Aso Villa Reads for 16/09/2020

Every day, we bring you the best stories that the Media is reporting about the Government of Nigeria

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday, unveiled the “Nigeria at 60” logo in Abuja. The Punch gathered that the logo will be used in the celebration of the country’s 60th anniversary. The unveiling took place during the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja. Some ministers at the meeting include the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Information and Culture, Rauf Aregbesola; and Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. Nigeria’s Independence is usually celebrated annually on October 1. The president described the logo as a product of choice from Nigerians who participated in the selection process. He said the Diamond Anniversary would be low key in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m informed that the selected option depicts our togetherness; a country of over 200 million people, whose natural talents, grits and passion glitter like the precious diamond we are. As we celebrate this anniversary, this government will work towards greater inclusiveness and look forward to the participation of all Nigerians,’’ he said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has said it will release a cumulative maximum limit of N200bn to provide construction finance facility to enable Family Homes Funds Limited to implement the Federal Government’s Social Housing programme as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan 2020. The CBN disclosed this on Tuesday in a report on ‘Framework for the implementation of family homes financing initiative’. Part of the report read, “Funds would be released to FHF on project basis subject to the cumulative maximum limit of N200bn. A project is defined as cluster of homes in the same geographical location and covered with the same title documents and approvals.” According to the CBN, mass housing construction is among the key economic activities with potential to create significant number of jobs rapidly. “It is in the light of this that the bank introduces this financing initiative to support the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability programme to fast track the deployment of 300,000 homes in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory and to create up to up to 1.5 million jobs in five years,” it said. The CBN said the initiative was to be implemented in collaboration with Family Homes Fund Ltd as the lead developer and eligible obligor.[Punch]

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday outlined the disbursements it had so far made in various sectors of the economy to cushion the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Punch reported. According to the bank, about N369bn has been disbursed to small and medium businesses, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, among others, under different financial support schemes of the CBN. The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, reeled out the interventions of the bank while speaking at the 13th Annual Banking and Finance Conference in Abuja. He said the bank created the N100bn target credit facility for households and small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the Nirsal Microfinance Bank. Emefiele said, “Initially, we planned for N50bn to be disbursed but we saw that there was more and more need from households and small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic. The CBN took the decision to increase the size of that intervention from N50bn to N100bn. To date, close to about N69bn of this fund has been disbursed to over 140,000 households and businesses.” The governor said a N100bn intervention fund in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners intending to expand and strengthen the capacity of healthcare institutions was also created. “Out of that N100bn, close to about 40 healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have been supported to the tune of about N45bn and we still have some of the fund available for drawdown by those who need the support,” he added. Emefiele stated that a N1tn facility in loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors was established by the bank. He said, “So far, we have about N255bn of this amount that has been disbursed and you would observe that up to around last month, the Purchasing Managers Index has been contracting downwards. But as a result of these interventions, following the easing of the lockdown, we have observed that the index has begun a positive trajectory. And we are also calling on manufacturing companies and others to take advantage of this.” This, he said, would increase output and ultimately help the country to avoid recession.

The Federal Government has released operational guidelines for operators in the solar mini-grid space of the power sector. Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, said at a function in Abuja on Tuesday that the guidelines would ensure that standards were met in the solar mini-grid sub-sector. He said the initiative would address the proliferation of substandard renewable energy materials and equipment, poor designs and construction practices. The power minister stated that the Federal Government was doing all it could to ensure that Nigerians had access to reliable power, adding that the new guidelines were also measures put in place to make the sector efficient. He expressed optimism that the initiative would tackle the absence of uniformity in renewable energy projects. According to Jedy-Agba, the move would also serve as a guide to renewable energy installation, contracting and practices, among others.[Punch]

