By Wole Oyebade

 


“GROSS marginalisation” is the lot of the Urhobo in Delta State under President Goodluck Jonathan, some of the area’s indigenes yesterday alleged.

In what they described as an embarrassment to the people that massively voted Jonathan into power, they alleged that Urhobo people had been completely sidelined in political appointments, excluded from the amnesty programme, denied infrastructural development and benefit of producing natural gas for national use.

Also bothered by the state of insecurity in the country, the indigenes under the aegis of National Association of Urhobo Orators, Lagos Branch, appealed to the northerners to continue on the path of peaceful co-existence, while the Federal Government resolves the Boko Haram crisis.

President of the association, God’spower Nakpodia Efiawhare said that it was embarrassing for the people that had voted massively for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the last elections to have nothing to show for their mass support.

“No ministerial appointment, no appointment into the oil sector, no ambassador, or any other vital position in the country for the Urhobo people,” he said.

More like a reminder, Efiawhare said that the Urhobos, as the fifth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria, “gave PDP 860, 000 votes.”

“But other tribes that didn’t give as much as the Urhobos in the Niger Delta are having countless positions in this government, so why is Mr. President giving Urhobo positions to his people alone?” he queried.

He added that President Jonathan was aware that the Urhobos and other nationalities that subscribed to the amnesty programme were excluded from the programme and the few Urhobos that were enlisted into the programme were shut out from the training.

“As part of the marginalisation of the Urhobo nation by Mr. President, no project has been approved for Urhobos that occupy areas of Delta State. The Federal University of Petroleum Resources situated in Ugbomro, a town in Urhobo has been abandoned for lack of funding.”

 



by Stanley Opara and Emmanuel Obe

 


Major cities across the country experienced severe fuel shortage over the weekend as motorists formed long queues at the few filling stations with fuel.

In Lagos, motorists were seen queuing to buy fuel at  Ogba, Ikeja, Berger, Ikotun, Akute among other placs withing the metropolis.

Vehicles queuing for fuel at a filling station. | credits:

However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation blamed the shortage on the continued closure of a vandalised NNPC System 2B pipeline at Arepo, Ogun State.

In an interview with our correspondent on Sunday, the NNPC spokesman, Mr. Fidel Pepple, said the closure of the Arepo line was a major setback for the corporation.

Pepple said, “The solution to the problem lies in us putting the line on stream. And now, we are unlikely to resolve that as soon as possible because security must be guaranteed at Arepo before repair works could be completed.

“We have product, but we can’t continue to pump through the bad line and have product wasted.”

Repair works at the vandalised pipeline were stopped last week after suspected vandals killed three NNPC engineers at the site.

Our correspondent gathered that the shortage might grow worse in the course of the week.

The President, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, South-West branch, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, told our correspondent that loading of products at Lagos depots had dropped by over 70 per cent.

He said, “The situation is not improving at all; it has rather worsened. A depot that can serve about 200 trucks per day, now serves between 40 and 50. Last week it was between 70 and 90.

“Now, marketers are not willing to incur any extra costs. They don’t want to transport products to places outside their depot areas. Right now they are not going to the far east, north or south-south.”

“Government should do the right thing now. Most of these marketers have investments in Nigeria, and can’t just run away like that. So, government should engage them so that we can address this problem.”

About N200bn is currently being owed the oil marketers by the Federal Government.

Also speaking to our correspondent, the Chairman, Independent petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (Western Zone), Mr. Olumide Ogunmade, said the association’s members were also having challenges loading products.

He said the pipeline explosion at Arepo had compounded the problem as most of its members that were loading from Ogun State had been referred to Apapa.

“This is affecting the movement of product. Our members are now loading from Apapa. But the process is slow. We however believe it will stabilise soon,” Ogunmade said.

In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Sunday, motorists accused petroleum marketers of hoarding petrol to create artificial scarcity. Some of the filling stations in the city sold a litre of petrol for N115, while others sold it for N150.

A motorist, Mr. Kunle Folarin, said that he had become frustrated after his efforts to buy fuel in three different filing stations were unsuccessful.

