FG, US Explore Funding For Mining Projects In Nigeria

Mohammed Shosanya

Dr. Oladele Alake, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, and Geoffrey Pratt, United States Assistant Secretary for Energy and Natural Resources, have initiated talks on financing mining projects and infrastructures in Nigeria.

The talk was initiated on the sidelines of the Mines & Money conference in London.

The agreement entails the establishment of a joint team comprising officials from both countries to delve into financing options, extending credit to mining firms, and bolstering infrastructure in the mining sector.

Pratt’s visit to Alake was sequel to a prior meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, where Tinubu sought U.S. support for Nigeria’s economic revival.

He expressed the U.S.’s interest in becoming Nigeria’s preferred partner in developing the solid minerals sector.

He highlighted the U.S.’s encouragement of direct foreign investment through various institutions and laws and pledged to collaborate with Nigerian counterparts in framing the necessary framework.

Alake welcomed this initiative, stating that the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development has outlined a seven-point agenda as a roadmap to revitalize the sector.

The agenda includes the establishment of the new Solid Minerals Development Company, a revamped security architecture for mine operations’ safety, and extensive data generation to mitigate risks in the sector.

He emphasized that the credit facility and foreign direct investment promised by the U.S. align with the mutual interests of both nations.

He pointed out that minerals like lithium, crucial for clean energy globally and essential for manufacturing electric cars, make this collaboration significant.

Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Solid Minerals Fund, commended the U.S. for its investment in mining infrastructures in Central Africa.

She encouraged a similar partnership with the Fund, reinforcing the collaborative efforts between Nigeria and the United States in advancing the mining sector.

FG Owes NDDC N2trn

Mohammed Shosanya

The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Sam Ogbuku,says the interventionist agency is owed over N2 trillion naira.

Ogbuku,whi said this when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on NDDC, chaired by Hon Ibori-Suenu Erhiatake,said the is sum was the accumulation of 15 percent of the allocation of the nine states that make up the region, which is due to the Commission since 2000 but has never been paid.

He lamented that despite the passing of the 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets of the Commission, they were yet to get the funds till date.

He added: “I want to raise an important issue. When we talk about funding. The NDDC Act says the monthly allocation from the Federal Government is 15 percent of the allocation of nine states of the Niger Delta. But I can assure you that since the inception of the NDDC, it has not gotten that. The Federal Government only budgets what it wants to give to NDDC for that year and they give it that year. If you look at the 15 percent, we are not getting the 15 percent.

“Even with the removal of fuel subsidy and with the increment of states allocation NDDC is still where it is. So, these are issues we want you to help us resolve and we have done our calculation that from 2000 till date we can say we are being owed over N2 trillion from what is supposed to be due NDDC.”

Ogbuku said that despite fast-tracking the three-year budget of the Commission, they were yet to get the funds.

“We also came in at a point where NDDC never had a budget for 2021, 2022 and 2023. These budgets were before the National Assembly and we had to fast track the passage of those budgets and those budgets were eventually passed in April this year. However, since the budget was passed, it has not been handed over to us up till now. We would pray and plead with you to ensure that as fast as possible, you also facilitate the process for us to have the budget because the budget year is already coming to an end,” he said.

He also said due to the huge debt burden of the Commission, which was due to a malfunctioning of the system, they had to launch a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement in April this year, where private and public entities can also fund projects in the NDDC.

Chairman of the NDDC Board, Chiedu Ebie, assured that they would maintain the best of relationships with the committee and National Assembly.

He also promised that they would work as a team to ensure that the narrative of the commission is changed for the better.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon Ibori-Suenu Erhiatake, promised to look into the issues raised by the Commission, with a view to addressing them.

She said the committee wants to be able to work with the Board to achieve the goal of changing the narrative of the Niger Delta and the Commission to improve the lives and conditions of the people of the region.

She said every member of the committee is committed and ready to carry out their mandate effectively.

“It is very important we create a platform for synergy in implementation of these policies and programmes for the general benefit of Nigerians and especially the people of the Niger Delta. I assure you that this committee is willing and ready to partner with you to make sure that the dividends of democracy are brought to the region and the narratives that had been set by the previous board are changed for the better.

