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An Open Letter to Mr. President

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By Olusegun Akande

Your Excellency, first of all I want to let you know that on more than a few occasions during the past few months a reminder of the fact that you lost four presidential elections before finally securing the public’s mandate to govern Africa’s largest economy has been a great inspiration and encouragement to me. Your tremendous achievement reminds me that divine destiny doesn’t necessarily mean an easy journey.

A few days ago I came across an article in the Economist – The Secrets of their (Scandanavian Countries) Success.

The article focused on two main areas – 1. Welfare, and 2. Pragmatism

It was no surprise to me that a nation with a good welfare system as its’ foundation is more likely than not to be a prosperous and successful one.

Why?

Because a government governs best with its’ people in tow and in support; and a nation prospers most when its’ people and its’ government are in unison in Ideology, Desire, and Implementation.

If I were to score the performance of your government so far I would give it 25% – a score based entirely on your desire to build a new nation in which the less privileged are well catered for. I passionately agree with this desire, but unfortunately I’m not able to support your policies because as yet there don’t seem to be any.

Has your government actually studied the principles of a welfare state? More importantly are the members of your government fully in support of a welfare state? The unfortunate stillbirth of your first budget suggests there are many within this government. – both the Executive and Legislature – that couldn’t care less about the less privileged.

Furthermore does the public you serve understand your vision? And the policies / strategies you intend to utilise in achieving it? Surely the support of your government and the people that voted you in is key to your success?!

There’s something political leaders of developed nations have learned to do with such aplomb; and that is winning the support and backing of the public in order to enforce the support of your administration. Power is addictive. Once ministers and policy makers recognise that failing to toe the line can lead to an angry response from the electorate, and thereby a loss of their seat, they tend to behave themselves.

But unfortunately we the public have absolutely no idea what your vision is and even less an idea of your policies. After nine months in office, not once have you addressed the nation -the very people that voted you in – to explain your socio economic policies. A nation is built on the attitude of its people. The attitude of the people is often determined by the Ideology, Policies, and Attitude of the government. The two are intertwined; hence the saying ‘you get the government you deserve’.

We have no idea what you desire and how you want to achieve it. All we know is that you dislike corruption. We also dislike corruption; but surely there comes a time when anti-corruption news for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is no longer enough for our well-being??!!

At some point we need to start believing in something else as well – such as a well structured economic policy. What really concerns me is that the statement many have been making for several months, but which I refused to accept is now starting to ring a little too true for comfort; and that is the grim possibility that your government doesn’t actually have an economic blueprint. Please tell me these statements are gravely misguided.

The longer your administration remains silent on the direction we’re heading, the less we believe you know what you’re doing.

Another prominent feature of successful nations is the ability of their governments to be practical.

Surely it’s time to be practical regarding the exchange rate?!! I’m as passionate about self sufficiency as anyone can be, but I also recognise that we cannot be an island. Allowing foreign investments to dry up completely (which is what leaving things as they are will inevitably lead to) is tantamount to economic suicide!

Before going any further I believe it is important for me to point out that I’m not speaking on behalf of the elite few. How could I be when my station in life is so very far from them?! My late father was a civil servant who worked hard to ensure his children attained a good education.

I most probably earn less than many civil servants earn today. But that is not to say that I do not work hard or add value.

I’m speaking on behalf of millions and millions of ordinary, hard-working Nigerians.

If you refuse to be practical then at least explain to us why you insist on not devaluing the exchange rate. Is there a cunning plan that will somehow make everything better? Or is this a case of sit tight and hope for the best?

History tells us that no matter how long you sit tight for, you will eventually have to agree to officially devalue the naira. The parallel market has now become the official market as with all the restrictions and rationing, this is where most businesses buy their foreign exchange from. Goods with import content are now being priced against the parallel market rate, and the lucky few who are still getting N199:1$ are making wide profit margins. By the end of March the naira to dollar exchange rate will most likely have reached NGN500 to US1, if not more!

