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A Must Read: Nigeria holds its breadth as Edo elects next governor Tommorrow.

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With the stage set for the Edo State governorship poll tommorrow Wednesday, September 28, Nigerians are waiting with bated breath for a free, fair and transparent election process. But once again, the build-up has been marred by allegations of fraud, even after the elections were postponed. An allegation of connivance to rig the polls was levelled against INEC, the Police and the ruling APC. The PDP in a statement by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehekhare claimed it had credible information that there was an arrangement by the APC to thumbprint fake ballot papers and take them to local councils where its candidate is expected to lose. He further said there was another plot to plant fake permanent voters cards on PDP supporters and get them arrested. Although the Edo the state police command and INEC have in separate reactions, denied the allegation, these are ominous signs that portend to trouble. If, as we say, the morning tells the day, then politicians, their supporters, power mongers, security agencies and all sorts of irredentists who take advantage of such situations of chaos should spare a thought for peace and security in Edo state and indeed the country.

According to the PDP, this sinister plot hatched between the APC and INEC with the connivance of the police was a ploy to manipulate or disrupt the results on the field at polling stations where they may be losing the elections. “They are planning to destabilize the election at Uromi, Ovia and parts of Oredo in order to provoke inconclusive elections in their areas of weakness. We are also reliably informed that members of the APC have been granted remote access to the INEC servers and its e-collation platforms. We are informed that certain officials of the commission had granted the APC real time access to the platforms in furtherance of their plan,” the PDP statement said.

Interestingly, the two governorship candidates, who hail from the ancient Benin Kingdom, have served the state in various capacities and on the platform of the same political party before this contest separated them. This, of course, could make the contest very divisive. On an optimistic note, it could also make it less so! Nigerians hope the latter prevails. What is more, incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole who is rounding off his constitutional second term has presided over a relatively peaceful state. While he is entitled to some partisanship as expected of an outgoing governor who would want his legacies consolidated by a successor, the least that is expected of Oshiomhole, a well-known unionist is to help ensure that the will of the Edo people prevails at the ballot box. That is the only way to guard his reputation as a statesman.

The APC governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki defeated other aspirants at the APC primaries of Saturday, June 18, while Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who will fly the PDP flag, won his party’s ticket on June 20. Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki have both been in the same political camp before going their separate ways.

Ize-Iyamu, a pastor, is a former Chief of Staff and Secretary to Edo State government. He was an APC bigwig before decamping to the PDP. Ize-Iyamu was also the National Vice-Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He was the director general of Oshiomhole’s second term campaign organization in 2012. He had also once coordinated the office of the Goodluck/Sambo campaign organization on the PDP platform.

Obaseki was managing director and board chairman of Afrinvest (West Africa) Ltd until June 2016. He served on the Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigerian Pensions System; and also on the Committee on Reactivation of the Nigerian Bond Market set up by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is an active member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and currently serves in its Governing Council. He has also served on many NSE committees. In 2001, he was nominated Global Leader of Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and an alumnus of the Lagos Business School. He is the founding and current Chairman of Edo State Economic and Strategy Team which was inaugurated by Governor Oshiomhole in March 2009. So, both men come to the race with good enough credentials as managers and politicians.

Next Wednesday’s election offers another important test case for what to expect in 2019 and INEC should seize the moment to send the right signals about its capacity to organize free, fair and credible elections. With only 1,925,105 registered voters, INEC has more than adequate material, personnel and security wherewithal to do a diligent job in Edo, if it wants to. Therefore, there was no excuse for INEC, to have postponed the election from September 10, to September 28 after deploying all the requisite logistics, other than gross incompetence, partiality, corruption and mischief. The postponement of the vote over some imaginary security threats led to all sorts of speculations and opened the electoral umpire to charges of impartiality; and in the process, undermined its own credibility. INEC now has a historic opportunity to try to salvage its increasingly battered public image and gain some measure of public respectability.

As this is the second state-wide election to be organized by new INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, expectations are high that INEC would discharge itself creditably. The first election on Yakubu’s watch was in Kogi where a strange development neither envisaged by the constitution nor Electoral Act occurred: the presumed winner died before the results were announced and that created a new phrase in Nigeria’s political lexicon – “inconclusive election.” In Nigeria where cynicism, political opportunism and inordinate ambition is the currency of choice of politicians, the prospect of any “inconclusiveness” over the Edo election should be banished by INEC with fairness in its conduct of the poll.

