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Buhari approves N2.047trn for NNPC refineries in six years

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The approvals made by President Muhammadu Buhari  who is also the Minister of Petroleum on rehabilitation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) refineries between 2015 and 2021 increased to N2.

047 trillion in 2021, following the approval of another $1.5billion  ( N381 per Dollar) yesterday by the Federal Executive Council ( FEC) for the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery with a refining capacity of 210,000 barrels per day.

This  N2.047 trillion approved by President Buhari translates to N1.47 trillion spent between 2015 to 2020 and fresh approval of $1.5 billion ( N571 billion)

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, made the fresh approval known yesterday when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the Council meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, the rehabilitation will be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months.

The minister stated that the rehabilitation was in fulfilment of Federal Government’s desire to resuscitate the country’s refineries to reduce the cost of processing petroleum products as well as boost the economy.

He said, “The Ministry of Petroleum Resources presented a memo on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery for the sum of 1.5 billion dollars, and that memo was 1.5 billion dollars and it was approved by council today.

“So, we are happy to announce that the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery will commence forthwith. It is in three phases.

“The first phase is to be completed in 18 months, which will take the refinery to a production of 90 per cent of its nameplate capacity.

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“The second phase is completed in 24 months and all the final stages will be completed in 44 months and consultations are approved.

“I believe that this is good news for Nigerians. The rehabilitation of refineries have commenced.”

The minister also disclosed that an Italian company would undertake the repairs and a maintenance company would also be put in place, to ensure effective maintenance culture.

“The contractor that was approved by council today is Tecnimont, SPA of Italy.”

However, since the botched attempt made by former Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo to sell the refineries, more than N2 trillion had  been spent on  rehabilitation of the nation’s ailing refineries but they failed to operate above 20%  installed capacity.

Late President Umaru Yardua reversed the sale of the refineries sold by Obasanjo to Bluestar Consortium comprising Dangote Oil ( 55%), Zenon Petroleum (25%) and Transcorp ( 5%) and Rivers State Government ( 15%). The Bureau of Public Enterprises ( BPE) was accused of selling the assets wrongly. Bluestar purchased the Port Harcourt refinery and the Kaduna refining and Petrochemical company.

To improve the refining capacity, late President Yar’Adua appointed Engineer Abubakar Yar’Adua, a downstream expert as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC. He received the mandate for the refineries to operate optimally within a year. However, GMD Yar’Adua promised Nigerians that the refineries optimal capacity will be restored within nine months. Unfortunately, he was fired by late President Yar’Adua  for failing to improve the capacity of the refineries within the period as pledged.

Meanwhile, the recent NNPC  report shows that N1.47 trillion was spent on the four refineries between 2015 and N2020. Breakdown  of the figures revealed that the NNPC, in 2015, expended N82.82 billion on the refineries; while in 2016, N78.95 billion expenditure was spent  on the refineries.

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In particular, it stated that N604.127 billion was spent on the refineries by the NNPC in 2017; while the amount expended on the refineries dropped to N426.66 billion in 2019; dropping further to N218.18 billion in 2019.

It also stated that the NNPC declared N64.534 billion expenditure on the three refining complex from January to June 2020. The three refining companies are Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, WRPC and Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, KRPC, both having one refinery each; while Port Harcourt Refining Company, PHRC has two refineries.

From their combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, the reports further put the capacity utilization of the three refineries at 4.88 per cent in 2015; 11.92 per cent in 2016; 18.13 per cent in 2017; 10.13 per cent in 2018 and a woeful 2.19 per cent in 2019.

Specifically, at the end of 2019, the NNPC stated that: “No associated crude plus freight cost for the three refineries since there was no production but operational expenses amounted to N13.55 billion. This resulted to an operating deficit of N13.46 billion.”

According to a recent NNPC Monthly Oil and Gas industry report:

“In December 2019, the three refineries processed no crude and produced -619 metric tonnes (MT) of finished products; comprising -2,593 MT and 1,974 MT by Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), and Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), respectively. Combined yield efficiency is 0.00 per cent, owing largely to ongoing rehabilitation works in the refineries.”

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However, Sylva  has assured Nigerians about the ability of the contractor to restore the capacity of Port Harcourt refinery with the rehabilitation contract.

According to him, “Talking about operations and maintenance, that has been a big problem for our refineries and that was also exhaustively discussed in council and the agreement is that we are going to appoint a professional operations and maintenance and operations company to manage the refinery when it is finally rehabilitated.

“It is actually one of the conditions presented by the lenders, because the lenders said they can give us the money if we have a professional operations and maintenance company and that already is embedded in our discussions with the lenders. We’re not going back on that,” he said.

According to Sylva, the needed fund for the rehabilitation work has been earmarked, saying the funding will be shouldered by the federal government, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Africa Export-Import Bank AFREXIM.

The minister assured that rehabilitation works on Kaduna and Warri refineries would also be carried out on or before May 2023.

