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Buhari Hails NLNG As NNPC Reviews Activities

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GMD NNPC, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) held its head high as it commenced activities for the week following commendation from President Muhammadu Buhari for rallying shareholders to make Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) a company to reckon with.

Buhari who is also the Minister of Petroleum Resources gave the commendation at the groundbreaking of the NLNG Train 7.

He said that the NLNG had always been associated with success and had become a global company.

“The NLNG Train 7 represents another historic milestone in the history of NLNG. NLNG story has been associated with success,” he said.

The president also said that the NLNG had contributed 114billion dollars in taxes to Nigeria, and tthat with NLNG Train 7, there would be more jobs that would touch the lives of everyone particularly the host community.

He expressed joy how the NLNG had transformed from just a project to a very successful company in about 30 years.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, urged all shareholders to work hard to ensure the successful completion of the project which he said would boost government’s efforts to make Nigeria a fully industrialised nation.

Sylva also said the project would help the nation’s gas development aspiration.

Malam Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD), NNPC, said at the groundbreaking that there was consensus among shareholders and board members to take the next step towards providing additional capacity which should be greater than what was on ground.

The NNPC GMD thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his quick intervention which ensured the eradication of all pre-existing stumbling blocks on the path of NLNG Train 7 project.

Also in the week under review, Minister of State for Petroleum, Sylva commended President Buhari at a ceremony to mark the execution of Shareholders Agreement between the NNPC, the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Zed Energy.

The agreement signed was for the establishment of a 50 million litres of Petroleum Products Terminal in Brass, Bayelsa State, for his giant strides in the Niger Delta which were making huge impact on the people of the area.

Sylva said the N10.5 billion Brass Petroleum Products Terminal project was expected to deliver an automated 50-million-litre depot with two-way product jetty and an automated loading bay.

He added that the project would deliver six automated tanks for storage of 30 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and 20 million litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) as well as Dual-Purpose Kerosene (DPK).

Speaking after signing the agreement, Kyari, NNPC GMD, said the Corporation was proud to be part of the project which aside ensuring products availability in all nooks and crannies of Niger Delta would also guarantee the nation’s energy security.

Kyari also said the project would generate employment.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote said the milestone recorded was as a result of strong interagency collaboration and public-private sector partnership.

“The NCDMB will continue to drive such partnerships across the industry to bring development in Nigeria,” he noted.

Earlier, the Coordinator of the Project and Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr Bala Wunti stated that the project would enhance the economics of marine petroleum products distribution.

Still in the Week under review, the NNPC GMD, Kyari expressed delight at lawmakers’ readiness to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the end of June 2021, to bring fiscal stability to the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

Kyari said the passage of the bill would help to address a litany of challenges facing the nation’s oil and gas industry, noting that it was a piece of legislation that would change the fortunes of Nigeria’s economy.

He added that Nigeria, as a hydrocarbon resource dependent nation required much revenue from today’s oil to develop gas infrastructure for its energy transition.

On revenue generation, the House of Representatives Committee on Upstream expressed its readiness to continue to forge closer ties with the NNPC in order to grow the nation’s revenue for the interest of all Nigerians.

Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Musa Adar, made this known during an oversight visit of the Committee to one of NNPC’s Corporate Services Unit, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) in Lagos.

He commended NAPIMS for the cordial working relationship and assured that the Committee would sustain the visit to foster development of the country.

Mr Bala Wunti, Group General Manager, NAPIMS, assured that the Corporation would work with the National Assembly and all other relevant stakeholders to ensure that her operations remained visible to all.

Wunti said this would be achieved in line with the current management Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) drive.

In the meantime, Mrs Betty Ugona, Chief Innovation Officer, Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) a corporate services unit of the NNPC said that energy transition remained key to the Corporation’s sustainable business approach.

Ugona identified energy transition as viable and sustainable business approach for the NNPC in its strategic business plans in order to remain a going concern.

She said the Corporation established the Business Unit of RTI in March 2020 in order to remain relevant and competitive in the global energy mix.

She also explained that RTI was spearheading the drive by the NNPC to reposition itself as an energy company of global excellence through its core aspects of Research, Business efficiency and innovation.

Also in the week under review, the Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD), Sir Billy Okoye, and the Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Engr. Ahmed Dikko, were honoured by the Democracy Heroes Award Africa.

While Sir Okoye was honoured with the Best Administrator of the Year Award, Engr. Dikko was honoured with the Most Innovative Public Servant of the Year Award.

The honour bestowed on them at the group’s 9th edition of the awards aimed was for the various outstanding roles they played in the growth of the oil and gas sector and the country.

It was also to recognise Nigerians, who have contributed immensely to the sustenance of the nation’s democracy,

Receiving the award Okoye advocated the culture of having firm belief in the Nigerian project, saying, “Nigeria is a great country and as Nigerians, we must make this country greater”.

On his part, the Managing Director of PHRC, Dikko, expressed delight for being the winner of “Most Innovative Public Servant of the Year Award”.

