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181

Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), said Thursday he will give up the postition when his current tenure expires in June after five years at the helm of Nigeria's election body, the Daily Post in Nigeria reported. Jega and other election officials were recently accused of bias and malpractice during and after Nigeria’s general elections, in which opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari beat President Goodluck Jonathan and the long-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost its majority power in Nigeria’s legislature.

“I am grateful to God. I was asked to come and contribute my own quota to the national development and I have done my bit to the best of my ability,” Jega said in an interview with BBC’s Hausa service, according to the Daily Post. “Whatever assignment one will do for five years – just like this difficult one, to me if one is able to successfully accomplish the task, someone else should be given the opportunity, because for me I am not interested and if I am requested to serve again, I will not do it, by God’s grace.”

Jega, who was appointed by Jonathan in 2010 to replace Maurice Iwu, said he was not concerned about the allegations of bias against him by the PDP because he knew they were untrue. “I maintained my calmness because I knew all the allegations were false,” he said. “There is nothing that frightens me or disturbs me because, of all our actions, we have explanations for them.”

Peter Godsday Orubebe, a PDP official, interrupted the vote-counting meeting at the International Conference Center in Abuja Tuesday to petition against the incoming results of the bitterly contested presidential election. Orubebe, a former Niger Delta minister, seized the microphone at the podium and accused Jega and the INEC of bias. Orubebe said he would not allow the tallying of results to continue until Jega returned to his office and addressed the complaints raised by the PDP, the Daily Post reported at the time.

“We have raised issues about results in Kano, in Kaduna, Jigawa and Katsina, and yet you have done nothing about it. You are biased. You are partial. You are tribalistic,” Orubebe said to Jega Tuesday at the central vote-counting site. “We don’t believe in you anymore. You are compromised. And we won’t take it from you.”

The heated exchange lasted for 30 minutes until Orubebe was led away from the podium. Jega immediately dismissed the allegations and resumed announcing the election results from various states. “I reject the so-called petition because it was brought to me while I was at the hall presenting results,” he said Tuesday, according to Turkey's Anadolu news agency. “It is improper for any party agent to do so. For that reason, I do not take it, because other party agents and the media could be watching.”

http://www.ibtimes.com/nigeria-elections-2015-inec-chairman-attahiru-jega-give-position-amid-allegations-1867654?

182
News & Happenings / The surprising benefits of autocratic elections
« on: April 02, 2015, 02:01:53 PM »

After a bitterly contested election campaign and several controversial postponements, Muhammadu Buhari engineered an upset of Nigeria’s incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, the country’s first-ever case of electoral turnover. Legislative elections will follow on April 11, while two other African countries, Sudan and Togo, are also scheduled to hold elections over the next two weeks. Besides the coincidence in electoral timing, these countries share another surprising link—all three are generally recognized as autocracies.

The marriage of autocracy with contested elections is, in fact, the norm nowadays. All but five autocracies have held a national election since 2000, with about three in four allowing multiparty competition. What makes these regimes autocratic is that the elections fail to meet democratic standards, typically with state power being used to favor the ruling party. Prominent examples include Singapore, Russia, Jordan and Venezuela.

What should we think about these electoral autocracies? This is more than a theoretical question, as the spread of multiparty elections is largely a result of international pressure, norms and conditions on foreign aid. As many authors have pointed out, the end product of “democracy promotion” (on which the United States annually spends around a billion dollars) is more often electoral autocracy than real democracy. The fear is that we are encouraging elections that are either pointless window-dressing or, in some cases, may even damage governance and bolster autocratic stability.

My own research presents a more positive spin: Electoral autocracies may be less desirable than true democracies, but they still have a range of positive consequences. As Nigeria demonstrates, it’s a mistake to assume that manipulation makes autocratic elections uncompetitive and meaningless. While many are, with Sudan’s upcoming election a likely example, others are closely contested and unpredictable. The result is a series of benefits that make them clearly superior to non-electoral autocracy.

A first consequence is a country’s long-term chances for democracy. It’s been much-debated whether elections improve a country’s likelihood of democratization. If there is an effect, it’s a small one. A subtly different question is whether autocratic elections influence stability after a country democratizes.

A forthcoming paper (ungated) of mine confirms that democracies are much more likely to survive if they have a history of autocratic elections. This shouldn’t be too surprising, as today’s strongest democracies all passed through a prolonged period of unfair or limited-suffrage elections. Over time, even highly imperfect elections tend to improve a country’s political institutions, allow strong political parties to develop, and give citizens a taste for voting and political activism.