“On this note I would want to seek your cooperation as a board and to ensure that every information we get from you is what we can work with as a committee and that everything we do henceforth is in the discharge of our duties to our people.

“On the issue of the budget, we would look into and find out why it hasn’t been transmitted to the Commission. For the time frame I cannot really say, but now you have brought it to our attention, we would look into it.”

My Reappointment Renewed Challenge To Stabilize Nigeria’s Oil Industry -Kyari

Mohammed Shosanya

The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Malam Mele Kyari,has thanked stakeholders and Nigerians for their enthusiasm regarding his reappointment by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

He conveyed the gratitude in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday by Olufemi Soneye, NNPC Limited’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer.

Kyari,who views his reappointment as a renewed challenge,said the development will deepen his commitment to stabilize the oil industry and enhancing service delivery for increased revenue.

He implored stakeholders in the oil sector and fellow Nigerians to support the company under his leadership to ensure the success of its mandate.

He advised all parties concerned to refrain from issuing congratulatory messages on his reappointment.

He emphasized the necessity for all stakeholders’ commitment to drive revenue growth and fortify resilience for the naira and the economy.

CBN Directs Banks To Accept Old,Redesigned Naira Banknotes

Mohammed Shosanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),Wednesday directed all banks across the country to continue to issue and accept both the old and redesigned Naira notes, declaring that both monies remain legal tender in Nigeria.

A statement by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mrs.Sidi Ali, Hakama, which was issued to journalists on Wednesday, noted that the Supreme Court on Wednesday November 29, 2023, granting the prayer of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to extend the use of old Naira banknotes ad infinitum, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed all its branches to continue to issue and accept all denominations of Nigerian banknotes, old and re-designed, to and from deposit money banks (DMBs).

The statement said: “Following the order of the Supreme Court on Wednesday November 29, 2023, granting the prayer of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to extend the use of old Naira banknotes ad infinitum, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed all its branches to continue to issue and accept all denominations of Nigerian banknotes, old and re-designed, to and from deposit money banks (DMBs).

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Supreme Court ordered that the old versions of N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes shall continue to be legal tender, alongside the re-designed versions.

“Accordingly, in line with Section 20(5) of the CBN Act 2007, all banknotes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will continue to remain legal tender, indefinitely.

“Members of the public are enjoined to continue to accept all Naira banknotes (old or redesigned) for their day-to-day transactions and handle these banknotes with the utmost care, to safeguard and protect the lifecycle of the banknotes.

“Furthermore, the general public is encouraged to embrace alternative modes of payment. echannels, in order to reduce pressure on the use of physical cash”.

President Tinubu Presents N27.5trn 2024 Budget, Gives Job Creation, Investment Priority

Mohammed Shosanya

President Bola Tinubu Wednesday presented the 2024 National Budget, identifying national defence and internal security, job creation, macro-economic stability, investment environment optimization, human capital development, poverty reduction, and social security as some priority focus of the Appropriation Bill.

Speaking at a joint session of the National Assembly on the 2024 Federal budget proposal in Abuja on Wednesday, President Tinubu said the nation’s internal security architecture will be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities with a view to safeguarding lives, property, and investments across the country.

He said the proposed budget prioritizes human capital development, with particular attention to children, stressing that human capital remains the most critical resource for national development.

He said: “To improve the effectiveness of our budget performance, the government will focus on ensuring value for money, greater transparency, and accountability. In this regard, we will work more closely with development partners and the private sector.

“To address long-standing issues in the education sector, a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education will be implemented, including the Student Loan Scheme scheduled to become operational by January 2024,” the President affirmed.

Speaking on the economy,he said a stable macro-economic environment is crucial in his administration’s bid to catalyze private investment and accelerate economic growth; hence, his government shall continue to implement business and investment friendly measures for sustainable growth.

