**”As Reps Order Regulatory Authorities to end Cartels In Aviation sector
***NNPC assures of Availability of Product
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority may be forced to shut down the nation’s airspace to ensure safety of Nigerian travellers unless something urgently is done to address the current situation in the industry, the Director General of the agency, Captain Musa Nuhu on told the House of Representatives
Captain Nuhu spoke just as the House directed the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority to do everything possible to dismantle the cartel growing in the industry
There a sudden hike in the prices of aviation fuel to the current price of N670 per litre from its usual price of N190 and the non availability of the product.
But Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure of the
Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, Ogbogu Ukoha insisted that there was enough jet A1 in the country to last for 34 days.
Speaking at a meeting between the Leadership of the House led by Deputy Speaker, Rep. Ahmed Idris Wase over the current scarcity of jet A1, the NCAA boss who expressed surprise at the sudden increase in Jet A1 said the safety of passengers is s key to his mandate, pointing out that with the way things are going currently, he may be forced to shut down some airline and by extension, the airspace to ensure safety.
He said “I don’t want to appear before any committee either here in the House or in the Senate to explain what happened to airline ABCD. So, we must do something fast to address this situation so that things will not get out of hand.”
He said that currently, flights are being delayed or cancelled as a result of supposed scarcity of aviation fuel and the sudden increase in prices which he said has been happening on a daily basis.
He said as a result of the increase in the cost of operation of the airlines, they might be forced to shut down their operation, an action which he said will have adverse effect on the economy of the country.
But the NMDPRA Executive Director who said the role of the agency was to regulate the industry and issue licenses to importers of the product said from his records, there was enough aviation fuel to last the country for 34 days.
Ukoha explained further that aviation fuel was one of the petroleum products that has been fully deregulated and is therefore controlled by market forces, adding that the Authority has issued licenses to about 28 companies to import the product into the country.
He said “from our records, we have enough supplies to last us for 34 days plus. So, when we hear about scarcity, all we can say is that we have enough supplies”.
But his explanation did not go down well with the Deputy Speaker, members of the House present at the meeting as well as the airline operators.
Wase questioned why there should be scarcity of the product if there was enough supply to last for 34 days
He concluded that there must be a cartel working so hard to sabotage the efforts of the government.
He said “this is a political era and elections are coming. We do not want anybody to sabotage the efforts that the government has put into revamping the economy so far because aviation is very important to the economy”.
Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyeama who spoke on behalf of the Airline Operators said they have held back from shutting down the industry because of the impact it will have on the nation and it’s economy.
He said “it is because of this statement that you made now about being in politics era that we have not shut down. We do not want anybody to use us to blackmail the government who has done so much for the industry.
“Our DG has said it succinctly that safety is of concern in this industry.
“He also spoke about the cost of operation and let me say that fuel takes about 30 percent across the world, but in Nigeria, fuel takes about 70 percent of our operation.
“What happened in the last two weeks is alarming. From a price of N190 per litre two weeks ago, the price is now N670 as at today and we don’t know what it is going to be later. The government has done so much for us in this industry with the President granting us waivers.
“We held a meeting and decided to shut down our operations because of the cost of operation. We are owing so much money and we don’t want AMCON to come after us. But we decided not to because we know the impact it will have on the economy.
“We cannot survive like this for another three days. We had to reduce our operations to 30 percent because the product is not even available. So, I am surprised that the Executive Director said they have supplies to last 34 days.
“We are making so much sacrifice here. I am evacuating Nigerians from Poland and I had to pay three times the usual amount and I am not asking for a refund. So, something need to be done and done fast”.
Chairman of Skyjet Aviation, Kashim Bukar Shettima gave an indication of the existence of a black market ring operating within the industry when he said that while none of the known fuel marketers agree to have the product in stock, there were companies which are not known that are selling the product.
Rep SADA Soli said from all indications, there was an emerging cartel in the industry that is responsible for the current scarcity, while also blaming those saddled with the responsibility for not living up to their responsibility.
He said marketers were using the current war between Russia and Ukraine to exploit airline operators believing that there might be a possible increase in the price of the product.
Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Rep. Nnolim Nnaji also alleged that there now exist a cartel in the industry who are using psudo companies to sell the product because of the realization that they can not directly increase the price
House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa said what is happening in the industry is a clear sign that the Petroleum Industry Act was not working as it should, asking the operators of the law to make it work.
He said there was fire on the mountain and every thing possible must be done to ensure that Nigerians get the desired benefits from the PIA.
Deputy House Leader, Rep Peter Akpatason said the NMDPRA must bring to book all those who are involved in hording of the product and subjecting airline operators and Nigerians to severe hardship.
He said since they have told Nigerians that the product was available to last 34 days, they must immediately direct the marketers to release the product immediately.
In his intervention, Group Managing Director of the NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari assured that they will do everything possible to address the issue of supply of jet A1, while also collaborating the statement that there was enough supply of the product in the country.
He said “I can confirm that there is enough supply. Yes, it might be in the wrong hands or in the wrong places. We are going to do everything we can to address the situation.
“However, regarding the request by the Airline operators to bring down the price to N200, let me say that will not be possible. It is not possible because the landing cost of jet A1 now is N480 per litre. Except if we are going to subsidise it, the price cannot come down to N200”.
