Nigeria to Cut Stake in Oil Assets Under Buhari’s Growth Map

Nigeria plans to sell portions of its oil assets to help fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s four-year program to lift the economy from its worst slump in a quarter century and create 15 million jobs.

Buhari proposes in a 2017-2020 economic blueprint to reduce the government’s stake in joint-venture oil assets and other holdings. Selling them will “optimize their efficiency and reduce fiscal burden on the government,” according to the proposal posted on the Ministry of Budget and National Planning’s website. Lenders including the World Bank are awaiting the plan to conclude funding facilities for Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.

The proposed plan targets growth of 7 percent and inflation under 10 percent by 2020 by increasing oil output, opening up new farmland and boosting investment in power, roads and ports to diversify revenue. The economy shrunk 1.5 percent in 2016, the first full-year contraction since 1991, mainly due to a drop in prices and output of oil, the nation’s biggest export, and the resulting foreign-exchange shortage. The naira weakened after the central bank removed a peg in June, increasing the prices of imports from fuel to food, contributing to the inflation rate rising to the highest in more than a decade.

Selling some oil assets “will help unlock needed resources, so it’s positive,” Razia Khan, head of Africa macro research at Standard Chartered Plc in London, said by email. “But we will have to look at the timeframe over which this is done. Should we expect a slew of quick privatizations, or will this be drawn out?”

Unlock Resources

Nigeria has an average 55 percent stake in joint ventures run by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA, which produce about 90 percent of its crude. The government also owns 49 percent of Nigeria LNG Ltd, a multibillion-dollar company which operates Africa’s biggest liquefied natural-gas plant. The government has also hinted it may award concessions for airports.

The government aims to increase oil output to 2.5 million barrels a day by 2020 from a low of 1.6 barrels daily in the 2016 third quarter when militants bombed pipelines. This is forecast to boost government revenue by 800 billion naira ($2.53 billion) annually. Some of the additional funds will be used to revamp domestic refineries to raise capacity to a level where the country will turn into a net exporter of refined fuel.

‘Hidden’ Debt

The West African nation raised $1 billion in a Eurobond issuance last month and will probably tap the international bond market for a second time this quarter to raise $500 million. Nigeria will re-balance its debt portfolio to increase the proportion of foreign financing and “make arrangements to pay off hidden federal government debt,” according to the plan.

The government wants to issue bonds and debt certificates for 2 trillion naira to pay outstanding bills to contractors, ministries, departments and agencies, and state governments, Budget Ministry spokesman Akpandem James said by phone from Abuja, the capital. The plan refers to “hidden” debt because some of the liabilities have to be verified before they are paid, he said.

Nigeria will “sustain a market-determined exchange rate” and monetary policy will be “aligned with other aspects of the federal government’s macroeconomic program,” according to the plan.

The central bank has intervened since August to keep the naira at about 315 against the dollar, after abandoning the peg of 197-199 per dollar. The regulator has increased its key lending rate to a record 14 percent to fight inflation, despite calls from Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun to loosen policy to support the economy. The currency was 0.2 percent weaker at 315.5 by 6:18 a.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital.

Power Prices

The government will introduce cost-reflective power tariffs to encourage investment in a sector that’s heavily indebted and struggling with cash flow.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing said the government would, from January, guarantee 702 billion naira for state-controlled Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc to pay for electricity it receives from generating companies and sells to distributors. Nigerian power distributors paid only 27 percent owed to generators in 2017, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The plan proposes reforms including increasing value-added tax on luxury products to 15 percent in 2018 from 5 percent and improving compliance to add 350 billion naira to annual revenue collections.

At least 100,000 hectares of additional arable land will be irrigated, farmers will have better access to fertilizer, a staple crop-processing zones authority will be established, and the Bank of Agriculture will be recapitalized to increase loans. This is part of the nation’s strategy to boost production to meet domestic demand and export products including rice, cashew nuts, ground nuts, cassava and vegetable oil by 2020.

The plan “ticks a lot of the key boxes, and correctly identifies the problems that they have,” John Ashbourne, an economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd. said by phone. “The real question is, will they follow through with this?”

Bloomberg

Buhari phones Obasanjo, Gov. Bello

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, via telephone from London, congratulated former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

On the same day, he also spoke with Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state and thanked him for all his support.

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President confirmed President Buhari’s conversation with Obasanjo in Abuja on Sunday.

