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INVESTIGATING NIGERIA’S SUBSIDY REMOVAL QUAGMIRE AND DANGOTE’S REFINERY DEBACLE

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In the midst of dwindling revenues and skyrocketing subsidy costs, Nigeria has taken a bold step by removing fuel subsidies, igniting controversy and unrest among its population. Despite the opposition’s claims that subsidy removal will disproportionately affect the poor, the government’s redirection of funds towards crucial sectors such as health and education paints a promising picture for Nigeria’s future. The recent World Bank loan of almost a billion dollars for palliative measures may provide temporary relief, but it is not seen a sustainable solution.

However, the fate of the much-anticipated Dangote Refinery, meant to reduce Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products, remains uncertain as unforeseen technical difficulties delay its completion.

The Dangote Refinery, announced in 2013 with an initial $3.3bn loan deal with local and foreign banks to fund the construction, was expected to transform Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products and boost the country’s economy. With an initial completion date of 2018, the refinery was planned to produce enough refined petroleum to meet domestic needs and provide a surplus for export. However, the project has been plagued by continuous delays, attributed to factors such as lack of technical expertise, financial constraints, and poor project scoping.

Reports suggest that the Dangote Group is lobbying for an additional $3 billion cash injection, which could add to Nigeria’s debt burden and divert funds from more immediate solutions to the subsidy removal. Adding to the concerns surrounding the Dangote Refinery is the agreement between the Nigerian government and the Dangote Group. The Nigerian government in 2021 agreed to provide $2.7billion in cash-and-crude to the Dangote Group to fund the construction of the refinery in return for 20% equity. On December 1, 2021, the Federal Government through NNPC made a payment of $1.038billion in two tranches of $519.5million each to Lekki Refinery Funding Limited account with the beneficiary bank, representing the first cash portion of the deal, with the balance to be paid by the government upon completion of the project. This money was a loan from one of the international finance institutions to NNPC.

With the company missing out on interest payments due January 2023 of 750million dollars which is still yet to be paid despite being structured by the banks almost three times, the project is faced with a big dilemma – and with it, Nigeria’s hopes for the refinery.

As it stands, there is evidence to suggest that the Company has exceeded its single obligor limit with local Nigerian banks and no international bank is willing to extend funds to it. In addition, the company will need at least 3 billion dollars in addition to its annual interest payments of about 700million dollars to complete the project by 2025. Whilst there are already talks for a backdoor arrangement being proposed with the CBN to enable a commercial bank circumvent its single obligor limit to the company in order for it to raise further cash for it to pay its interest obligation of 750million dollars which have fallen due, such a move has been viewed cautiously by supporters and critics of the project alike.

These reports also suggest that the company unsuccessfully approached the outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari administration to release the remainder cash sum of 1.7billion dollars which was to have been paid upon completion of the project. According to these reports, President Buhari backtracked after further due diligence was done on the project which revealed that the project would not be completed before 2025 unlike the December 2022 date the company had promised at the time of signing the agreement.

As a result, intense pressure is now being mounted on the incoming government of Bola Tinubu to pay the remainder sum of $1.7billion dollars upon taking office as well as approve a new cash injection of 3billion dollars and crude for additional 20% equity in the project so the company can raise sufficient cash in the short term to pay outstanding interest costs and complete the project. This is premised on the fact that the new government has declared it wants to plug revenue gaps by removing the subsidy but the company has now given them the impression that the project will be completed by mid-2024 – which is far from the case. The incoming government must therefore be wary of yet another such lofty promise by the project owners as sources close to the Chinese company brought in to salvage the refinery project say a 2024 date is not feasible.

Should the incoming government go this route, it does nothing to solve the problems with the completion of the refinery, adds further unnecessary debt burden to the country and its citizens, and takes away money from critical and immediate solutions to the subsidy removal. Nigeria is already over-leveraged to the Dangote refinery project.

Many commentators believe that rather than relying on the uncertain completion of the Dangote Refinery, the Nigerian government should focus on the ongoing refurbishing exercise of its existing refineries. This strategy would not only provide a more reliable short-term palliative solution but also pave the way for a smoother transition from imported petroleum products. They should also encourage the modular refineries to ramp up production.

In addition, the Nigerian government should explore alternative strategies, such as investing in renewable energy sources, to reduce the nation’s reliance on imported petroleum products. This approach would provide long-term benefits to Nigeria’s economy and environment, while also fostering self-sufficiency in fuel production.

The removal of fuel subsidies offers Nigeria a unique opportunity to reassess its priorities and invest in a more sustainable future. By rejecting the new investment proposal for the Dangote refinery which has become an albatross whilst focusing on feasible alternative strategies, Nigeria can emerge stronger and more resilient in the face of global challenges. Can the incoming government afford to mortgage Nigeria’s scarce resources on a false hope? With billions of dollars and the country’s economy at stake, Nigeria cannot afford to pin all its hopes on the Dangote Refinery and even if the new government were to invest further in the project, there must be proper due diligence done before any investment is considered.

