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NASS’ll resist concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel –Dogara

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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has disclosed that the parlia-ment will resist any move to concession Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, saying doing so would amount to concenssioning Nigeria’s future.

The speaker, who said it is a collective shame to all leaders that the project is yet to be completed after so many years, spoke when he led members of the House Committee on Steel to the company in Kogi State.

Dogara also announced that the House will consult with stakeholders to work out ways to source for the $500 million needed to complete the last phase of the project. He said the reason why the steel company had not been completed was due to a leadership problem, saying where there is competent leadership, ways to source funding for such a multipotential company will not be a problem.

According to him, the present leadership has shown direction by first ending an arbitration case in foreign jurisdiction. Dogara said that there are many ways through which the $500 million can be sourced, including the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and recovered financial crimes loot.

The Speaker added that the House will hold another of its sectoral debates, where the lawmakers will meet with relevant agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) whose chairman, Ibrahim Magu, will be expected to brief the House how much it has recovered from corruption proceeds that can be applied into the completion of the project.

He explained that his determination to ensure that the steel company is revived is borne out of the promises that the company holds for Nigeria’s teeming population in the form of power and gas development, economic boost, thousands of jobs creation, development of manufacturing sector, development of infrastructure, investor appeal, among others. The speaker maintained that running and managing the company can be concessioned after completion, since government is not a good manager of companies.

He said: “Imagine if this plant had been completed in 1986, where Nigeria would be at the moment. “Any patriotic Nigerian that visits this place will shed tears irrespective of the part the person is from. And for a foreigner that visits here, when he hears people describe this place as a shithole, he will go with the impression that it may be true. We have no reason not to complete that plant. “You cannot concession your future, it is never done. I’m yet to see a nation that even concessions its bedrock and still succeeded. If you see one, just tell me.

And that’s why previous attempts to concession it were not possible. “We keep repeating the same things and expecting to get different results. That’s the definition of stupidity and since we are not stupid, we will not repeat it. We can make Nigeria proud so that every black man in the world can beat his chest.

Anyone who plans to outsource the completion of this plant will definitely run into problems with us.” Earlier, when the House delegation visited the Government House, the Speaker said: “I believe that as soon as we put this plant into operation, immediately there will be 10,000 jobs for engineers and technical staff. That’s even as the level of the first phase and talk about other non-engineering staff, thousands again and other splinter opportunities that will come, that’s a projected two million jobs.

“We don’t need money; all we need is leadership. Wherever you see development anywhere in the world, it is not money that brought it; some they say it is money, but it is leadership. As a matter of fact, it is even leadership that brings the money.

“Talking about leadership, we are not trying to put the blame at the doorstep of the executive, no. All of us are leaders and, as a matter of fact, it is to our collective shame that up till now, we have not been able to finish and put into operation this company that was started long ago in view of the major promises that it holds for the development of this country.

“But we want to thank God that we are now not short of leadership in this country. As a matter of fact, I was told that for some years, the plant was held down by a court action, arbitration instituted in a foreign jurisdiction.”

Governor Yahaya Bello commended Dogara for partnering with President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the idle Ajaokuta Steel Company is revived and put into use again. He said: “What you and the House of Reps are doing is giving the younger generation their future. We are simply taking our destiny into our hands, not only will posterity be kind to you, God almighty will also be pleased with you,” he added.

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Fuel crisis: NNPC imports $5.8bn worth of petrol

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Marketers demand subsidy arrears

 

LCCI: Modular refineries won’t end scarcity

 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Cor p o r at i o n (NNPC) has imported 9.8 million metric tons of premium motor spirit (PMS) worth $5.8 billion to combat the fuel crisis that resurfaced since late last year.

 

This was disclosed yesterday by the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, during a public hearing by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.

 

Baru, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Abdulrazaq Isiaka, stated that NNPC carried out the massive importation in fulfilment of its statutory role of supplier of last resort to ensure that Nigerians do not suffer as a result of product unavailability.

 

 

According to him, the Corporation’s provision of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol so far has helped a great deal in ameliorating the suffering of Nigerians. He said the Corporation’s intervention became necessary following the inability of the major and independent marketers to import the product because of the high landing cost, which made cost recovery and profitability difficult owing to the regulated price regime.

 

Meanwhile, the Senate chided the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) for asking the Federal Government to pay for fuel subsidy claims between 2013 and 2015. The Senate committee poured its anger on the oil marketers following a presentation of the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, who appeared before its investigative hearing on the controversial secret and illegal fuel subsidy purportedly being paid by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

 

In his submission, Olawore asked the Federal Government to pay the arrears of subsidy claims owed its members between 2013 and 2015, including the interests accrued to enable them settle the loans owed banks, which he said had frustrated MOMAN members out of fuel importation. Olawore, who said that paying arrears of subsidy to the marketers would enable them resume importation of fuel into the country, did not, however, state the amount owed his members, saying that they would need more time to compute the figures and return to the committee.

 

“The banks are always adding their interests at the end of every month. We had a promise from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the aspect of interest will be stopped at a certain period of 2017, but that did not come to pass, so, the banks, at the end of every month, are charging us interest,” Olawore said. He said that two out of six major marketers imported fuel into the country in 2017 to “cover some specific customer needs.

 

“These are mainly those that have their foreign affiliates who could cover them in terms of dollar coverage,” he added. In his presentation, Razak told the Matthew Urhoghide-led committee that the oil marketers abandoned the importation of petrol due to losses. He expressed concerns that the task of importing fuel into the country was left in the hands of NNPC alone, noting that the Corporation was absorbing so much operational losses in the course of importing fuel to satisfy petrol needs of Nigerians. “For one year, marketers avoided importing fuel because they incurred losses. The private sector cannot bring in the product because it does not make economic sense for them.

