Fuel, Naira Scarcity: Osun CSOs Accuse Buhari, Emefiele Of Insensitivity
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been described as inconsiderate and insensitive to the plight of the citizens.
This is as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been accused of playing hide-and-seek on the circulation of the new naira notes.
This formed the basis of the text of a press conference jointly addressed by the Osun Civil Societies Coalition and the People’s Advocates on the lingering scarcity of fuel and the redesigned Naira notes in the country on Monday, February 6, 2023, in Osogbo.
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The statement jointly signed by Waheed Lawal and Emmanuel Olowu, Chairman and Publicity Secretary, Osun Civil Societies Coalition and The Peoples Advocates alluded to the fact that Nigerians are going through hell to get fuel and cash for personal use and business purposes.
While accusing the CBN of refusal to make available the redesigned Naira notes, they alleged that it amounted to a deliberate attempt to punish Nigerians unjustly.
It also demanded that the Central Bank of Nigeria make enough amount of the new Naira notes available to the banks for onward disbursement to the general public.
“Considering the pains being experienced by the common men in getting cash for their livelihood, it would not be out of place to declare that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is inconsiderate and insensitive to the plight of the citizens.
“We need not to tell you the agony of Nigerians who queue for more than six hours to get cash from ATM. Some people are even unlucky as they will not be able to get cash at the end of the day after spending several hours in the queue.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria led by Mr Godwin Emefiele has clearly been playing hide-and-seek in the circulation of the new naira notes. We acknowledged the fact that there are saboteurs among the top echelon of the banking industries but the CBN has not also released enough amount of the redesigned denominations to banks through which they can be disbursed to the generality of people. This is responsible for the ridiculous amount of cash being paid to people over the counter.
“Economically, the scarcity of cash has crippled many businesses and further pushed millions of Nigerians far below the poverty line. Petty traders no longer make sales because of cash transactions which their trading depends upon. We make bold to say that this financial policy of the Federal Government is doing more harm than good presently. There should have been another way round to maintain a balance between cash control and the wellbeing of the people.”
Describing the sufferings of Nigerians as double jeopardy, the Civil Societies Organisations added that President Muhammadu Buhari has been laying lip service to ensuring that fuel is available at an affordable rate for Nigerians even as he directly supervises the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“It equally speaks volumes of a President that has been supervising everything that has to do with petroleum resources to ask for seven days to address the fuel scarcity.
“The two key issues have taken away the dignity of the majority of Nigerians. We have seen videos where men and women stripped themselves naked in protest against their inability to get cash. Car owners have long been sleeping at filling stations for fuel. Many people have been injured as a result of fights at filling stations and ATM centres. In Osun today, we have filling stations selling fuel between N350 and N400 per litre. The masses remain the end receiver of this economic mismanagement. The reverberating effect falls on the common people who go to the market to buy foodstuffs, board public transport, pay bills, etc.”
While calling for an urgent address of the calamities, the group warned that if action is not taken, violent protests may be triggered nationwide.
“It is the awareness of this fact, coupled with the intelligence report that made us to suspend the mass protest that was supposed to be held today. We do not want to create a platform for some elements whose only language is violence. The outcome of last week’s protest in Ibadan and Benin is an indication that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The hardship is becoming unbearable to the generality of the people.
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“While we suspend our protest for today, we will hit the streets anytime soon if the cash and fuel scarcity persists.”
The group also called on security operatives and anti-graft agencies to go after bank managers and other officials who have been hoarding the new naira notes and sabotaging other processes of getting the new denominations widely circulated.
While demanding an end to fuel scarcity, they also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to be more sensitive to the plight of the people.
NNPCL Reveals How Subsidy Retarded Infrastructure Development
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) on Thursday said that Nigerians have missed enormous infrastructure development due to the protracted fuel subsidy regime in the country.
The NNPCL disclosed that the amount spent on fuel subsidy payment could provide 7,500km of road network at N400 million per kilometre and 37 well-equipped 120 Beds Tertiary Health Centres at N32 billion per hospital annually.