According to the president, who is on medical vacation in London, a time like this provides opportunity to reflect on Obasanjo’s invaluable roles and contributions to the unity and cohesion of Nigeria, the brotherhood of all Africans, as well as peace and amity over the globe.

President Buhari described the former president as “a true citizen of the world”.

While recalling their days in the military, President Buhari said: “”Those of us who served under you in various capacities recall a man with boundless energy, with razor sharp mind, and one who does not suffer fools gladly. Working with you was a school in itself, and the lessons learnt are worth their weight in gold.”

“”Chief Obasanjo wished President Buhari good health, adding he stands together with him in prayers, so that he can return soon to continue the good work he is doing for the country.’’

Chief Obasanjo was onetime Nigeria’s former military ruler (1976 to 1979) and democratically elected president (1999 to 2007).

President Buhari had earlier spoken with Gov Yahaya Bello of Kogi state.

A Government House statement issued in Lokoja said that Buhari, who made the call in the evening, spoke with the governor for some minutes.

The Director General on media and strategy to the governor , Mr Kingsley Fanwo, who signed the statement, said Bello received the call in Lagos on his way back from Abeokuta, where he attended the inauguration of Obasanjo Library.

“ The President thanked the governor for his support and his leadership qualities.

“He told the governor that he was observing rest and will return very soon to continue his assignment of providing purposeful leadership to the nation,” Fanwo said.

He said Bello received the call in the presence of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Ahmed Imam, some members of the house, commissioners and top government functionaries.

NAN

Buhari has not Disappointed Me – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says that the current Nigerian leader, Muhammadu Buhari, has not disappointed him since he assumed office in 2015.

Obasanjo stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at his hilltop residence in Abeokuta.

While reflecting on the Buhari administration since 2015, Obasanjo said that the president had done his best to move the country forward.

“Whatever anybody says, President Buhari has not disappointed me from what I know of him,’’ he said.

He said the president had delivered on his core areas of strength and ability, particularly in the anti-corruption crusade and the war against insurgency.

“In my book, I have said that Buhari is not strong on the economy and I did not write this to run him down.

“I also used to think that he is not strong in the area of foreign affairs, but I have realised that he has improved very well.

“He has actually done his best in the areas where we know him to be strong,” he said.

The elder statesman urged Nigerians not to relent in their support for Buhari and not to give up on Nigeria.

“Whatever you might see as bad in Nigeria, other societies have gone through the same at some period in their history.

“It is not for us to begin to condemn but to begin to join hands together and consider how we can make the best out of our present.

“”Our present situation is a passing phase and we need to be resilient to ensure that we are not consumed by it.

“I will be the first to admit that we have not been where we should have been, but note that we have also been far from where we could have been because it could have been worse.

“It is the height of ingratitude for people to say Nigeria has not achieved anything or much as a nation.

“The generation before mine fought for Nigeria’s independence, that is great.

“My own generation, which is the next, fought to sustain the unity of Nigeria.

“Since 1999, Nigeria had enjoyed 18 years of unbroken democracy.

“We witnessed in 2007 a transition of power from one individual to another in the same party.

“We witnessed in 2015 a transition of power from an individual in the ruling party to another individual in the opposition party.

“All these should not be taken for granted,” he said.

Obasanjo also decried the call for national conferences or assemblies to negotiate the continued unity of Nigeria.

The former president who, described such conferences as distractions, said he did not bother to read the report of the last one organised by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

” We Nigerians need ourselves and if anyone thinks he does not need another person, good luck to him.

“What I see in all those groups trying to break away is that they want more of the national cake.

“The fact that you want more of the cake means that it is good and you like it, else you will not be asking for more of it.

“I do understand the agitations of the youths in that the increased facilities that now exist as against our own time have not translated to adequate opportunities for them.

“But I think that rather than engage in violence, they should think of how to build on the sacrifices of the generations before them,” he said.

The elder statesman, who would turn 80 on March 5, said he had no regrets at such an age.

He said that his hope that Nigeria would still be a great nation was still intact.

(NAN)

Calabar Group Plans Five-day Fasting, Prayers for Buhari

A socio-political group under the aegis of Cross River State Progressives Forum will on Monday commence a five-day fasting and prayer for the quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Buhari’s medical holiday in the United Kingdom had elicited a lot of public comments in the last one month.

owever, chairman of the group, Mr Eyo Nsa-Ekpo, who disclosed this in Calabar on Friday, said that it has become imperative to pray for the quick recovery of President Buhari following the ongoing anti-corruption war.