INEC should ensure that Edo politicians are not given any opportunity to engage in a shouting match to the news media when certain hiccups occur. INEC should work hard to plug all loopholes and save itself any embarrassment. The politicians in Edo State must behave in a decorous manner if they are truly out for service to the people, and the security agencies must show a high degree of professionalism and neutrality. Election is a process that has many components and stages. The Election Day itself is however the most critical, when its integrity can be easily compromised and outcome discredited. Once trust, the building block of credibility of the process is doubtful, people and observers automatically suspect injustice and that can be the trigger of widespread violence.

Politicians, their supporters, power mongers, security agencies and all sorts of irredentists who take advantage of the absence of an Election Offences Tribunal should spare a thought for peace and security in the state and indeed the country. All told, the people of Edo State should also be conscious of the fact that extant electoral laws empower the election umpire, INEC, to suspend or cancel elections where actions are suspected to have compromised the integrity of the process. That is why all Nigerians need to reflect on the implications of their negative attitude before, during and after elections. The people of Edo should realize that they are the source and the pillars of democracy and good governance. They owe themselves the duty to make it work in their State. They should help deepen democracy by voting peacefully on Wednesday and ensuring that all votes count.

 

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Extortion: Customs disciplines employee, keeps mum on officers indicted for multi-billion naira corruption.!

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The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) said on Monday that it is taking disciplinary action against one of its personnel for alleged N500,000 extortion.

The customs officer, Ibrahim Suleiman, was said to have extorted N500,000 from a car buyer named Muhammad Ahmad along Mokwa-Jebba Road in Niger State on 22 February.

In a statement posted on its verified Facebook Page, the customs noted that the Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘B’ Kaduna, Dalha Chedi, handed over the accused officer to the Assistant Provost Marshal (APM) Customs Police Unit, Kaduna, on Monday.

Mr Chedi said he had directed the Customs Police Unit responsible for enforcing discipline in the service to conduct further interrogation.

He added that the complainant has been invited to assist in the investigation.

“This unprofessional and ungodly act will not be condoned. A thorough investigation has just commenced by this handing over to unravel the facts surrounding the allegation. The outcome shall be made public to serve as a deterrent to others,” he was quoted as saying.

“We are deeply concerned and assure the general public that the matter will be treated with the deserved vigour, decisiveness and transparency.”

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Oba Otudeko, Aig-Imokhuede, NGX Group honour Ogunbanjo’s legacy

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Prominent figures from the Nigerian business landscape came together to pay tribute to the late Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo during an Afternoon of Tributes and Closing Gong Ceremony, organized by the Nigerian Exchange Group in collaboration with Coronation Group.  

The event, held on Tuesday, February 27, 2024, served as a homage to the enduring legacy of the luminary. 

 Among the distinguished speakers who graced the occasion were Dr Oba Otudeko, Chairman of Honeywell Group and Past President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE); Mr Aigboje Aig-Imuokhuede, Chairman of Coronation Group; Alhaji (Dr) Umaru Kwairanga, Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group; and Mr Temi Popoola, Group Chief Executive Officer of NGX Group, alongside other notable personalities. 

What the stakeholders said about Ogunbanjo  

In his opening remarks, Alhaji (Dr) Umaru Kwairanga encapsulated the essence of Bamofin Ogunbanjo’s profound impact, emphasizing his pivotal role in steering the successful completion of the demutualization process within the Group.  

Kwairanga hailed Ogunbanjo as not merely a leader, but a beacon of light and a guiding force within the community, underscoring his instrumental contribution to reshaping the Group’s trajectory in the West African sub-region. 

 Mr Aigboje Aig-Imuokhuede, Chairman of Coronation Group, reflected on the unparalleled commitment demonstrated by Ogunbanjo throughout the demutualization process, extolling his remarkable service to the industry.  

  • “You served the world in a way only few could do,” Aig-Imuokhuede remarked, paying homage to Ogunbanjo’s indelible legacy and wishing him eternal peace. 

 Temi Popoola, Group CEO of NGX Group, echoed the sentiments of admiration and gratitude, highlighting Ogunbanjo’s unwavering dedication to the exchange’s success and seamless leadership transitions. 

 Dr. Oba Otudeko, past president of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), shared poignant recollections of Ogunbanjo, portraying him as an adroit gentleman whose simplicity, brilliance, and doggedness were instrumental during the demutualization process. 

 Reflecting on Ogunbanjo’s legacy, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, former Chairman of NGX, lauded his patriotism and commitment to national development, while Mr Olusola Adeosun, President and Chairman of Council at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, expressed deep sorrow at the loss, emphasizing Ogunbanjo’s magnetic personality and profound impact on the institute. 

 Mr. Sam Onukwue, Chairman of the Association of Securities Dealers, hailed Ogunbanjo’s transformative leadership and global perspective, crediting his strong legal acumen and industry experience in navigating the exchange’s restructuring. 

