Uncertainty as OPEC may cut 500,000bpd

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There are indications that Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and  `its allies, especially Russia, will further cut oil supply by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), a situation that would worsen economic realities in Nigeria.

In the proposed Nigeria’s 2020 budget is predicated on 2.18 million bpd at a price of $57 per barrel, while the exchange rate is expected to remain N305/$1.

Dropping by about $10 due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in China, Brent yesterday stood at $54.76, falling below Nigeria’s expectation in the face of looming further cut in Nigeria’s OPEC quota, which last stood at 1.774 million barrels per day (bpd).

Although OPEC and non-OPEC panel called the Joint Technical Committee (JTC), which is ending today, the cartel is reportedly looking to hold emergency ministerial meeting on February 14.  It had earlier agreed with partners to cut output further by 500,000bpd from January to March 2020. This is different from the previous cut of 1.2 million bpd already agreed.

Also,stakeholders, especially oil market analysts and economists had told The Nation that current development is capable of leading Nigeria’s economy into another recession and shortage of foreign exchange, given that the nation’s foreign reserve has depleted to about $40.95 billion.

In December last year, Nigeria’s crude oil production fell to 1.57 million bpd day, a development which is far below budget projection and indeed, OPEC quota for the country.

While the aggregate revenue available to fund the 2020 budget is projected at N8.155 trillion (seven per cent or N561.2 billion more than the 2019 budget of N7.59 trillion), nothing less than N7.602trillion was expected to come from oil revenue.

The coronavirus outbreak in China could cut oil demand by more than 250,000bpd in the first quarter, Bloomberg quoted analysts and traders as saying.

Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, had on Monday said: “The oil market is under pressure and prices have dropped to under $60 a barrel and efforts must be made to balance it.”

Iraq’s oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad had also told AFP that “Depending on the needs of the market and how it’s been affected by the coronavirus, will a cut be necessary? This is being discussed as the technical reports are presented.

“The technical committees are discussing the recommendations, which they will elevate to their ministers. Any further cut to outputs would only be announced in a ministerial meeting.”


Reps to recover NEXIM’s N13b trapped in Heritage Bank

Power Sector probe: ‘Extend investigation to Obasanjo, Jonathan, Buhari’

THE House of Representatives is poised to investigate the circumstances leading to the entrapment of N13 billion belonging to Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM).

The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Oluwole Oke, in a chat, said the committee will not only investigate the issue, but also make efforts to recover the funds as it is depositors’ funds.

He said: “NEXIM Bank in the course of their businesses also manages depositors’ funds, try to expand business operations and so on. They made some investments, placed some funds with Heritage Bank, and they’ve not been able to retrieve that money.

“The money was initially more than N13 billion in the brief we got from NEXIM Bank. But it is now N13 billion. That’s tax payers’ money.

“And if you remember, the Minister of Finance has repeatedly told this nation that this nation has revenue issues. So, if you have N13 billon of Federal Government money hanging with a particular bank, shouldn’t we get the money back?”

The PAC Chair said the Committee intends to recover the money by all means. “We’ve written to Heritage Bank. It’s very clear in the books of NEXIM Bank that the N13 billion is outstanding, and if care is not taken, it will amount to loss of revenue. So, that’s where were coming in.

“So, it is shown in the audited account of NEXIM Bank, and Heritage Bank should refund that money forthwith and all interest accrued.

“N13 billion is not a joke! If the Federal Government is building schools or hospitals, you can imagine how many N13 billion can build,” he stated.

Recall that in 2012, the license of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) was acquired from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the bank transmuted to Heritage Bank Plc.

Fed Govt eyes mining as alternative GDP booster

FG to end exploitation of gold miners

THE Federal Government was eyeing the mining sector as an alternative source of revenue generation in the country, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.

He spoke during the extension service programme organised by the ministry for Registered and Performing Mining Cooperatives, Small Scale Mining Companies and Quarrying Association, at Federal Secretariat Complex, Uyo, on Wednesday.

Adegbite said with better concentration of the Federal Government on the sector, attention would be diverted from oil economy.

Represented by the Assistant Chief Geologist in the Ministry, Mr. Etido Umoakpan, the minister called on the artisanal and small scale miners in the country to familiarise themselves with legally identified cooperatives to enable them obtain necessary incentives from the Federal Government.

According to him, the move would help checkmate the uncontrolled and hazardous activities of mining in the environment.

“You will all agree with me that an increase in production of minerals will increase the revenue generation of the country and our country can also earn foreign exchange through exportation of minerals.