“We expect the economy to grow by a minimum of 3.76 percent, above the forecasted world average. Inflation is expected to moderate to 21.4 percent in 2024. In preparing the 2024 Budget, our primary objective has been to sustain our robust foundation for sustainable economic development. A critical focus of this budget and the medium-term expenditure framework is Nigeria’s commitment to a greener future.

“Emphasizing on the public-private partnerships, President Tinubu stated that the country has strategically made provisions to leverage private capital for big-ticket infrastructure projects in energy, transportation, and other sectors.

“This marks a critical step towards diversifying our energy mix, enhancing efficiency, and fostering the development of renewable energy sources. By allocating resources to support innovative and environmentally conscious initiatives, we aim to position Nigeria as a regional leader in the global movement towards clean and sustainable energy.

“As we approach the COP28 climate summit, a pivotal moment for global climate action, I have directed relevant government agencies to diligently work towards securing substantial funding commitments that will bolster Nigeria’s energy transition. It is imperative that we seize this opportunity to attract international partnerships and investments that align with our national goals. I call upon our representatives to engage proactively to showcase the strides we have made in the quest to create an enabling environment for sustainable energy projects.

“Together, we will strive for Nigeria to emerge from COP28 with tangible commitments, reinforcing our dedication to a future where energy is not only a catalyst for development but also a driver of environmental stewardship,” he said.

He also stated that a conservative oil price benchmark of 77.96 U.S. Dollars per barrel and a daily oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels per day were adopted after a careful review of global oil market trends, and that a Naira to U.S. Dollar exchange rate of 750 naira per U.S. Dollar was adopted for 2024 as well.

Giving breakdown of the 2024 Appropriation Bill, the President said, “An aggregate expenditure of 27.5 trillion naira is proposed for the Federal Government in 2024, of which the non-debt recurrent expenditure is 9.92 trillion naira while debt service is projected to be 8.25 trillion naira and capital expenditure is 8.7 trillion naira.

“Nigeria remains committed to meeting its debt obligations. Projected debt service is 45% of the expected total revenue.

“The budget deficit is projected at 9.18 trillion naira in 2024 or 3.88 percent of GDP. This is lower than the 13.78 trillion naira deficit recorded in 2023, which represented 6.11 percent of GDP. The deficit will be financed by new borrowings totaling 7.83 trillion naira, 298.49 billion naira from Privatization Proceeds, and 1.05 trillion naira draw down on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific development projects.”

The President, further assured of his administration’s commitment to a broad-based and shared economic prosperity, saying, “We are reviewing social investment programmes to enhance their implementation and effectiveness. In particular, the National Social Safety Net project will be expanded to provide targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households.”

He also said efforts will be made to further contain financial leakages through the effective implementation of key public financial management reforms.

He commended the patriotic resolve of the 10th National Assembly to collaborate with the Executive on the mission to renew the hope of Nigerians and deliver on the promises made to Africa’s largest population.

“As you consider the 2024 Budget estimates, we trust that the legislative review process will be conducted with a view to sustaining our desired return to a predictable January-December fiscal year. I have no doubt that you will be guided by the interest of all Nigerians. We must ensure that only projects and programs with equitable benefits are allowed into the 2024 Budget.

Additionally, only projects and programs that are in line with the sectoral mandates of MDAs and those which are capable of realizing the vision of our administration should be included in the budget,” the President declared.

In his earlier remarks,Senate President, Godswill Akpabio urged President Bola Tinubu to prevail on Heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies not to leave the shores of the country in the course of budget defence, noting that they would be needed to justify their budget estimates.

NUPRC Waves Olive Branch In Chevron, Communities Dispute

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), has waded into the dispute between Chevron Nigeria Limited and some communities within the company’s Warri exploration and production area, in Delta State, over the composition and naming of the Host Communities Trust Fund.

The agency’s action was conveyed in a statement by Mrs Olaide Shonola, Head Public Affairs and Communication Unit.

It noted that both parties in the dispute have been urged to maintain the peace pending the resolution of the matter.

The dispute between Chevron and the Ugbororo, Ugbegugun and Denbele communities in Warri South Local Government of the state on the other is over the naming of the host community trust fund established for the communities and the composition of its Board of Trustees.

