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Sahara Energy Denies Receiving N35 billion Subsidy Payment from NNPC

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

Managing Director of Sahara Energy, Alex Cole, yesterday, denied the company received N35 billion subsidy payment from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC).

Cole also denied paying $300 million dollars for the rehabilitation of refineries in its contract with the NNPC.

He said these when he appeared before the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee to probe subsidies from 2017 to 2021.

The committee, headed by Arc Ibrahim Aliyu, had queried the MD on the said subsidy sum which their investigation had revealed.

But Cole said, “At no point in time have we received any subsidy payment.

I was even going to ask if the amount you ask was in naira, because there is no naira subsidy that NNPC makes. We have not received from NNPC whatsoever for any subsidy whatsoever,” he said.

A member of the committee, Mark Gbillah, pointed out that according to the firm’s contract with the NNPC, it had paid $300 million for refinery rehabilitation.

But Cole said, “I am not aware of any payment for the refinery as the Honourable member mentioned.”

Gbillah probed, “You are not aware of that payment but it is in your contract. You are not aware of your contract? It is in your contract I have here that you are supposed to pay $300 million. I am really surprised. Do you really have all the information the company requires? I thought you said you are the CEO. Are you not familiar with the contract you entered into with the NNPC?”

Cole said he had the contract but was not aware of such payment.

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CBN Shakes Up Banking Sector: A Paradigm Shift Unveiled

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By Ademola Oyetunji 

In a surprising turn of events on Wednesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) dissolved the boards of three prominent commercial banks – Keystone, Polaris, and Union Bank. This move, although unanticipated, transpired despite the Central Bank’s recent endorsement of these banks’ financial soundness.

Governor Olayemi Cardoso, at his inaugural address during the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) annual dinner last year, had lauded Nigeria’s financial sector’s resilience in 2023.

Stress tests conducted on the banking industry indicated its strength under various economic scenarios. However, Cardoso highlighted the need for banks to reassess their responsible banking framework, a sentiment echoed by President Tinubu.

President Tinubu’s evident discontent with the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN triggered a comprehensive review of the financial system. A special investigator, Jim Obazee, was appointed to conduct a forensic investigation into Emefiele’s tenure, with damning revelations emerging. Recent developments suggest the initiation of a full-blown financial system reform.

The CBN’s dissolution announcement and the subsequent appointment of new executives for the affected banks, including Yetunde Oni, Mannir U. Ringim, Hassan Imam, Chioma A. Mang, Lawal M. Omokayode, and Chris Onyeka Ofikulu, might mark the beginning of implementing the investigation’s recommendations – a significant cleanup of the financial sector.

Allegations surfaced during the investigation, suggesting non-cooperation from some bank executives and Emefiele’s questionable acquisitions through proxies and cronies. Cardoso may have secured presidential approval for the CBN’s decisive action.

The CBN cited various infractions by the banks, including regulatory non-compliance, corporate governance failures, and activities threatening financial stability. Despite the challenges, the CBN assured the public of depositors’ fund safety and its commitment to upholding a safe, sound, and robust financial system.

The Special Investigator’s report revealed documents pointing to Emefiele’s involvement in Titan Trust Bank and Union Banks’ acquisitions with ill-gotten wealth. The CBN’s swift replacement of the ousted chief executives received widespread commendation, especially from high-net-worth stakeholders aiming to avert a crisis of confidence within the affected banks.

Adewale Aderounmu, an industrialist, applauded the CBN for implementing effective policies under Olayemi Cardoso’s leadership, despite detractors’ actions against the Naira. Ayomide Deepak, an Abuja-based stockbroker, welcomed the action but emphasized the need for caution in handling revelations from the investigation to prevent further economic challenges.

As the CBN wields its regulatory hammer on these banks, the hope is that other bank executives and investors will learn valuable lessons for the sake of the economy. The CBN’s action is perceived as a strategic move aimed at revitalizing the economy and financial system, not a mere vendetta.

*Ademola Oyetunji writes from Ibadan.

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Firm Blazes The Trail To Revolutionise  Nigeria’s Transport Sector

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Independent Capital, a visionary project finance firm has blazed the  trail in the country by championing green innovation and facilitating as well as  supporting green innovative projects in Nigeria.

This is coming on the heels of the plan by the Nigerian government to introduce gas-powered vehicles in the country as a fallout of the removal of fuel subsidies.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the firm, Dr.

George Nwangwu who announced this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, said it was aimed at  a transformative leap towards sustainable transportation in the country.