Sylvester Audu is a Writer and Social Justice Advocate writing from Abuja

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Society

Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye: Gathering Intelligence, Countering Terrorism and Restoring Security Confidence

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By Oladapo Sofowora 

 Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye, the Nigerian Army Chief of Defence Intelligence is not your run-on-the-mill military officer. He lives a very simple abstract life devoid of fanfare and does not love to blow his trumpet himself. Since his days as a junior officer in the Nigerian Army; Emmanuel has distinguished himself as a fine officer whose future was bright and crystal clear. He remained resilient and focused on his way to the top and didn’t expect a reward for any of his hard work. 
Undiandeye as the Commandant of the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, Kaduna State, and also as a member of the Troop Contributing Countries Working Group for developing the second edition of the United Nations Infantry Battalion Manual (UNIBAM) showed capacity and with his repertoire of knowledge and his dedication to work. Those who have had an opportunity to work with him have testified to the fact that; he is an angel in human form. He is a non-tribal Nigerian who cares less about your origin. But sees everyone as one and gives everyone under his command equal opportunity. He is always happy to see people under him thrive and soar higher.
The erstwhile boss he worked with confirmed that he is indeed a swizz knife that can function in a multi-dimensional way. Some say; he is a quiet but suave man who just wants to do his job and go without accolades but the good work and passion he has put into his job over the years made him singled out among his peers for elevation. Today, he didn’t just get to his position by fluke but rather by sheer dint of hard work and resilience believing in himself and his creator who rewards diligence and hard work.
 Today, the Bedia, Obudu LGA Calabar-born military man has continued to soar higher in his capacity as Chief of Defence intelligence. An avid team player; he believes in the ability to collaborate which has made his job easier and also the ability to work from the back seat not looking for any validation.
 Furthermore, Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye’s dedication to his role has led to the successful foiling of attacks and the arrest of adversaries threatening the integrity of Nigeria. His strategic use of intelligence, technology, and collaboration with other agencies has resulted in significant advancements in combating insurgency, economic sabotage, and other threats to the nation’s progress. While many are not aware of his giant strides; the proactive man has been at the forefront of the improvement of Nigeria’s security architecture. What many thought was hard in gathering intelligence; under his watch, he simplified it. Under his watch, the military has recorded high success in reducing insurgency, Oil and Gas theft, economic sabotage, and militancy among other menace standing against the growth of the country.
While many knew Military men to be tough and no-nonsense people, CDI is a very kind human who sees himself as an ordinary servant of the people rather than being a tyrant like many people see some men in uniform. He has openly condemned the conduct of some military officers who openly oppress civilians saying they are supposed to be good ambassadors and they owe their allegiance to the people. Despite his position; he has never failed to show his milk of kindness to his people. While many will desert their home town when in big positions; he rather committed to several projects that will benefit his hometown.
Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye’s approach to leadership emphasizes collaboration, compassion, and service to the community. He has shown remarkable kindness and generosity by initiating projects aimed at benefiting all sundry, such as renovating schools, and hospitals, and supporting communal development. His commitment to uplifting humanity and contributing to nation-building reflects a deep sense of responsibility and care for the well-being of others. He was also said to have handed scholarships to brilliant students and supported women in the community by providing basic amenities for communal survival. Those who are close to him have disclosed that he is a man who loathes the sight of people in distress; he is always ready to do everything within his power to bring succor.

Chief of Defence Intellegence; Emmanuel Parker Undiandeye

 His exemplary conduct and emphasis on integrity in the face of adversity set a positive example for others to follow. In the pursuit of his duties, Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye has remained steadfast in his commitment to professionalism and service to the people. He has consistently advocated for the respect and protection of civilians, illustrating his belief in the essential values of justice, fairness, and compassion. Despite his simplicity; some are taking it for cowardice but he has maintained composure in the face of provocation. Some of his cynics who didn’t want him to succeed have been sponsoring media campaigns to soil his good reputation using some section of the media. They have resorted to character assassination and casting aspersions on him but despite knowing those behind it; in his love for peace he has extended an olive branch to them to have a change of mind and desist from pulling down a man after God’s heart.
Despite all the campaigns Calumny; has continued to deliver in his primary assignment and his name soaring like wildfire despite staying out of media cynosure. Despite facing unwarranted criticism and attempts to tarnish his reputation, he has maintained his dedication to delivering on his responsibilities while displaying admirable resilience and composure. It is important to recognize and appreciate Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye’s contributions as an unsung hero in the quest to make Nigeria a haven. His unwavering commitment to strengthening security and protecting lives and properties has been invaluable to the nation. His remarkable leadership, integrity, and compassion serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for others to strive for excellence and service to humanity.