Your Excellency, even your government, state governments, and their employees are presently reeling from the adverse effects of your refusal to devalue the naira. Their share of oil revenues is still being converted at 199:1; and as a result most of the states cannot afford to pay salaries. Furthermore the inevitable inability to balance your budget will naturally subject future generations to a debt burden once again. The words ‘a vicious cycle’ come to mind.

I fully sympathise with your desire to cater for the masses, even if it means it is at the expense of the well to do. But the irony of your present stance is that the people who will be most severely affected are the masses. After-all a large percentage of the masses are employed by the middle class. The middle class are the people that drive the small /medium sized business sector. Small /medium sized businesses drive the economy.

I do wonder whether we the electorate are presently behaving like the Israelites did in the wilderness after God delivered them from captivity in Egypt. They grumbled on a daily basis; wondering whether it would have been better to remain in Egypt where they at least had a routine and knew when they would eat. However their situation was fairly different. They knew they were being taken to the promised land. ‎

Does the average Nigerian know where you’re taking him / her?

Mr. President, the nation’s economy is in a critical state. Corporations are laying people off by the second, small businesses are barely existing, most people are struggling to make ends meet, government is not paying employees or contractors, and to make matters worse nobody has any idea where we’re going.

I recall getting up at 6.00am on Saturday, 28th March 2015 to vote for you. Despite the knowledge of an impending 6km walk to my polling booth the fervent hope of the better future your government of change would bring made it seem more like a 100 metre dash. A government focused on the welfare of the people; a government for the people, and by the people!

I put my trust in you.

We all put our trust in you by voting for you.

It’s time for you to return that trust by telling us where we’re going, and how you intend to get us there. Kindly reciprocate the trust we put in you by respectfully explaining your plan for the next three years to us – in person, and not through your media spokesman.

We deserve that much.

Yours sincerely, and with kindest regards

Olusegun Akande

Akande is Managing Director of SBA Interactive and Founder of Arise Africa Foundation

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Lawyers petition Senate over alleged oil theft in Niger Delta

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The lawyers said about $15 million per month accruable to the federal government could potentially be lost due to the absence of a functional measurement system for exported crude oil volumes at this Ugo Ocha terminal.

A group of lawyers has petitioned the Senate Ad-Hoc committee over alleged oil theft from the Ugo Ocha export terminal at OML 42 in the Niger Delta region.

The OML 42, an oil field located in the swamps of the western Niger Delta, is operated by NECONDE Energy Limited. The terminal has four flow stations with a combined production capacity of around 30,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

The lawyers complained that an average of one million barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil is taken away monthly by the company without accurate measurement – due to the absence of meters at this export terminal.

In the petition seen by PREMIUM TIMES and presented at the committee’s investigative hearing on “Oil Lifting, Theft and the Impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues” on 21 September, the lawyers said since the terminal was established in 2017, NECONDE has frustrated efforts by the federal government to install a metering system also known as LACT Unit at the terminal. The company, they said, continues to operate the terminal in full violation of the federal government’s requirement for accurate custody transfer measurement at all export terminals.

The petition, dated 21 September, was submitted through O. F. Emmanuel & Co. It comes on the heels of oil theft and vandalism in the Nigerian oil sector.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) disclosed that it loses 470,000 bpd of crude oil amounting to $700 million monthly due to oil theft.

This paper also reported how Nigeria, amid dwindling revenue, lost $10 billion to crude oil theft in seven months.

The lawyers, in the petition signed by the Principal Partner, Oluwatosin F. Emmanuel, alleged that as of the time of the petition, there are no meters at the Ugo Ocha export terminal to accurately determine the volumes of Nigeria’s crude oil sold to foreign buyers.

They said enormous amounts of revenue – to the tune of $15 million per month – accruable to the Federal Government of Nigeria could potentially be lost due to the absence of a functional measurement system for exported crude oil volumes at this terminal.