“Registered mining cooperatives are to be trained so that the mining sector can contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

“It is in recognition of the importance of mining cooperatives that the ministry adopted a strategy termed formalisation, through “cooperatisation” to address the artisanal mining issues while using it as an instrument to alleviate poverty.

“This involves bringing the numerous artisanal and small scale miners scattered in almost all the states of the federation into legally identifiable groups.

CAN, Islamic council disagree on killings as Presidency warns against divisive comments

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THE Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria differed on Wednesday on President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that 90 per cent of insurgency victims in the country are Muslims.

While the NSCIA supported the President’s claim that more Muslims are killed than Christians, CAN described Buhari’s claim as  “unfounded, false, provocative and misleading.”

The President in an opinion article published in a Christian news outlet, Christianity Today, said it is the reality that 90 per cent of all Boko Haram victims have been Muslims

He cited the kidnap of Chibok and  Dapchi. schoolgirls, shooting inside mosques and murder of two prominent imams as proof that Muslims were the worst-hit by the insurgents, whom he described as “now-failing” in their activities.

The Islamic council, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar lll, said at news conference in Abuja, that it was an incontrovertible truth that the killings are mostly carried  out in the Northeast which is predominantly inhabited by  Muslims.

The NSCIA lamented the killings and urged Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency on security.

It Islamic group slammed the Sunday ‘Prayer walk’ against killings by Christian leaders saying it “bore marks of childish blame game and hypocrisy.”

It urged the Federal Government and  the military to  arrest  “this descent into anarchy.”

The NSCIA Director of Administration, Alhaji Yusuf Nwoha, who spoke to reporters said since Nigeria is in a desperate situation, desperate measures must be taken to protect lives and property of Nigerians.

He said: “The argument in some quarters that some forces are meant for external security is shallow in a situation in which we find ourselves since no external security can be meaningful when there is no internal security.

“The truth is that where most of the killings are carried out or the place of war on the insecurity by Boko Haram is in the Northeast. The northeast is predominantly Muslims and each time there is an attack you will find out that a lot of Muslims are killed and this is a fact, There is nothing like trying to make an issue. Every one of us knows that, this is the truth that Muslims are been killed in this country more than Christians and it is not a controvertible position, it is a fact.”

“The sentiments of Christians in this country is that they are been killed by Muslims, that is the perception and they insist that more Christians are been killed everyday in this country. It is not so, nobody is making a comparison, We are just putting the records straight.

Nwoha added that the NSCIA “is appalled and horrified”  that insecurity in country had  “reached an unacceptable crescendo that declaring a state of emergency on it appears not only necessary but also pressing. “

“The time to arrest the insecurity in the land is now and we repeat our call to President   Buhari to combat the current spike in insecurity with candid decisiveness,” he said.

“In Kaduna on February 2, 2020 when a Christian, Nathaniel Samuel, attempted to bomb the Living Faith Church in Kaduna the same day that a circus was being organised in Lagos. Of course, had the mission succeeded, it would have been blamed on Muslims”.

But CAN, in a statement by its  Director, Legal and Public Affairs,   Evangelist Kwamkur Vondip,  faulted the President’s claim that 90 per cent of insurgency victims are Muslims.

It  said: “We note with pains, President Buhari’s unfounded, false, provocative and misleading assertion that 90 per cent of Boko Haram victims are Muslims.

“ On reading the  misleading and provocative statement coming from the number one citizen of the country, one will hardly believe that the President understands the difference between the real victims and perpetrators of the heinous crime against the church and humanity. “It is so disappointing to hear the President trying to justify which religion is suffering most from the grievous attacks of the terrorists. Are we into any competition with the number of the victims? Is there any life that should not be precious to Mr. President.

“What is the source of Mr President’s records? He should bring out his records with figures and the Christians will present theirs!

Stop the disinformation, Presidency warns CAN

The Presidency yesterday knocked the apex umbrella body of Christians for allegedly creating disunity in the country through disinformation.

The Presidency said in a statement on Wednesday by Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, that CAN  was  using disinformation as a divisive ploy to rubbish the efforts of President Buhari in  finding  lasting solutions to the lingering security challenges facing the nation.

Adesina  said: “We are again constrained to react to unfounded allegations by the Christian Association of Nigeria about the payment or non-payment of ransom for the release of the Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls.

“Media reports quoted CAN’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Kwamkur Samuel, to have said inter alia: ‘Nigerians need to know, if they have not known the reason why the Presidency could not pay ransom to rescue Chibok girls.

“It is because 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the girls are Christians. The reason why Dapchi girls’ ransom was quickly paid and they were returned is the discovery that most of the girls were Muslims except Leah Sharibu, who is still in captivity.”