The Federal Government on Tuesday said it would start capturing internally displaced persons in Nigeria in a bid to produce national identity cards for the IDPs. It disclosed this through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in a statement issued in Abuja to announce that the 16th of September had been declared as the International Identity Day. In the statement issued by the spokesperson to the communications minister, Uwa Suleiman, the ministry stated that following the approval of the Federal Government, Nigeria also formally adopted September 16 as the National Identity Day. It said, “the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, uses this occasion to remind Nigerians of the importance of digital identity. “He also assures Nigerians that the ministry is developing the right policy environment to support enrolments for digital IDs across the country. We will start by capturing internally displaced persons in Nigeria and will also support the National Identity Management Commission and other stakeholders to ensure that we make the process of obtaining digital IDs swift and secure.” The ministry explained that the importance of a digital identity programme to the successful development of a digital economy could not be overstated. It said digital identity which played a critical part in the development of a digital economy, was also the fabric of the digital economy.[Punch]

In furtherance of offensive operations to rid the North West of armed banditry, fighter aircraft of Nigerian Airforce on Tuesday bombed several Camps and Logistics storage facilities where two notorious bandit’s leaders were hibernating, killing them with several of their fighters and destroying the storage facilities. Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche made the disclosure in Abuja. Enenche said, “The Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji has eliminated several armed bandits and destroyed their logistics facilities in massive airstrikes conducted in the Kwiambana Forest area of Zamfara State. This was achieved on Tuesday, 15 September 2020, as part of air interdiction missions being executed under subsidiary Operation Wutan Daji 2 to rid the North West of the Country of armed bandits and other criminal elements.”[Vanguard]

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, said while previous administrations talked about modular refineries, only President Muhammadu Buhari’s government ensured their establishment. The minister stated this at the pre-commissioning inspection of the Waltersmith’s 5000 barrels per day (bpd) modular refinery located in Ohaji-Egbema in Imo. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the project, which is 97 per cent completed, is scheduled for inauguration in October. NAN also reports that the refinery was jointly inspected by Gov. Hope Uzodinma and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, an indigene of the state. Also on the inspection entourage were the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Danladi Sankara, and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Information, Olusegun Odebunmi Addressing newsmen after inspection of the facilities at the project site, Mohammed said that the Buhari administration is genuinely encouraging reintegration in the oil and gas sector to make their end products cheaply available locally, create employment and end crude oil exportation. He said the first phase of the project to be commissioned would contribute about 271 million litres of refined products, including Diesel, Naptha, HFO and Kerosene, annually to the domestic market and create both direct and indirect jobs. The second phase, according to him, will deliver 25,000 bpd crude and condensate refinery, an upgrade on the 5,000bpd modular refinery and designed to produce gasoline, diesel, LPG, kerosene and aviation fuel.[Vanguard]

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, justified government borrowing to finance infrastructure, asserting that his government took loans in the interest of the country to solve the dire shortfall in infrastructure. Speaking at a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, in Abuja, President Buhari said the country must fix its roads to save lives from soaring road accidents. “We have so many challenges with infrastructure. We just have to take loans to do roads, rail and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money,’’ the President said after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami. According to Vanguard, he regretted that the failure to provide the infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for Air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods. On the issue of the economy, President Buhari noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). “We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable. So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the less you earn,” he said. President Buhari also stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.

There is a huge prospect for improvement in power supply networks as additional 126 megawatts (MW) of electricity are set to be added to the national grid in two months following the completion of work on the second gas turbine of the Gbarain Power Station in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.Power generation on Nigeria’s grid currently hovers between 4,000MW and 5,000MW, which analysts say needs expansion to drive the industrialisation of Africa’s largest economy. The Nigerian government has been making efforts to grow its grid capacity to 25,000MW in five years, as the Federal Government and Siemens are currently implementing projects to actualise this. Also, findings from the Niger Delta Power Holding Company show that one of the gas turbines of the Gbarain plant, which was partially completed by Rockson Engineering, has been finally erected and ready to supply power to the grid. Chiedu Ugbo, managing director, NDPHC, explained that the Gbarain Power Station was one of the four power stations hitherto awarded to Rockson Engineering. “So it was partially completed under Rockson. For the second unit, the erection has now been completed; so, we are undergoing commissioning now to ensure that it is working and then, we can bring it to the grid.“That takes a few months, maybe two to three months to be on the grid. So in essence, in two to three months’ time, we will be getting 126MW of power precisely. The power plant has a name-plate capacity of 252MW. One unit of 126MW is already working; it is the second unit of 126MW that we are completing. This is to happen this year,” he said.[Business Day]

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