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When former President Olusegun Obasanjo addressed the nation during his inauguration on May 29, 1999, he embodied the hope and promise of a new era. His words reflected the aspirations of millions of Nigerians yearning for a break from the past and a leap into a future filled with economic prosperity, security, and democratic governance. "Together, we shall reach the Promised Land," Obasanjo declared, igniting a flame of optimism across the country.

Twenty-five years later, as Nigeria marks a quarter-century of constitutional democracy, the reality starkly contrasts with the high hopes of 1999.

Each successive administration—Obasanjo's own, followed by those of Umar Musa Yar’adua, Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari, and now Bola Tinubu—has faced a complex web of challenges, some inherited, others self-inflicted. The collective legacy is a tale of unfulfilled promises and growing disillusionment.

Obasanjo's Era: The Dawn of Disappointment

Obasanjo's tenure, despite initial efforts at reform and reconciliation, quickly encountered obstacles. His administration grappled with corruption, poor economic management, and persistent security issues. While he did succeed in securing debt relief and laying the groundwork for telecommunications and banking sector reforms, the broader vision of a transformed Nigeria remained elusive. The hope of a better life for ordinary Nigerians was soon overshadowed by the realities of graft and inefficiency.

Yar’adua and Jonathan: Flickers of Hope, Shadows of Regression

President Umar Musa Yar’adua's brief term brought a glimmer of hope with his Seven-Point Agenda, which aimed to improve infrastructure, the power sector, and the Niger Delta situation. However, his untimely death meant that many of his initiatives never came to fruition. Goodluck Jonathan's presidency continued some of Yar’adua's policies but was marred by significant challenges, including widespread corruption and the escalation of Boko Haram insurgency. His tenure ended amid declining public confidence and economic instability.

Buhari's Promise of Change: An Unmet Aspiration

Muhammadu Buhari's ascent to power in 2015 was marked by the promise of change. Nigerians hoped for a break from the past, with Buhari's campaign focusing on anti-corruption, security, and economic revitalisation. However, his administration struggled to deliver on these promises. Despite some efforts to combat corruption, the scale of systemic rot proved overwhelming. Economic policies failed to spur significant growth, and security deteriorated, with widespread violence and insurgency persisting.

Tinubu: A Year of Pain and Uncertainty

One year into President Bola Tinubu’s tenure, the cautious optimism that accompanied his inauguration has dissipated. His controversial economic policies, including the removal of fuel subsidies and the liberalisation of the foreign exchange market, have triggered a severe economic downturn. Hyperinflation, joblessness, and a depreciating naira have left many Nigerians in dire straits. The World Bank's report of 104 million citizens living in poverty underscores the depth of the crisis.

Under Tinubu, Nigeria's security situation has continued to deteriorate. The country's landscape is marked by abductions, killings, and a general sense of lawlessness. The economic and social policies of his administration have yet to provide the relief and development that Nigerians desperately need.

The Verdict: Unfulfilled Promises, A Nation in Need

As Nigeria reflects on 25 years of democracy, it is clear that the journey has been fraught with missed opportunities and unfulfilled promises. While there have been pockets of progress—such as improvements in telecommunications, banking, and some infrastructure projects—the overarching narrative is one of decline. The aspirations articulated by Obasanjo in 1999 remain largely unachieved, and the socio-economic status of Nigerians has not significantly improved.

The current administration must urgently address these challenges. There is a need for a compassionate and strategic approach to governance that prioritises the welfare of the people. Tinubu's government must focus on security, economic stability, and the implementation of policies that genuinely benefit the populace. The promise of democracy should be more than just the right to vote; it should translate into tangible improvements in the quality of life for all Nigerians.

Conclusion

The past 25 years have shown that democracy alone is not a panacea. Effective governance, visionary leadership, and genuine commitment to the public good are essential to realising the potential of Nigeria. As the nation commemorates this milestone, it is imperative to recommit to these ideals and work towards a future where the hopes of 1999 can finally be fulfilled. The road ahead is challenging, but with collective effort and responsible leadership, Nigeria can still reach the Promised Land.

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, announced a delay in petrol supply from the Dangote Petroleum Refinery, now set to commence in July. Dangote made this announcement on June 9 during the inauguration of the Dangote Sinotruk West Africa’s completely knocked-down (CKD) plant in Lagos.

