline Ukeji close, Mark Okoye Street, Asokoro, involving a 7-bedroom duplex.

He said household items on the upper floor including: beds, clothes, documents, credentials, jewelries and others like air-conditioners, roof were consumed.

 The fire service boss suspected electrical fault in the children room as the cause of the fire.

The fire was brought under control around 2:51pm. No life was lost.

This is the major fire incident in Abuja this year.

On Nov. 7, 2023, a section of the Canadian High Commission caught fire.

The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said a diesel tank explosion was responsible for the incident.

Two persons died in the incident while one other person was critically injured.

At the same time, one of the Samsung electronic retail stores in Abuja was gutted by fire.

The fire was said to have been caused by careless welding activities near a pile of empty combustible cartons.

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Northern Senators Jubilant as ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions on Niger Republic

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By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja

Northern Senators Forum has commended the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for lifting sanctions imposed on Niger Republic as a result of military takeover on July 26th, 2023.

Recall that the regional block had a fortnight ago, lifted the sanctions it imposed on the trio of Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso following military insurrections in their respective countries.

Reacting to the development, the northern senators forum yesterday in Abuja said that they were pleased to see that ECOWAS responded to the progressive requests “made by us individually and collectively on the subject matter and we commend their prudent and compassionate approach in addressing these critical issues”.

The spokesman of Northern Senators Forum, Senator Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (NNPP, Kano South) noted that the principled and empathetic decision made by ECOWAS to lift the sanctions on Niger Republic was a testament to the organization’s commitment to regional solidarity, cooperation, and respect for human rights, stressing that the action would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people of Niger Republic as well as ensuring the restoration of stability and economic prosperity in the region.

According to him, “We are particularly grateful that ECOWAS leaders have considered our pleas to restore electricity, open borders and lift the sanctions on Niger Republic.

“These measures will not only have crucial humanitarian implications but will also foster regional integration, trade, and cooperation.

“We firmly believe that this step taken by ECOWAS will positively impact the lives of the people of Niger Republic and Nigeria and facilitate the restoration of trust and harmony among all member states.

“As representatives of the people and advocates for justice and democracy, we commend ECOWAS for their responsiveness and understanding of the immense challenges faced by our fellow West African nation.

“The Northern Senators Forum stands in solidarity with ECOWAS in restoring democracy and rule of law in Niger Republic and other west African countries.

“And we are committed to working to promote stability, peace, and socio-economic development throughout the region.

“We urge the government of Niger Republic and its people to seize this opportunity to hasten the process of returning to democratic governance to build a stronger and more prosperous nation, harnessing their resilient spirit and unwavering determination.

“Furthermore, we urge all regional stakeholders to continue engaging in dialogue and pursuing peaceful solutions to address any remaining concern, fostering a harmonious environment for progress and development.

“Finally, we would like to reiterate our deep appreciation to ECOWAS leaders especially, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria for their proactive and benevolent intervention in lifting the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic.

“We are confident that this decision will leave an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of all West African nations and serve as a shining example for resolving differences through dialogue and diplomacy.”

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Edo 2024: Ighodalo Wins PDP Guber Ticket with 577 votes

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By Dasvid Torough, Abuja

All efforts to make the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in Edo State came to naught as two aspirants lay claim to victory on Thursday.

Dr Asue Ighodalo was announced the governorship candidate of the PDP for the Sept.

21 guber election.

The Chief Returning Officer and chairman of the Edo Governorship Primary election Committee, Gov.

Dada Lawal of Zamfara State, declared Ighodalo as winner after he garnered 577 votes to defeat six other aspirants.

The primary was co-chaired by Gov.

Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta

The governorship primary was held at the Lawn Tennis Court of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin.

The Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Anugbum Onuoha, led officials of INEC to monitor the process.

Ighodalo scored 577 votes to defeat other aspirants, including Deputy Gov. Philip Shaibu, who scored one vote.

In his acceptance speech, Ighodalo who thanked the delegates for the confidence reposed in him, promised prosperity for all Edo people.

He added that he would make deliberate efforts to tackle poverty and deliver good governance to the people.

Two former House of Representatives members, Mr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and Omosede Igbinedion, stepped down minutes before the primary.

The other aspirants Anslem Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Osaro Onaiwu and Arthur Esene, all scored zero vote.

Earlier, the State Chairman of PDP, Tony Aziegbemi who welcomed the Edo Governorship Primary Election Committee to the state, said the PDP was ready for the Sept. governorship election.

Aziegbemi said a total of 594 adhoc delegates were elected by party members.

Similarly,  the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu emerged factional candidate for the same election.

It was reported that Shaibu scored 3000 votes in a parallel primary election held at his residence on Commercial Avenue, Benin City.

The Returning Officer, Bartholomew Moses declared that Shaibu won with an overwhelming majority of votes.

It was said that some delegates who went to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium were denied entry.

These delegates returned to the deputy governor’s lodge for the primary election.

Shaibu reportedly addressed the delegates and advised them to remain peaceful, promising to speak with the primary electoral committee chairman.

It was later resolved that a parallel exercise should hold and Shaibu emerged candidate of the election.

Delegates from 12 local government areas reportedly elected Shaibu as the candidate.

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