Mr Lawal Musa, Senior Business Advisor to the GCEO, NNPCL disclosed this in Abuja at a joint National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)/Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) sensitisation workshop on the NNPCL Operations.
Musa, in a presentation entitled “Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and the Nigerian Economy’’ said the Federal Government spent as much as N4.8 trillion annually on fuel subsidy at the expense of the wellbeing of Nigerians.
In an analysis of the opportunity cost of the subsidy spending, he said deregulation could deliver 500,000 new houses and education and skill up of two million Nigerian students, among others.
He said it could deliver N12 trillion in four years to Nigeria while annual Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) under recovery would escalate to N3 trillion.
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He said the cost of fuel subsidy outweighed the direct benefits particularly to the masses.
He further said that deregulation could provide additional 27,000 megawatts of electricity to Nigerians and build and equip 2,400 hospitals in 774 LGAs.
“Nigeria is the largest producer of crude oil in Africa, possessing 28 per cent of Africa’s reserve, with petroleum contributing significantly to the country’s economy.
“The benefits derived have over the years been eroded due to the amount paid on subsidy, a regime has been fuelling the vicious circle of poverty in the country,’’ he said.
Musa explained that the PMS (fuel) was sold lowest price in Nigeria among most West African countries in spite of the average cost of $2.7 per litre globally, which amounted to up N570 per litre.
According to him, verifiable PMS demand data is critical to National planning and energy security.
In an overview of the PIA and New NNPCL structure, Mrs Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan, the Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer, NNPCL, said the new entity was incorporated as a commercial company to be run like any other private company in the country, following the provision of the PIA 2021.
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Eyesan, represented by Mr Vincent Ogbu, her Business Advisor said NNPCL’s activities were guided by three core values namely integrity, excellence and sustainability.
She explained that the signing of PIA into law overhauled the institutional, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry and provided structured approach for managing host community development and investments.
She further said that significantly, the PIA mandated incorporation of old NNPC and established NNPCL as a fully commercial entity.
“Under the Act, NNPCL is to conduct affairs without recourse to government fund. The new NNPCL is being owned by 200 million Nigerians with Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources as major shareholders,” she said.
Earlier, the NNPCL Group Chief Communications Officer, Garbadeen Muhammad, said the NNPC was engaging with students as critical stakeholders in the new organisation which belonged to over 200 million Nigerians including the Nigerian students.
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Muhammad said the engagement which would be done annually, was aimed to enlighten the students and CSOs on the NNPCL as a new entity registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission under the Company and Allied Matters Act.
Also speaking, the National President of NANS, Usman Barambu, thanked the NNPC for the enlightenment workshop which had exposed the students on the new structure and operations of the oil company.
Barambu urged the company to ensure availability of fuel and tackle fuel scarcity in the country as well as opening of opportunities for ordinary Nigerian graduates to gain employment in the company.
Mr Olayemi Success, Chief Convener, Civil Society for Justice and Equity called for the removal of the fuel subsidy and urged government to channel the money towards improving the education sector.
Why FG Sited N71.19bn Solar Cell Factory In Nasarawa —Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, in Nasarawa State, said the abundance of Silicon and Silica—major raw materials for the production of solar cells—informed the siting of the NASENI solar cells production plant in Gora, Karu Local Government Area of the state.
“The major raw material requirements for the production of solar cells—Silicon and Silica—are naturally occurring in abundance in this area. We are grateful to the good people of Nasarawa for hosting this important project,” Osinbajo said at the foundation-laying ceremony of the N71.19bn ($171.97m) facility he described as the first solar cell factory in West Africa.
Osinbajo noted that the ceremony was a culmination of a decade’s work by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure which the Buhari regime has funded through a one per cent annual allocation from the federation account.
He said the project is necessary because it would be “clearly unsustainable” to add more carbon emissions to the $50bn worth of diesel fuel used in sub-Saharan Africa every year.
