Nigeria’s Debt Dilemma: Again President Buhari Seeks $800 Million World Bank Loan Amidst Concerns over Fuel Subsidy Removal
The purpose of the loan is to provide support and alleviate the potential consequences of removing fuel subsidies in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari has made a formal request to the Senate, seeking their approval for an $800 million loan from the World Bank.
The purpose of the loan is to provide support and alleviate the potential consequences of removing fuel subsidies in Nigeria. This request follows the government’s earlier announcement of an $800 million grant from the World Bank, intended to assist 50 million vulnerable Nigerians or 10 million households as part of their subsidy palliative measures.
However, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), a non-governmental organization, expressed concerns about the government’s approach to the country’s mounting debt crisis. CISLAC’s Executive Director, Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, questioned the loan request, particularly the decision to borrow funds for post-subsidy removal palliatives, describing it as unusual. He emphasized that if the fuel subsidy removal process has been suspended, as announced by the Minister of Finance, then the borrowed money should be returned.
Rafsanjani highlighted the worries among Nigerians regarding another $800 million loan from the World Bank, considering Nigeria’s revenue collection of N10 trillion in 2022 and a debt of approximately N77 trillion. This raises concerns about the country’s financial stability and the impact of further borrowing.
In related news, the National Economic Council (NEC) recently decided to postpone the planned removal of petroleum product subsidies until the end of President Buhari’s administration. The NEC, comprising state governors, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and other government officials, determined that the current circumstances were not favorable for subsidy removal. The finance minister emphasized the need for continued discussions and preparatory work in collaboration with states and representatives of the incoming administration.
Registration begins in June: De9jaspirit Talent Hunt Season 3 offers African Youths a gateway to Stardom
Africa’s most populous nation experiences a continuous entertainment revolution, accompanied by a decorative air of talented minds from across every part of Nigeria.
We are talking about De9jaspirit Talent Hunt, an outstanding event in which none else is compared, rich in content and gratified in offering the most outstanding source of overwhelming ecstasy. Eyes have seen and ears have heard, how De9jaspirit Talent Hunt is hitting the airwaves of Nigeria, it does not only stop at entertaining the public as other talent hunts have been doing.
DTH is a different stock, novel in its own kind. It welcomes all kinds of talents, from contortion, to singing, magic, breakdancing, poetry, comedy and so much more. Watching contestants perform a heterogeneous multiplicity of talents has always been breathtaking. I am not left behind, you should not be left behind, and in fact, no one should be left behind.
De9jaspirit Talent Hunt held its first edition of the show in September, 2021. Even though the show was basically in its natal stage, it attracted much awareness as thousands turned up daily for the show at Cultural Center, Calabar and thousands more streamed from all corners of Nigeria and beyond.
The first edition ran for 7 days and was hosted by Stephanie Coker, the popular Nigerian on-air personality for EbonyLife TV and MTV Base Africa. Epitomes of the entertainment industry such as Ini Edo, the popularly known Nigerian actress known from across the lengths and breadth of Nigeria; Ikechukwu Ogbonna known professionally as IK Ogbonna, a Nigerian film and television actor, director, and TV personality and Sidney Esiri, popularly known as Dr. Sid, a musician of no mean repute all served as judges in the show.
The first edition, which hosted 50 contestants, saw the emergence of Miss Constance Olatunde, a singer and first prize winner, who went home with 10 Million Naira cash prize. Miss Constance Olatunde, from Ekiti State, is a singer whose passion towards her talent cannot ever be quenched. On stage, she sang from the deepest parts of her soul and watching her perform, was a pleasurable experience that cannot easily be forgotten.
Prior to her emergence, she had been singing for 9 years and the consistency in her art was shown in the way she dedicated all her energy in her songs. Today, Miss Constance Olatunde has her fresh singles “Believe” which she performed in the Season 2 finale of De9jaspirit Talent Hunt.
