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Tuesday, 13 February 2018 00:00

Why fuel scarcity will persist, by unions

For more than two months, the fuel situation has been unpredictable. Today there is product and the next day – the pumps at the filling stations are dry. Major players in the oil industry say the government should go beyond products’ importation. They are pushing for a friendly Foreign Exchange (forex) rate, a good road network and reduced security checks, among others, writes Emeka Ugwuanyi.

 

THERE seems to be no letup in the blame trading game over who should be held responsible for the perennial fuel scarcity.

 

Since the queues returned to filling stations across the country at the turn of last year, the Federal Government and those in the distribution chain of petroleum products have been passing the bucks.

 

 

 

The supply flow has been unsteady following the withdrawal of oil marketers from importation, leaving the business to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

 

The fuel queues, which began on December 7 in Abuja, eased on January 2 but re-surfaced on January 5. They have been off and on in the FCT and many parts of the country.

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the petrol supply and price situation deserved an urgent and lasting solution.

 

Its local chapter chairman in Anambra State Jerry Nnubia said it was expected that the price of petrol would return to normal soon after the Yuletide period but the crisis had lingered.

 

According to him, the unofficial hike in the price of petrol was having a severe effect on Nigerians, especially workers.

 

Nnubia said: “The Federal Government should ensure that the sector returned to normal through massive supply products.

 

 

 

“You are aware that petrol is the driver of every other sectors of the economy and you can see the suffering this hike has brought to the people.

 

“The labour is holding government responsible for what is happening because they are the only people that can save the situation.”

 

Some unions have warned that Nigerians may have to contend with irregular supply for now. They blamed persistent queues on Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Foreign Exchange (forex) rates, decaying infrastructure and security checks, among other factors.

 

According to them, the insatiable quest of DAPPMAN members for maximum profit as major players in the distribution chain has not been helping matters.

 

They alleged that the depot owners sell product to others for distribution above the rates fixed by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

 

The development, they explained, leave with two options. They either stop restocking their filling stations or retail at above the litter price.

 

To them, the second option is the devil’s alternative as officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) deployed to enforce compliance with the PPPRA ceiling constantly sanction erring stations.

 

More than 78,000 litres of petrol were dispensed free of charge to motorists in Abuja from the various stations that were caught selling above the approved pump price of N145 per litre during a six-day monitoring by the Joint Task Force at the turn of last year.

 

Seventeen fuel stations were at the weekend sealed in Niger and Anambra states by DPR monitors.

 

Isah Jankara, Operations Controller of DPR in Niger State, where 13 stations fell under the hammer, told reporters: “If you want to sell petrol in Niger make sure you sell at government’s approved rate of N145 per litre. Also, make sure that you don’t divert the product because if you are caught you must face the penalty.”

 

Jankara said that all the affected stations must pay necessary fines before they would be allowed to re-open for business.

 

He said: “All marketers whose stations have been closed down for violation of the N145 pump price per litre are to pay the sum of N100, 000 per pump as penalty through the TSA (Treasury Single Account) and submit receipts of payment and bank teller to the Head of Operations before their stations will be re-opened for sales to the public at N145 per litre.”

 

Jankara said that before now earring filling stations were only compelled to revert to government’ approved rate without sanction.

 

Two of the four filling stations sealed in Anambra State were for alleged fuel diversion and the operators of the two other outlets were reprimanded for selling the product above N145

 

The DPR officials forced five other stations to sell at the approved pump price.

 

In Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha, fuel sells for between N185 and N200 per litre.

 

DPR Head of Safety, Environment and Health Department, Linus Ikegbunam, who led a five-man enforcement team, said the marketers were suspected not to have discharged products meant for their stations accordingly.

 

Ikegbunam said the filling stations sealed for suspected diversion had the product designated for them as contained in their manifests.

 

He said DPR was worried over the rising cases of product diversion, especially at this time of supply challenges but assured that the agency was ready to combat the menace.

 

Ikegbunam wondered why a marketer who procured as much as between 40,000 and 50,000 litres of petrol would not sell to the people rather divert them to other locations.

 

He said the stations would remain closed until investigations were concluded on them and warned that those found culpable would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

 

“Selling above government approved price of N145 is an offence and that is why we enforced compliance at some stations. Those who are habitual offenders were also sealed and penalised,” Ikegbunam warned.

 

The Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Salihu Butu, confirmed to reporters at the weekend that the retail business has become unprofitable for his members.

 

Besides paying higher for products at the depots, IPMAN, which accounts for 80 per cent of the retail outlets in the country, get 10 per cent products to sell, Buto told reporters on the tarmac of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), at Suleja depot, Niger State.