He said that the five-day fasting and prayer session would commence in Calabar on Monday, February 27.

Ekpo said that the group was totally in support of the administration of Buhari, which he said, has done well since it took over the mantle of leadership.

He said, “Members of the forum unanimously agreed to declare prayer and fasting from Monday 27th of February for the quick recovery of President Buhari.

“As you are aware this group has been in support of the administration of Buhari and would continue to support the President because of the good works he is doing in Nigeria.

“This is the first time we are having a President with integrity who has declared war on corruption which has been the bane of the development of this country.

“Our support for him is unanimous so we pray for his quick recovery so he can return to continue the good works he is doing for the country.”
Ekpo said those wishing the President dead should desist, adding that God has destined Buhari to deliver the country from years of misgovernance and corruption perpetrated by past administrations.

“It is unfortunate that we have become so demonic and evil. If you ask people why they are mocking this President you will discover that it is because he is fighting evil and evil is fighting back from so many directions.

“It is unfortunate that the man, who is trying to help the masses of this country that have been short-changed for several years, is being vilified by the same masses. But I think it is a product of ignorance and I know that with time we shall overcome.”

Ekpo also expressed optimism that the President would soon be hale and hearty to continue with his good works for the country.

He, however, said the economic recession currently ravaging the country would be a thing of the past as the President was doing everything humanly possible to salvage the country from its present economic woes.

The Punch

Buhari Did Not Bribe Justice Ademola- Aworinde

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kola Awodein, has described as malicious, utterly ridiculous, and revolting the allegation that he gave Justice Niyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, currently standing trial for alleged corruption, N500, 000.00 as bribe.

This was said to be at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari during the contrived certificate issue affecting the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A statement by Awodein yesterday said Nigerians know that President Buhari challenged the elections of 2003, 2007, and 2011, up to the Supreme Court, and not once was he named as trying to compromise any judge, though some of them were his schoolmates, or contemporary, at one time or the other.

It is in keeping with the president’s time-tested reputation as a man of truth and integrity. Any attempt to sully that reputation is bound to fail, inexorably, Awodein said in the statement signed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina.

The statement which Awodein said shows that the president was in no way linked with Justice Ademola at all reads in part: “Any link whatsoever with Mr. President, or any court case or cases, of my personal gift from my personal resources delivered to Justice Niyi Ademola by myself on that occasion or any suggestion whatsoever that it was anything but such a gift or that it ever came from Mr. President or at his instance or that I was acting, under any circumstances, on his behalf is most malicious, utterly ridiculous and in very poor and revolting taste and most undeserving of any further comments,” he said.

 

Source: Today.ng

Buhari Is Not Under Any Obligation To Explain His Absence To The Public – Lawyer

An Abuja based lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, says it is unconstitutional for some people to be asking for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Ajulo, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not under any obligation to write or give explanations to the public regarding the purpose of his absence.

Ajulo said this on Wednesday in Abuja during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He said that Section 145 of the 1999 constitution as amended stated that the president should present written declaration of his inability to discharge the functions of his office to the National Assembly.

According to him, such a declaration is to vest such functions and capacity of his office to the Vice President.

Ajulo explained that the declaration was valid until Buhari presented another declaration to the contrary.

The lawyer said that the vice president had been vested with all the powers of the office of the president.

He explained that by virtue of the declaration, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo was right in carrying out the duties of the office of the president.

“Buhari has submitted his written declaration to the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the effect of his absence.’’

Ajulo said the comments by certain individuals to the effect that the president should leave office or give explanations regarding his health status was of no importance and could not be backed by statute.

According to him, the only people empowered to ask the president to vacate his office by virtue of section 144 of the constitution is the two-third majority of the Federal Executive Council.

This, he said, could be done by the council by declaring the inability of the president to carry out his functions.

Ajulo explained that based on this majority vote, the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives would set up a medical committee to look into the health status of the president and deliver its report.

“Until this is done, no one has the right to inquire into the health status of the president or demand that he should step down by reason of his health.

“It is therefore ludicrous that certain people are asking for the resignation of Mr President when the provisions of section 144 of the constitution is yet to be evoked or complied with,’’ Ajulo said.

 

Source: NAIJ.com

 

 

Senate reads Buhari’s Letter for Vacation Extension

The Senate on Tuesday officially read President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter dated Feb. 5, requesting an extension of his vacation to further finish up some medical checkups.