The season 1 of the show also ended with The Chrysolite Crew as first runners-up, an interesting choreography group who went home with a 3 Million Naira cash prize, and Emmanuel Ikebudu, A.K.A Slim Saint, a comedian of unique stock who was awarded a 2 Million Naira cash prize.
As the show ended, we were all immersed in the positive liveliness that radiated from it. There was no better or more interesting experience than having to watch all kinds of talents, including the ones that had never been envisioned, revealing themselves on stage one after the other. It was beautiful, it was unique, and superbly outstanding.
The conclusion of the Season 1 edition of De9jaspirit Talent Hunt left us with high hopes and anxious expectations of the Season 2 edition of the show. However, DTH did not just offer an equation of the previous edition. It came out all brand new, it delivered above expectations.
The second edition (Season 2) of the show was a movement from apex to apex. It was hosted by the popularly known Adams Ibrahim Adebola known also as V.J Adams, an entertainment luminary known expressly as a musician, TV presenter, video jockey, and entrepreneur. As if this was not enough, DTH featured Miss Rose Omokhoa Afije known by the name Liquorose as one of the judges alongside Ini Edo, Dr. Sid, and IK Ogbonna. Liquorose emerged first runner-up in Big Brother Naija Season 6 (Shine Ya Eye) 2021. She is a video vixen who has featured in music videos with well-known musicians like PSquare, Dbanj, Davido, Wizkid, 2face, and Yemi Alade.
To crown it all about the Season 2 edition, De9jaspirit Talent Hunt offered us a show running for three months straight as against the 7 days it offered in Season 1.
This was the beginning of a 3 months entertainment that turned out to be fun-filled, thrilling, emotional, and exhilarating. In addition, the second edition did not just offer a 7 Million Naira cash prize to the first prize winner, but gave an additional bonus of a +5 days trip to Dubai and Kenya. First runner-up and second runner-up went home with cash prizes of 3 Million Naira, and 2 Million Naira cash prize respectively.
The show was also consistent in hosting youths from across all kinds of talents who converged at Calabar from all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Of course, the show’s prized winners were not chosen unsystematically. Progress through its different stages was determined by votes which were taken not only from live attendees but also from online streamers.
The season 2 received a wider range of attention and participation from viewers nationwide and beyond. This active participation from viewers through streams and votes saw the emergence of Esther Ugochi Kalu known by her stage name “Ugee Royalty” as first prize winner. The spirited singer with a powerful voice deserved it. She is a composition of many different singers existing in one body. It is undoubtable that she is meant for nothing else but greatness.
Ugee Royalty is an upcoming gospel artist who simply stands above the upcoming tag. The 22 year old born singer from Abia State is superb on stage. She radiates powerful and positive vibes, so honeyed that it was almost impossible for one to remain on one’s seat while she is on stage.
Her songs were usually followed by nodding of heads, tapping of feets, and one never know when one rises to dance, applause, and render shouts of excitement. Ugee Royalty, as the first prize winner got a cash prize of 7 Million Naira which she intends to utilize in setting up her own studio so she can serve as a means to supporting upcoming gospel artistes like herself. She was so excited about the fact that, in addition to the cash prize, she is visiting Dubai and Kenya. Nonetheless, she deserves it all.
The first runner-up for DTH Season 2 is Ibukunoluwa Oluwaseun known by her stage name “Ibquake”, a writer, teacher, and motivational speaker. Ibquake is a powerful spoken word artiste who is very creative in employing sensible words to depict real life situations.
She bagged a cash prize of 3 Million Naira and the second runner-up, Bassey Stephen Ernest known by his stage name “Masterseb Comedian” bagged a cash prize of 2 Million Naira. Masterseb is unique, he does not just use comedy to evoke laughter, comedy is for him is a strong tool which he employs in passing pertinent messages about issues in society, such as rape and domestic violence. Truly, De9jaspirit Talent Hunt has been able to bring beautiful talents to limelight.
