Aso Villa Reads for 24/10/2019

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

Punch reports that the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday directed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to effect the payment of the N30,000 new national minimum wage on or before December 31, 2019. The FEC also approved that the payment of the new wage should take effect from April 18, 2019. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa Abuja. Ngige said he, in collaboration with the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, had been directed to send the consequential adjustments to states as a template in their negotiations with labour. He said, “Today (Wednesday), we sent to the Federal Executive Council our report and the conciliation that was done last week between the organised labour and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the issue of the new national minimum wage which has been fixed at N30,000 per month and the consequential adjustments that were meant for salaries and wage structures of the public service thereto. “You will remember that last week when I briefed the press, I told you that the salaries and wage structures are compartmentalised into four classes; health, armed forces service, research institutes and the paramilitary. “So, they have percentage increase in their wage structure and for emphasis the Grade Level — 07 compartment received 23.2 per cent rise, Grade Level 08, 20 per cent, Grade Level 09, 19 per cent, Grade Level 10–14, 16 per cent and Grade Level 15 to 17, 14 per cent in the CONPPS which is the pure civil service structure and agencies earning the same wages as those in the public service.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has engaged Russian firms and the state company to rehabilitate Nigeria’s four refineries. The NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, who disclosed this in a message he retweeted on Wednesday, also stated that gas infrastructure development was being discussed with the Russian investors. He stated that a team involving the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; the NNPC’s Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya; the NNPC’s Chief Operating Officer, Refineries, Mustapha Yakubu; among others, engaged the investors at the ongoing Russia, Africa Economic Forum in Sochi, Russia. “The team engaged Russian state company and private entities to secure development cooperation of mutual benefit,” Kyari retweeted. He added, “Refinery rehabilitation and gas infrastructure development on the front burner.” Nigeria’s four refineries had over the years been performing abysmally, as they continue to fail to meet up to 50 per cent of their capacity utilisation. Punch reported.

Nigeria’s crude oil production, including condensates and natural gas liquids, stood at 1.93mbpd or 59.83 million barrels in August 2019, according to the latest monthly economic report of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In the report for August 2019, the aforementioned estimate represented an increase of 4.3 per cent, compared with the 1.85 mbpd or 57.35 million barrels produced in the preceding month. According to This Day, the release of the data came just as the Chief Prosecutor at the ongoing trial of criminal suspects associated with the controversial Malabu oil deal, Francesco Greco, accused corporate organisations, including those in Nigeria, of investing in corruption to cripple local economy, thus fueling poverty and chaos. In the CBN report for August, crude oil export was estimated at 1.48 mbpd or 45.88 million barrels, representing an increase of 5.7 per cent, compared with 1.40 mbpd or 43.40 mb recorded in the preceding month. The allocation of crude oil for domestic consumption was 0.45 million barrels per day or 13.95 million barrels in the review month. However, the average spot price of Nigeria’s reference crude oil, the Bonny Light at the end of August 2019, decreased to $61.05 per barrel, compared with $66.23 per barrel recorded in July 2019. This, according to the report, represented a decline of 7.8 per cent below the level in the preceding month. The fall in crude oil price was attributed largely to slow demand for crude oil in the global crude oil market.

According to This Day, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, Wednesday in Sochi, Russia, signed agreements on military cooperation, oil and gas and rail developments on the sidelines of the ongoing Russia-Africa Summit. Both leaders also agreed on the advancement of ongoing projects for the establishment of a nuclear power plant in Nigeria with Putin submitting that the next step in the implementation of the project would be the commencement of the construction of a power plant. A statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said both men agreed to put Nigeria-Russia relations on a fast track, and pursue the completion of partially completed and abandoned projects initiated by both countries. According to the statement, at a bilateral meeting, the two leaders agreed to start new infrastructure projects and expand trade and investment, security and military cooperation. It also said both leaders signed statements to work together to improve efficiency of Nigeria’s oil sector, which it described as the backbone of the economy, in a way that will see to rehabilitation of epileptic oil refineries through establishment of framework for a joint venture between Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Russia-based leading oil company, Lukoil. Stating that NNPC and Lukoil will work towards prospection of oil in deep offshore, the statement said Nigeria and Russia also agreed to revive and solidify the venture between the NNPC and Russia’s gas giant, Gazprom, for the development of Nigeria’s enormous gas potential and infrastructure.