 

They cannot land it at a price for which they are going to sell and make profit. That is the main reason they are not bringing in the product. “As a national oil company, NNPC is the supplier of last resort and we must take that responsibility where the private sector that is profit-driven runs away from a particular business. “The economics is that if you bring in the product into Nigeria, you will make a loss, if there was profit in this business, the private sector would have been the ones bringing in this product.

 

“NNPC was designed to bring in the product 100 per cent; they have stepped out, but we have a national responsibility that Nigeria does not suffer and that is the role the Corporation is playing by bringing in the product,” Razak said. However, not satisfied with the submissions by NNPC and the independent marketers, a member of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, accused the marketers of conniving with NNPC to defraud the Federal Government.

 

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), in its submission to the committee, claimed that the agency was not in the true picture of details of payment of subsidy of premium motor spirit (PMS) by NNPC. The representative of the executive secretary of the agency, Joshua Peter  said that the agency was not in position to give details of the subsidy because their officials only witnessed discharge and truck out of fuel.

 

He said: “We only witness discharge and truck out; things have changed; we don’t know much about subsidy payments. On the issue of amount paid so far on subsidy, PPRA does not have that information.” Angered by this disposition, a member of the committee, Senator Bayero Nafada, said that the PPRA was in the best position to give the committee information on pricing of petroleum products because that is its primary function.

 

Nafada said: “Your primary purpose is details of landing cost. That is your primary function; nobody is more competent to respond to the issue of landing cost than PPRA.” Urhoghide has, however, mandated PPRA to give the panel details of cost of fuel importation from January till December 2017 within 24 hours.

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2019: We’ve no confidence in INEC –PDP

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has declared that it has no confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible elections in 2019.

 

 

The party also said the decision by the commission to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor campaign funds of political parties is part of ploy to harass and arrest members of opposition parties.

 

. National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, at a press conference yesterday, said INEC has been indicted for registering and issuing permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) to underage persons, particularly in Kano and Katsina states.

 

He regretted that despite the outcry and admission of the illegality, INEC has refused to take decisive steps to correct the anomaly and restore the sanctity of its voter register. “As we speak, the credibility of our electoral process under the current INEC is hugely in doubt,” Ologbondiyan said, noting that he was terrified by the statement credited to the commission’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze- Uzzi, that INEC registered minors because its agents were threatened by members of the communities in those states.

 

“By this alarming and unpatriotic statement, INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has completely discredited and disqualified itself and cannot be trusted to conduct a credible, free and fair general elections in 2019.

 

“The import of this statement is that INEC under Prof. Yakubu is not firm in its acts and will consequently cave in and accept any form of irregularities once it is put under pressure by members of a voting community. “It goes to say that this INEC can readily announce false results, cancel elections, alter polling procedures and allow any irregularities during the 2019 general elections once it is threatened by the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any other group for that matter.

 

“If INEC is afraid of a voting community so much so that after registering minors, it still went ahead to process their data and issue them with valid voters’ cards, then there is no way it can withstand the pressure and threat that we all know will be exerted by desperate APC forces, whose electoral strength, particularly in Kano and Katsina states, as now exposed to be based on underage voters,” he said.

 

The PDP spokesperson also demands an immediate review of voters’ register, particularly in Kano and Katsina so as to eliminate all the minors, insisting that there should be no election in the two states until the register was sanitised. According to him, the invitation to the EFCC by INEC to help them monitor campaign funds is a Machiavellian way of suppressing opposition parties’ financial contribution and spending. “It is a plot to detain, defame, intimidate and illegally block bank accounts of opposition members under the pretext that they have been mandated by INEC to monitor campaign funds,” he noted.

 

Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission appreciates the concerns of the PDP and the danger in the narrative of the underage voting participating in elections. “We want to assure the PDP and all Nigerians that INEC is determined to get to the root of the matter,” he said.

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49 passengers escape death as Dana plane overshoots runway

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Forty-nine passengers yesterday escaped death after a Dana Air aircraft numbered 9J0363, flying from Abuja to Port Harcourt, overshot the Port Harcourt International Airport runway.

 

The incident was suspected to have been caused by a heavy rain, which was accompanied by strong wind and storm in Port Harcourt. The aircraft was still in the bush as at press time from where passengers were being evacuated. Spokesperson for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, in a statement made available to New Telegraph, attributed the incident to a heavy rain, which she said was accompanied by strong wind and storm in Port Harcourt.

 

“No casualty was recorded, as all passengers on board were safely evacuated,” FAAN stated. Dana Air, in a statement last night confirmed that its aircraft skidded off the runway. The carrier said no casualty was recorded and all passengers and crew disembarked safely.

 

 

“Our aircraft (9j0363) operating the Abuja -Port Harcourt flight skidded off the runway at the Port Harcourt International Airport, as a result of the bad weather situation and torrential rain at the time of landing.

 

 

“We commend the Pilotin- command who was able to control the aircraft to a complete stop, before passengers and crew disembarked. We also wish to applaud the Captain for exhibiting the highest safety standards and handling the situation professionally,” it said. Mr. Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), also confirmed the incident.

 

He said the aircraft was partially damaged after it overshot the runway. “I learnt the runway has been closed, but it will be reopened before the next 30 minutes after inspection has been carried out on it. “Forty-nine passengers were on board and safely evacuated. The aircraft came in from Abuja to Port Harcourt,” he said.

 

Exactly two weeks ago, passengers were aghast in fear when one of the emergency doors of the Dana Air aircraft conveying them fell off on landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

 

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) swiftly commenced an investigation into the incident.

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