When asked to describe De9jaspirit Talent Hunt, I simply rate it as the most interesting Talent Hunt that has ever existed in Africa. This rating is not given haphazardly, it is as a result of the fact that DTH offers what no existing talent hunt offers. By virtue of being a live observer of the show, I was, every now and then, startled, and so impressed by the experiences I got from the show. Nothing else can be said apart from a big “thank you” to De9jaspirit Talent Hunt for all the wonderful experiences gained.
So far, DTH has been wonderful. From when it began its maiden edition in 2021, we were not in doubt that this novel idea and innovation is sure going somewhere, from apex to apex. DTH has not disappointed and season after season, wonderful experiences are doubled with rich addition of beauty and grandeur. As we speak, DTH is about to hit the waves again with its Season 3 edition of the show. This edition will award a 10 Million Naira cash prize, a brand new car, a +5 days trip to Kenya and Maldives.
It can easily be noted that DTH has progressed from giving its first prize winners a cash prize of 7 Million Naira to a 10 Million Naira cash prize as well as a brand new car. This is progress par excellence. The first runner-up and second runner-up will be awarded cash prizes of 3 Million Naira and 2 Million Naira respectively, plus a 300 Thousand Naira cash prize for best weekly performances.
I would personally encourage anyone to participate in this show one way or the other, whether as a talented youth or as a viewer. It cannot be acknowledged anywhere that DTH has ever disappointed. It is not plausible that it will ever disappoint. As a live or streaming audience, your entertainment and happiness is hundred percent assured and as a contestant, you may find yourself a first prize winner. Who knows? With DTH, you can be brought to limelight by showing your talent to the world and thus, earning millions worth of cash prizes.
Muhammad Nami: Double honour for the nation’s tax czar
The aphorism that there is no hiding place for the golden fish was practically manifested last week when the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Mamman Nami deservedly bagged double awards from reputable organisations. The nation’s number one tax collector at separate events was named winner of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Merit Award and the winner of the BusinessDay Excellence in Public Service Award.
Since his assumption of office as the Executive Chairman of the FIRS in 2019, Mr Muhammad Nami has been going about his duty with uncommon zest, focus and vigour. Within the relatively little years of his stewardship as the helmsman of the nation’s biggest tax agency, he has raised the bar of leadership at FIRS by posting many remarkable strides in office.
The FIRS Executive Chairman’s latest meritorious garland was bestowed on him at the 2023 annual awards of ICAN which took place at the Monarch Event Centre, Lagos, on Saturday 6 May, 2023. Muhammad Nami who was honoured in the non-members category at the event, was described by the President of ICAN, Mr Tijani Musa Isa, as a self-effacing and humble achiever who has steered the FIRS to excel in the national and international tax circle despite global economic downturns.
While eulogising the nation’s number one tax chief for achieving several milestones in revenue collection, the ICAN President said the Merit Award is in recognition of Muhammad Nami’s positive impact in the society stressing that he has made significant contribution to the institute and to Nigeria. “The governing board deemed it fit to acknowledge the role you (Nami) have played and your outstanding achievements,” Isa emphasised.
Muhammad Nami’s virtues as a leader imbued with exemplary and rare professional moral fibre were further captured in the citation read at the ICAN event, in which he was aptly described as “a go-getter and an ingenious leader.”
The impactful reforms which he is implementing at FIRS did not escape the attention of the Institute as they were acknowledged as eloquent attestations to his dexterity, visionary leadership and patriotism. The citation took cognitive note of the fact that under his visionary leadership, the FIRS in 2022 achieved an unprecedented revenue collection of N10.1 trillion, the highest tax collection ever made in the annals of the country.
At a similar event two days earlier in the same week, the FIRS boss was named the winner of the BusinessDay Excellence in Public Service Award 2022. The event took place on Thursday 4 May, 2023 at the BusinessDay States Competitiveness and Good Governance Awards.