He said that the award would spur his team to put in more effort towards delivering the Port Harcourt Refinery rehabilitation project in good time.

Commenting on criteria of selection, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Democracy Heroes Award Africa, Mr Olufunso Ajagbonna, pointed out that the honour was based on merit through public votes.

The NNPC Advance Leadership Programme Class 094 lifted School of the Blind in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with Braille Machine, Typewriters and Food items as part of its Cooperate Social Responsibility.

Mr Akpan Nkereuwem, President of the class, said the class was able to locate the FCT School of the Blind and found it deserving of the token of support because the Class 094 was also known as “The Eagle”.

Some members of the class also gave monetary donations to support one of the students, Lucky Pastor, who authored a book entitled “Braving the Storm: Rebranding the Mind”.

The headmistress of the school, Mrs Rose Uganden, thanked members of the Class for their generous donations to the school and urged them to continue to support the children.

A member of the class, Mr. Ogbonnaya Kalu spoke on their behalf.

The head boy of the school, Joseph David, also expressed gratitude to “The Eagles” for their kind gesture.

What you need to know about NLNGThe Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited was established in 1989 and did her first shipment abroad in 1999.

It has contributed 114 billion taxes to the Nation’s economy.

The NLNG Train 7 will attract 12 billion dollars Foreign Direct Investment and will create 10,000 jobs.

It will also help the Local content capacity development as 55 per cent of the project needed will be done locally in Nigeria and 49 per cent of installation will also happen in Nigeria.

It is the most successful business model in Africa.

Economy

Lawmakers, Bank Row over Alleged $30billion Forex Leakage

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The Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Finance is probing financial institutions in the country over alleged N30bn leakages in foreign exchange.

On Monday, the James Faleke-led committee grilled officials of Citibank over the alleged non-remittance of collections from Value Added Tax and withholding tax.

Among the allegations against Citibank by the committee were outstanding VAT collectibles on known Form A bank transfers by customers ($463, 778, 150), foreign exchange leakage on form A transactions filed with the Central Bank of Nigeria as taxation services but not traced to the Federal Inland Revenue Service collection platforms ($171, 256, 297).

The Executive Director, Operations and Technology, Citibank, Ngozi Omoke-Enyi, however, absolved her outfit of any blame on the basis that it acted within the confines of the foreign exchange monitoring and miscellaneous provision regulations.

Insisting that a lot of transactions that were documented or mentioned do not attract withholding tax or VAT, se said, “It is in the light of this that we have reviewed all the allegations and the transactions mentioned in the report sent to us, and we want to affirm again that we were not in any way contravening of any of the guidelines in the Act or in the foreign exchange manual.”

The committee also pointed at dividend transfers in excess of capital importation on equity without payment of withholding tax ($3,027,298,192), transfers for dividend repatriations with no evidence of capital importation, either foreign equity and payment of withholding tax ($305,725,840) and foreign transfers for principal loan repayment and interest payment in excess of capital importation loan without payment of withholding tax on interest in ($110,635,050).

It also referred to foreign exchange on Form A transfer payment filed with the committee but not traced to CBN returns without payment of taxes ($510,816,573), foreign transfer payment by customers to other bank accounts without Form A documentation ($30,720,856, 807) and foreign exchange purchased from oil export process yet to be accounted for in the foreign sales voucher ($132,878,000).

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IoD Holds 37th AGM, Sees Nigeria on Path to Become Stronger Through Diversification from Oil

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The Institute of Directors (IoD) has expressed confidence that the current administration’s efforts in Nigeria at diversification of the economy from oil exports gives hope of the country becoming a stronger nation.

Chief Chris Okunowo, IoD President, made the assertion at the Institute’s 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM) which held physically and virtually on Thursday in Lagos

Okunowo said that government’s implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (2021-2025) emphasised the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy and ensure growth in non-oil exports.

He said the move implied that Nigeria was showing what recovery could mean for countries that had been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant economic and security crises.

“We expect that as the government focuses on building an enduring business environment through renewable capacity, women and youth empowerment, climate-smart agriculture and overall economic diversification, we can be hopeful for a Nigeria that is on the path to becoming a strong nation,” he said.

Okunowo stated that the pandemic presented an opportunity to reset Nigeria’s economy by consolidating on the ongoing reforms related to the removal of fuel and electricity subsidies and a massive programme on harmonisation of citizen’s data.

“Others include implementation of security reforms and sanitising the business environment, which are crucial to attracting investment into critical sectors of the economy.

“State governments must be encouraged to explore and exploit the opportunities and resources in their respective states.

“Stronger development cooperation, supporting efforts to contain the pandemic and extending economic and financial assistance to countries hardest hit by the crisis, will remain critical for accelerating recovery and putting the world back on the trajectory of sustainable development.

“The urgency of these reforms must be prioritised going into the next decade,” he said.

On corporate governance and ethics, the IoD President noted that the emergence of the pandemic presented the need for new regulatory frameworks to deal with the hitherto unconventional issues of modern-day business environment.