People from the three communities were reported to have staged a protest in the Escravos Terminal area, accusing Chevron of going against the Petroleum Industry Act (2021).

According to the statement, at a meeting between the feuding parties on Tuesday at the NUPRC headquarters in Abuja, the Commission Chief Executive (CCE), Engr Gbenga Komolafe, urged them to maintain the status quo and ensure peace reigned in the operational area as the regulator was determined to ensure that the fit and proper thing is done immediately.

After listening to the submissions of the parties, Engr Komolafe, issued a regulatory position and directed Chevron on the resolution of the matter which must be implemented within two weeks.

He emphasized that the law which was very explicit on the matter in contention must be obeyed by all the parties concerned.

Among other directives, Komolafe called for the immediate convening of consultation meetings with the communities on the proper delineation and naming of the Fund in compliance with the PIA and the re-composition of the Board of Trustees in line with an earlier directive of the Commission.

The process which must be supervised by the Commission’s Warri Regional Office is expected to be finalised and the report sent to the Commission within two weeks.

Integral Communication Limited Boss Loses Mother

Mohammed Shosanya

Chief (Mrs.) Ifeoma Felicia Nkwocha,mother of the Managing Director of Integral Communications Nigeria Limited, Engr. Onyeka Nkwocha,is dead.

She died after a brief illness at the age of 67,the company’s General Manager,Mr.Ifeanyi Nihe,said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company will be closed for business on Tuesday, December 5; Thursday, December 7 and Friday, December 8, 2023,in hour of the deceased,Nihe said.

According to the statement,the service of songs will be on December 5 and December 7 while the interment will be on December 8 at the Late Chief R.O. Nkwocha’s compound, Uruogbo village Enugu-Ukwu in Anambra State.

“The thanksgiving service will be on December 10, 2023 at Emmanuel Anglican Church by Nkwo Market Enugu-Ukwu in Anambra State as indicated in the Funeral arrangements”,the statement.

The company added that,during the break,its company’s digital channels and social media platforms will remain available to attend to its customers’ urgent needs as it always try to serve them better at all times.

Integral communications Nig. Ltd is a company that specializes on sales and installation of mobile phones, computers (Laptops and Desktops), printers and copiers, Iphones, Phones, special gadgets, CCTV systems, intercom systems (PABX), Network Switches,Procurement etc.

The company was incorporated in August, 2005 and has since been offering the above mentioned services from its corporate headquarters at No 38 Old Aba, Rumuobiakani, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and its branches both in Rivers State and FTC.

Renowned for quality products and services, this has endeared to it numerous clients, ranging from walk-in clients to corporate organizations, cooperative societies, Federal government institutions,agencies and educational Institutions.

Bribery:Tin Can Island Customs Hands Over $54,330 To EFCC

Mohammed Shosanya

The Customs Area Controller of Tin Can Island Port Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, has reiterated the zero compromise for corruption stance of the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi.

He said this when he handed over $54,330 bribe money to Lagos Zonal Commander of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , Mr. Michael Wetkas.

The Tramadol were falsely declared as electrical appliances valued at over N856m with a view to conceal them while the cash were offered to compromise the customs officers,a statement said.

He said the act is in clear violation of Section 233 of Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCAA) 2023 and commended the officers who stood their grounds to work ethically and lawfully in the interest of national security

He further advocated the need for continuous compliance on the part of port users and reminded them that the NCS with the collaboration of sister agencies like EFCC will continue to frustrate criminal activities in the port

He thanked Comptroller Oloyede, who under his watch, this seizure was achieved and described him as a good example of the NCS.

He said the two suspects arrested in connection with the two containers are currently being investigated by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control for possible prosecution.

Receiving the cash,Mr. Michael Wekas,
described the feat as a victory for the country and to all the security agencies. He specifically celebrated the officers of the NCS that achieved it.

He also lauded the the Comptroller General for the letter of commendation in appreciation of the six customs officers who refused to bow to pressure and inducement from the owners of the illicit drugs.