BusinessDay Newspaper explained that it named him the winner of the award for his “visionary and leadership qualities [that] have brought tremendous change to the FIRS.”
It underscored Muhammad Nami’s landmark achievements by transforming the tax administration and compliance landscape in Nigeria. Prominent on the checklist of his strides in the transformative aspect is the introduction of the revolutionary TaxPro Max which is FIRS’ home-grown digital platform for tax administration. The hugely successful digital platform allows taxpayers to register, file returns and pay their taxes easily from any location other than their respective tax offices. TaxPro Max has proved an effective antidote of the delays and frustrations usually associated with the labyrinthine wholly manual process of the past that often lent itself to leakages, delays and frustrations.
BusinessDay commended Muhammad Nami for repositioning the operations and staff of the FIRS, as well as introducing technological tools to institute more transparency, accountability, and effectiveness, which in turn has translated into increased capacity to deliver on the mandate with outstanding results.
The Executive Chairman’s response after receiving the ICAN Merit Award captured his professional trajectory from a humble beginning through the rungs to the higher rungs of professional excellence. He summed his professional odyssey this way: ”Since I left the university, over 32 years ago, I have had the privilege and luck to be directly and indirectly associated with ICAN members: from the PKF, to Manam Professional Services, and now I am working directly with well over 3,000 members of this Institute as the Executive Chairman of the FIRS.”
He went on to dedicate the award to his alma maters (from primary to tertiary levels), his former colleagues at the Presidential Committee on Audit of Stolen Recovered Stolen Assets, members of the Tax Advisory Committee of the FIRS, all taxpayers, FIRS board members, management and staff of the FIRS plus his family members.
A rundown of Muhammad Nami’s rich profile reveals a man who is properly trained and horned in the fields of tax, accounting and management. He is a thoroughbred professional with highly rated qualifications and practicing licenses from relevant professional bodies.
An accountant, management professional, tax administrator and public officer, Muhammad Nami has more than three decades of practical working experience in auditing, tax management and advisory as well as management services to clients in the banking, manufacturing services and public sectors in addition to non- profit organisations.
He is an expert in rendering advisory support services to investors in respect of new businesses. He has also continuously rendered outsourced services to clients in both trading, service and manufacturing sectors of the nation’s economy.
A fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, the FIRS boss is also an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) as well as a graduate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Like the great oak that grew from little acorns, Muhammad Nami started his career with PKF in 1993 and rose to the position of a senior consultant in charge of tax management and advisory services. From October, 2018 to December, 2019, he also served as the Managing Consultant of Manam Professional Services, a Chartered Tax Practitioners and Advisers firm that had offices in Kaduna, Abuja and Minna.
He is the current President of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA). He is the Chairman of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), a statutory position he holds as the Executive Chairman of the FIRS. He is the immediate past Chairman of the African Tax Administrators Forum (ATAF). These roles have invariably conferred on him the need to contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria, Africa and the commonwealth nations.
As a proactive and innovative leader, he has since proved bookmakers right that he is more than equal to the task. The reforms he is implementing at FIRS attest to his dexterity, visionary leadership and patriotism. Under his visionary leadership, the FIRS in 2022 achieved an unprecedented revenue collection of N10.1 trillion, which is the highest tax collection ever made in the history of the country.
Recently, he earned accolades for audacious deployment of technology as well as the introduction of unprecedented reforms in Nigeria’s tax administration including data mining and strategic intelligence gathering for improved revenue generation.
His sterling leadership and impressive scorecard have earned him and the FIRS several other awards. For instance, in October 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari conferred on him the Excellence in Public Service Award for Fiscal reforms at the FIRS while he also received the Leadership Newspaper Public Servant of the Year Award for 2022.
Muhammad Nami’s exemplary leadership style has greatly helped to galvanise and motivate the management and entire workforce of the FIRS to be disciplined and amenable to basic etiquette of the Service.