Folarin said that the attendants in many of the filing stations in the town collected bribes, ranging from N100 to N300, before selling fuel to motorists.

Another motorist, Sunday Abolarin, corroborated Folarin’s claim, adding that the fuel scarcity in the town was the creation of the marketers.

“Many of the marketers have fuel but they don’t want to sell because they are expecting an increase in the pump price of fuel. I don’t know what this country has become,” he said.

Most of the stations visited by our correspondent in Abeokuta on Sunday were shut and without attendants.

The NNPC mega station on Moshood Abiola Way was shut on Sunday evening. At Atinsola filling station near Ayetoro Garage, attendants sold fuel at N110 per litre. At World Oil filling station, Ibara, the sale of fuel was said to have been stopped by the attendants at about 2pm, while the long queue of motorists at the station was ignored.

The queue at filling stations in Enugu State grew on Sunday as motorists found it difficult to buy fuel. The queue, The PUNCH observed, were prominent at major filling stations in Enugu where the product is sold for N97, as against N110 at small filling stations.

A motorist at NIPCO filling station, in New Haven, said the queue had always been at major filling stations in the state  because “these filling stations sold at N97 per litre and that is the cheapest one can buy.”

The motorist, Mr. Maurice Okafor, said, “The queue is always less at the smaller filling stations because they sell for N110 and it is only those that can afford it that go to such places, but the line at big filling stations has increased because most of the smaller stations do not have the product.”

Another motorist, Mrs. Elizabeth Onyia, said, “I always buy fuel at those unknown filling stations because you would never meet a queue there. But since yesterday, it has been difficult to buy fuel at any of the small stations and that is why many of us opted to come to NNPC, Bontus, Juhel and the rest of them. As you can see, the line here is agonising.”

Vehicular queue witnessed last week at the NNPC mega filling station on Sapele, has however not cleared completely, though it had thinned out by Sunday evening.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, the Acting General Secretary of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Mr. Isaac Aberare, said the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the NNPC should be held responsible for the resurfacing of fuel queues in the country.

“The Secretary, Petroleum Tanker Drivers Unit of NUPENG in Abuja just spoke on television that there is no strike. If the fuel scarcity in Abuja persists, then the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of NNPC should give an explanation,” Aberare said.

 



By Nduka Chiejina and John Ofikhenua, Abuja

 


The Federal Government has called the bluff of oil marketers, as fuel queues continue to grow in Abuja .

Okonjo-Iweala

Many stations have refused to sell petrol in the nation’s capital.

The government is insisting that oil marketers indicted in the fuel subsidy probe will not be paid. The fuel crisis, the government said, is limited to Abuja.

Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters yesterday that “so far N42.66 billion has been paid to marketers that have been verified. Those who have queries or big question marks from probe committee will not be paid.

“Some of those who have been told have a case to answer are holding the country to ransom, they have resorted to cheap blackmail of government and government will not give in to that.”

The government, she said, “will look at those with slight infraction and see what can be done. “Government is willing to talk with those with slight infraction and they may continue to import but those with serious infractions should forget it because government will not give in to their blackmail.”

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said she would be meeting with some marketers because “government is open and willing to work with marketers but not willing to be blackmailed because there is no lack of willingness on the part of government to dialogue.”

To show that the government was ready to confront the oil marketers, she claimed are blackmailing the government, the finance minister said government “will be happy to publish the list of those that have been paid and those not paid. No association is bigger than Nigeria, and oil marketers cannot hold the nation to ransom.”

She admitted that government was owing some marketers but noted that her ministry “will net out debts because government is owing some marketers and some marketers are owing government so we will net out the debts to know who and what to pay.”

However, before the payments are made, the minister vowed that the finance ministry “will verify all payments in line with the demands of the people.”

Government, she noted, is willing to encourage patriotic investors interested in building refineries,

She said the federal government has released N300 billion third quarter capital allocations from 2012 budget.

A total of N704 billion capital allocation has now been released meaning that about 53 per cent of total annual budget has been released so far. The minister said “as at the end of July 2012, the utilization of the earlier N404 billion released is now 65.4 per cent, so it has gone up.”