Marketers of the product were not present at the meeting necessitating an adjournment to Monday to enable them attend the meeting, while the NMDPRA is to provide details of all companies licensed to import the product into the country.
The meeting however resolved that the NCAA should take steps to regulate those who sells the product within the nation’s airports before adulterated jet A1 find its way into the airports, thereby creating issues of safety for airlines.
Tinubu asks Senate to endorse $8.6bn, €100m loans approved by Buhari’s govt
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked the Senate to give him the authorization to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100 million to carryout critical projects across the country.
The president’s request was contained in a letter read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Tinubu, in the letter, explained that the request was part of the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the projects to be funded with the loan cuts across different sectors of the economy, and were selected based on economic evaluation and the expected contribution to the country’s development.
The letter reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the federal executive council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.
“The projects cut across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
Niger Coup: Northern Senators ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic
***Plead with Tinubu to restore electricity supply to Niger
The Northern Senators Forum on Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of Urgency use his position as Chairman of ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community
They also demanded that Nigeria restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
The senators had in July on the heels of the military forceful take over of the democratically elected government in Niger, cautioned President Tinubu against use of Military power towards tackling the military coup, as they called for diplomatic options.
A communique issued at the end of their emergency meeting which was read by the chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauch Central) stated, “The forum on very strong terms condemn the spate of Military intervention in the democratic spaces in the West African subregion.
“The Northern Senators Forum in particular condemns the coup in Niger and urged the military junta in Niger to soften the relationship with the rest of ECOWAS military by setting free President Muhammed Bazoum and his immediate family to freely choose a country of his choice for asylum
They further urged the junta in Niger to bring about a transition time table that will last not more than two years.
They ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community.
“It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer because of the coup that took place just like we have seen what is happening in Gaza
“We ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces and of course the chairman of ECOWAS, President Muhammed Bola Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
Ningi called on Nigerians and Nigerien to remember that they remain brothers, partners and Africans and above all, we remain human beings
Senate okays 2024-2026 MTEF, FSP as it seeks to probe Tax Waivers from 2015 Till Date
The Senate has approved the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Frame Work (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
The upper legislative chamber also ordered an investigation into all tax waivers from 2015 till date and directed that all waivers not directly linked to non-governmental/non-profit organizations should not be granted.
The Senate observed that before waiver can be approved, there are certain conditions attached, adding that some people have been benefitting from the waiver year in, year out.
Addressing newsmen, shortly after the plenary, the Chairman of the Joint Senate Committees on Finance, Appropriations, National Planning and Foreign Debt, Senator Sani Musa, lamented that so much have been lost to the waiver.
He said: “We can not continue to talk of waiver while we kill our local manufacturers.
What we have today are catels, who are not given back to Nigeria. We will take the bull by the horn.”
He said that the customer told the Senate that the nation lost about N1.3 trillion to waiver, adding that it doesn’t make any economy sense, when waiver is granted, and nothing is gained.
In the report of the Senate Joint Committees, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will borrow N7.8 trillion to fund the 2024 budget of N26 trillion that will be presented to the National Assembly soon.
In the budget, N8.2 trillion is earmarked for debt services.
In the report presented for consideration on the floor of the Senate, Sani Musa revealed that the federal government projected the reduction in inflation from 27.33 % to 21.4% in 2024.
“The total budget for the 2024 will be N26 trillion with N16.9 trillion in retained revenue, N243.6 billion for the sinking fund, the statutory transfer for the budget will be N1.3 trillion, N1.2 trillion. In pension gratuity and retirees benefits.
“The total recurrent (non-debt) of N10.2 trillion, personal cost of MDAs- N4.49 trillion, capital expenditure (exclusive of transfers ) -N5.9 trillion, special Intervention (recurrent)- N200 billion and special Intervention capital -N7 billion comprise the.aggregate of Federal government expenditure of N26 trillion,” the report said.
The report further reads: “Following the criteria in the overview of the framework for revenues and expenses, which forms the basis of the 2024 FGN budget FGN proposed spending N26 trillion, of which N16.9 trillion was retained, new borrowings of N7.8 trillion (including borrowing from foreign and domestic), debt service to revenue ratio of 49%, pension, gratuities, and retiree benefits of N12 trillion, and a fiscal deficit of N9 trillion (including GOES)
“The projected N16.96 trillion revenues to the federal government for the 2024 fiscal year is attainable with effective revenue monitoring exercise and oversight by the relevant Committees of the National Assembly
“The projected fiscal deficit of N9.048 trillion, N10.02 and N11.48 proposed for the 2024, 2025 and 2026 fiscal years are 22%, 13.6% and 1% lower than the N11 6 trillion fiscal deficit for the year 2023. The proposed strategy for the government in 2024 towards deficit financing is to increase funding from privatization proceeds and foreign borrowing and reduce funding from multilateral and bilateral project- tied loans and domestic borrowing
“The Federal Government’s commitments to progressively restructure its debt portfolio towards achieving a balanced domestic-to-external debt ratio is evident in the 2024-2026 MTEF and FSP
“A significant number of the Federal Government’s Revenue- Generating Agencies engaged in arbitrary, frivolous, and extra-budgetary expenditure.”
The oil bemcark is pegged at $73.6 per barrel with daily production of 1.78 million barrel per day with an exchange rate of N700 to $1 .
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