Previously, on May 18, Dangote had stated that the refinery would start producing petrol in June, eliminating the need for Nigeria to import the product. However, providing an update, Dangote indicated that the refinery is now expected to begin supplying petrol to the downstream market by July 15.

“We had a bit of delay, but PMS will start coming out by the 10th to 15th of July. We want to keep it in the tank to make sure it settles,” he said. “So by the third week of July, we’ll be able to come out to take it into the market.”

On June 3, Dangote also mentioned that some international oil companies (IOCs) were experiencing difficulties in supplying crude to his refinery. In response, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) stated on June 5 that discussions were ongoing with the IOCs to ensure they meet their domestic crude oil supply obligations.

Wednesday, 12 June 2024 04:43

NNPC signs floating LNG deal with Golar LNG

Nigeria's state firm NNPC has signed an agreement with Golar LNG to deploy a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel off the coast of its oil-rich Niger Delta, NNPC said on Tuesday.

Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, holds the continent's largest gas reserves of more than 200 million trillion cubic feet and is seeking investments to boost output.

NNPC spokesperson Olufemi Soneye said the Project Development Agreement (PDA) will utilise about 500 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, producing LNG, propane and condensate.

"The agreement aims to monetise vast proven gas reserves from shallow water resources offshore Nigeria," Soneye said in a statement.

Soneye said NNPC and Golar LNG have agreed to achieve a Final Investment Decision (FID) on the project before the end of the year with production expected to start in 2027.

The deal is the second floating LNG accord the NNPC has signed with partners in the past year and follows two other LNG agreements with investors to increase its domestic supplies and exports.

Nigeria, which still flares excess gas produced due to inadequate processing infrastructure, launched a national gas expansion programme in 2020 to end flaring by increasing local use of gas.

 

Reuters

After operating in Nigeria since 1950, Guinness’ core investor has announced its departure from the Nigerian market, citing the adverse economic climate.

The company plans to sell its controlling shares to Singaporean conglomerate Tolaram Group.

Between July 2023 and March 2024, Guinness Nigeria recorded a significant loss of N61.9 billion after tax. This financial downturn followed President Bola Tinubu’s decision to float the naira to unify its value across official and parallel foreign exchange markets, a move that backfired and severely impacted multinational companies, including Guinness. The brewery's N61.7 billion loss after tax in Q3 starkly contrasted with the N5.9 billion profit reported in the same period the previous year.

Diageo, Guinness' parent company, likely decided to sell its 58.02% majority stake to Tolaram Group due to the naira's continued depreciation. According to a statement from the company, "Under the terms of an agreement signed today, 11 June 2024, Tolaram will acquire Diageo’s 58.02% shareholding in Guinness Nigeria, along with royalty agreements for the continued production of the Guinness brand and its locally manufactured Diageo ready-to-drink and mainstream spirits brands."

Guinness Nigeria Plc, a publicly listed company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was established on April 29, 1950, initially importing Guinness Stout from Dublin. With Tolaram's acquisition expected to conclude by 2025, Guinness will have spent 75 years in Nigeria.

The company’s statement also mentioned that the transaction is anticipated to be completed in fiscal 2025, pending necessary regulatory approvals in Nigeria. Abidemi Ademola, Guinness’s legal director, emphasized that Diageo’s exit from Nigeria will not affect its ownership of the Guinness global brand, which will continue to be licensed to Guinness Nigeria.

Diageo’s departure is part of a broader trend of multinational companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline and Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, etc, exiting Nigeria due to the challenging economic environment.

Hamas responds to Gaza cease-fire plan seeking some changes. US says it's 'evaluating' the reply

Hamas said Tuesday that it gave mediators its reply to the U.S.-backed proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza, seeking some “amendments” on the deal. It appeared the reply was short of an outright acceptance that the United States has been pushing for but kept negotiations alive over an elusive halt to the eight-month war.

The foreign ministries of Qatar and Egypt — who have been key mediators alongside the United States — confirmed that they had received Hamas’ response and said mediators were studying it.

“We’re in receipt of this reply that Hamas delivered to Qatar and to Egypt, and we are evaluating it right now,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.

Hamas spokesman Jihad Taha said the response included “amendments that confirm the cease-fire, withdrawal, reconstruction and (prisoner) exchange.” Taha did not elaborate.

But while supporting the broad outlines of the deal, Hamas officials have expressed wariness over whether Israel would implement its terms, particularly provisions for an eventual permanent end to fighting and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in return for the release of all hostages held by the militants.