 

According to him, they buy above the ex-depot price to keep their stations open and remain in business.

 

DAPPMAN, it was learnt, gets the product at N117 from the NNPC, the sole importer, and sells to marketers at N152 as against the approved ex-depot price of N133.80.

 

Butu said: “The private depot owners do not sell to us at the official price. We buy at the unofficial price. How do we break even?

 

“Our stations sell at N180 – N190 because when you get to the depots, you are presented with two accounts for payment: one for the actual price and the other for the extra, otherwise you cannot lift.”

 

On the way forward, Butu said only President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly could intervene in the fuel situation.

 

He said: “Only President Muhammadu Buhari can solve this. He should come in, people trust him. When he increased price, people accepted, no questions asked. We knew it was for the better.

 

“The National Assembly also should invite all aggrieved members to get to the bottom of this. There should be equity in distribution. NNPC depots should be stocked back to back. Only Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) is loading.

 

“Mr Umar Ajiya of PPMC held meetings with us. We decided to cooperate and so, I went to Aba, Warri, Mosimi and found that our members are given two-three trucks to share.

 

“To keep their stations open and stay in business, our members have to buy. All these should be looked into.”

 

A marketer at Seaman’s Petroleum in Anambra State, Geoffrey Anioke, said it has been difficult procuring products in the last two months, making it impossible to sell at the government approved price.

 

Anioke said selling petrol at N145, when the landing was between N165 and N170 was a huge loss for them.

 

He urged the Federal Government and the NNPC to supply enough petrol to eliminate the black market and artificial price increase.

 

He said: “We get fuel from N165 to N170 at the moment and it is not possible to sell at N145 and forcing us to sell at that price is punishing us and driving us out of business.

 

Two goals from Belgian wizard Eden Hazard and another by Victor Moses earned Chelsea a 3-0 home win over struggling West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League on Monday.

 

It was a result which eased pressure on coach Antonio Conte following two defeats for the champions.

 

The lively Hazard twisted his way goalwards in the 25th minute before playing a neat one-two with new signing Olivier Giroud.

 

The Frenchman held off defenders to place the ball for the Belgium international to smack it past goalkeeper Ben Foster.

 

Moses added Chelsea’s second after sprinting down the wing and laying the ball off to Cesc Fabregas, whose flick was deflected back into the Nigerian’s path.

 

Hazard’s second goal wrapped up the points as Chelsea moved back into the top four.

 

In the 71st minute, he received a pass from substitute Alvaro Morata, and jinked past defender Jonny Evans to lift the ball into the net.

 

Chelsea have 53 points from 27 games, one point ahead of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and a point behind third-placed Liverpool in the race for UEFA Champions League qualifying spots.

 

A beaming Conte, whose side had lost their previous two Premier League games at home to Bournemouth and at Watford, hurried round the pitch after the whistle, shaking hands.

 

The Italian, who won the title in his first season in charge, has had a strained relationship with the club hierarchy since last summer after disagreements over buying players.

 

There have been suggestions he would leave at the end of the season.

 

But his players, so lacklustre against Watford, looked energised after a week’s rest.

 

France international Giroud, who joined last month from Arsenal, provided a target man and combined well with Hazard and Fabregas.

 

He left the pitch to applause in the 70th minute, his head swathed in bandages after he was kicked in a goalmouth melee in the first half.

 

“He is a great target man,” Hazard said later on. “Maybe one of the best in England. So, we can pass the ball and go around him.

 

“He is a good point of reference. We have plenty though as we have him, Alvaro and I can play striker also.”

 

It was a miserable night for Alan Pardew’s West Brom side, who have won once in their last 25 Premier League games.

 

In spite of a lively start they managed one shot on target.

 

The disappointment was compounded with the loss of Daniel Sturridge barely three minutes into the game.

 

The striker, on loan from Liverpool, limped off to be replaced by Jay Rodriguez.

 

The visitors also failed to convert good chances that fell to Jonny Evans, Salomon Rondon and Rodriguez.

 

Chelsea are still competing on three fronts.

 

They face Hull City in the FA Cup fifth round on Friday before meeting FC Barcelona in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Feb. 20.(Reuters/NAN).

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 00:00

NFF confirm new coaches for national teams

The Nigeria Football Federation on Monday released the names of coaching crews of all the national teams.

 

New coaches were not named for the senior men team (Super Eagles), U20 women (Falconets) and U17 women (Flamingos) because the contracts of their current handlers are running.

 

The chairman of the technical and development committee of the NFF, Yusuf Ahmed, told thenff.com that the appointments take effect immediately.