She reiterated that as at the end of June 2012, the N404 billion released witnessed 56 per cent utilisation.

According to the finance minister, “this government is releasing the additional N300 billion as government’s commitment to full implementation of the 2012 budget and to make sure that the finances are available to the MDAs to execute their projects. MDAs have stepped up their pace of utilization of funds.”

She said President Goodluck Jonathan has authorised the expedited payment of August salary for all federal civil servants so that they can  enjoy the holidays.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison- Madueke also yesterday urged oil marketers, whose action has culminated in fuel scarcity in  Abuja to cooperate with the Federal Ministry of Finance to suspend their industrial action.

She spoke after the  inaugural meeting of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Board.

While assuring Nigerians that the crisis has nothing to do with shortage of petroleum products, she said the  NNPC  and the Petroleum Products  and Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC) have enough stock in their reservoirs that could last between  40 and 45 days.

The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and the Jetties and Petroleum Tank Farms Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) on Wednesday warned the general public of likely fuel scarcity should the Federal Ministry of Finance fail to pay them their legitimate subsidy claims since 2012.

The Minister of Petroleum said: “It is with a great deal of concern that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has noticed the queues at our filling stations, particularly here in Abuja.  I want to assure the Nigerian public that NNPC and PPMC have no scarcity of products.  And that in fact, we have about 40 to 45days stock consumption in our reserves at this time.

“Having said that, it is clear that the Ministry of Finance is working very hard at this time to address the situation at hand.  And I will like to appeal particularly to the marketers to please cooperate with the Federal Government , particularly as we go into ide-fitirel and to find a way and mean and work with the Federal Government of ensuring that the strike is brought to a very quick end.”

To the newly inaugurated board members of the corporation, Madueke said their appointment is a call to duty which also requires the support of the NNPC top management in steering the corporation in the desired direction.

She noted that despite the recent achievements in the sector, the corporation is confronted with many challenges.

The minister said “We must continue to ensure good corporate governance and efficient and judicious use of the corporation’s resources, as we await the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law.”

 



By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku

 


Federal Government has taken a major step to end the perennial shortage of gas for electricity supply as the newly-drafted Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), if passed by the National Assembly, will empower the Nigerian Petroleum Inspectorate to impose gas supply quantities on oil companies for domestic consumption.

President of the Senate, Senator David Mark

The Inspectorate, successor to the assets and liabilities of the Petroleum Inspectorate of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC); the Department of Petroleum Resources of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Pricing Products Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) will also be mandated to suspend the operation of any oil and gas company that fails to comply with the domestic gas supply obligations.

A copy of the draft bill obtained by THISDAY provides that lessees who fail to comply with the domestic gas supply obligation as directed by the Inspectorate shall not be entitled to supply gas for exports and shall also be suspended from production.

Specifically, the section of the bill provides that: “The Inspectorate shall determine the needs of the domestic market gas in accordance with the domestic gas supply obligation and shall on such basis impose supply quantities and shall ensure that all lessees comply with such domestic gas supply obligations.

It further provides that “Any lessee does not comply with the domestic gas supply obligation as directed by the Inspectorate shall not be entitled to supply gas to any gas export operations in addition to such other penalties as may apply under this Act and where the lessee is only supplying gas to gas export operations, the lessee shall be directed by the Inspectorate to suspend production.

However, the newly-drafted bill provides that the lessee producing gas will be required to carry out operations as may also be required to increase production in order to dedicate a specific volume of the gas produced towards the requirements of the domestic market.

The volume of gas to be dedicated by each lessee for the domestic gas supply obligation, according to the new bill, shall be based on an allocation system among lessees as determined by the Inspectorate from time to time and would be based on plans submitted by the lessees.

It was also stated that “The Inspectorate shall at all times ensure that the weighted average benchmarked unit costs of supply of the fields dedicated to the domestic gas supply obligation shall not be in excess of the benchmarked unit costs of fields dedicated to: exports or sales of wholesalers in the domestic market. The Inspectorate shall determine the amount of condensates related to sales under the domestic gas supply obligation and allocate such condensates on a barrel of condensate per million cubic feet basis”.