According to the NNPC, the country’s PMS requirement by  2025, Nigeria needs 1.52 million barrels per day.

This implies that on completion of the Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation with the $1.5 billion approved by FEC, Nigeria will still depend on importation since the coming on stream of Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical has again being delayed.

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Obasanjo condemns call for Nigeria’s disintegration

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday described calls for the disintegration of Nigeria as unmindful and insensitive to the plight of the minority groups in the country.

Obasanjo made the observation when he received the Tiv Professional Group (TPG) from Benue State, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abeokuta.

The former president recalled a discussion between him and “a military friend”  who, according to him, has described major tribes in the country as selfish and not sufficiently caring for the minority groups.

Obasanjo, who aligned with his friend’s opinion, expressed worry over what would become of the minority groups if the major tribes decided to secede and begin to operate as separate countries.

“If the Yoruba can stand as a country if the Igbos and the Hausa/Fulani can stand as separate countries, where do we want the minority groups to be?

“Now, by virtue of the present situation, they are a little bit protected, but if Nigeria breaks up, they will be oppressed and exterminated,” he said.

He recalled the meetings he had with a number of socio-cultural organizations in September 2020 and noted that nobody at such meeting talked about disintegration or breakup, saying that “all they clamored for was a change for good”.

The elder statesman stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to be mindful of the ethnic diversity of the Nigerian nation, adding that the country would not make any meaningful progress without such consideration.

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Obasanjo, who expressed hope that the rough times that Nigeria was going through would not last forever, urged Nigerians to be patient while the country gathered her goodwill and moved in the right direction.

The leader of the group, Prof. Zacharys Gundv, in a paper he presented to Obasanjo, highlighted the challenges of the nation, including insecurity, poverty religious intolerance, kidnappings, and banditry, among others.

He explained that the Tivs were worried about the skewed narrative of insecurity in Nigeria

Proffering a solution to Nigeria’s challenges, Gundv called on well-meaning Nigerians to be united in serving the country.

He called for intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism and an “All Nationalities Summit” to discuss and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s challenges.

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Buhari haunted by his coup plotting past- PDP

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What began as a rumour or idle talk – whispers of a putsch – yesterday gathered a life of its own as state actors kept giving life to the notion, which is turning and turning in the widening gyre.

First was the pledge by the military that it would not overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general and head of state whose government has come under strident criticisms over growing insecurity in the country.

In a statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, the military said it has no intention of taking over power again in Nigeria. This, it said, is because it believes that despite tough times, democracy is the way to go and militarism is no longer fashionable. The army also warned politicians nursing ambition of ruling Nigeria outside the ballot box, saying it would continue to defend the country’s democracy.

“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended. We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens,” the statement said in part.

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This statement was in reaction to agitation by some secessionist and opposition figures for a restructuring of the government, coming two days after the Department of State Services (DSS) also issued same warning.

Immediately after the army’s pledge of loyalty, the Presidency, yesterday, raised the alarm, warning of a subliminal plot by some past leaders working with foreigners to forcefully sack President Buhari from office. However, it did not provide names of the leaders and their cohorts.

The Presidency predicated its conclusion on what it described as ‘unimpeachable’ evidence made available to it by DSS operatives. It, however, warned of dire consequences of such plot, especially where the citizens have opted for democratic rule, saying the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections.

In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the Presidency said: “The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.

“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.

“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.

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“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections. Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.”

In response to the salvo fired by the Presidency, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the allegation that some Nigerians were plotting a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership, as a resort to blackmail in the face of failure. The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, asked Buhari to look closely at his past before accusing it of plot to overthrow democratically elected government.

“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.”

The PDP said rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing the nation, “the Presidency is busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.”

DESCRIBING the alarm as false and signs of a jittery administration pushing the panic button, a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked Buhari to quit immediately if the “kitchen has become too hot for him.”

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Bloomberg removes Bill Gates from billionaire list after divorce

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A few hours after announcing his divorce from wife, Melinda, Bloomberg has delisted one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, from its billionaire list index.

Gates had, on Monday, announced that he and Melinda who are the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were splitting after 27 years of marriage.

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the duo had shared on Twitter.

“Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable people to lead healthy lives,” they added .

Immediately after making the announcement, Bloomberg, an international media conglomerate that provides financial news and information, research, and financial data, yanked Gates off its top billionaires’ list where he usually sits in the top four spots.

On May 2, 2021, Gates was fourth on the index with a net worth of $145 billion, having gained over $13 billion in 2021 alone.

Gates became the youngest ‘American Billionaire’ in 1987 and has been on the Bloomberg’s list ever since.

He has also been a permanent fixture on the Forbes billionaire index, often making the real-time billionaire list

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Gates and Melinda got married in 1994, after he was already named the richest man in America.

The divorce is expected to affect their wealth, but the extent to which this will happen is yet to be known as Forbes is also expected to make its position known in due course.

By Isaac Dachen…

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