He said with the company’s fusion of financial expertise, a profound understanding of environmental and social impact, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions and  improving transportation quality, “the company aims to reshape the nation’s mobility landscape for a cleaner and more prosperous future”,adding that “it is charting new territories in the realm of sustainable finance by announcing ambitious plans that signify a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s approach to eco-friendly initiatives”.

Similarly, Nwangwu said, its strategic approach combines financial expertise with a profound understanding of environmental and social impact, positioning the firm as a catalyst for positive change in the country’s transportation sector.

He added that the  cornerstone of Independent Capital’s visionary plans involves the unbundling of its three-wheeler Electric Vehicle (e-trike) which signals a significant move towards eco-conscious mobility.

 The CEO further said that the company is committed  to establishing a robust network of solar-powered charging infrastructure to support the operations of its e-trike fleet as the  innovative strategy not only tackles the obstacles associated with adopting electric vehicles but  would also actively contribute to the establishment of a sustainable energy ecosystem.

“We are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions, alleviating congestion and improving the overall quality of transportation for the Nigerian population. Independent Capital aims to create a greener and more efficient transportation ecosystem that enhances the lives of individuals and contributes to a cleaner environment, “he noted.

According to the firm’s CEO, in response to the recent removal of fuel subsidies, the Nigerian market is experiencing a fundamental shift, creating an opportune moment for innovative solutions in the e-mobility sector which “Independent Capital is well-positioned to capitalize on this shift by introducing sustainable transportation alternatives that cater to the evolving needs of the market”.

Also, speaking, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of the company, Mr.Moses Saromi said “with the e-mobility sector undergoing significant developments, driven by environmental concerns, technological advancements and shifting government policies our firm is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of transportation in Nigeria,”

He revealed that  the demand for e-mobility solutions in Nigeria is projected to grow exponentially by 15% CAGR and thus, Independent Capital stands at the forefront of providing sustainable alternatives to traditional vehicles and that with  a focus on e-trikes, the company strategically positions itself to capture a significant share of the expanding market to  meet the diverse needs of individual consumers and delivery services to the Nigerian society.

He added that in  the pursuit of a cleaner and more efficient transportation ecosystem, Independent Capital remains a driving force in the nation’s journey towards a greener future.

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Dangote Refinery Port Facility Receives Maiden Crude Cargo

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Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals plant has purchased 1 million barrels of Agbami crude grade from Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited (STASCO), one of the largest trading companies in Nigeria as well as globally, trading over 8 million barrels of crude oil per day.

The STASCO cargo contained 1 million barrels from Agbami and sailed to Dangote Refinery’s Single Point Mooring (SPM) where it was discharged into the refinery’s crude oil tanks.

The maiden 1 million barrels, which represent the first phase of the 6 million barrels of crude oil to be supplied to Dangote Petroleum Refinery by a range of suppliers, should sustain the initial 350,000 barrels per day to be processed by the facility.

The next four cargoes will be supplied by the NNPC in two to three weeks and the final of the six cargoes will be supplied by ExxonMobil.

This supply will facilitate the initial run of the refinery as well as kick-start the production of diesel, aviation fuel, and LPG before subsequently progressing to the production of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

This latest development will play a pivotal role in alleviating the fuel supply challenges faced by Nigeria as well as the West African countries.

Designed for 100% Nigerian crude with the flexibility to process other crudes, the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Petroleum Refinery can process most African crude grades as well as Middle Eastern Arab Light and even US Light tight oil as well as crude from other countries.

Dangote Petroleum Refinery can meet 100% of the Nigeria’s requirement of all refined products, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and aviation jet, and also have surplus of each of these products for export.

The refinery was built to take crude through its two SPMs located 25 kilometres from the shore and to discharge petroleum products through three separate SPMs. In addition, the refinery has the capacity to load 2,900 trucks a day at its truck loading gantries.

Dangote Refinery has a self-sufficient marine facility with the ability to handle the largest vessel globally available. In addition, all products from the refinery will conform to Euro V specifications.

The refinery is designed to comply with US EPA, European emission norms, and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) emission/effluent norms as well as African Refiners and Distribution Association (ARDA) standards.

President of Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote stated: “We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone. This is an important achievement for our country as it demonstrates our ability to develop and deliver large capital projects. Our focus over the coming months is to ramp up the refinery to its full capacity. I look forward to the next significant milestone when we deliver the first batch of products to the Nigerian market.”

Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor stated: “We welcome the startup of a refinery that is designed to produce gasoline, diesel, and low-sulphur fuels for Nigeria and across West Africa and are happy to be enabling it.”

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