In an effort to address the gas supply challenges, the federal government had in 2008, mandated the international Oil Companies (IOCs) to submit a detailed plan for domestic gas supply before the end of October that year. The IOCs had been directed to in the short term, expedite the processing of about 280 to 350 million square cubic feet of gas for domestic use in a move to prioritise domestic gas supply over any Liquefied Natural Gas project.

Despite federal government’s threat to suspend all LNG projects targeting export of gas being issued with the obligation, no company responded with credible supply or detailed work plans, but continued to focus their effort on exports or other less important gas utilisation agenda.

Worried about the rate of gas flaring by oil companies, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark had challenged the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company, (LNG) to convert the huge gas deposits in the country for domestic and industrial uses as a panacea for gas flare. He expressed worries that the huge gas deposits were being flared to the detriment of consumers and the Nigerian environment.

The newly-drafted PIB will also mandate oil companies operating in Nigeria to stop flaring gas by the end of this year or risk paying fines. Nigeria is said to be the world’s second biggest burner of gas associated with crude oil production after Russia.

 



By Omon-Julius Onabu


Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has reassured Nigerians of an increased power generation in the country through the fervent pursuance of her 12-month Gas Emergency timeline for the revival and expansion of the country’s gas-to-power capacity.

Diezani-Alison-Madu

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke

The minister gave the assurance Thursday while leading a team of experts and relevant stakeholders in the oil and gas industry on tour of gas facilities in Delta State.

Utorogu Gas Plant Joint Venture operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited (SPDC) in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state was one of the major facilities inspected by the oil minister.

Alison-Madueke also undertook a tour of well-head facilities at LEE Engineering & Construction Company as well as MAKON Engineering & Technical Services workshop, which are among the leading indigenous construction companies associated with gas production and supply sector.

The minister expressed satisfaction with efforts of Nigerian entrepreneurs and professionals to key effectively into the window of opportunities opened in the upstream sector of the oil industry by the Nigerian Local Content Act.

She noted that the efforts of the Managing Director of LEE Engineering & Construction Compnay, Mr. Lemon Ikpea, was particularly outstanding, saying the internationalised acknowledged expertise was being domesticated for the benefit of future generations of Nigerians.

The minister’s visit to gas facilities in Delta State marked the commencement of “a weeklong tour of all gas installations and projects listed for the production of additional gas under the Gas Supply Emergency Programme”, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, told journalists.

Ajuonoma, who said the experts’ tour “is geared towards eliminating bottlenecks in the drive to ensure adequate gas supply for power needs,” further disclosed that Alison-Madueke would today preside over a round-table of stakeholders in Lagos.
The focus of the round-table discussion is Crude Oil Production and the State of the Oil Industry in Nigeria, he revealed.

“This is a very crucial task that is why the Honourable Minister has directed the Group Executive Director (GED), in charge of Exploration and Production at the NNPC, Mr. Andy Yakubu to lead the inspection” Ajuonoma noted, adding, “The team is expected to report back to the minister on a project-by-project basis.”

Other projects slated for the team’s visit include “new gas plants, as well as expansion of existing plants and new pipeline infrastructure projects,’’ Ajuonuma stated.

He said the inspection team would include the corporation’s GED (Gas & Power), Dr. David Ige; Managing Director of Gas Aggregator Company of Nigeria, Mr Kunle Allen; Managing Director of Nigerian Gas Company, Mr. Saidu Mohammed and Morrison Fiddi, as well as Mr. Paul Ajishafe, General Manager (Gas) of National Petroleum Investment Management Services, NAPIMS.

Alison-Madueke would lead the discussion on a wide range of issues and challenges in the upstream sector of the petroleum industry in Nigeria vis-à-vis the numerous daunting challenges facing the industry like pipeline vandalism, asset integrity problems and deliberate disturbances masterminded by host communities.

The Round-table would have in attendance Chief Executives of International Oil and Gas Companies, IOCs, Indigenous operators as well as other key stakeholders in the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Alison-Madueke later performed the official opening ceremony of the LEE Engineering Office Complex at Ekpan-Warri.