He promised continued collaboration between the EFCC, NCS and sister agencies. According to him, the era of working without collaboration is gone as the agencies now work closer

FG Will Prioritize Metering,Distribution, Transmission Infrastructure -Adelabu

Mohammed Shosanya

The Federal Government will prioritize metering, distribution, and transmission infrastructure in the country’s power sector,Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu,has said.

The development will enhance electricity supply nationwide,he disclosed during the 3rd Roundtable on Enforcement of Technical Standards, Regulations, and Mandate of Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) .

He also highlighted the impending power sector strategy roadmap, emphasizing a bottom-up approach to prioritize impact over the previous top-down strategies.

He said:“We will focus on customers, down to distribution and transmission infrastructures in the short term, ensuring a significant portion of currently generated power reaches consumers.”

He assured that attention would be given to generation segment, particularly in Distributed Power (Embedded) from Renewable energy sources, while concurrently advancing baseload power through thermal and hydro plants in the medium to long term.

He emphasized regional energy potentials, citing Solar energy in the North, small hydro power plants in the Middle Belt and South West, hybridized with Solar for maximum output. Coastal cities were identified for wind energy utilization.

These strategies,he said,will be revealed after a forthcoming retreat with electricity value chain stakeholders.

He urged NEMSA to adapt to the decentralization of the sector, with state governments participating under the new Electricity Act of 2023. He assured NEMSA of support, acknowledging the increased responsibilities at both federal and state levels.

Highlighting the devolution of powers to states through the Electricity Act 2023, Adelabu stressed NEMSA’s role as the lead enforcer of technical and regulatory standards. He encouraged collective efforts towards achieving the government’s mandate for regular and sustainable power supply.

Engr. Tukur Tahil Aliyu, CEO of NEMSA, outlined the agency’s responsibilities under the Electricity Act 2023, including the endorsement of technical standards and regulations, inspection, testing, and certification of electricity installations and instruments.

Tinubu Seeks Reps Nod For $8.7bn, €100m External Loan

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,Tuesday wrote to the House of Representatives, seeking the approval for the Federal Government to borrow $ 8.699 billion and €100m in the 2022-2024 external borrowing plan.

The President also asked the House to grant him audience to present the proposed N27.5trillion budget for the 2024 financial year before a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

His requests were contained in two separate letters addressed to the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, who read the correspondences at the plenary on Tuesday.

He explained that the loans were intended to fund projects which cut across sectors, particularly infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management. among others.

He said: “I write with reference to above subject matter and to submit the attached Federal Government 2022-2024 external borrowing rolling plan for consideration and approval of the National Assembly to ensure optimum implementation of the budget.

“Honourable members of the lower chamber may wish to know that the past administration approved the 2022 -2024 borrowing plan at the Federal Executive Council held on 15 May, 2023”

He complained about the removal of fuel subsidy and its associated impact on Nigeria’s economy, African Development Bank and the World bank group have indicated interest in assisting the country to mitigate the impact with the sum of one billion USD and 1.5 billion USD respectively; in addition to the FEC approved 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan.

He said:Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of 8, 699, 168, 559 USD, and 100 million Euros.

“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluation as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation, skills acquisition, support towards the emergence of young entrepreneurs, poverty reduction and food security to improve the livelihood in all 36 states and the FCT.

“Considering the huge infrastructure deficit in the country and the enormous financial resources required to bridge the gap in funding infrastructure in the face of dwindling financial resources, it has become imperative that we resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap which will be largely be applied to key infrastructure projects including power, railway, health among others.

“Given the nature of these facilities and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary to request the House of Representatives to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibilities to Nigerians through expedient disbursement and efficient project implementation.

“I hereby forward the proposed 2022-2024 external borrowing plan and trust that it would receive judicious consideration and passage of the House of Representatives,” the letter read.

In the second letter, President Bolla Tinubu said: “May I crave the kind indulgence of the House of Representatives to grant me the …1100 hours on Wednesday, 29th November 2023, to formally present the 2024 appropriation bill to a joint session of the National Assembly. While I look forward to addressing the joint session, please accept Rt Hon Speaker, the assurances of my highest regard”