Niamey—Mohamed Bazoum, President of Niger Republic, has denied receiving N1.2 billion worth of vehicles from the government of Nigeria.
Earlier this month, it was widely reported that the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government of Nigeria transferred N1.2 billion to the Niger Republic on August 3, a report confirmed by Nigeria’s finance minister, Zainab Ahmed.
The Nigerian government had said the gesture was out of goodwill and which is to foster good neighbouring relations between the two countries.
The minister had argued that though Nigerians had the right to question the rationale for such donation, Buhari, who approved the purchase, also had the right to make his assessment of situations and act accordingly.
But according to SaharaReporters, the Nigerien Minister of Defence, Alkassoum Indatou, in a rebuttal to the claim by the Buhari government, revealed that the Maradi region received Hilux vans from Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, and not from the Buhari regime.
“The state of Zamfara has given five vehicles to the Maradi region, four of which have already been received; it is not the federal government as the Minister of Finance of Nigeria Zainab Ahmed declared,” said a translation of the French statement of a top Nigerien official familiar with the matter.
“The populations of Zamfara who are on the border with Niger call more on the Nigerien soldiers who respond to the minute than even those of their own country.”
The Buhari administration claimed in February that it had contracted Kaura Motors Nigeria Limited, with Fidelity Bank account 4010638472, to purchase 10 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles for the Niger Republic for N1.2 billion.
Nigerian Navy accuses NNPC of deceiving Nigerians about figures of oil theft
Abuja—The Nigerian Navy has stated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s (NNPC) claimed figures of crude oil theft in the country are bogus and not substantive.
According to SaharaReporters, the Navy accused NNPC of reeling out exaggerated figures to save its face, noting that they are hiding the truth from the public.
This was made known by the Navy Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Solomon Agada, while speaking to the Senate Committee on Economic and Financial Crimes during an interactive briefing of the relevant agencies implementing the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 at the National Assembly, as observed and reported by Sunday PUNCH.
Agada revealed that at several interactions with the NNPC, the Navy had explained the causes of fuel scarcity to the company and that there was no way anyone would steal 100,000 barrels of oil in a day, but the NNPC had deliberately continued to mislead Nigerians.
When Agada was asked why the Navy had not been able to stop oil theft, while claiming that the waterways were secure, he said, “The challenge is that because of the criminal activity inshore by the illegal refiners in tapping into the export lines, those export lines have not been in operation since early this year.
“The major terminals have not been able to process fuel for export since around February/March and instead of the NNPC telling the Federal Government that this product is not brought out to be able to process as export, they say the oil was stolen.”
He explained that the Navy had argued that the NNPC should tell people the difference between the oil that they have shut in and not brought out, and what is being stolen.
“The stolen produce that we have been dealing with among illegal refineries is nothing compared to what the NNPC is declaring as being stolen.
“If you’re talking about stealing 100,000 barrels a day, you need about five-tonne batches 20 times a day from the creek to the high sea, which is very unrealistic.
“I told them at the NNPC that if that were to be the case, even a blind man would observe that something was happening in Nigeria’s waters and we are there on patrol and not seeing this.
“The only reasonable explanation why the fuels are not coming out is because the Shell platform on Bonny Island is not exporting and the Chevron terminal in Escravos is also not exporting. All these things are very clear, but because it is easier to say these things are stolen, then they just come up with that.
“Let’s get someone who can do a proper analysis of these figures and we’ll find out that these claims are just bogus; there is nothing substantive about them.
“We have communicated appropriately with the NNPC; even at our last interface with them, they agreed with us; but when they come to the public, they say oil theft, hiding the fact from the public.”
Agada also responded to the alleged tapping of pressure pipe under the sea, from where crude oil was said to be transferred into vessels.
He said; “On the tapping of the vessel, I also visited that location with the Chief of Defence Staff and there is a directive by the President from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to set up a committee on that particular incident.
“We are not indicting the NNPCL; we are just saying that let matters be presented correctly so that people can make informed decisions. The Navy has no hand in any stealing of oil in this country. I have no ship or vessel, nor do I know anyone who has; you can investigate me.”
The Navy boss further explained that the increase in diesel price was because of an ongoing operation to stop illegal bunkering on the waters.
“People who have been doing this illegal business will confirm to you that since we started this special task force operation in April, their business has gone sour.
“This is also responsible for the increase in diesel price in the country. Since we stopped the illegal diesel from coming to the market, the price has gone up, because once there is high demand and the supply is low, the price will go up.