A second benefit of autocratic elections relates to health and education outcomes. A wealth of political science research shows that democracy improves human development by encouraging responsive leaders. In a forthcoming article, I find that multiparty autocracy has a similarly strong, positive effect on outcomes like infant mortality, literacy and gender equality in education.

To justify a causal interpretation, I show that the effect holds up when looking at regime history or when using instrumental variables. How large is the effect? A long-term electoral autocracy should expect roughly one-third fewer infant deaths and an additional 10-25 percent of its population to be literate (compared to non-electoral autocracy). Besides the obvious benefits for citizen welfare, this modernization effect improves the conditions for future democratic stability. This finding complements work by Jennifer Gandhi, Joseph Wright, and others showing that autocratic legislatures promote more favorable government spending, civil liberties, and economic growth.

Finally, I show in other work (ungated) that autocratic elections often exhibit a meaningful degree of policy responsiveness. Specifically, when ruling parties start losing votes, they often increase their social and education spending following the elections. Although this doesn’t compare to the responsiveness found in most democracies, the finding shows that even highly flawed elections provide openings for citizens to extract policy concessions.

To be clear, none of this questions democracy as the ideal. If anything, the findings further support the benefits of political competition and liberalization. Yet we should recognize that establishing democracy is often not a realistic option. Whereas we can usually persuade autocrats to allow mere elections (which they can control at first), it’s much harder to convince them to accept a level of free competition that threatens their political survival. The lesson is to promote authentic democracy wherever possible, but also to recognize electoral autocracy as clearly superior to old-fashioned dictatorship.

The distaste that many observers have for autocratic elections is understandable. There’s a sense in which many autocrats are playing a cynical con by embracing elections, reaping the rewards, and then using these elections to magnify their own power.

Yet democracy promoters are arguably playing the longer con, getting dictators to accept the very institutions that, over time, make countries inhospitable to dictatorship. This tension should be familiar to the newly elected Buhari, who took power in a military coup in 1983, only to see his fellow generals oust him two years later.

Even the most powerful weapons can betray their masters.

Michael K. Miller is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/04/02/the-surprising-benefits-of-autocratic-elections/?tid=hpModule_ba0d4c2a-86a2-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394

183

Africa’s first Nobel laureate for literature, Wole Soyinka, said Nigerians must show a Nelson Mandela-like ability to forgive president-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s past as an iron-fisted military ruler.

“I criticized him for certain acts during his stint as a military dictator,” Soyinka, the 80-year-old playwright and poet, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa on Wednesday at his hillside home in the southwestern Nigerian town of Abeokuta. “But I also insist that it’s about time we try our best to be mini-Mandelas, to learn there’s a moment when we must put the past aside.”

Buhari’s 20-month term as the military head of state of Africa’s biggest oil producer when he overthrew an elected government in 1983 included a campaign against “indiscipline,” in which the press was muzzled, hundreds of politicians, businessmen and journalists were jailed and police officers ordered to hit people who didn’t line up to wait for the bus.

By voting in Buhari, a 72-year-old northern Muslim who describes himself as a “converted democrat,” many Nigerians have shown an ability to look past his earlier misdeeds, said Soyinka. Buhari denies having ever perpetuated human rights abuses.

“Mandela had a faith in the capacity of the Boer, the masters of apartheid, to reform,” Soyinka said in his booming voice in a living room filled with wooden carvings. “There’s a moment when we must put the past aside, most especially when what presumes to the present becomes untolerable and continues and threatens to prolong itself, then we have to be more pragmatic.”

Monopoly Broken
Buhari, a three-time loser in presidential races, beat President Goodluck Jonathan, 57, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in elections held last weekend in Africa’s most populous nation, breaking the PDP’s 16-year monopoly on power. His victory comes against the backdrop of a six-year Islamist insurgency that the government says has killed more than 13,000 people and a collapse of crude prices that has hammered the economy.

Buhari won under the banner of the All Progressives Congress, an alliance of the main opposition parties that formed two years ago and drew support across religious and ethnic divides. That coalition helped Buhari, who is wildly popular in the north, make inroads in parts of the country that haven’t supported him in the past, particularly the southwest, home to the Yoruba people.