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OSSAP-TVEE, Ministry of Labour Signs MoU on Skill Development

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The Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Education (OSSAPTVEE) Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the development of skills among youths in the country.

The ceremony, which took place at the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Hon. Nkeiruka Chidubem Onyejeocha, was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Ismaila Abubakar, directors of the Ministry as well as the OSSAP-TVEE Team.

In her brief remarks before the signing ceremony, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Education, Madam AbiolaArogundade, expressed delight at the signing of the agreement describing it as a milestone in the collaborative development and upscaling of skills in Nigeria.

Madam Arogundade, who noted that the percentage of the high-skilled labour in the country currently is at the abysmal low of 15 percent, added that her office is currently engaged in  conducting  a skills mapping survey across the 36 states of the Federation to identify relevant skills required in the Job Market,  

She also pointed out that her office is in collaboration with the TETFUND and the National Bureau on Technical Education (NBTE) both to ensure adequate funding support for its programmes and the Certification of Vocational Skills beneficiaries for proper job placement, among other programmes currently being executed by the office.


Article 3 of the MoU,
requires the two bodies to collaborate to achieve an effective and efficient implementation of the President’s 8 point Agenda with respect to Job Creation by creating a descent and sustainable jobs per year to Nigerians, particularly the Youths and to work together to achieve the goals of Labour Employment and Empowerment Programme (LEEP).

This, according to the Article, include the creation of 2.5 million jobs annually especially in the area of vocational and entrepreneurship skills, collaborate among themselves on planning, execution and evaluation of LEEP by ensuring the effective utilization of the resources and expertise and to coordinate regular meetings and progress reports that will be scheduled to assess the achievements and challenges of the programme.

While Article 5 of the MoU also confers on the OSSAP-TVEE the responsibility of  conducting  a skills mapping survey to identify relevant skills required in the Job Market, the Offices agrees to develop a comprehensive curriculum aligned with the identified skills and to oversee the certification process as contained in Article 4  subsection 2 of the MoU.

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Society

FIRS Boss Zaccheus Adedeji, Seyi Tinubu , Aare Dele Momodu, Reuben Abati,.Princes Ganiyat Alli and others Honoured at the 4th South West Advancement Award and Investment Summit 2024

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The 4th Edition of South West Advancement Award and Investment Summit took place on Wednesday 12th June at the Prestigious Lagos Oriental Hotels Victoria Island coinciding with the Democracy day

Notable Personality such as Mr Seyi Tinubu Represented by the All Progressive Youth Leader Lagos State Dr Seriki Muritala Ishola, Dr Reuben Abati, Aare Dele Momodu Chairman Ovation Group ,were all honoured at the Event ,Ayaniwura Oodua Igbaye Princess Ganiyat Alli, Representative Of Zach Adedeji – Chairman Federal Inland Revenue service and His Excellency Senator Ademola Adeleke Executive Governor Osun state were specially honoured for their contribution to the growth of the region.

Other Awardees include Mr Femi Shoneye- Chief Corporate Communications Officer NNPC Limited, Amb Dr Mrs Tobiloba Awosoga- Chief Executive Officer OnileOnile Global services, Amb Dr Joel Adesokan-Chairman Into Group, Dr Bldr. Odegade Abdulhakeem-MD/CEO AkModels Group, Parallex Bank, Alhaji Olanrewaju Abdul-Hakeem Atilade
CEO Nottinghano Nigeria Limited, Princess Joylin Mateno Ohooro-CEO Mateno Authentic Designs, Mr Tolulope Joshua Oginni, Mr Fredrick Olunloyo Olonila, Prof Ojo Ademola and Others.

 

Keynote Speech was delivered by Mr Zaccheus Adedeji- Executive Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Service Represented by Mr. Jaiye Awokoya Special Adviser to Executive Chairman on South West Liason.

The Royal Father of the Day His Imperial Majesty The Ooni of Ife was represented by His Royal Majesty Oba Muraina Adebanjo Adedini -Asoya of Ile Isoya who. Commended the Organiser on behalf of the Ooni and promised to support them from time to time .

The Event features captivating performances and music interludes, The summit is designed to foster unity and development in the south west Region and the Award is designed to Appreciate Excellence , Accountability of an average yoruba Indigene doing well around the world.

The event also featured panelists Session with highly regarded personalities in business world Anchored by Ms Odunola Abayomi-CEO TOD Media, other Panelist Includes Amb Tosin Sanusi, Mr Abayomi Adewumi and Prince Joseph Eniola.

The Conveners Amb Desmond Femi Agboola and Amb Kingsley Tolu Agboola highlighted that the event was a huge success and pray for the best in the region

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