The fact that he is a man driven by ideas and positive results is attested to by the regular on-the-job trainings and brainstorming sessions he organises at the FIRS. He is a modern era leader that is never weary of updating and introducing result-yielding innovative ideas and techniques.
Among other contributory factors to the astounding success of Muhammad Nami at the FIRS are his humble and honest attributes. Beneath the veneer of his gentle mien is the steely quality of a leader who does not compromise integrity and value in the discharge of duty. Certainly, the FIRS under the clear-headed, confident and chivalrous leadership of Muhammad Nami is primed for more plumage of honours and awards in future.
By Nkem Precious Esq
Nkem Precious is an Abuja based lawyer
Expectations About Dangote Refinery Inauguration Are Extremely Exaggerated
Everyone, it seems, look forward to the production of petroleum products from the plant after that symbolic activity.
But it will not happen.
As President Muhammadu Buhari leaves office a week after commissioning one of the largest single train hydrocarbon processing plants on the planet, he could be forgiven for believing he had had his wish to be in such a large place but technology does not sit well with politics.
The ongoing technical commissioning process has not gotten anywhere close to the point of introducing raw hydrocarbon into the plant, let alone delivering petroleum products.
One key challenge of Nigeria’s chattering classes is that they hardly look up the regulation. Hydrocarbon will be introduced only when the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Regulatory Agency (NMDPRA) approves and issues Licence To Operate the Refinery to Dangote.
Speculations about inauguration and commissioning are just, well, speculations. Both words do not appear anywhere in the Procedure to License a Refinery in the Nigerian law.
The three stages are:
License to establish a Refinery
Approval to construct Refinery
License to Operate the Refinery
Nowhere does inauguration or commissioning appear.
So the Refinery can be inaugurated or commissioned as the Licensee desires, as long as no attempt is made to operate the Refinery by introducing crude oil and make products for sale, it does not concern NMDPRA.
The claim that some “large sub-sea pipeline infrastructure connected to Oil and Gas blocks in the Niger Delta region for supply of crude feedstock” is a false narrative. What’s in the plan is that Single Point Mooring (SPM) buoys will play the transportation role in input crude delivery and output petroleum products.
We live in a society where optics trumps everything. Buhari has been president for 8 of the 9 years that the Refinery project has been on. What is wrong with Dangote asking the President to inaugurate the Refinery so his name is on the marble when the Refinery becomes fully operational? Afterall no law will be breached by such gesture?
That said, Aliko Dangote the billionaire owner of the Refinery is determined that the 19billion-dollar project, the second of his three, hydrocarbon processing mega projects (Fertilizer, Refinery and Petrochemicals) is delivered by end of 2023.
The technical work has gone far, involving trial-running every single equipment, which has taken a while because of the lengthy time of construction. Some equipment were installed six years ago, and were just standing there in the air, water or even underground. Anything, literally could have happened.
As of February 2021, the installation of the Crude Distillation equipment had been completed. So had the kitting up of the Residue Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (RFCCU).
Supply chain challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 did slow down work, but the construction of Africa’s largest hydrocarbon processing factory picked up steam again in mid-2021.
“The electrical and instrumentation works are usually invisible to the gaze of non-refinery workers, but they are key. Their installation needed extreme care and it consumes over 30% of the Refinery construction time,” say several managers familiar with the project.
“A lot of our contractors are Chinese. Those who went home couldn’t come back quickly, but the project workflow recovered and those installations especially that of the Crude Distillation Column, which arrived Nigeria in December 2019 were expedited.
“We will have 15 process units in the Refinery and they must all work together” the managers tell us.
The operations planning will emphasize the mantra at the commissioning: we must flow everything out with air, then do it with water, then with steam, them with air again”. This is all to ensure that the likelihood of moisture absorption is zero, as the contrary will lead to cracks.
