Thursday, 21 January 2016

Fuel import: Foreign suppliers blacklist Nigeria

LAGOS — Nigeria’s difficulty to import refined petroleum products, particularly, Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol, has worsened as foreign suppliers have blacklisted Nigeria from further business until such transactions are dollar cash backed.
The development is further compounded with the deferment of about 5.4 million litres PMS daily production, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, announced the shut down of Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries. The announcement came four days after the plants were closed.
File Photo: Crude Oil
File Photo: Crude Oil
The NNPC, in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs  Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said the shutdown of the refineries was as a result of crude oil supply challenges arising from the recent attacks on vital crude pipelines by militants in the Niger Delta.
Blacklisting of Nigerian importers
Vanguard exclusively gathered that the blacklisting of Nigerian oil marketers by the foreign suppliers followed the challenges faced by marketers to access foreign exchange due to stringent rules by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on foreign exchange transactions.
Marketers disclosed that they owe their foreign suppliers in excess of $1.29 billion, even as the marketers were paid only N413 billion in December 2015 for oil subsidies.
According to one of the marketers, who spoke in confidence, “yes, government paid us subsidy, but there is no dollar to buy anywhere. The Letters of Credit, LCs, that have matured since 2014 to 2015 are worth $1.29 billion. We are supposed to use the subsidy paid to us to buy the equivalent of what is due to our foreign suppliers, but the banks say there is no dollar.
“To show you how bad the situation is, one of us has outstanding matured LC of $75 million, but his banks are only able to provide $1.5 million last week. So how many weeks will it take the banks to offset the outstanding sum for him to be able to pay hiss foreign suppliers?
“Remember that what government paid to us was the Naira component of dollar transactions and government is still owes us the outstanding payments on the foreign exchange differentials. This is because when we brought in the products, exchange rate was N165 to $1, but by the time we were paid, it had risen to N197 to $1.
“This is why the foreign suppliers have blacklisted us until we are able to pay off our outstanding debts and back future transactions with dollar cash. Also, government did not pay within 45 days under the terms of our agreements, so they still owe us the interests on delayed payments.”
Consequently, he disclosed that except for a few marketers, mostly the majors, who already have foreign affiliations, all other marketers have abandoned further importation of petrol until government finds a way around access to foreign exchange.
NNPC to provide dollars
The source further disclosed that in one of the meetings with the Minister of State for Petroleum, the NNPC had promised to provide marketers who were licensed to import products in the first quarter, with dollars to pay for their products, as a way to ease the foreign exchange challenges.
He added that it is uncertain that the promise had been fulfilled, as no products had come in yet.
However, NNPC’s Alegbe, in a test message response denied any knowledge of such a promise to marketers, saying: “NNPC? Dollars? I’m not aware NNPC made such a promise.”
He wondered if perhaps the marketer meant CBN or the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
PPPRA pricing template
Despite assurances by the NNPC, scepticisms are high over the capacity of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC

Telecom firms in Nigeria must adhere to NCC guidelines —Buhari O

ABU DHABI—President Muhammadu Buhari has said that telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria must adhere to the rules and guidelines of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, noting that registration of all mobile phone users without exception will help security agencies to pre-empt terrorist attacks.
President Muhammadu Buhari in discussion with Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed- 3rd Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
President Muhammadu Buhari in discussion with Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed- 3rd Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking at an interactive forum with members of the Nigerian community in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, President Buhari urged telecommunications companies not to place their desire for huge profits above the security needs of the nation.
He called on all stakeholders to work in unison to halt terrorism in the country and assured members of the Nigerian community in Abu Dhabi that his administration will deal decisively with the seeming resurgence of oil theft, vandalism of pipelines and insecurity in the Niger Delta.
“The oil thieves and abductors are a less problematic target. We will re-organise and deal with them. In the face of our new economic reality of dwindling oil prices, there are a number of things we can really do without to preserve our economy.
‘’We must develop the capacity to feed ourselves and we should be spending our resources on real development projects, not luxuries,” President Buhari said.
Pledging that more persons who abused the public trust would be exposed and brought to justice soon, President Buhari maintained that his government was committed to re-establishing former standards of accountability and probity in the management of public funds which were jettisoned under past administrations.
The President appealed for more patience and understanding from Nigerians as his administration takes steps to safeguard the economy from the shock of falling oil prices.