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, read the letter at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the senate had before resumption from its four weeks suspension of plenary, admitted receiving the letter from the President.

The letter reads: “Further to my letter dated Jan. 18, 2017 in which I notified the distinguished Senate of taking part of my annual leave.

“During my leave I took the opportunity to have routine checkups and consult my long standing doctors in London. In the course of the routine examinations, certain tests results indicated the need for a course of medications and further appointments rescheduled for next week.

“I am therefore notifying the distinguished senate that I am extending my leave until the doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out.

“In the circumstances, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo would continue to act on my behalf. Please accept distinguished Senate President the assurances of my highest consideration,” the letter read.

In his remarks, Saraki said that the National Assembly leadership visited President Muhammadu Buhari in London, adding that he was in good spirit and in good health.

“He was chatting as usual and conveys his best wishes and hopes to be back with us very soon,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate has condoled with the House of Representatives over the death of Rep. Bello Sani representing Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency of Katsina State.

“Our condolence is to his family and the government of Katsina State.

“He was a gentle man, principled and cosmopolitan who interacted very well with members of the National Assembly,’’ he said.

He prayed God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Buhari to Nigerians: No Cause for Worry

President Muhammadu Buhari has allayed the anxiety of Nigerians about his health, assuring them that there is no cause for worry.

In a statement today, President Buhari, who is in London thanked millions of Nigerians who have been sending good wishes and praying for his health and well-being in mosques and churches throughout the country.

According to Presidential media adviser, Femi Adesina, “the President is immensely grateful for the prayers, show of love and concern.”

“President Buhari wishes to reassure Nigerians that there is no cause for worry.

“During his normal annual checkup, tests showed he needed a longer period of rest, necessitating the President staying longer than originally planned,” Adesina said.

President Buhari began his vacation on 19 January, choosing London, where he also planned to conduct some routine medical checks. He was billed to return to work on 6 February.

On 5 February, he notified the Nigerian Senate that he needed more time based on the advice of his doctors that he await the results of some tests.

In his absence, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been acting for him.

NAN

Buhari meets Saraki Twice in One Week

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari met Senate President, Bukola Saraki in London on Sunday evening, the presidency’s official Twitter account said.

It was their second meeting within a week.

“This evening President @MBuhari met with Senate President @bukolasaraki, at Abuja House,” the official @NGRPresident Twitter account wrote.

Unlike the first meeting, Senator Saraki has not spoken on what was discussed with the president.

When they met last week, along with other leaders of the National Assembly, Saraki issued a statement, allaying public concerns about the president’s health.

He said “there is no cause for alarm”

“The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself…he is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits”.

Here is Saraki’s statement:

“Myself, Rt Honorable Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and leader of Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan paid a visit to President Buhari in Abuja House in London.

We were delighted to see that President Buhari is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits.

The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself.

The president’s absence and imminent return shows that there is no vacuum in government and our system of democracy is working with all organs of government fulfilling their mandate.

And let me use the time tested cliché, there is no cause for alarm!”

NAN

Buhari Fit as a Fiddle – Dogara

Following a trip to visit President Muhammadu Buhari in London, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has announced that he and the Saraki-led team met the president in sound health.

In a series of tweets shared via his verified handle, the Speaker took to his Twitter handle, @YakubDogara, to say that the political leaders discussed national issues.

He also stated that Buhari shared jokes with the visitors. He said “President is as fit as a fiddle. After burning national issues, it was all PMB’s vintage humorous jokes. I’m so elated he is as fit as a fiddle.”

Dogara’s media aide, Mr. Turaki Hassan, also quoted the speaker in a statement as describing Buhari as “fit as a fiddle.”

Buhari: No Cause for Alarm, Says Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who led a team of National Assembly leaders to visit President Muhammadu Buhari in London, said at the end of the visit: “there is no cause for alarm”

His statement was meant to douse apprehensions and speculations in Nigeria about President Buhari’s health. And after meeting the President today, Saraki declared:

“The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself…he is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits”.

With Saraki on the trip were the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the majority leader in the Senate, Ahmed Lawan.

Here is Saraki’s statement:

“Myself, Rt Honorable Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and leader of Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan paid a visit to President Buhari in Abuja House in London.

We were delighted to see that President Buhari is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits.

The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself.

The president’s absence and imminent return shows that there is no vacuum in government and our system of democracy is working with all organs of government fulfilling their mandate.

And let me use the time tested cliché, there is no cause for alarm!”

NAN