“I think more in terms of the APC winning the election,” said Soyinka, who is close to some of its members. Soyinka said reports from APC members and his own observations suggest Buhari was “struggling to be a party man.”

Buhari’s win paved the way for the first democratic transition of power in Nigeria from one party to another. Many members of the ruling party defected to the APC, leading to claims that the opposition wasn’t substantially different from its rivals.

‘Corrupt Figures’
“Neither party is filled with angels, there are corrupt figures on both sides,” Soyinka said, claiming this election to have been the most money-fueled in the country’s history. “Some of them I don’t even want to see anywhere near this building. Others, on the other hand, have sat here, these very chairs, eaten and drunk with me.”

The PDP’s 16-year reign, which will end on May 29, has been plagued with corruption scandals in a nation that ranked 136 of 175 countries in Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, on par with Russia and Iran.

Its latest administration also lost popularity due to its inability to tackle the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the north of the country. Nigeria delayed elections in February as the military announced a six-week offensive that month. With the support of neighboring countries, it recovered territory lost to Boko Haram.

‘Gingers Me Up’
“Nigerians have a right to be resentful of the fact that that kind of measure was not taken early enough,” Soyinka said. “That this disease was allowed to fester leading to the traumatization of swathes of Nigerian landscape and society and humanity.”

Jonathan, who conceded on Tuesday evening, an unprecedented step in a country accustomed to post-election violence and turmoil, could have “very easily” attempted to cling to power, said Soyinka. The fact he didn’t makes amends for some of his lapses in government, he said.

With Buhari’s win, Soyinka, who hasn’t felt this optimistic since the end of military rule in 1999, hopes he won’t be disappointed again.

“Against my rational instincts, I believe that we have here a genuine case of a born-again democrat,” he said. Ultimately, “the real heroes of this exercise have been the Nigerian people and that gingers me up.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-02/nigeria-must-forgive-buhari-s-past-noble-laureate-soyinka-says?

184

General Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory over an incumbent president was unprecedented in Nigerian history. Now for the difficult part: tackling an economy reeling from a plunge in oil prices and Islamist militant attacks in the north.

Buhari, 72, will probably tap some of the key strategists of his election victory, such as the outgoing governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Fashola, and Rivers state Governor Rotimi Amaechi, as well as senior officials in his All Progressives Congress party such as Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, said Laura Barber, intelligence analyst at AKE Group in London.

“Appointments at the oil and finance ministries in particular will be looked to for a sign of confidence in the new government,” Razia Khan, head of Africa macroeconomic research at Standard Chartered Plc in London, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The appointment of any technocrats, with a proven track-record of delivery, will be especially welcomed by investors.”

The challenges Buhari will inherit when he’s inaugurated on May 29 are immense. The price of oil, the nation’s main export, has fallen 50 percent since June, the naira is down 17 percent against the dollar in the past six months, and the International Monetary Fund estimates economic growth will slow this year to 4.8 percent this year from 6.1 percent in 2014. In the north, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has waged a six-year insurgency that the government says has killed more than 13,000 people.

Honeymoon Ends
“Key challenges, including security issues in the north and the broader economic crisis triggered by lower oil prices will limit and possibly eradicate any post-election honeymoon period,” Manji Cheto, vice-president at Teneo Intelligence in London, said in e-mailed comments.

Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s only Nobel laureate, said Buhari will choose cabinet members dealing with the economy with wide experience.

“I believe that Buhari is going to choose a very strong, good team in various departments, but most especially in economy,” Soyinka said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa at his home in Abeokuta. “I think, like me, he’s an economic illiterate.”

A former military ruler, Buhari will also probably shake up officials in the security forces to deal with Boko Haram, Barber said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“I assure you that Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas,” Buhari said Wednesday in a speech in Abuja, the capital. “We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.”

Petroleum Ministry
One of his key picks will be the minister responsible for oil, which accounts for more than two-thirds of government revenue and more than 90 percent of foreign-exchange income.

Amaechi is a possible candidate to become petroleum minister because he’s the current governor of oil-rich Rivers state in the Niger River delta and defected from President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party, according to analysts including Phil Chladek of Bloomberg Intelligence.

“Given his loyalty to the APC and his important contribution to their campaign,” Amaechi may get the position, said Alan Cameron, an economist at Exotix Partners LLP in London.