Even as the U.S. has said Israel accepted the proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given conflicting signals, saying Israel will not stop until its its goal of destroying Hamas is achieved.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in the region this week trying to push through the deal — his eighth visit since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel ignited Israel’s campaign in Gaza. On Tuesday, he continued pressure on Hamas to accept the proposal, saying that the U.N. Security Council’s vote in its favor made it “as clear as it possibly could be” that the world supports the plan.

“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after meeting with Israeli officials, hours before Hamas announced its reply. He said Netanyahu had reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal when they met late Monday.

In a joint statement announcing that they had submitted their reply to Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group said they were ready to “deal positively to arrive at an agreement” and that their priority is to bring a “complete stop” to the war. A senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television that the group had “submitted some remarks on the proposal to the mediators,” without elaborating.

The proposal has raised hopes of ending an 8-month conflict in which Israel’s bombardment and ground offensives in Gaza have killed over 37,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian health officials, and driven some 80% of the population of 2.3 million from their homes. Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hindered efforts to bring humanitarian aid to the isolated coastal enclave, fueling widespread hunger.

Israel launched its campaign, vowing to eliminate Hamas, after the group and other militants stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 hostage. Over 100 hostages were released during a weeklong cease-fire last year in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Later Tuesday, Blinken attended a Gaza aid conference in Jordan, where he announced over $400 million in additional aid for Palestinians in Gaza and the wider region, bringing the total U.S. assistance to more than $674 million over the past eight months.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told the gathering that the amount of aid flowing to the United Nations in Gaza for distribution has plummeted by two-thirds since Israel launched an offensive in the territory’s southern city of Rafah in early May.

Guterres called for all border crossings to be opened, saying, “the speed and scale of the carnage and killing in Gaza” is beyond anything he has since he took the helm of the U.N. in 2017.

In a separate development, the U.N. human rights office said Israeli forces and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the deadly Israeli raid that rescued four hostages over the weekend. At least 274 Palestinians were killed in the operation, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Blinken, who was in Cairo on Monday, was also expected to visit Qatar — where talks would likely focus on the next steps in the push for a deal.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposal, with 14 of the 15 members voting in favor and Russia abstaining. The resolution calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

The proposal, announced by President Joe Biden last month, calls for a three-phased plan that would begin with an initial six-week cease-fire and the release of some hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas and Palestinian civilians would be allowed to return to their homes. Hamas is still holding around 120 hostages, a third of whom are believed to be dead.

Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip,” which Biden said would lead to 600 trucks of aid entering Gaza every day.

At the same time, negotiations would be launched over the second phase, which is to bring “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families.”

The militant group embraced a similar proposal last month that was rejected by Israel.

Biden presented it as an Israeli proposal, but Netanyahu has publicly disputed key aspects of it, saying there were parts left out by Biden. The conflicting signals appear to reflect Netanyahu’s political dilemma. His far-right coalition allies have rejected the proposal and have threatened to bring down his government if he ends the war without destroying Hamas.

A lasting cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza would likely allow Hamas to retain control of the territory and rebuild its military capabilities.

But Netanyahu is also under mounting pressure to accept a deal to bring the hostages back. Thousands of Israelis, including families of the hostages, have demonstrated in favor of the U.S.-backed plan.

The transition from the first to the second phase appears to be a sticking point. Hamas wants assurances that Israel will not resume the war, and Israel wants to ensure that protracted negotiations over the second phase do not prolong the cease-fire indefinitely while leaving hostages in captivity.

Blinken said the proposal would bring an immediate cease-fire and commit the parties to negotiate an enduring one. “The cease-fire that would take place immediately would remain in place, which is manifestly good for everyone. And then we’ll have to see,” Blinken said.

 

AP

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Russia launches missile and drone attack on Kyiv, Ukraine's military says

Russia launched a missile and drone attack on Kyiv early on Wednesday with preliminary information showing there were no injuries or damage in the Ukrainian capital, Ukrainian military said.

Ukraine's air defence systems destroyed all air weapons on their approach to the city, Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration said on the Telegram messaging app.

He added that according to preliminary information, Russia used a combination of cruise and ballistic missiles as well as drones in its attack. The size of the attack was not immediately clear.

Reuters could not independently verify what weapons were used, but Reuters witnesses said that several blasts that sounded like air defence systems at work were heard in and around Kyiv.

It was not immediately known whether there was any damage in the Kyiv region, which surrounds the capital and which is a separate administrative entity.