 

Ahmed, who is also vice chairman of the NFF Strategy Committee, said: “All the coaches will be unveiled at a later date, alongside the coaching crews of the U20 and U17 girls that were appointed earlier as a result of their World Cup qualifying campaigns.”

 

The coaches are as follows:

 

SUPER EAGLES B/OLYMPIC MEN TEAM: Salisu Yusuf (Head Coach); Imama Amapakabo; Kennedy Boboye; Fidelis Ilechukwu; Alloy Agu (Goalkeepers’ Trainer)

 

U20 MEN (FLYING EAGLES): Paul Aigbogun (Head Coach); Abdullahi Maikaba; Abubakar Bala; Hassan Abdallah (Scouting); Suleiman Shuaibu (Goalkeepers’ Trainer)

 

 U17 BOYS TEAM (GOLDEN EAGLETS): Manu Garba (Head Coach); Nduka Ugbade; Jolomi Atune Ali; Bunmi Haruna (Scouting); Abideen Baruwa Olatunji (Goalkeepers’ Trainer)

 

 U15 BOYS TEAM (FUTURE EAGLES): Alala Danladi Nasidi (Head Coach); Haruna Usman ‘Ilerika’; Ahmed Lawal Dankoli; Patrick Bassey (Scouting); Ernest Salolome (Goalkeepers’ Trainer).

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, announced on Monday that he was consulting widely to run for the presidency in 2019.

 

Mr. Moghalu told political correspondents in Lagos that time had come for technocrats, intellectuals and experienced people to take power from Nigeria’s career politicians.

 

He said that he would not be deterred from joining the race, in spite of speculations that 2023 was the year slated for Igbos to have a shot at the presidency.

 

Mr. Moghalu argued that politics in Nigeria should be detribalised for Africa’s most populous nation to grow and take its rightful place in the comity of nations.

 

“It is the turn of any competent Nigerian to aspire for the post of presidency because career politicians have failed Nigeria.’’

 

He said that zoning, which had been used by the major political parties, might have been relevant in the past but that it was no longer necessary because competence should be placed above tribe in present day Nigeria.

 

“Zoning was an internal arrangement by political parties that was not constitutional. It should no longer matter where the president comes from.

 

“The future of Nigeria rests in technocratic interventions. We need thinking people that will take Nigeria from the politics of stomach infrastructure to politics of mental infrastructure.’’

 

The former CBN chief said that the first part to progress for Nigeria was for the people to begin to think differently and beyond tribe in choosing those who would lead them.

 

Speaking on a second term for President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Moghalu said that the president had constitutional rights to seek re-election.

 

 A former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu A former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu

“I don’t fathom how anyone can say the president should not run for a second term. It is his choice, the decision on who becomes Nigeria’s president in 2019 rests with Nigerians. ‘’

 

On the nation’s economy, the economist pointed out that “the economy was in a delicate situation before the present administration.

 

“The handling of the forex crisis though was misguided. The drop in oil prices actually affected the value of our currency but government should have simply allowed the naira to find its true value which would have reduced the inflation rate.’’

 

He said that Nigeria must look beyond continued dependence on oil and encourage independent institutions to flourish.

 

Mr. Moghalu, however, advised Nigerians to eschew docility and become more forceful in demanding accountability from their leaders at all levels of governance.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr. Moghalu, who served as CBN deputy governor from 2009 to 2014, is a political economist, lawyer and a former United Nations official.

 

He was also a professor of practice in international business and public policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, U.S.

 

Born on May 7, 1963, Mr. Moghalu is a graduate of the London School of Economics. He also read Political Science at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.

The Borno State Police Commissioner, Damian Chukwu, said on Monday that the 10 women released by Boko Haram recently were not police officers.

 

“Only one of the abductees was a police officer,” Mr. Chukwu said.

 

He made this clarification while speaking with journalists in his office on Monday afternoon.

 

The presidency confirmed the release of 13 people over the weekend including three oil explorers from the University of Maiduguri.

 

The 10 women and the oil explorers were kidnapped in different incidents.

 

The police commissioner, however, restated his statement last year that “only one police woman, Inspector Fatsuma Haruna,” was abducted alongside other females accompanying the corpse of a deceased police woman to her home town in Lassa village of Askira-Uba local government areas of Borno State.

 

PREMIUM TIMES reported the kidnap of the women last year after members of the terror group attacked a convoy of vehicles that had a military escort.

 

“I did mention it last year that when Boko Haram ambushed a military escorted convoy of travelers which also included a burial party taking a deceased police woman to her home town Lassa, one of the police women, Inspector Fatsuma Haruna, a close friend of the deceased assigned to accompany the corpse, was abducted by Boko Haram.