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The thinking, the VP said, is in line with Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, which projects an increase in solar power use in the Nigerian energy mix, surpassing gas by 2035.
According to Osinbajo, “The prudent decision to site the factory in Gora, Nasarawa State, leverages translational research into the biogeography, geological surveys and mining cadastral reconnaissance that has positioned Nasarawa as the home of solid minerals in Nigeria.
“The major raw material requirements for producing Solar cells—Silicon and Silica—are naturally abundant in this area.
“We are grateful to the good people of Nasarawa for hosting this important project and congratulate you in advance for the positive boost it is certain to bring to the local economy.”
He stated that “this landmark achievement places Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in using climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power.
“And as we have heard, this particular project is building on 10 years of work. 10 years ago, NASENI established its 7.5MW solar panel production plant. Its capacity is now 21MW.”
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The Vice President observed, “NASENI’s solar cell production factory will be a game-changer, given the urgency of climate action today and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions.”
He hoped the facility would “meet and surpass all our expectations when it becomes fully operational.”
The VP congratulated the government and the people of Nasarawa State, as well as the NASENI leadership led by its executive Vice Chair, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, on behalf of the President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Chairman of the governing board.
In his remarks, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, thanked the Vice President for his concern towards the development of the State, country and the welfare of its people.
“We also in Nasarawa State knowing that you touched lives, will never forget you, we remain grateful to you, sir, in office and out of office,” Sule said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, noted that the plant, which covers 15.8 hectares of land, comprises a polysilicon section with a capacity of 1,000 tons per annum, an Ingot section of 50MW per annum, Wafers of 50MW per annum and Solar cells of 50MW per annum.
He said, “It will cost a total of $171,970,000 (N71.19bn) with 85 per cent funding equivalent of $146,174,500 (N67.31bn) support from China Africa Development fund through the Bank of China and 15 per cent local counterpart funding, an equivalent of $25,795,500 (N11.88bn) from Nigeria.
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“The other two projects are the Electric Power Transformer Production Plant at $123,990,000 and the High Voltage Testing Laboratory at $29,900,690. The total cost approved for the three projects is $325,860,690 and a total of $276,981,586.5 representing 85 per cent is from China.”
Haruna explained that the 15 per cent counterpart for the three projects is $48.88m and NASENI has in instalments remitted up to 46.89 per cent or $22.92m of the 15 percent ($48.88m).
He projected that an excess capacity of polysilicon and future expansion of wafers and solar cell production would lead to exportation for foreign exchange earnings.
Dignitaries at the event included the APC National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Emir of Lafia HRM Justice Sidi Dauda Bage; and the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo Yamusa III, among others.
CBN Instructs Banks To Open Weekends
Central Bank of Nigeria has directed all commercial banks to open for operation on Saturdays and Sundays, as part of a coordinated effort to ease circulation of banknotes of various denominations.
The apex bank also confirmed the evacuation of banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country.
This latest development was disclosed in a statement signed by CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isa AbdulMumin, in Abuja, on Friday afternoon.
The statement noted that, a substantial amount of money, in various denominations, had been received by commercial banks, for onward circulation to their respective customers, even as it prevailed on banks, to conduct physical operations in banking halls through the weekends.
Excerpts of the statement read: “The CBN has directed all banks to load their Automated Teller Machines, as well as conduct physical operations in the banking halls through the weekends.
“Branches of commercial banks will operate on Saturdays and Sundays to attend to customers’ cash needs.
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“The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, would personally lead teams to monitor the level of compliance by the banks in various locations across the country,” it stressed.
The bank, therefore, urged Nigerians to be patient, as the current situation would ease soon, with the injection of more banknotes into circulation.
The PUNCH reports that authorities have stepped up efforts to end the biting currency scarcity that has inflicted pain on millions of bank customers nationwide, after a Supreme Court ruling, and a proposed protest by Nigeria Labour Congress, scheduled for next week.
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