Air raid alerts lasted several hours across all of Ukraine, starting soon after 0000 GMT and including in regions bordering NATO-member Poland.

Polish and allied aircraft have been activated as a precaution, the Operational Command of the Polish armed forces said on the social media platform X. That is often the case when Russia launches an air attack on Ukraine's western regions.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Russian troops liberate two communities in Ukraine operation — top brass

Russia’s Battlegroup West liberated the settlement of Artyomovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic and the settlement of Timkovka in the Kharkov Region over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday.

"In their active operations, Battlegroup West units liberated the settlements of Artyomovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic and Timkovka in the Kharkov Region," the ministry said in a statement.

 

Reuters/Tass

Campus leftists in the West and nationalists in the global south never tire of pointing out the evils of imperialism. Yet few include the Soviet Union on their list of villains. This is odd: the Soviet empire stretched over 11 time zones, oppressing its vassal states so egregiously that all declared independence the moment they had the chance.

Airbrushing this history makes it harder to understand the present, when the man with the world’s fourth-largest army is trying to reassemble a version of that empire, minus the Marxism. When Vladimir Putin described the liberation of the Soviet Union’s former subjects as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”, he was expressing a worldview shared in previous centuries by Spanish conquistadors and ruffians of the British East India Company: that strong nations should rule weaker ones, regardless of the wishes of those who live there.

Two new books offer first-hand accounts of how that feels for the colonised. In “The Language of War”, the author himself is the eyewitness: Oleksandr Mykhed is a Ukrainian writer who lived through Russia’s invasion of his country and is now serving in the Ukrainian army. In “Revolusi”, the author is a historian who gets his boots dirty. From remote Asian islands to Dutch nursing homes, David Van Reybrouck has tracked down eyewitnesses to Indonesia’s colonial period, producing the definitive account of a neglected epoch.

Both books demolish the simplistic takes that dominate debate on social media today. Imperialism was not, as some on the left argue, simply a Western sin. But, contrary to the splutterings of the nostalgic right, it was a grave one.

The colonial history of the archipelago that is now Indonesia is convoluted. From the 1500s the Portuguese ruled parts of it, then the Dutch, France, Britain and the Dutch again. After the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, Japan “liberated” its colony and proceeded to enslave, starve and behead the locals. When Japan surrendered, the Dutch assumed they would take back control, but their former subjects had other ideas. In August 1945 Indonesia was the first of a wave of ex-colonies around the world to declare independence.

For four years the newly liberated Dutch fought to keep their colony subjugated, sending boatloads of conscripts to face an army of guerrillas wielding sharpened bamboo sticks and looted Japanese rifles. The Dutch used what Mr Van Reybrouck calls ‘“the Westerling method”, which involved rounding up villagers, asking them where the local guerrillas were hiding, and shooting them if they failed to provide useful intelligence.

Dutch pride in the imperial past is still strong. As recently as 2006 a conservative Dutch prime minister urged a revival of the can-do “mentality” of the Dutch East India Company, a slave- and spice-trading outfit. In a YouGov poll of eight ex-colonial powers in 2019, the Dutch were the most likely to say that their former empire was “more something to be proud of than ashamed”, with 50% agreeing and only 6% expressing the opposite view.

Mr Van Reybrouck offers evidence that such pride is misplaced. He chronicles brutal plunder in the 17th century, forced labour in the 19th and a racial caste system in the early 20th. He tracks down perpetrators, such as Goos Blok, a conscript who describes having to inflict electric-shock torture on teenagers. Indonesians explain how at first they welcomed the Japanese, until they saw them behaving even more viciously than the Dutch. As one of them concluded: “Colonialism is colonialism.”

Mr Mykhed’s book is more personal. He lived in Hostomel, a suburb of Kyiv with an airport that Russian special forces tried to capture at the start of the invasion. Thus Mr Mykhed’s block was overrun on day two, by Russians who forced people from their homes, pointing guns at their heads. He and his wife managed to escape.

“The Language of War” brims with horror. Girls are pulled out of a basement by their hair and raped. A 96-year-old survivor of Nazi concentration camps is killed during the supposed “denazification” of Ukraine. The deliberate murder of 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war is made to look like an errant mortar.

Mr Mykhed wields a skilful, angry pen. He sees motorcycles melted by the heat of battle, “like puddles of solidified metal left over from the evil T-1000 robot from ‘Terminator’”. He describes how soldiers look forward to haircuts, just to “feel the warmth and care of a woman’s hands”. He records how Russian invaders, like the crudest burglars, habitually defecate on the beds of homes they loot.

