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Economy & Politics

NCDMB reacts to reports of Petroleum Minister demanding $20m for Bayelsa elections

While denying the allegation, NCDMB described it as spurious, malicious, and a piece of fake news.

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NCDMB, output cut, Petroleum Industry Bill to be passed by mid-2020, says Sylva, FG discovers crude oil in north, says there’s more , OPEC, non-OPEC countries to meet as Saudi, Russia price war affects Nigeria’s budget, FG considers fuel price reduction, OPEC deal: Nigeria to generate additional $2.8 billion revenue as FG reacts

The management of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has reacted to claims by an online medium that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, demanded the sum of $20 million from the agency to fund Bayelsa re-run elections.

The NCDMB while denying the allegation, described it as spurious, malicious and a piece of fake news. This is contained in its press statement released on June 19, 2020, as a reaction to the allegation.

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It was pointed out that the sponsors of the lies were bent on tarnishing the good image of the NCDMB, and the reputations of the Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

READ MORE: Shell’s OML 11: FG ordered to renew licence for 20 years

According to the statement by NCDMB, “The attention of the management of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has been drawn to a spurious and malicious story published by an online medium- POINTBLANK NEWS, titled, Sylva demands $20 Million from Local Content Board Boss to fund Bayelsa Re-Run Elections.

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“Ordinarily, the Board would have ignored this fake news, especially one planted in a notorious online publication. However, we are constrained to react because sponsors of the wicked tissues of lies are intent on tarnishing the good image of the Board and strong reputation of the Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote and that of the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva and portray the Board as partisan.”

READ ALSO: Analysis: NNPC and its refining losses 

The board believed that the fabrication was sponsored by those trying to contest for senatorial elections in Bayelsa West Senatorial District, who were in the habit of raising wild allegations to lure NCDMB into local politics.
While trying to clarify issues, the NCDMB stated the following:

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  • There is no iota of truth in that story. It is completely mendacious and a figment of the imagination of those behind it.
  • The current Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has never demanded nor suggested to the Board and its leadership to fund any political activity in Bayelsa or any part of the country, however described.
  • The Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) was instituted for funding capacity development in oil and gas activities and cannot be applied for any other purpose except that expressly stated in the NOGICD Act.
  • It is preposterous to allege that the Minister is demanding $20m from NCDMB to fund elections, whereas all funds belonging to the Federal Government are in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria and NCDMB’s funds cannot be withdrawn except for legitimate purposes consistent with its mandate. Thus it is absurd and unreasonable to contemplate or imagine that the Board can withdraw any money from the NCDF except for any of the purposes it was instituted under the Act.
  • The status of NCDMB finances are in the public domain and can be verified by anyone or group that is so interested; and that is why the Executive Secretary has consistently announced the balance sheet and utilization of NCDF at every oil and gas fora.
  • Contrary to the wicked suggestion in the story, NCDMB has never awarded any contract to the Minister or any company connected to him and neither has the Board awarded contracts for shore protection in Brass LGA of Bayelsa State because it is clearly outside our statutory mandate.
  • It is pertinent to state that NEITI declared NCDMB as the most transparent federal oil and gas agency and the Board achieved this lofty feat because our operations are always complaint with the government’s financial regulations.
  • NCDMB’s financial processes and operations are always open and transparent. The Board and its leadership have never been manipulated and cannot be influenced to favor individuals or political parties, no matter how highly placed because what the Board does must be in line with its mandate in the NOGICD Act.
  • One would have expected POINTBLANK NEWS, if it were a credible media outfit, to conduct a thorough investigation with a view to validating the veracity of the story before going to press. But in this case, it was a mere conjecture by the authors to please their sponsors.
  • From the foregoing, it is obvious that this story was calculated to malign the Board, its leadership and the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to score cheap political points and create disaffection. Going forward, the Board will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action against any individual or media organizations that publish materials that are spurious, malicious and libelous.

Patricia

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Economy & Politics

Over 20% of N-Power beneficiaries are now business owners – FG

The Minister emphasized the President’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

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The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has said that about 109,823 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme now have their own businesses.

This represents about 22% of the 500,000 Nigerians that have benefited from this programme since its inception.

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This was disclosed in a statement by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Strategic Communications, Mrs Halima Oyelade on Saturday, July 4, 2020. She said that the beneficiaries of Batch A and B of N-Power have established businesses in their communities.

The Minister in the statement said, “Statistics like this gives me joy and once again, I want to say congratulations; I look forward to hearing amazing testimonies and meeting beneficiaries of this programme who will be doing great things in the future”.

She emphasized President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years by creating opportunities that would improve the productivity of Nigerian youths for entrepreneurship or employment.

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Going further the minister said, “Thus, the need to find ways to engage them is of utmost importance. However, the commencement of the enrolment of Batch C was predicated on the need to give more Nigerian youths the opportunity to benefit. This is because, keeping only 500,000 beneficiaries for four years defeats the purpose of Mr President’s vision, hence the need to scale up and was in no way meant to be punitive.”

While acknowledging the beneficiaries’ contributions, Farouq said, ‘’You are our model N-Power beneficiaries. Please avail yourselves of all opportunities provided by government like interest-free loans and leverage on those opportunities while using N-Power as a stepping stone”.