Some of which, he said, include health emergency situations that have inherent commercial risks and impact on businesses and corporate governance obligations.

Okunowo noted that given the growing concern for global environmental issues and the need to preserve the ecosystems, governance via sustainability reporting had become more important to developed and developing economies.

“At both continental and global levels, the fight against unethical practices and poor governance has continued to receive attention.

“And Nigeria has not been left out of these efforts to entrench best practices in the directorship and management of companies, organisations and institutions.

“With the renewed zeal of private sector organisations like IoD Nigeria, government has had no choice but to hearken to the voice of reason and put in place stricter policies to maintain corporate Nigeria’s integrity.

“It is worthy of note that because of this, the 2018 Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance, came into practice in January 2019.

“While corporate financial reporting, based on the provisions and related guidelines of the code, took effect from Jan. 1, 2020.

“Government and other key agencies like the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, (NSE) have had to release several guidelines in the course of 2020 and part of 2021.

 “As an Institute, during the year under review, we pushed for advocacy for sound corporate governance practice in key sectors of the economy.

“This was done through our position papers, advocacy programmes; particularly on the CAMA Bill and, later, the CAMA 2020 Act, and we paid advocacy visits to relevant organisations,” he said.

Okunowo described the achievements  of his tenure which would end soon as the product of collective efforts.

He listed some of the achievements under his leadership to include launch of the Young Directors Forum, creation of the Directors’ handbook, IoD House development and system automation of the secretariat, among others.

 “I am also pleased to note that loD Nigeria has continued to be increasingly relevant, as it plays more prominent and leading roles in the Nigerian business community.

 “We owe our past leaders a debt of gratitude, and I think their legacies and achievements will be best preserved, if we all continue to join hands to maintain an enduring institution that conforms to best global standards.

“Recognising that institutions are the long shadows of those who run them.

“loD Nigeria, in acknowledgment of the importance of upscaling, expanding and deepening the skills and knowledge of those that manage Nigeria’s top organisations, unfolded a five-year strategic programme in 2017 themed “Agenda of Reform and Progress.”

“I enjoin us all to be more optimistic about our reinvigorated role in upscaling the standards of our current level of performance and as the bastion and voice of ethics and corporate governance in the public and private sectors,” he said.

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Economy

Trade Expert Calls for Increased Investments in AfCFTA to Boost African Economy

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There have been calls for more investments in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to boost the African economy.

At a recent virtual conference organised by the African Public Relations Association (APRA), an expert on trade and finance, Mr. Jesuseun Fatoyinbo, Head of Trade, Transactional Products and Services at Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, highlighted the benefits of increasing investments in the AfCFTA agreement during one of the sessions held as part of the three-day virtual conference.

Jesuseun stated that the AfCFTA agreement will allow African-owned enterprises to enter new markets, expand their customer base and create new commodities and services in the continent. The agreement was created in 2018, and a total of 54 African countries have signed up. Of these, 30 countries have ratified the agreement and 28 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification.

AfCFTA holds great promise for the African economy as it seeks to eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, making it easier for businesses to trade within Africa and benefit from its emerging markets.

Speaking on the impact of trade on economic development, Jesuseun said: “The status of intra-regional trade within the European, North American and Asian economic corridors is currently estimated at 64 per cent, 50 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.

However, the status of intra-African trade currently stands at 17 per cent, which is significantly lower than other continental regions. This limits business investments within the African continent while increasing trade dependence on foreign markets.” He emphasised the need for improvement in order to expand the African economy.

According to him, increased investments between African countries will trigger trade growth in Africa which will, in turn, promote industrialisation, economic development and subsequently lead to increased employment opportunities across the continent.

Jesuseun advised stakeholders on the need to observe other continental trade trends, as continental trade usually yields positive results. He said, “All sectors need to be involved in AfCFTA to promote industrial development and sustainable socio-economic growth in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa.”

The Stanbic IBTC Head of Trade cited some nations in East Africa which were insulated from economic recession as a result of intra-trade activities. He noted that “despite the severe issues caused by the COVID -19 pandemic in 2020, Tanzania and Ethiopia avoided economic recession, due to their ever-improving trade policies.”

Jesuseun advocated the replication of their strategies across other African nations, to boost Africa’s income and lift millions of Africans out of poverty.

Speaking on Stanbic IBTC’s capabilities to boost trade, he said, “Stanbic IBTC is leveraging world-class digital technologies to make commercial imports and exports easier. The organisation is committed to making trade processes seamless and easier with technology.”

The trade expert stated that the pandemic unearthed the possibility of remote verification as against the prevalent practice of physical documentation. He cited examples of African trade’s past experiences, where many trade processes had experienced inefficacies and bottlenecks because of physical documentation.

Jesuseun concluded that trade processes need to be digitised, to enable seamless multilateral trade between African countries. He urged other stakeholders to create awareness about the usefulness of the AfCFTA agreement.

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