The author’s rage against the invaders is entirely justified. But he spreads it too broadly. He says no Russian film, book, artwork or TV show should be shown, sold or streamed. “Russia must be silenced,” he writes, regardless of whether the writers and artists are anti-war, anti-Putin or long dead. A Russian acquaintance, who hates Mr Putin and fled, texts Mr Mykhed’s wife to ask how he can help. She tells him that he, too, is responsible for the war. “You are all guilty,” Mr Mykhed says.

This is myopic. Russians who choose exile because they do not want to be drafted to kill Ukrainians share an obvious common interest with Ukrainians who do not wish to be killed. The same goes for Russians who yearn for a democratic, post-Putin Russia. To refuse to make common cause with such people may be emotionally satisfying, but it is strategically daft. The notion that guilt is collective, regardless of individual actions, is a recipe for unending strife, and not just in Ukraine.

Yet Mr Mykhed’s testament is valuable, since Mr Putin fights with lies as well as bullets. One of the first things Russian forces do when they occupy a town is to purge libraries of “harmful” books and dismantle any monument to Soviet-era crimes, such as those marking Stalin’s starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s. As Mr Mykhed puts it, “My faith in the power of literature is being restored by the…occupiers’ fear of our books.”

 

The Economist

The Federal Government, on Monday, raised the alarm over the renewed smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, following the massive hike in the pump price of the commodity in neighbouring countries.

It stated that while the average price of petrol in Nigeria was about N701/litre, the average cost of the product in neighbouring countries was N1,787/litre, a development that heightened PMS smuggling out of Nigeria in the past two weeks.

The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Adewale Adeniyi, who disclosed this at a press conference in Yola, said the NCS had to join forces with the Office of the National Security Adviser to tackle the menace.

He said, “Today, we are here to update members of the public on the strategic efforts of the Nigeria Customs Service in addressing the critical issue of fuel smuggling through the recently launched Operation Whirlwind, under the auspices of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

“About a year ago, the Federal Government made the bold strategic decision to remove the fuel subsidy. This crucial step was aimed at freeing up substantial funds that could be redirected to other productive sectors of the economy, reducing pressure on our foreign exchange reserves, and diversifying economic growth.

“The immediate impact was an upward adjustment in fuel prices to reflect current realities. Despite the inflationary pressures and financial strain on households, particularly those with lower incomes, comparative studies still show that fuel prices in Nigeria remain the cheapest compared to other countries in the West and Central African region,” he stated.

PMS prices

Speaking further, Adeniyi said, “While PMS is sold at an average of N701.99 in Nigeria, it is sold at an average of N1,672.05 in the Republic of Benin and N2,061.55 in Cameroon. In other countries around the region, the price of PMS ranges from N1,427.68 in Liberia to N2,128.20 in Mali, averaging N1,787.57, according to the fuel price data obtained from opensource.”

The customs boss said this comparative price advantage, though beneficial to Nigerian citizens, unfortunately, created a lucrative incentive for smuggling PMS out of Nigeria, where prices were two to three times higher.

He said this is substantiated by the report on the average daily evacuation of PMS to various states in Nigeria, obtained from the Nigeria National Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

In his speech, which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja, he said, “The (NMDPRA) report shows significant changes in evacuation patterns that are not justified by corresponding economic and demographic changes, particularly in border states that share contiguous borders with our neighbours.

“Between April and May 2024, Borno and Kebbi states recorded 76 and 59 per cent increases in evacuations, ranking among the top three states. On a year-on-year basis (May 2023 and May 2024), Sokoto and Taraba states recorded the most substantial increases in evacuations, with 247 and 234 per cent increases, respectively.

“Border states like Katsina and Kebbi also recorded more than 50 per cent increases in evacuation. These discrepancies, along with the price disparity between domestic PMS (N701.99) and neighbouring countries (N1,787.57), raise concerns about the actual delivery of PMS and the potential for smuggling.”

Adeniyi said credible intelligence on activities around border areas corroborated these suspicions.

“In response to the alarming increase in fuel smuggling, the NCS in close collaboration with the NSA initiated Operation Whirlwind. This nationwide operation aims to:

a. Ensure that Nigerians enjoy the full benefits of fuel price deregulation in line with the vision of President Bola Tinubu.