 Echoing sentiments of admiration, Mr. Darren Bennett-Voci, CEO of Beta Glass Plc, paid tribute to Ogunbanjo’s leadership and professionalism, crediting his strategic guidance during challenging times. 

 Erelu Angela Adebayo, former Chairperson of NGX Real Estate, fondly recalled Ogunbanjo’s unwavering commitment to Nigeria’s progress, portraying him as a patriot who left an indelible mark on the industry. 

 

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Qatar seals LNG deals Nigeria once sought

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Qatar is courting foreign investors to expand its gas expansion project, and the energy companies falling over themselves are the same ones that turned their nose up at Nigeria’s invitation to invest in its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants.

BusinessDay findings showed Qatar is already one of the world’s largest suppliers of LNG — gas cooled into liquid form so that it can be piped onto ships for export – and it is making plans to further increase its LNG production capacity following the discovery of vast new gas reserves.

Qatar announced new plans to expand output from the world’s biggest natural gas field, saying it will boost capacity to 142 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) before 2030, according to Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister.

The new North Field expansion, named North Field West, will add a further 16 million tonnes of LNG per year to existing expansion plans, Sherida al-Kaabi said at a news conference on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), owned by the federal government of Nigeria and three international oil companies, has been on force majeure for more than 15 months.

“Recent studies have shown that the North Field contains huge additional gas quantities estimated at 240 trillion cubic feet, which raises the state of Qatar’s gas reserves from 1,760 [trillion cubic feet] to more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet,” said al-Kaabi, who also heads the state-owned company QatarEnergy.

These results “will enable us to begin developing a new LNG project from the North Field’s western sector with a production capacity of about 16 million tonnes per annum”, he said.

This will bring Qatar’s production capacity to 142 million tonnes once “the new expansion is completed before the end of this decade” – a nearly 85 percent rise from current production levels, al-Kaabi added.

The QatarEnergy chief said the firm will “immediately commence” with engineering works to ensure the expansion is completed on time.

BusinessDay’s findings showed ExxonMobil has pumped nearly $30 billion into gas projects in Qatar within long-term partnership agreements.

The US oil giant ExxonMobil has pumped nearly $30 billion into gas projects in Qatar within long-term partnership agreements, its Senior Vice President has said.

According to Peter Clarke, ExxonMobil’s senior vice president, the oil giant began investing in Qatar’s gas projects during the 1990s and that it has contributed to the development of 12 of the 14 gas facilities in the Gulf country.

“We have also invested in 27 LNG vessels to transport Qatari gas…over the past years, we have invested nearly $30 billion in major projects in Qatar…we also have important ventures with Qatar in the US, mainly Golden Pass Terminal,” Clarke told the Qatari Arabic language daily Asharq in an interview.

Contrast this with Nigeria where investors have largely been unimpressed with overtures to build new liquefaction plants.

The NLNG has seen its output decline owing to gas supply constraints, which also pose a threat to its expansion plan.

It had on October 17, 2022 declared a force majeure on product supplies from its production facilities on Bonny Island, following the declaration of force majeure by all its upstream gas suppliers.

Since the development of the NLNG, new projects have been too few and far between. e Two LNG projects in Nigeria: Olokola LNG and Brass LNG have been unable to reach a final decision by the stakeholders as investors have pulled out.

The OK LNG project was stalled because all the international oil companies (BG, Shell and Chevron) withdrew from the project, with only the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) left.

The Brass LNG project, which was designed to produce 10 million metric tonnes per annum, was to be built by the NNPC, Total, ConocoPhillips and Eni Group. But ConocoPhillips withdrew from the project in 2013 and has stalled since then.

“As we move into the early 2030s, there’s going be huge demand for gas from Asia, and I think QatarEnergy is squarely focused on that,” said Tom Marzec-Manser, head of gas analytics at commodity pricing and data company ICIS. Qatar has secured two huge gas supply deals with China over the past 15 months.

Last June, it agreed to sell 4mn tonnes a year of LNG to China National Petroleum Corporation for 27 years, following a similar deal with China’s Sinopec in November 2022.

Qatar’s LNG ramp-up comes amid growing demand for gas, which is set to grow by 2.5 percent, or 100 Bcm (3531 Bcf) in 2024, the International Energy agency said in its gas market report for Q1 2024.

Qatar accounted for 20 percent of LNG volumes in 2023, the Paris-based agency said in the report.

“In particular, the United States and Qatar have been driving this trend, accounting for 34 percent and 26 percent of all contracted volumes in 2023 respectively. Considering only post-FID (final investment decision) projects, these countries’ share was 21 percent and 39 percent,” the IEA said.

It is this kind of critical thinking and rigour that is absent in Nigeria’s policy formulation and execution which is scaring away investors.

 

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