Having someone from the region as the petroleum minister may help to maintain the relative calm in the delta since 2009 when militants behind attacks on the oil industry cut output by 28 percent accepted an amnesty offered by Jonathan’s predecessor Umaru Yar’Adua. Piracy and theft of crude from pipelines remain rife in Africa’s biggest oil producer.

‘Magic Wand’
Jonathan was born in Bayelsa state in the Niger delta, and oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is from Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital that’s the hub of the petroleum industry.

One of the new minister’s tasks will be to oversee the passage of a set of proposed laws to reshape Nigeria’s oil industry, the Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been stuck in parliament for more than years.

“We should not expect a magic wand,” said Rolake Akinkugbe, vice president and head of energy at Lagos-based FBN Capital Ltd. “I don’t necessarily think there will be a rush to pass the PIB.”

The current agriculture minister, Akinwunmi Adesina, and Trade Minister Olusegun Aganga, are among the likeliest to keep their jobs, Cameron at Exotix said.

“It remains to be seen whether there will be any changes at the Ministry of Finance or the Central Bank of Nigeria, though the APC’s manifesto explicitly mentions central bank independence as a top priority,” he said.

Godwin Emefiele, the current governor of the Abuja-based regulator, took over in June 2014 after Jonathan suspended the previous governor, Lamido Sanusi.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-02/buhari-pursues-cabinet-to-boost-economy-battle-boko-haram?

185
Oil & Gas Industry / India, China cut crude oil imports from Nigeria
« on: April 02, 2015, 01:50:20 PM »
India, which recently replaced the United States as Nigeria’s biggest oil market, cut its import of the country’s crude by 38 per cent in December, while China did not import a barrel from the country in the period, data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation revealed.

India’s import of Nigerian crude tumbled to 5.2 million barrels in December, from 13.7 million in October and 12.4 million in November 2014.

China, which bought 1.9 million barrels of Nigerian crude in October, reduced its import from the country by 50.3 per cent to 946,913 barrels in November.

With the decline in imports from India and China, the share of the Asian region in Nigeria’s crude oil export dropped to 20 per cent in December from 30 per cent in October and 27 per cent in November.

The Asian region, which is the major target market for many oil exporters, is a key market for Nigeria.

Total export from Nigeria in the month of October stood at 65.9 million, down from 67.1 million barrels in September and 70 million barrels in August, according to the NNPC data.

“Four regions namely, Europe, Asia and Far East, South America and Africa remain the major destinations of Nigerian crude and condensate export,” the NNPC said.

Europe continued to be the largest regional importer of Nigerian oil as its imported 31.4 million barrels in December, up from 23.6 million barrels in October.

The Head of Energy Research, Ecobank Capital, Mr. Dolapo Oni, told our correspondent that the decline in imports from the country’s top importers – India and China – was expected, adding that it became cheaper to buy oil from several other countries, especially from Central and South America.

“There was a lot of substitution between cargoes from West Africa and from these regions. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia raised oil output from 9.6 million barrels per day to 10 million bpd within the last quarter of 2014 to compensate for the fall in Libya’s oil output.

“The proximity to Asia means the extra barrels were pushed into Asia at lower prices. Saudi Arabia cut its official selling price to Asia in October and November but raised it slightly in December.”

Not only has the United States drastically reduced its import of Nigerian crude as a result of its increasing shale oil production, the country is gearing up to export its crude oil, with Asia being a key target destination.

After months of pressure over the ban on exports of most domestic crude in the US, the President Barack Obama administration in January took steps that were expected to unleash a wave of ultra-light shale oil known as condensate onto global markets.

The US imports of Nigerian crude oil tumbled by 75 per cent last year to 21.51 million barrels, the lowest since the country started importing from Nigeria, the US Energy Information Administration said.

The country, which traditionally had been the largest importer of Nigerian oil until the last few years, changed to the 10th largest in 2014.

In July last year, the US imports of Nigerian crude fell to zero for the first time on record, according to data from the EIA.

Analysts at Ecobank had recently raised concerns that the continued oversupply in the global oil market and the weak global economic picture could constrain oil demand.

“Thus, Nigeria could see a major reduction in oil revenues in 2015 compared to 2014 due to the much lower average oil price anticipated in the year. The country already faces considerable difficulties in selling its crude oil cargoes with a persistent overhang for its crude oil cargoes since December 2014,” they said.

The Ecobank analysts said the NNPC had offered further discounts to push sales but increasingly faced lower price differentials.