“b. Defend the national currency and reduce pressures that may be attributed to the activities of smugglers.

c. Identify, dismantle and disrupt cartels of smugglers operating within the ecosystem.

d. Raise awareness of the local communities and solicit their support to achieve these objectives,” he stated.

Anti-smuggling team

He said the operations, which were guided by credible intelligence and empowered by the new Customs Act 2023, target illegal exportation, particularly of petroleum products, ensuring their availability within the country and conserving government resources.

“Coordinated by a Comptroller of Customs, the operation covers all NCS Zones (A-D), involving selected officers trained and equipped to handle the task with strict adherence to professionalism.

“Collaboration with the ONSA and the NMDPRA supports the operation, utilising internal and external sources. This operation was launched approximately two weeks ago,” Adeniyi stated.

According to him, the NCS had made some significant strides in the ongoing Operation Whirlwind, aimed at curbing the smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit out of the country.

“In the past two weeks we have received credible intelligence on the relative stability of the price of PMS around border states, this is easily attributed to disruptions in the operations of smugglers. Within seven days of intensive operations, a total of 150,950 litres of PMS, valued at N 105,965,391, have been intercepted at various locations nationwide.

“The seizures include:

a. On Friday, May 31, 2024. A total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mova, Adamawa.

b. On Saturday, June 1, 2024, a total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mubi, Adamawa.

c.On Monday, June 3, 2024, a total of 2,375 litres of PMS in 95 25-litre jerrycans were seized at Mubi, Adamawa State.

“d. On Wednesday, June 5, 2024, a total of 4,450 litres of PMS in 178 25-litre jerrycans were seized in three different locations, including Song-Wuroboki, Mubi-Sahuda road and Gidan Madara

– Sahuda road all in Adamawa. e. On Thursday, June 6, 2024, a total of 20,030 litres of PMS in 25 and 30-litre jerrycans were sized in various locations across

the country including Maiha, Adamawa State, Illela, Sokoto and Agbaragba Creek in Mfum border of Cross River State.

“f. On Friday, June 7, 2024, a total of 32,900 litres of PMS were seized at border locations in the North-East and South-West axis of the country. A total of 17,500 litres was recorded in Mubi, Adamawa State, while 15,400 litres was recorded around Imeko Obada Road in 616 25-litre jerrycans. g. On Saturday, June 8, 2024, a total of 8,525 litres of PMS were also seized in two separate locations in Owode (Owode-Ilaro road and Owode-Atan road) in Ogun State.”

Adeniyi stated that in addition to the ongoing operations under Operation Whirlwind, the Customs Area Commands remained vigilant against the illicit activities. of smugglers targeting PMS.

He said the service had recorded significant seizures of PMS from unpatriotic individuals attempting to deprive Nigerians of access to fuel and cause unnecessary hardship.

“While the operation continues, our Federal Operating Units and Marine Commands have intercepted a total of 129,185 litres of fuel valued at N90,558,685. Notably, 54.48 per cent of these seizures occurred in the North-West region, including states such as Katsina, Kebbi, and Sokoto, while 23.87 per cent of the seizures were recorded in the North-Eastern part of the country, particularly in states like Taraba and Adamawa.

“It is worth noting that these states have also seen a significant increase in fuel evacuation as reported by the NMDPRA. It is now evident that the recent rise in the distribution of PMS to border states is driven by the activities of smugglers.

“A combined diversion of 280,135 litres of PMS worth N196,524,075.50 raises serious economic concerns with broader implications on national security. The quantum of this diversion is equivalent to more than 84 per cent of the daily evacuation of PMS to states like Ekiti and Jigawa. It also represents around 32.57 per cent of the daily evacuation to the border states of Borno and Katsina according to the data on average daily evacuation obtained from NMDPRA,” Adeniyi said.

He noted that if these activities were left unchecked, they could further deteriorate the country’s economic situation and exacerbate current foreign exchange challenges.

The customs helmsman stated that the influx of unaccounted foreign currency could be channelled into funding illegitimate activities, including the support of non-state actors engaged in criminal activities against the Nigerian state.

“These issues have serious implications for national security, making it imperative to check, curtail, and dismantle these illicit operations. Achieving this requires the cooperation and collaboration of patriotic government agencies, exemplified by the ongoing Operation Whirlwind.

“Under this collaboration, efforts are being made to resolve existing gaps in the following areas:

a. Sharing of Critical Data Among Agencies. Ongoing engagement with the NMDPRA and the ONSA focuses on sharing daily data on PMS loading. This will enable the NCS to track the movement and delivery of these products to their intended locations.