Among top industry players on hand to receive the oil minister during the tour were the Managing Director/Chairman of SPDC, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu; the Managing Director of the NPDC, Mr. Membere Abiye; and the chairman of the Nigerian Content Development and Management Board, Mr Ernest Nwapa.

 



by Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

 


Indications emerged in Abuja on Sunday that the Presidency decided to deny the rumoured cabinet reshuffle last week because of its belief that the rumour has its root in the politics of 2015.

There have been media reports lately suggesting that President Goodluck Jonathan had concluded plans to sack some ministers and eject new blood into his cabinet.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke | credits: File copy

The reports became widespread to the extent that the Presidency had to issue a statement on Wednesday, saying Jonathan did not have any intention to sack his ministers for now.

In the statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President claimed that the reports of the alleged imminent cabinet reshuffle were aimed at causing disaffection within his cabinet and diverting ministers’ attention from their assignment.

Our correspondent learnt that the Presidency decided to issue the statement based on its conviction that some highly-placed politicians were spreading the news as part of their strategies ahead of the 2015 elections.

According to the source said the Presidency suspected that the politicians wanted to use the reports to whip up public sympathy against some key members of the cabinet they think will be helpful to Jonathan in case he decides to re-contest in 2015.

The source added that the belief among the politicians was that once the ministers were no longer sure of their positions, they would not be keen on backing the President for the 2015 race.

He said a politician who was initially part of the plan later had a rethink and leaked the information to the government.

It added the Presidency decided to reduce the tension by denouncing the cabinet reshuffle story when it discovered that some politicians were already recording success in their bid to plant the seed of discord in the cabinet.

Our correspondent learnt that those who were identified as main actors that could give the Jonathan 2015 presidency the required political backbone are the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Emeka Wogu; Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Godsday Orubebe; and Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro.

Others are the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed; Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke; Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku; and the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike.

 



By Ben Agande

 


ABUJA — The Presidency said yesterday that the Probe of the Subsidy regime by the House of Representatives which exposed massive fraud in the oil sector lacked credibility as “it looks like the probe is targeted at some individuals”.

The Political Adviser to the president, Alhaji Ali Gullack, said though the president is committed to clearing the Augean stable in the petroleum sector, he was yet to receive any report from members of the House of Representatives on the petroleum subsidy probe.His comment is, however, in sharp contrast with those of the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Joy Emordi who had stated that the president was on the same page with the National Assembly on the subsidy probe.

The Presidential Aide who spoke with State House Correspondents in Abuja, yesterday, added that the manner of invitations of persons that appeared before the committee further lend credence to the belief that the probe was meant to advance the political ambition of some individuals.

“Why did they not invite Rilwanu Lukman? He was the Minister of Petroleum Resources during the period of the probe? Where is Mohammed Barkindo who was the Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the time?

Where are the other key actors who were at the vanguard of the subsidy regime? The House of Representatives must probe these individuals before we can truly say they are doing the right thing, otherwise the report will lack credibility. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well”, he said.

The presidential Adviser warned that “people should not allow themselves to be used to promote the political agenda of some selfish individuals”.

Defending the President, Alhaji Gullack said: “President Jonathan is one person that wants things done and done correctly. He is the only president in the history of this country that has embarked on the cleansing of the oil and gas sector. He is the only president that has embarked on fighting corruption in the sector and for anybody to say that Mr. President is sitting on any report is unfair and a calculated attempt to tarnish the good name of the president”.

He said: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been given the mandate to go into the matter and you will also recall that not too long ago, Mr. President approved appointment of  Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, former EFCC chairman to help sanitise the oil and gas sector. The president is determined to do more if he is given the necessary support by Nigerians,”

He acknowledged that “money has been stolen in NNPC and we have to get to the root but in doing that, we must go back to when it all started? At what point did things go bad? Mr. President is even the one that is saying no more stealing with the subsidy regime and that it must stop, how can he then turn around and sit on something that will help him sanitise the sector”, he queried.