Students in digital age: Distinguishing exam from SMS

IF you can read this, it simply means you belong to the Generation Y who are SMS and social media compliant.
Tanzania Digital migration: Lessons for Nigeria
Tanzania Digital migration: Lessons for Nigeria
Social media and text messaging are perhaps two of the things that people do most daily.  In public vehicles, restaurants, or even just in the streets, you will find most people are on social media sites or text messaging with their phones. These days, most youngsters are almost inseparable from their mobile phones, not because they are constantly talking, but because they are connecting with their friends through text messaging.
Although mobile phones are banned in most secondary schools, but text messaging and social media language have crept into academic discuss and writing.
The 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum introduced by The Nigerian Education Research and Development Council, NERDC, placed emphasis on value re-orientation, poverty eradication and employment generation capabilities in learners. In these reform initiatives, science, technology, mathematics, and vocational education and training are specifically designed to provide the contents, learning experiences and skills for the socio-economic transformation of the Nigerian nation.
However, the tool to achieve these utopian goals, one of which is writing, falls short of the expectation, as most students cannot write legibly nor express themselves in simple correct grammar because of mixing social media language with proper English grammar.
Vanguard Learning sought to know how social media usage has affected writing abilities; its import on communication and expression and measures to improve the writing abilities of students.
Speaking on social media use and its effect on the students’ ability to write proper and correct English grammar, an English Language teacher with Penny International College, Mrs. Chinweuba Nwanne, said “When I was a teenager, relationships between boys and girls involve letter writing. When a boy writes a girl, she checks his handwriting and grammar, thus, both served as monitor to check their writing and grammar.
“Today, that conscious effort no longer exists as youths text a lot. For instance instead of writing the word ‘the’ students write ‘d’, ‘your’ becomes ‘ur’, while ‘you are welcome  is ‘URW’. These abbreviations make students miss-spell words and they lack the zeal to write because when you give them essays to write, they finds it difficult.
“But ask the students to text and they will gladly stay on it for hours because a lot of things like wrong spellings and poor grammar, are allowed. The most painful part of it is that it is becoming fashionable and even the good students tend to copy this attitude so as to ‘socially belong’.”
Continuing, Nwanne added; “
Social media distracts students from their studies and it is addictive. It has become part their lives that if want to punish a child, take away the phone and that child will feel more punished than when you deprive him of food or basic needs.”
Agreeing is the Principal, Tonia International School, Mr. Frances Alayo, who said though social media has its positive use, the negative effect on students would be immense if not checked.
His words: “Chief of the problems social media causes are the introduction of laziness on the part of students and the increase in poor writing ability, as evidence with the use of abbreviation and repetition.”
Abbreviation and repetition
Pointing out that social media language has done more harm than good in the writing abilities of students, a Masters degree student of English Language at the Lagos State University, Miss Esther Chioma, said “the use of social media, amidst it’s many blessings, has caused great deterioration to people’s writing abilities as most people don’t know how to make or write good sentences, they tend to prefer the shorter, elliptic, and sometimes incomprehensible version. In a nutshell, I don’t think the use of phones should be encouraged in secondary schools.”
For Clementina Nzeako, an Economist based in Kano; “The use of phone by students has brought about the issue of phone addiction. Students now spend gargantuan portion of their time on their phones. Because of the psychological effect it has on students; which has to do with making it difficult for them to have profitable intellectual discussions in real life, and inability to make real non-virtual friends, students now stand the risk of losing their already dormant writing skills.”
Students speak: A 200 level student of Chemical Engineering at the University of Benin, Sylvester Nwokolo, said “I wouldn’t lie to you, the thing is affecting me. Normally I facebook, tweet, chat on Whatsapp and ping in short forms like ‘LWKMD’ – Laugh wan kill me die, also, since we don’t submit our notes like we did in secondary school, I use short forms when taking down notes in class.
“There was this particular exam that I wrote in short form because I was running out of time and the course lecturer specifically came to class after exam and said that those of us that used short forms have lost 15 marks. I nearly fainted. He went on to say that we being in science is not an excuse to not know proper English grammar; that if you are a first class graduate and you speak poorly people will think you bought your certificate.”
For Rebecca Obika, an SS3 student in one of the private schools in Port Harcourt, chatting in long hand is boring. She said “I have a smart
phone because my parents always like to reach me. Teachers say it’s not allowed but I have to have my phone that I use it for assignments too. If I chat in normal long form, my friends will say I am boring. In fact, instead of laughing normally, we just say ‘LOL’ amongst ourselves. It’s the in thing and we have to keep with the trend.
“there was a time I accidentally used the short form in an exams but I don’t think the teachers minded so much. At best they will remove two marks. Is the important thing not to understand what they are teaching? Does it matter how I type it?”
Toafeek Tajudeen, SS2 student of Federal Government College, Lagos, said “I use my elder brother’s phone to chat with my friends because I do not have a personal phone. I know that chatting with those abbreviations will affect me but I use them so that the text message will not exceed one page. I am usually conscious not to use it in copying my notes because we submit our notes for grading and my teacher will automatically give me zero if we write short form.”
Way forward: Text message or chartroom slang affects students’ academic performance either positively or negatively.  Positively because some use it for important academic message or family members or friends both at school and at home for information especially when they are out of credit and cannot make voice calls. Negative when they become addicted to SMS, IM, BBM and so on when they use text slangs to the point of writing such slangs in their continuous assessment and examinations.
It is most astonishing to note that even though the students are aware of the dangers associated with the use of SMS slangs, especially during examinations, they still cannot stop it because they uncautiously use it.
However, the use of SMS slangs can be overcome if only its users can adopt the use of only simple and correct English when doing so.