“b. Monitoring movement of PMS lifting. The NCS will enforce strict monitoring of tanker movements, ensuring that

PMS products lifted from NMDPRA facilities are delivered to approved locations.

c. Use of Manual Systems by Independent Marketers. Independent marketers are advised to automate their existing fleet management systems to enable tracking and geo-fencing

capabilities.

“d. Proliferation of fuel stations at border areas. The NCS will collaborate with relevant licensing agencies to manage the proliferation of petrol stations around border areas,” Adeniyi stated.

He said these measures were essential and would be rigorously implemented to ensure strict adherence to government expectations.

“However, in enforcing these measures, we are mindful of the potential challenges they may pose to border communities. Our operations will not obstruct or interfere with the legitimate activities of patriotic citizens in these areas. I will conclude with a stern warning to the perpetrators of these illicit acts: Desist immediately or face the full wrath of the law,” Adeniyi declared.

Petrol subsidy

On May 29 2023, the Federal Government removed the subsidy on petrol.

Earlier in February that year,   the government declared that it had to shut down 270 filling stations in a bid to stop the smuggling of petrol out of Nigeria.

It said the activities of smugglers pushed Nigeria’s petrol consumption daily to about 67 million litres because a large volume of the product was moved out of the country illegally by smugglers.

The PUNCH precisely reported on February 3, 2023 that the  Federal Government had to deploy operatives of the Department of State Services on tankers transporting petrol to filling stations to halt the diversion and smuggling of the product.

The report stated that over 120 DSS officers were deployed at the time to follow fuel tankers to their various retail outlets in Abuja, as more security agencies were drafted into the exercise for nationwide coverage.

This came as the government also revealed at the time that it shut down over 270 filling stations for being involved in diverse infractions such as hoarding and selling above-approved price, among others.

The Chief Executive of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed, and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, disclosed this in Abuja during a live television programme monitored by our correspondent.

Speaking on efforts being put in place to halt the diversion and cross-border smuggling of PMS, Kyari had said, “So much is going on, there are government security interventions.

“I know the kind of work that we do with the security agencies, for instance, in Abuja alone, we have over 120 DSS officers following every truck to fuel stations and we are activating this across the country.

“We are ensuring that we get other government security agencies to follow these trucks to their locations, in order to be very sure that these trucks actually get to the fuel stations and there are not sold on the way and they don’t cross the borders.”

Kyari had earlier explained at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja that Nigeria’s fuel was smuggled to other countries, as he insisted that the scarcity of PMS at the time was not due to the elections that were held in February 2023.

“There’s no dispute about this that our fuel gets to other countries, including in marine containers. We have evidence now that some of our customers are actually taking investors to other countries and we will get to the root of this.

“The appropriate government security agencies will deal with this. But this is the reality that we are dealing with. You do have cross-border smuggling, either in the form of round-tripping or whatever name we call it.

“So the 66 or 67 million litres that you have always seen include all these, the cross-border smuggling volumes. And it means that anytime we don’t satisfy those markets, it will affect your domestic market. This is the reality that we are dealing with,” he stated.

The NMDPRA boss, while speaking on sanctions taken against downstream operators who flouted the approved regulations, stated that over 270 filling stations and seven depots were closed at the time.

Ahmed had said, “Because of control that we have in most of the major cities, whether it is Port Harcourt, Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, etc, the marketers tend to go to the rural areas where you can buy petrol at a high price.

“And, of course, it is our responsibility as a regulator to ensure strict monitoring and enforcement. What we did was that a couple of weeks ago we had to shut about seven depots because of the inflation of their ex-depot price.”

 

Punch

The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) announced that the federal, state, and local governments shared N1.14 trillion for May 2024. This amount marks a decrease of N60 billion compared to the N1.20 trillion distributed in April.

This information was disclosed in a communiqué issued during FAAC's June meeting, chaired by Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy.

According to the communiqué, the total revenue of N1.14 trillion for May comprised:

- Statutory revenue: N157 billion

- Value-Added Tax (VAT) revenue: N463 billion

- Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) revenue: N15 billion

- Exchange difference revenue: N507 billion

FAAC noted that the total available revenue for May was N2.32 trillion. Of this, N76.647 billion was deducted for the cost of collection, and N1.104 trillion was allocated for transfers, interventions, and refunds.

