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EAL editing..Senate raises concern over high cost of crude oil production in Nigeria

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The Senate on Monday expressed concern over the high cost of crude oil production by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

It said despite the high cost of producing crude oil, Nigeria was not getting much in return on its investment in crude oil production.

Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, made the observation at an interactive session on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP) with officers of Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Other agencies of government in attendance at the meeting included revenue-generating agencies such as NNPC, Nigeria Customs Service, and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) among others.

Adeola said: “I want you to take us through why Nigeria’s cost of production per barrel of crude oil is the most expensive in the world.

“Give us the breakdown of what constitutes those costs into variables and the technical cost.

“We want to know what you are doing as an agency of government to bring down this cost,” he said.

He said the committee was interested in ascertaining other costs of crude production in terms of administrative cost.

“Who determines this cost, with a benchmark of 25 dollars as proposed, Nigeria is just going to have just three dollars as its own return on investment.

“The oil revenue and the mineral revenue as proposed in the MTEF have dropped from almost N8.86 trillion to N3.33 trillion, are you saying that it is a worthwhile investment for us as a nation.

“How do you ensure that Nigeria is being charged the right cost on each barrel of oil.

“In Saudi Arabia, it is four dollars per barrel cost of production, in Russia it is about three dollars per barrel, Nigeria is 21 dollars.

“We are beginning to be afraid as to why we are channeling all our efforts to this oil and gas if the return on investment is nothing to write home about,” he said.

Sen. James Manager (PDP Delta) said the reason adduced by NNPC for the cost of production was not tenable.

“Because wherever oil is produced, they have their own security challenge even Saudi Arabia, Iran Russia, they have their own unique security issues.

“How is our own so peculiar that our cost of production is up to 21dollars per barrel.

“You also mentioned administrative issues, which are those administrative issues, why are we different from the rest of the world.

“These are issues that the national assembly is supposed to take up,” he said.

Sen. Jibril Isah (APC Kogi) said:” I am disturbed because, I expected the NNPC to dwell more on fixed costs but surprisingly, you are talking about administrative cost, security, these are variables.

“Even the fixed cost, in the long run, are also variables which you can also work on,” he said.

The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari said the NNPC was working hard to bring down the fixed cost of crude oil production.

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Kyari, represented by the Chief Operating Officer of NNPC, Upstream, Mr. Yemi Adetunji said further:

“We know that these costs are high that is why we have decided to go from even the initial approved 25 dollars to 21 dollars per barrel.

“We believe that once we have the new framework in place going forward, we shall even see a lower cost of production from T1 and T2.

“There are things we are targeting; security challenges are peculiar to Nigeria.

“In other climes, pipelines are on the surface you hardly see them being tampered with, but in Nigeria even when they are buried two meters to three meters deep they are still being vandalized.

” In some cases, we are trying to take them to deeper levels but those ones will add to the cost of production like going 10 meters to 15 meters deep.

“This adds to the cost about three or four times the cost of production as against putting the pipelines on the surface,” he said.

He said NNPC was working with security agencies to ensure that security hitches responsible for high costs were brought down to the minimum.

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Ngige threatens to sue House of Reps member over N2b allegation

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Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment has threatened to sue the Chairman of the House of Representatives on Finance, James Falake, over claims of inserting N2 billion projects in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) 2020 budget.

 

The Minister who accused Falake of either being “mischievous or ignorant of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act or both”, also alleged that he is abusing “parliamentary privilege” and also ignorant of the fact that ministers cannot pad budgets because the final products come from the National Assembly. He also expressed readiness of challenging the lawmaker in court.

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The statement read;

 

 ”It is instructive here to note that ministers do not award contracts. They neither sit    in the Ministerial Tenders Board nor Tenders Board of parastatals.

“Even, the Ministry of Labour’s representatives on the NSITF main board are not part of the tenders board of that parastatal. So, how, when and where did the minister sit in that board to choose, much less pad the budget?

“It is therefore easy to attribute Faleke’s motion on the floor of the House on Tuesday to a consummate parliamentary mischief or outright ignorance of the BPP Act or both.

“If Faleke is desperately clutching a straw on behalf of his constituents, he must definitely grow bigger than his infantile approach.

”Faleke also brought my wife into everything. My wife is a civil servant. She is a permanent secretary in Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. I didn’t see any circular that they sent from that office so I don’t know what they mean.

“They should not drag my family into a matter they are doing politically. It is unfair to my family. They should insulate my family from that, especially my wife, who is discharging her functions innocently as a civil servant, carrying out instructions of Head of Service of the Federation.”

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Buhari mourns Kwara Chief Of Staff, Adisa Logun

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President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the government and people of Kwara State over the death of Alhaji Aminu Adisa Logun.