 

“It is not correct to say that ten police women were released by Boko Haram. We only have one policewoman among the released abductees. The other women, I believe, were relatives of the deceased police woman whose corpse was being transported to her home town before the convoy was ambushed,” the police commissioner said.

 

 

 

On February 7, three days before the negotiated release of the 13 abductees, including three geologists from the University of Maiduguri, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, had, in his second YouTube video this year, boasted that he had ten police women still in his custody.

At the closing of the two-day summit on national security organised by the Senate, state governors and the federal parliament have agreed to allow states to have their police.

 

They backed Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who stated at the opening of the event on Thursday that state police was “the way to go.”

 

 

 

Participants, who included the leadership and members of the Senate, governors and service chiefs, as well as community, religious and traditional leaders, also raised the issue of restructuring and true federalism at the summit.

 

Strong indications emerged after the summit that some issues raised might come up as amendment bills to alter the constitution.

 

Speaking with journalists at the NAF Centre Abuja venue, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, said governors called for the decentralisation of the country’s police.

 

He said, “The takeaway from this summit is that the Vice-President raised some of the key discussions on that day – 17th August, 2017 – about state police. Yes, the state police issue is something that we have agreed on in 2011 and 2015 during constitution amendments.

 

“Today, we have reiterated the position of the Vice-President and the position of the security summit that we held in August that there is the need for state police and we say it is the only answer.”

 

Yari recalled that a participant asked how state police would succeed when the military had been deployed in communities where there were agitations but failed.

 

The governor said his response was that the military were trained for external aggressions and not for internal security operations.

 

“Internal security is supposed to be handled and managed by the police but the police of today are inadequate. There are about four million people in Zamfara State but we have less than five thousand policemen. If you look at the ratio, it is far below international standards. Therefore, we, the governors, agree that we can fine-tune the issue of state police,” Yari added.

 

 

 

The governor dismissed the fear of possible abuse of state police by governors as raised by some of the participants. He said the judiciary had been operating freely under governors, which was an indication that state police would also grow under the control of the states.

 

Yari also noted the fears expressed by some states governors on the cost implication of having state police. He said the new system would be introduced in phases, starting with states that had the financial capability.

 

Also, the Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, said most of the participants agreed on the decentralisation of the police.

 

He said the lawmakers might review the constitution to effect devolution of powers and accommodate state police.

 

He noted  security had been centralised, adding that the population of the country had increased from  60 million in 1960 to  200 million, noting that “the number of policemen cannot police the entire country and provide security for Nigerians.

 

“Therefore, there is the need to decentralise that aspect and that comes under devolution of powers. We may need to review the constitution to bring security under the concurrent list of the legislature so that it will be easy for the states to set up something that will be in line with proper guidelines. State policing has been accepted by all and sundry. I have not seen anybody speaking against it. I think that is one major thing we can take out of this summit. The centralisation of the police can no longer work with the kind of population that we have today.”

 

The former Governor of Akwa Ibom State also said the participants agreed on establishment of ranches and grazing reserves as the grazing routes created for nomadic herdsmen had been blocked with structures due to development of towns and cities over the years.

 

“The implication now is that with the current population growth in the country, there is now a lot of competition among the cows, the grass and infrastructure. If the routes do no longer exist, we have to modernise the system,” he added.

 

Also, Senator Adamu Aliero, a former Governor of Kebbi State, said the stakeholders had an extensive debate on the spate of insecurity in Benue State and other parts of the country where people were being killed by herdsmen.

 

“We all decided that measures must be taken to stop further killings and the only way to do it is to have synergy between the security agencies. Even the governors have agreed that state police is the way to go. It is quite consistent with what the Vice-President has suggested,” he said.

 

In his submission, Senator Victor Umeh said some participants at the 2014 national conference, who were also at the summit, decried the non-implementation of the report produced by the confab.

 

He said, “At the summit, issues of the national conference of 2014 came up. Why can’t we implement the recommendations of that conference? Some of the leaders who came here were at the national conference. You talked somewhere and abandoned the resolutions somewhere, only to come here and start to talk again. When are the solutions going to be found?”

 

Umeh also said ethnic nationalities and geopolitical zones expressed their grievances at the meeting, especially the alleged marginalisation of the South-East in federal appointments and proposed stoppage of amnesty programme for militants in the Niger Delta.

 

He said, “Those who have not been treated well, when they are complaining; don’t think because you are comfortable today, others are making noise. If you find grievances that are genuine, find a way of addressing them.”

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