The minister said the ministry is working at resolving some of the challenges facing the programme which include delays in the payment of stipends, beneficiaries not showing up at their places of primary assignments and people accessing the programme while gainfully employed elsewhere.

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The minister also assured beneficiaries that outstanding payments would be made and transition plans were ongoing and would be duly communicated to them on their platform.

Some of the beneficiaries of the programme gave good testimonies about the impact of the programme in their lives and all expressed their gratitude to the Federal Government for the opportunity.

Nairametrics has reported the opening of application portal for batch C of the programme with effect from 11.45 pm on June 26, 2020. There have been over 3 million applicants that have shown interest in batch C of the programme in about a week.

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Economy & Politics

Nigeria’s debt rises to $79.5 billion, as debt to revenue ratio worsens

According to data obtained from DMO, $27.66 billion (N9.9 trillion) is the total external debt.

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Nigeria's Debt to revenue ratio, DMO suspends April 2020 FGN savings bond offer

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy’s total public debt rose to $79.5 billion (N28.63 trillion) as of the first quarter of 2020, which is March 31, 2020. This represents a 15% increase from the figure that was recorded for the corresponding period in 2019, which was about $69.09 billion (N24.94 trillion).

This was disclosed in a latest publication by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on Friday June 3, 2020.

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Nigeria has seen its debt stock rise sharply in recent years as the country tries to fund infrastructural and developmental projects and boost its fragile economy, which has been in and out of recession. The country’s economy has been projected to fall into recession again, due to the adverse impact of COVID-19 that has seen oil prices crash globally.

According to data obtained from DMO, $27.66 billion (N9.9 trillion) is the total external debt. This represents 34.89% of the total public debt stock. Whereas, $51.64 billion (N18.64 trillion) is the total domestic debt, which represents 65.11% of the total public debt.

READ MORE: Nigeria borrows N754 billion in 3-month, total debt now N25.7 trillion  

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The Federal Government accounts for 50.77% of the total domestic debt, which is $40.26 billion (N14.53 trillion), whereas the State Governments and Federal Capital Territory account for 14.34% of the total domestic borrowing which is $11.37 billion (N4.11 trillion).

Nigeria has been under a lot of fiscal crisis following the crash of oil prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The oil sector accounts for about 90% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and about 60% of its total revenue.

The country, which had lined up a series of debt issue this year, had to halt the external commercial borrowing due to oil price collapse. The Minister for Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had last week disclosed that the country would no longer go ahead with its Eurobond debt issue.

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READ ALSO: Lagos debt hits N39.6 billion, to borrow N97 billion more

The Nigerian government, for now, is focusing on the domestic markets and concessionary loans to help fund the 2020 budget deficit which is made worse by drop in revenue. In the recently approved 2020 revised budget, the federal government is expected to borrow N850 billion from the domestic market.

This rising debt has put a lot of pressure on the government’s resources as it spent $1.69 billion (N609,13 billion) to service its domestic debt in the first quarter of 2020 alone.

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Nairametrics had reported that Nigeria’s global rating is at risk due to the sharp rise in the country’s sovereign debt and a growing finance gap. According to a report from the global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, this could trigger a rating downgrade as policymakers struggle to stimulate growth and deal with the impact of low oil prices and sharp drop in revenue.

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According to Fitch, the country’s debt to revenue ration is set to deteriorate further to 538% by the end of 2020, from the 348% that it was a year earlier.

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Economy & Politics

Nigeria and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht

Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal. 

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19 years after the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, one of the biggest corporate bankruptcies in American history, a former subsidiary of the company is battling Nigerian and American Authorities over the sale of a yacht valued at over $80 million acquired by Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko. 

The yacht was seized by the US Government in 2018 after prosecutors say it was bought with the proceeds of bribes paid to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani AlisonMadueke. 

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The yacht was later auctioned for $37 million in 2019. The Nigerian government also dropped claims to the proceeds of the sale recently and a Texas Court ordered all proceeds should be retained by the US Government. 

However, a former unit of the Bankrupt Enron, Enron Nigeria Power Holdings claims its entitled to the proceeds and demands $22 million in a bid to get an arbitration awarded to them against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with Enron in 1999 to build and operate a Power plant. 

(READ MORE: Nigeria leads Africa combined in Q2 2020 on BTC P2P)

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Enron Nigeria claims the Nigerian government dropped claims to the proceeds of the yacht’s auction in an attempt to fraudulently transfer assets to stop creditors from accessing them. Saying Nigeria dropping its claims was a recognition of the factual and legal basis” in a DOJ court filing. 

Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal. 

Enron Nigeria Power Holdings Ltd is owned by ex-Enron staff involved in the negotiations for the Power Plant contract in Nigeria and was bought out of bankruptcy for $750,000 in 2004 by a Cayman Islands registered company. 

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READ ALSO: N2trillion Mambila project: FG starts disbursement of compensation funds

An arbitration ruling in 2012 awarded Enron Nigeria Power Holdings $11.2 million including interest in damages against the Nigerian government. 

The DOJ says Mr. Aluko bought the yacht for $82 million in 2013 and funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison Madueke in exchange for NNPC contracts valued at over $1.5 billion. 

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Aluko and his business partner, Olajide Omokore are also accused of laundering illicit revenues into and through the United States

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