Biafra: Kanu pleads not guilty to felony charge

The Federal Government, yesterday, docked the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on a six-count criminal charge bordering on treasonable felony.
This came just as the Rivers State Police Command arraigned ten pro-Biafra protesters in Port-Harcourt.
Kanu was arraigned alongside two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
The trio took turns and pleaded not guilty to the charge, which was  signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri.
In the charge, the Federal Government alleged that the accused persons committed treasonable felony by spear-heading an illegal agitation for the seccession of ‘Biafra Republic’ from Nigeria, an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
FG alleged that the three accused persons were the ones managing the affairs of the IPOB, which it described as ‘an unlawful society.’
To remain in custody
Meantime, shortly after the accused persons pleaded innocence to the charge, yesterday, the DPP, who is personally prosecuting the case for the government, applied for them to remain in custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, pending the determination of the case against them.
Diri insisted that it would be more convenient for the prosecution to produce the accused persons to court from the DSS detention facility for trial than from Kuje prison.
Citing security reasons, Diri, contended that anything could happen on the way while bringing the accused person to court from the prison.
“‘The DSS had never failed to produce the defendants in court, but we have had instances where accused persons in prison were not brought to court for trial owing to logistic problems.
“‘The nature of the offence and the response of friends, relatives and sympathisers of the defendants that we have seen, particularly when the case was before the Magistrate’s Court, is what has prompted this application.
“I have no personal interest against the accused persons. I am only doing my job as the prosecutor and the DPP of the federation,” Diri added.
A better option
Nnamdi-Kanu in court
FILE: Nnamdi-Kanu in court
However, his application was vehemently opposed by counsel to the defendants, Chief Chuks Muoma, SAN, who told the court that his clients would rather prefer to be remanded in prison custody.
Muoma argued that the prison was the most appropriate place to remand an accused person that had entered plea before a court of competent jurisdiction.
”’No amount of convenience can over-ride the law. The prosecution has not disputed the fact that we don’t have access to our clients. They have not also disputed the fact that our clients do not have access to phone calls. Two court orders in respect of this matter have been disobeyed by the DSS, so what is the guarantee that it will obey whatever order this court will make? ” Muoma queried.
Besides, he accused the DPP of giving evidence from the bar by insinuating that the DSS detention facility is more secure than Kuje prison.
After listening to both parties, trial Justice James Tsoho, over-ruled the DPP and remanded the defendants in Kuje prison.
”’I have given due consideration to arguments by the two counsels. It is my respectful view that after arraignment, the appropriate and constitutional pace for remand of an accused person is the prison except when there is an extra-ordinary reason.
”It is my view that the complainant have all it takes to provide logistic and security requirements not withstanding the distance between the prison and the court.
”Therefore, application for remand of the defendants in DSS custody is refused. Accordingly, the defendants are hereby remanded in Kuje prison pending trial,” Justice Tsoho held.
Meantime, the court has adjourned till next Monday to entertain arguments from both parties on whether or not the accused persons should be released on bail pending hearing and determination of the charge against him.
The charges
One of the charges against the accused persons read: “That you, Nnamdi Kanu and other unknown persons, now at large, at London, United Kingdom, between 2014 and September, 2015, with intention to levy war against Nigeria in order to force the President to change his measures of being the President of the Federation, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation as defined in Section 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) by doing an act to wit: Broadcast on Radio Biafra your preparations for the states in the South- East geo-political zone, South-South geo-political zone, the Igala Community of Kogi State and the Idoma/Igede Community of Benue State to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and form themselves into a Republic of Biafra, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41(C) of the Criminal Code Act, CAP C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
It will be recalled that Kanu had on December 23, 2015, declined to enter his plea to the charge which was then before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the high court.
It will also be recalled that Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the same high court had on December 17, ordered the ‘unconditional’ release of the IPOB leader, Kanu, from the custody of the DSS.