They also claimed that NECONDE continues to operate the terminal in flagrant violation of the federal government’s mandate for accurate custody transfer measurement at all export terminals.

“Been aware of this monumental revenue loss, the government of Nigeria, through NUPRC, recently placed a ban on all exports of crude oil from NECONDE’s OML 42 UGO Ocha terminal until a functional LACT Unit is installed on the terminal,” part of the petition read. “In spite of the subsisting government ban, NECONDE continues to export Nigeria’s crude oil illegitimately from the Ugo Ocha terminal while frustrating every effort to install a LACT Unit on the terminal.”

They asked the Senate panel to ensure that the ban on exports from the Ugo Ocha terminal is enforced and that the company is compelled to install a 1.25 million barrels per day LACT Unit (metering system).

The lawyers further prayed the committee to direct the Nigerian Navy to “arrest and detain the vessel “MT COPPER SPIRIT” which is currently lifting oil at the Ugo Ocha terminal, direct the NMDPRA and NUPRC to cancel all barging permits granted to NECONDE and NPDC until a LACT Unit is installed and commissioned at the Ugo Ocha terminal – as directed by NUPRC and direct the Nigeria Ports Authority to prohibit the movement of crude oil barges and tankers to and from the Ugo Ocha terminal.”

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Just In: Again, national grid collapses to zero megawatts

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Nigeria’s national grid crashed to zero megawatts (MW) at 10:51am on Monday, causing power outage nationwide outage.

The collapse occurred days after electricity consumers said they had enjoyed improved supply.

The national electricity grid as of 10am on Monday had 3,712MW generated from 21 Generation Companies (GenCos) before it dropped to 0MW one hour after.

According to the information from the System Operations, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), only Afam IV was on the grid but with zero supply as of 12noon.

As of Sunday, the highest generation was 4,100MW while the lowest was 3,652MW with the frequency hovering between 49.04 Hertz (Hz) and 50.34Hz.

Since July 1 this year, consumers said power supply had increased in their various areas.

For instance, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently confirmed increment in its daily allocation to over 500MW from the actual 300MW it had distributed before then.

Though the national grid had not cross 5,000MW, Daily Trust observed that level of load rejection especially around the DisCos’ networks had dropped significantly with some customers entitled to five-hour supply, recording over 12 hours daily.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had attributed the improvement in power supply nationwide to the partial activation of contracts that seeks to hold sector operators liable for deliberate incompetence.

The national grid collapsed twice, in July and in August but was quickly restored and power supply improvement was sustained before the latest system collapse on Monday.

According to records, this is the seventh system collapse this year, much more than the three recorded last year.

Although TCN, the national grid manager was yet to establish the cause of the crash, some insider said it could be as a result of a maintenance of the 330 kilovolts Jos – Bauchi transmission line maintenance slated for Monday.

Some DisCos including Kaduna Electric, Enugu, and Kano, had already communicated the nationwide outage to their customers noting that efforts were ongoing to restore supply.

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Police Deploy More Personnel To Seaports In Lagos Over Nigerian Students, NANS’ Protest

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Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.

The Nigeria Police Force has announced that it has deployed personnel to adequately secure seaports across the nation following a threat by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shut down commercial activities at the nation’s busiest seaports ¬¬¬¬¬¬- the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in protest over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.
The aggrieved students who protested on Monday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport also reportedly threatened to ground commercial activities at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos State.
Disclosing the security beef up to Daily Trust, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Western Port Authority Command, Jonathan Towuru, said security was tightened around the Western Ports to avoid any breakdown of law and order although the student body did not show up as threatened.
The commissioner said, “People went about their businesses while operations at the terminals went on seamlessly, without any hindrance. But if the students eventually turn up, we will engage them in discussions. I must say that they conducted themselves well on Monday at the airport even though you still saw police monitoring the protest.”

 

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