Alhaji Aminu Adisa Logun, Chief of Staff, Kwara State Government House died of COVID-19 complications on Tuesday.

Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on (Media & Publicity) Garba Shehu, described Logun as a dedicated public officer.

“I just received the sad and unfortunate news on death of Alhaji Logun, a successful industrialist and consummate public intellectual. He was a passionate member of our party, APC, who worked for its progress at state and national levels.

“His death comes at a time his services were greatly needed by the party and government as part of our rebuilding efforts.’’

While condoling with the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman, State Executive Council, and Emir of Ilorin and Chairman, Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, Buhari prayed that Allah will forgive the soul of the deceased, and reward his good deeds with paradise.

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He also prayed that God will grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss.

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APC lashes Ondo deputy governor as House begins impeachment

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday flayed Ondo State Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi for pursuing a selfish interest.

It described his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as an action taken in bad faith.

National Caretaker Committee Chairman Mai Mala Buni, who spoke on Ajayi’s actions on Tuesday, said his selfish ambition would collapse.

The APC-controlled Ondo State House of Assembly has served an impeachment notice on the deputy governor. He is accused of gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office.

But, Ajayi kicked against the impeachment process, saying the move will fail.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu also called on security agencies to investigate allegations of electoral fraud levelled against him by the immediate past Secretary to the State Government Ifedayo Abegunde.

However, Abegunde recanted his claim that the 2016 poll was manipulated in favour of the governor, saying he was quoted out of context.

Ajayi defected from the APC to the PDP to pursue his governorship ambition. Also on Monday, Abegunde, who did not resign from the ruling party, resigned his position as SSG. He was replaced immediately.

Buni, who reacted to Ajayi’s defection during the inauguration of the Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Screening and Appeal Committees in Abuja, said the actions of the deputy governor and former SSG were “skewed towards personal, rather than collective interest.”

He was represented at the event held at the party’s national secretariat by the Caretaker Committee secretary, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe.

He said:

“In the last few months, our party has been rocked by crisis, in several states, including Ondo State, where the former deputy governor defected to another party to bid for the governorship ticket.

“We should all be aware, that personal ambition could often lead people to act unreasonably, and in a manner skewed towards personal, rather than collective interest, as in this case”.

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The chairman assured the aspirants in the Ondo State July 20 party primary of a level-playing ground in accordance with the party’s doctrines of fairness and natural justice.

He said:

“We can assure you that the aspirants, who have indicated interest to fly the flag of our party in the Ondo governorship election, will be subject to the same fair, credible and transparent standards in the nomination process.”

Responding on behalf of the two committees, the Chairman of the Screening Committee, Alhaji Tijani Musa Tumsa, said the committees would do the job diligently and to the benefit of the state and party.

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Tumsa, former interim National Secretary of the party, urged the aspirants to abide by the party regulations.

The nine-man Screening Committee members are Tumsa as Chairman, Solomon Johnny, Abayomi Oyalowo, Princess Gloria Akumbomdu, Eugine Udo, Usman Dalhatu, Amb. Fati Bala and Prof. Okay Onyejekwe while Prof. Shehu Adamaraji will serve as Secretary.

The nine-man Screening Appeal Committee has Alhaji Umar Lawan-Kareto as Chairman.

Other members are Ibrahim Ebbo, Maj. Gen. Christian O. Ogwo (Rtd.), Alh. Danladi Chambas, Imabong Ubo, Barr. Odeh Sam, Prof. Mojeed Alabi, Opeyemi Ajayi and Senator Andrew Uchendu, who will serve as Secretary.

Akeredolu will appear before the Screening Committee along with eleven others at the two-day screening process.

The contenders are Chief Isaac Kekemeke, Chief Olayide Adelami, Amb. Olusola Iji, Odimayo Okunjimi, Ifeoluwa Olusola Oyedele, Awodeyi Akinsehinwa Akinola and Dr Nathaniel Olumuyiwa Adojutelegan.

Other aspirants are Chief Olusola Oke, Dr. Olusegun Abraham, Chief Olubukola Adetula and Mrs. Olajumoke Anifowoshe.

The rift between Akeredolu and Ajayi deepened as members of the House of Assembly commenced impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor.

Fourteen lawmakers supported the impeachment while nine kicked against it. Three lawmakers are sitting on the fence.

A source said six of the nine pro-Ajayi lawmakers may be expelled by the party to pave the way for the required constitutional two-thirds majority required for the impeachment.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) kept mum on the impeachment saga.

on Tuesday, security operatives were deployed in the Assembly.

Visitors were thoroughly screened and prevented from gaining access.