Kanu, who is also the Director of Radio Biafra and Television, was on October 1, arrested in Lagos by security operatives, shortly after he arrived Nigeria from his base in the United Kingdom.
He was subsequently arraigned before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Abuja over allegation that he engaged in criminal conspiracy, managed and belonged to an unlawful society.
Kanu, on October 19, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was eventually granted bail to the tune of N2million.
However, the accused person alleged that the Nigerian government refused to release him from detention despite the fact that he met the bail conditions.
The Magistrate Court subsequently struck out the charge, even as it discharged the accused person.
In the bench ruling, Kanu was docked before trial Justice J.T. Tsoho alongside two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi.
Justice Tsoho, in a bench ruling, ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody.
When the matter was called up, yesterday, Kanu, sought the permission of the trial judge to address the court.
Speaking from the dock, Kanu who was flanked by the other two accused persons, gave reasons why he would not subject himself to trial before Justice Mohammed.
The IPOB leader said he had no confidence that the court would grant him fair trial, saying he would rather remain in detention than to be subjected to the rigours of trial that would eventually amount to nothing.
Kanu insisted that the Department of State Services, DSS, had since his travail commenced, shown that it had a knack for disrespecting valid court orders.
He said: ‘Based on information available to me, I am convinced that I will not receive fair trial before this court.
‘”There has been several rulings delivered by competent courts of jurisdiction which the Department of State Services, DSS, never respected”.
At that juncture, the DPP, Diri, who is personally prosecuting the matter for the government, interjected, saying it was premature for the 1st accused person, Kanu, to start raising such issues.
The DPP, contended that section ?396(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, provided that the court must firstly enter the plea of an accused person before entertaining any preliminary objection against the substantive charge.
“My lord, under section 396(2) of the ACJA, an objection to trial may be raised by the defendant only after plea is taken, but not before.
“In this case, the defendant has decided to put the cart before the horse by raising objection to his trial before the charge is read to him and his plea taken.
“I urge your lordship to over-rule the objection of the 1st defendant and order that the charge be read to the three accused persons for the purpose of taking their plea, the DPP submitted.”
Responding, Kanu’s lead counsel, Mr. Egechukwu Obetta, urged the court  to ignore the DPP and accede to the request of his client.
Ruling on the issue, yesterday, Justice Mohammed, disqualified himself from handling the matter, saying he will remit the case-file back to the Chief Judge of the High Court for re-assignment to another Judge.
The Judge said: ‘I am of the view that the 1st defendant has the inalienable right to object to being tried by this particular court.
 Rivers State arraignment
Meantime,Rivers State Police command yesterday arraigned 10 pro Biafra protesters  arrested this week in the state at Magistrate court 7 and 14.
They were arraigned on two count charge of criminal conspiracy and treasonable felony.
Hearing on the cases were adjourned to 21 and 28 January while the suspects were remanded in prison custody.
Those arraigned are ” Onu Ifeanyi ‘M’, Prinace Onwazor ‘M’, Princewill Anyanywu ‘M’, Sunday Egbim ‘M’. Uzoma Onyegbu ‘M’, Chigozie Moses ‘M’, Chukwudi Enyidau ‘M’, Anthony Ochuel ‘M’ Enam David Okon ‘M’ and Friday Nwahiri ‘M’. ”
The state Police Public Relations officer, DSP Ahmad Muhammad said they were arrested while on their way to embark on pro Biafra protest from  the neigboiring state.
He warned that the command will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt peace in the state.

Buratai orders all army officers to declare assests

Abuja – The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has directed all officers of the Nigerian Army who have not declared their assets to do so immediately.
According to a statement issued last night by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, the Army Chief gave the directive during a conference with Principal Staff Officers and Directors serving at the Army Headquarters.
“It is to be noted that the Chief of Army Staff has done so, soon on his appointment as Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force in May 2015 and also on his appointment as Chief of Army Staff in July 2015. Copies of both are with the Code of Conduct Bureau” Usman said.
“This directive is in order, considering the fact that all military officers are having Presidential Commission and are public servants, as well as subject to both civil and military laws.
“In addition, given the current drive of the country for probity and accountability, the Nigerian Army should not only key in but should be one of the key drivers for such laudable project” the statement added.