NIGER DELTA LAWMAKERS INSIST ON 65% OWNERSHIP OF OIL WELLS

To facilitate development in the Niger Delta region, South-East and South South lawmakers have called on the Federal Government to review the ownership structure of oil wells in the country to allow for 65 per cent ownership by the people of the region.

The lawmakers also condemned the criminal and nefarious activities of herdsmen and called for the establishment of special task force drawn from the various security agencies and Neighbourhood Watch in each local government area to checkmate the excesses of herdsmen and prosecute them.

They also urged the National Assembly to ensure the accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. According to them: “The people of the Niger Delta region should possess at least 65 per cent of the oil wells contrary to the present ownership structure where less than 10 per cent of the oil blocks belong to our people.” They noted that the region’s development is being hindered by the present payment mode of derivative oil funds.

“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to put in place adequate machinery that would ensure direct payment of derivative oil funds into the hands of Niger Delta benefiting communities,” the principal officers and members of the Houses of Assembly in the region said. Rising from the first parliamentary session of the South-East and South-South Houses of Assembly in Owerri, Imo State, weekend, the lawmakers condemned the criminal and nefarious activities of the so called herdsmen.

“Legislators of the Houses of Assembly in the South-South and South East can no longer watch helplessly as our region drifts aimlessly while our people walk the razor edge under the strain of impoverishment, environmental degradation, insecurity and uncertainty on the one hand and the destruction of oil/gas installations and the attendant consequences including their impact on the eco-system and the economy on the other hand.” They urged the youth to shun confrontation, violence and militancy in pressing for the redress of the zone.

“They must embrace dialogue and diplomacy and channel their grievances through various constituted platforms.” The joint session of legislators from the South -East and South –South geo-political zones not only condemned the evil acts of kidnapping, hostage taking and bursting of oil pipelines, but stressed that militants from the zones should be constituted into an officially recognized brigade for the protection of oil installations The legislators, who called for more proactive measures to address the activities of herdsmen, restated their commitments to pass bills restricting cattle rearing, prohibiting grazing of cattle from one location to another through farmlands thereby causing damages to farm lands, health hazards and obstruction of vehicular and human traffic.

The lawmakers while attributing the defective and harsh socio-economic environment, lack of employment opportunities, lack of empowerment for the youth, environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure, general under-development and inadequate benefit of the resources from the region, rejected the proposed bill to establish and control grazing routes and reserves before the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly.

Credit: Vanguard

CBN EXPECTS THE NAIRA TO SETTLE AT N250 TO DOLLAR

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN believes the naira will settle at around N250 to the U.S. dollar after an initial period of weakness following a flotation on Monday. For 16 months, the CBN has had the Naira pegged at N197 to the U.S. dollar while the black market rates stay above N300 to the dollar.

3O STATES FAIL FG BAILOUT TEST – UDOM EMMANUEL

The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel broke the news to State House Correspondents. He also stated that only 5 states met the 22 conditions demanded by the Federal Government in order to access the N90 billion budget support loan facility for them at 9 percent interest rate.

This is the third time a bailout has given to states by the Federal Government to enable them meet their obligations, including payment of salaries.

The conditions followed a report that was published by the Indenpendent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC), which showed that most of the states diverted the funds earlier given as bailouts.

MTN AGREES TO PAY 330BN NAIRA

MTN Nigeria has agreed to pay a fine of 330 billion Naira to the Federal Government in six installments over the next three years.
It would be recalled that 6 months ago, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), imposed a fine of 1.04 trillion Naira on the communications outfit for failure to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline.

There have been long drawn negotiations for the past 6 months, finally this Settlement Agreement has been reached.

The MTN will also be required to take immediate steps to ensure the listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as soon as possible after the date of execution of this Settlement Agreement.

SACKED: THE NEW NIGERIAN BANKING TALE

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Where there is a smoke, you are most likely going to find a fire. Over the last few months, majority of our banks have undergone massive retrenchment exercises that you might run into 3 different cashiers in the same counter in one month. From outsourcing of staff to outright sack, we have seen it all. However, I would like us to look into this issue, objectively. These staff who are being fired are people, not numbers. People with families to cater for and responsibilities. Isn’t this a bit insensitive.

First, Access Bank has sacked over 1,000 of its staff so far and Ecobank has let a little below 2000 go. For these 2 banks, I would like to assume that the reason(s) for downsizing would be greatly centered on the fact that they merged with 2 out of the “8 Troubled Banks”, namely Intercontinental Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Afribank Nigeria Plc, Finbank Nigeria Plc, Oceanic Bank International Plc, Bank PHB Plc, Spring Bank Plc and Equatorial Trust Bank Ltd. Access Bank merged with Intercontinental and Ecobank merged with Oceanic Bank. You have to consider the size of the resulting workforce and network! It is only fair to assume that these banks might not have had the required frame work to take on this burden. Then we also have to consider the directive of the CBN to the “8 Troubled Banks” to submit their strategy to cut down their operational costs.The directive demanded that the appointed Management Teams of the banks to reduce their management staff by 30% as part of the cost cutting strategy. Among those affected include, Senior Managers, Managers, Deputy Managers, Assistant Managers as well as other top ranking staff.

It was predicted by a Global Rating Agency, Fitch Rating that the Nigerian banking industry should prepared for a landslide fall in profitability this year. Due to the continued fall in International Oil Prices as well as the continued fall in the value of the Naira. When the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank devalued the Naira by 8%. This led to the immediate withdrawal of about N500bn from the banking system and turned out to be a huge hit to the Banking Industry.

The CBN also stopped the banks from keeping any of their funds in foreign currencies. It also said dollars bought from it must be utilized within 48 hours, adding that the actions were aimed at stopping the banks from speculating on the exchange rate.

Skye bank has also sacked almost 200 workers, Diamond bank too were not left out as they sacked 200 workers too, as a “Democracy Day Gift”. The Central Bank of Nigeria describes Skye bank as one of the systemically important banks with over N1.3tn balance sheet, and has over 400 branches. Then why do they need to do away with their work staff? Honestly, while the Central Bank are busy battling to save the Naira, the Nigerian Banking Industry would continue to take hits and this would in turn lead to more downsizing of their labour force. The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, has directed the banks to stop the retrenchment exercise but I don’t see this happening anytime soon. Even the National Labour Congress and the banking workers union have given a deadline to banks to stop the downsizing too or face mass action. In conclusion, if the Nigerian Banks are to survive this period, jobs will be lost and till the Banking Environment becomes more tolerant of Nigerian banks, the banks would keep on doing anything to survive. Which includes, sacking its workers.