“The equipment must be pickled. What that does is that it oxidizes the facility”. The Dangote Refinery is significantly an Indian supervised operation.
But a significant percentage of the 1,000 Nigerian engineers sent to training in India for the eventual operations of the facility, have returned and are currently engaged on site.
The relationship between the Nigerian crude oil refining sector and Indian engineering expertise goes back to 1988, when the second (larger) refinery in Port Harcourt, the major city in the country’s oil producing Delta region was being constructed.
“Some of the experts working on Operations Planning were part of the construction of the Port Harcourt Refinery 35 years ago”, our sources say.
Mr Dangote initially announced the likelihood of the project in 2013. But it was at the All-Convention Luncheon at the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists NAPE, in November 2014 that he provided the first relatively comprehensive details of the facility. He told the roomful of geoscientists that the capacity had increased from 500,000 BSPD to 650,000 BSPD.
Dangote Industries was advised by Jacobs Engineering and it licensed the Honeywell UOP for the basic engineering design. On a daily basis, the facility will have the capacity to produce 59million liters of gasoline, 20million litres of kerosene and 9million litres of diesel and others.
The construction has taken a while and has been the most excruciating economic challenge Nigeria has ever faced. Would Dangote Industries have delivered this project much earlier if it had awarded it to a world- class EPC contractor like Bechtel, TechnipFMC, Siemens, KBR?
“Yes”, said Alex Ogedengbe, a retired Group Executive Director at NNPC who was involved in the construction of the Warri and Port Harcourt Refineries in the 1980s. “There are just about six or seven such EPC contractors in the world,” he explained. Mr Ogedengbe was speaking at a private webinar organized by oil and gas analyst, Ronke Onodeko in April 2020.
Dangote sources maintain that the cost would have been at least 30% higher if that route had been taken. And while it could be argued that Dangote Industries could have had good value for money if a Bechtel or KBR had handled the construction, multiple sources argue that the delay could have been minimized if the current structure had been in place since inception. The company went into this project with the mindset of constructing a cement plant, which was its major competence before this huge assignment. “We wasted the most time at the engineering stage”, one manager recalls. “A reputable EPC contractor would still have hired expertise from outside like we are doing and subcontract several units. Dangote Industries bought brand new equipment for this work; an EPC contractor might not have even done that, but it would have coordinated things better at the outset.”
One more advantage of building it yourself: all the equipment you purchase for logistics and construction purposes are yours.
Everyone we spoke to agreed that things began to take very good shape when Giuseppe Surace came along. The Italian engineer who had been Chief Executive of Saipem in Nigeria and Brazil, joined the project in June 2017 as the Chief Operating Officer. “On the factory floors, in the Executive Offices, everywhere on site, the consensus is that one of the best decisions that Aliko Dangote made was Surace’s appointment. “He saved the project” said our sources.
A highlight of the swirling speculations around President Buhari’s impending visit is the description of how crude oil will be pumped into the Refinery. One widely circulated message talks of large sub-sea pipeline infrastructure connected to Oil and Gas blocks in Niger Delta region for supply feedstock “.
This is a false narrative.
The truth is that Single Point Mooring SPM buoys will play a huge role in input crude delivery and output petroleum products. There are three of them either way. Three SPMs will deliver the input crude oil from vessels into a jetty from which it is pumped into the plant. And three SPMs will ferry petroleum products out to vessels on the sea for export. “We have facility to evacuate through roads, we have large loading capacity (103 loading terminals) and we can evacuate 75% of our production through road and we can evacuate 75% of our production through the sea so that if we want to export”, Dangote officials have repeatedly explained.
“Within Nigeria, we can evacuate to Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar and so on, those options are available”, the officials say.
On the table is the idea of a 6-lane road through Epe, a town in the east of Lagos. But what of the supply of the product to Lagos? Will some of it be through Lekki Expressway? The subject of the quality of Nigerian roads to take in the products, through land tankers is still a fraught one.
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