“People who ought to import will cut corners and buy the illegal products, but now that they can’t import and the illegal ones are not coming, this has reduced the quantity in the country. But somehow, nobody is coming to share this information with the people.”
He added that the Nigerian Government had invested in infrastructure through the Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure, which had assisted the Navy in detecting and arresting illegal refiners and vessels that were usually handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.
Agada stated, “And right from Abuja here, we have the capacity to see the entire Nigeria Exclusive Economic Zone. We have 24 hours watch on the exclusive economic zone. Any vessel that enters Nigerian waters that is not permitted to be is immediately arrested because we see their movement.
“Any vessel in the international waters is expected to have their automatic identification system on and that shows that you’re transparently operating; so, any vessel that switches off its identification system automatically becomes a vessel for the Nigeria Navy and we will immediately arrest them and thereafter investigate.
“So, as of today, there is no tanker that can enter Nigerian waters to carry anything without being noticed. All these things that happened now have sent a very strong signal to the international communities that Nigeria is now a place where illegal activities can’t take place anymore.”
Oil can no longer feed Nigeria’s growing population—Obasanjo
Abeokuta—Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the oil and gas sector can no longer feed the growing population of Nigerians, according to Daily Trust.
Obasanjo spoke at the weekend when the leadership of the apex socio-cultural group in Tiv land of Benue State, Mzough U Tiv (MUT) paid him appreciation and friendship visit at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Penthouse residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
He said only farming and agribusiness could tackle the nation’s growing population.
He called on people to focus on farming and agribusiness as an alternative to Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy.
“If Nigeria is ready to get it right, the 2023 election should be a turning point. We should not go for emotion that will destroy us,” Obasanjo, who was conferred with the title of a “Great Warrior” of Tiv land by the socio-political group, said.
Earlier, the President-General of the Tiv body, Chief Iorbee Ihagh demanded the former president’s intervention on the need for the establishment of a fruit juice industry in Benue State, agitation for inclusive national politics, herder’s attack on Tiv land and the power sharing formula.
Your failure responsible for nationwide hardship, Govs hit back at FG
Abuja—The thirty-six state governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), have lampooned the Federal Government for blaming the high level of poverty in the country on state governors, according to the Punch.
Governors were accused of paying more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improving the living standard of the people.
NGF noted that FG should stop shifting blames to others over rising poverty in the country.
The Governors took a swipe at the Federal Government, saying that its dereliction of duty was responsible for the rising poverty in the country and the reason people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activities in commerce.
According to the governors, the accusation by the Federal Government came as a surprise to them, saying it got it wrong.
They added that the assertion was not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth.
The Federal Government through the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba had on Wednesday blamed the high level of poverty in the country on state governors who it said pay more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improvement of life in the rural areas.
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba gave the admonition while fielding question from State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But reacting to the allegation, the Governors said that the tirade early this week by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Clement Agba, on the 36 Governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise.
In a statement by the Director, Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Friday, the Governors noted that the attacks were not only unnecessary, but represent what they described as a brazen descent into selective amnesia.
It is also diversionary as far as the Governors were concerned, he stated.
The Statement reads, “The tirade early this week by the Minister of state for Budget and National Planning Mr. Clement Agba, on the 36 Governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise. The Minister got his message totally wrong.
“His attacks are not only unnecessary, but they represent a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors are concerned.
“The Minister who should be responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were doing to ameliorate the hardship Nigerians are facing attempted to defray the notion that rising levels of hunger and lack were peculiar to Nigeria.
“True as that may be Mr. Agba went further to explain that their government, through many of its social security programs, has been dedicating resources to alleviating hardship, and then goes further to accuse state governors of misdirecting resources to projects that have no impact on the people.
“While rightly pointing out that that 72% of the poverty in Nigeria is found in the rural areas, the Minister said that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors.
“This assertion is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth. It is Mr. Clement Agba’s veiled and deliberate effort, as a minister, to protect his paymasters and politicize very critical issues of national importance. Instead of answering the question thrown at him by journalists, Mr. Agba veered his attention to soft targets that happen to be 36 Governors.
“It is the opinion of the Governors that the dereliction that the Minister is talking about lies, strictly speaking, at the doorstep of the Federal Government which he represents, in this scenario.
“First and foremost, the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, without which no sensible human activity takes place.
“But the Federal Government which is responsible for the security of lives and property has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands.”