Lawmakers in support of Ajayi’s impeachment are Aderoboye Samuel, Oladiji Olamide, Festus Adefiranye, Adeyemi Olayemi, Muhammad Oladele

Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, Borokini Simeon, Gegudu Ololade, Abiodun Faleye, Felemu Olusegun, Akintomide Akinrogunde, Towase Kuti and Akinruntan Abayomi.

In the impeachment notice signed by the 14 lawmakers, they accused Ajayi of gross misconduct, abuse of office, plot to bring down the government, financial recklessness, abandonment of official duties and carrying out actions likely to cause the breach of peace.

The lawmakers also said there was a petition from the APC on Ajayi’s defection to the PDP, despite having been sworn in as deputy governor on the party’s ticket for a four-year term.

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But the nine pro-Ajayi lawmakers said in a statement that they had resolved not to partake in the impeachment process.

The pro-Ajayi lawmakers are Iroju Ogundeji, Jamiu Suleiman Maito, Rasheed Elegbeleye, Tomide Akinrinbodo, Samuel Ademola, Favour Semilore Tomomewo, Festus Akingbaso

Adewale Adekunle and Torhukerhijo Success.

They said:

“In view of the above we hereby bring to the notice of Mr Clerk, Mr Adeyelu Micheal Bode, the entire honourable members of the Ondo State House of Assembly and the general public that we do not support the impeachment process and would not want to be associated with it based on personal conviction.”

After the Clerk, Bode Adeyelu, read the impeachment notice, Speaker Bamidele Oleyelogun, said he personally received the allegations.

The Speaker said the Constitution empowers them to investigate allegations and proceed on impeachment when necessary constitutional requirements are met.

He ordered the Clerk to serve Ajayi the impeachment notice.

Deputy Speaker Ogundeji opposed the Speaker. The motion was put into voice votes.

Outside the plenary, some pro-Ajayi lawmakers shouted down attempts by Olugbenga Omole, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, to brief reporters on the next step.

Omole said:

“The House reconvened today after a month recess. We did what we had to do. We reconsidered the OSOPADEC bill for 2020 and we received a petition against the deputy governor of Ondo State, Hon. Agboola Ajayi and we are working on it.

“The process here is that 14 members signed a notice of impeachment which is the first step.

“Those people ranting don’t know the procedure. It’s a process and the process is on and it shall be concluded.

“Two-thirds of 26 men is 18. Impeachment is a process. In fact, it is only nine members that we need for what we did today, that is one-third and 14 signed and they were all at the plenary. As I said, it is a process.

“There are various petitions from citizens of Ondo State and we are working on all the petitions before us.

“I don’t know if the deputy governor has taken the Assembly to court. I’m not aware of any letter, you can ask the clerk.

“In fact, only nine members of the 26 members are needed to sign the impeachment move.”

But Adewale Williams- Adewinle representing Ondo West 2 described the impeachment move as manipulated.

“From our observations, about six lawmakers of our party are supporting the deputy Governor who has since left for the PDP.

“If they are also moving with the deputy governor, let them tell us where they belong, without that they will be expelled outright and their seats shall be declared vacant. We mean business and nothing will be spared to support the governor to strengthen the party”.

The deputy governor insisted that “the impeachment process is dead on arrival”.

Ajayi said he had not been served any notice, stressing that he was ready to defend himself.

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Akeredolu, who frowned at the allegations of electoral fraud, urged security agencies to investigate Abegunde.

The governor said Abegunde’s comment showed a falsehood and blackmail targeted at him and his immediate family.

He described the allegations as pernicious lies and imaginary thoughts.

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Segun Ajiboye, said he was not a beneficiary of electoral fraud.

He said:

“Mr Governor, as an avid believer in democracy, rule of law and legality, is not a beneficiary of fraud.

“Ordinarily, the former SSG’s vituperations which have come under heavy criticisms are assuaging. This is even as the voluntary dispatch of his shortcomings and emotional distress are enough to attract empathy.

“Nevertheless, Abegunde’s outbursts are weighty confessions that must be investigated by security agencies. Anything to the contrary will not only encourage future acts as contained in the confessions. Such brazen anti-democratic acts are unambiguous, grave dangers to our fledgeling electoral system”.

But Abegunde said he did not accuse the governor of electoral rigging.

He said:

“I wish to reiterate that at no time did I say that the PDP won the 2016 election. That’s far from the truth. The APC won with a wide margin so that the PDP thought it fruitless to join issues on it at the court of law.

“However, I only stressed that it was a steady and concerted effort of our loyal party stalwarts of which I was prominent that won that election.

“I said Governor Akeredolu was not the one that won the election, that we the people won the election for him. That we contributed all our efforts. At the end of the day, he thought it wise, thinking that he owns the government. And he’s now using the government for himself, his family and his associates.”

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