Daily Times reports that the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, briefed State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He said the gas flaring, which had constituted a problem over the years, would be addressed by converting natural gas to methanol which could be used in many sectors on the economy. “The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology presented a memo to council that requires the utilisation of Methanol in our economy. “The problem that we have in the Niger Delta where our natural gas is flared and it has created lots of problems; environmental problems; and also problems for fellow Nigerians living around those areas where the gas is continuously flared. “It is of major concern to this administration and one way to help us to completely solve this problem of gas flaring is to convert the natural gas into Methanol. “Methanol is a liquid that finds use in virtually all sectors of the economy; you can use methanol for transportation; all those racing cars that they put M85, M100, essentially, that ‘M’ is methanol and then 15 per cent gasoline but for ordinary use, normally the blending will be 15 per cent of methanol so that you don’t need to make any adjustments to your vehicle. “Then, also, methanol can be used to replace diesel for all these trucks that we find on our high ways because methanol is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

As a way of integrating the maritime sector into rail master structure, the ongoing linkage of standard gauge railway line to Apapa port will make movements of goods to and from the ports more effective and boost economic growth, the minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi has said. The minister who made this known in Lagos recently during the “World Maritime Day” also said that it is a policy of government that all seaports in Nigeria must be connected by rail adding that “We have put in place a 25-year modernisation programme for the rail system. With the master plan, we have taken rail from where the past government stopped into the seaports.” For instance, Amaechi stated that the original plan for current Lagos-Kano rail line began from Ebute Metta, but that the present administration reviewed it and extended another line from Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport. According to the minister, “With this, when you bring in your goods, you turn them to the rail that takes them to the hinterland. The one from Lagos to Calabar will link the Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Onne seaports, and so on.” Leadership reports that Amaechi said the deep blue sea project, which aims to secure the country’s territorial waters up to the Gulf of Guinea, would inspire greater investors’ confidence in the Nigerian maritime sector and boost the sector’s contribution to the national economy. “With this security infrastructure, the revenues of the agencies in the maritime sector will increase and the revenue to the country will also increase,” he stated.

Nigeria is now ranked 131 position on the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. The ranking shows that the country moved up by 15 places from the 146 position it was ranked in 2019. This is according to a release by the Bank on Thursday. “Nigeria conducted reforms impacting six indicators, including making the enforcement of contracts easier, which placed the 200-million-person economy among the world’s top improvers. “Only two Sub-Saharan African economies rank in the top 50 on the ease of doing business rankings while most of the bottom 20 economies in the global rankings are from the region. “Compared to other parts of the world, Sub-Saharan Africa still underperforms in several areas. In getting electricity, for example, businesses must pay more than 3,100% per cent of income per capita to connect to the grid, compared to just over 400% in the Middle East and North Africa or 272% per cent in Europe and Central Asia. “When it comes to trading across borders and paying taxes, businesses spend about 96 hours to comply with documentary requirements to import, versus 3.4 hours in OECD high-income economies, and small and medium-sized businesses in their second year of operation need to pay taxes more than 36 times a year, compared to an average of 23 times globally.” This is according to Daily Trust.

Women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry will soon benefit from gender friendly policies on access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development, courtesy of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) reports that the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote announced this at the close of the workshop it organised for women in oil and gas industry on Thursday in Lagos. He noted that since the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act was instituted as a deliberate agenda to get more Nigerians to participate in the oil and gas industry, there should also be special initiatives to encourage women participation in the sector. He quoted a recent study by the Global Energy Talent Index Report which indicated that there is a chronic shortage of women in the oil and gas industry.

Independent reports that the need to mainstream the Capital Market Master Plan into the national economic development policy has been canvassed. This was stated by Acting Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk at an Interactive Session with the Senate in Abuja, Tuesday. According to Uduk, it will improve Nigeria’s competitiveness, promote a savings culture, improve market depth and liquidity and catalyze economic growth, also stated that this will be beneficial not just to the capital market but also to the entire economy. She said, “More importantly, since the capital market over time serves as the barometer of any economy, the successful implementation of the Nigerian Capital Market Master Plan will aid the actualization of the Nation’s economic development aspirations. “The Commission also needs to continue to encourage efficient market through disclosure and investor protection, while making efforts at diversifying the products currently available”.

According to Premium News, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) says it saved more than N26.86 billion for the Federal Government in 2018 alone, by revising down inflated contract sums by government contractors. BPP revealed this in its 2018 annual report obtained from the bureau by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. According to the report, the savings are from the review of contracts awarded to contractors by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) before being given certificate of “No Objection’’ by the bureau. The report showed that in 2018, 86 certificates of “No Objection’’ was given out by the bureau to MDAs for contracts initially totalling N1.421 trillion but was later reduced to N1.394 trillion. Of the savings made, the highest amount of N22.22 billion was recorded from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. The money was saved from an initial request of N877.40 billion. Similarly, contracts under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was reduced from N278.91 billion to N278.64 billion, resulting in savings of about N271 million.