The gross statutory revenue for May 2024 was N1.223 trillion, slightly lower than the N1.233 trillion received in April by N9.6 billion. The gross revenue from VAT was N497 billion, down from N500 billion in April.

The distribution of the N1.14 trillion total revenue was as follows:

- Federal government: N365 billion

- State governments: N388 billion

- Local governments: N282 billion

- Benefiting states received N106 billion as 13 percent derivation revenue

From the N157.183 billion in statutory revenue:

- Federal government: N61 billion

- State governments: N30.9 billion

- Local governments: N23.8 billion

- Benefiting states received N41.371 billion as 13 percent mineral revenue derivation

From the N463 billion VAT revenue:

- Federal government: N69 billion

- State governments: N231 billion

- Local governments: N162 billion

From the N15 billion EMTL:

- Federal government: N2.2 billion

- State governments: N7.5 billion

- Local governments: N5.3 billion

The communiqué also noted significant increases in companies' income tax (CIT) and petroleum profit tax (PPT) for May, while revenues from import and excise duties, royalty crude and gas, EMTL, CET levies, and VAT saw considerable decreases.

The balance in the Excess Crude Account remained at $473.754 million.

The recent announcement by state governors to remove the remaining subsidies on electricity tariffs is poised to exacerbate an already dire situation for businesses and households across the country. This move follows a significant federal tariff hike in April, which saw Band A electricity consumers facing a more than 200 percent increase. This previous increase has already led to widespread business closures, higher inflation, and an intensified cost of living crisis. The decision by the governors to further remove subsidies will likely deepen these economic woes, making life even more difficult for ordinary Nigerians and businesses alike.

Economic Impact

The removal of electricity subsidies will directly impact the cost of production for businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The Organised Private Sector in Nigeria (OPSN) has already warned that over 65 percent of businesses might shut down due to the previous tariff hike. With another increase on the horizon, the competitiveness of Nigerian products in both local and international markets will be severely undermined. High electricity costs, coupled with inadequate supply, create an environment where businesses struggle to survive, let alone thrive.

Impact on Essential Services

The healthcare sector is one of the most critical areas where the impact of increased electricity tariffs is profoundly felt. Teaching hospitals across Nigeria have reported significant increases in their electricity bills, with some institutions experiencing a fourfold rise. For instance, the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, already burdened by debt, now faces monthly electricity bills of up to N75 million. These costs are unsustainable for public hospitals, leading to potential service interruptions and compromised patient care.

Household Strain

For average Nigerian households, the removal of subsidies will further stretch already thin budgets. High electricity costs contribute to an overall increase in living expenses, as prices for goods and services rise in response to higher production costs. This financial strain is particularly severe in a country where many people live on modest incomes and already struggle with inflation and economic instability.

Alternative Paths Forward

To mitigate the negative consequences of removing electricity subsidies, several alternative strategies should be considered:

1. Gradual Removal with Safeguards: Instead of an abrupt removal, subsidies could be phased out gradually, allowing businesses and households time to adjust. Concurrently, targeted subsidies should be maintained for essential sectors like healthcare and for the most vulnerable populations.

2. Investment in Renewable Energy: Expanding investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind can help reduce dependency on the national grid and lower electricity costs in the long run. Hospitals and other critical infrastructure should be prioritised for such investments.

3. Improving Efficiency and Transparency: Conducting a comprehensive cost-of-service analysis for each state can help in setting fair tariffs. Additionally, ensuring transparency in the application of subsidies and investments can prevent misuse and ensure that the benefits reach the intended recipients.

4. Enhancing Power Supply Reliability: Efforts should be intensified to improve the reliability and distribution of power. This includes upgrading existing infrastructure and encouraging private sector investment in power generation and distribution.

5. Economic Diversification and Support for Businesses: Providing support for businesses to diversify their energy sources and improve efficiency can mitigate the impact of high electricity costs. This could include financial incentives for adopting energy-efficient technologies and practices.

6. Policy Collaboration: A collaborative framework between the federal government and state governments is essential. This partnership can help manage subsidies more effectively and ensure that state-level electricity markets develop in a sustainable and equitable manner.

In conclusion, while the removal of electricity subsidies might be seen as a step towards a more efficient power sector, the immediate economic and social costs could be devastating. By adopting a more measured and strategic approach, the Nigerian government can avoid further exacerbating the economic hardships faced by its citizens and ensure a more stable and prosperous future.

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