They noted, “This is expected to redirect government attention to other revenue sources as it seeks to fill the gap in its revenue profile. Receipts from crude oil sales have traditionally provided over 67 per cent of government revenue.

“The lower oil price environment could also sustain the downward trend in the country’s foreign reserves and exchange rate, which are dependent on the foreign currency earned by crude oil sales.”

Crude oil exports account for over 90 per cent of the country’s exports and remain the key source of foreign currency.

www.businessnews.com.ng

186
FACILITIES ENGINEER (PROCESS / CHEMICAL)
Requisition Number: 037141103
Job is available in these locations: Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria

Chevron Nigeria Limited is accepting online applications for the position of FACILITIES ENGINEER (PROCESS/CHEMICAL) located in Lagos, Nigeria . If you are interested in becoming a valued employee of Chevron Nigeria Limited, a company that provides excellent career opportunities and welfare packages, this opportunity awaits you. Will you join us?

Chevron is one of the World’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide, including Nigeria. The company also provides career opportunities to its workforce in other Chevron’s worldwide operations.

Chevron is committed to sound environmental and safety practices and exhibits cultural diversity. Our employees conduct their day to day work with the principles outlined in The Chevron Way which expresses our vision “to be the global energy company most admitted for it people, partnership and performance”

Job Desciption:
- Designs and modifies straightforward equipment and facilities such as: separators and treaters;
transfer pumps; vapor recovery units; simple pipelines.
- Demonstrates knowledge of production engineering processes / terminology.
- Performs heat and material balances for units such as glycol units, amine plants, cooling tower,
oil and gas separators, etc.
- Utilizes basic tools and procedures for design safety (such as API 14C, flare and relief systems,
process safety management, etc.).
- Maintains basic data sheets, supplier drawings, P&IDs.

Educational Qualification:
Bachelors degree with Second Class Honours Upper Division in Chemical / Process Engineering.
Candidates with Second class lower honours and a Master’s degree in the same discipline (Chemical/process engineering ) may also be considered.

Work Experience:
One (1) to maximum of Five (5) years post 1st degree (includes National Youth Service) experience.

Additional Requirements:
•Moderate HYSYS and /or PIPEPHASE simulation skills
•Ability to interpret Piping and Instrumentation Drawing (P&ID), Process Flow Diagram (PFD) and Safety Analysis Function Evaluation (SAFE) charts.
•Effective communication and interpersonal skills
•Proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office Suite

Please follow the link below to apply for this job
https://www.chevron.apply2jobs.com/ProfExt/index.cfm?fuseaction=mExternal.showJob&RID=41103&CurrentPage=1

Job Description: FACILITIES ENGINEER (MECHANICAL)
- Designs, constructs and modifies equipment and facilities such as: separators and treaters; transfer pumps; vapor recovery units; simple pipeline.

- Provides engineering support for design of subsea production equipment, pipelines, systems.

- Demonstrates knowledge of flow assurance and reliability aspects of subsea system design and operation.

- Performs basic calculations such as minimum wall thickness for heat exchangers, vessels & piping, basic relief system component sizing, basic valve selection and sizing, or thermal calculations for heat exchangers and fired equipment.

- Demonstrates understanding of appropriate tools and work processes to assess integrity and reliability performance associated with simple equipment installations and small facility operations. This includes asset integrity evaluations and availability /reliability calculations for normal operations, elementary Life Cycle Cost Analysis and basic application of performance
assessment tools (Risk Analysis, FMEA, 5 Why, Why Tree).

Educational Qualification:
Bachelor’s degree with Second Class Honours Upper Division in Mechanical Engineering.
Candidates with Second class lower honour’s and a Master’s degree in the same discipline ( Mechanical Engineering ) may also be considered.

Work Experience:
One (1) to maximum of Five (5) years post 1st degree (includes National Youth Service) experience.

Additional Requirements:
- Demonstrates knowledge of applicable industry codes and standards / specifications related to
the design, fabrication, inspection and testing of fixed and rotating equipment.
- Effective communication and interpersonal skills.
- Proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office Suite.

Please follow the link below to apply
https://www.chevron.apply2jobs.com/ProfExt/index.cfm?fuseaction=mExternal.showJob&RID=41103&CurrentPage=1

187
2015 presidential elections are over and has been recorded as one of the most successful presidential elections in the history of Nigeria despite the concerns top prophets in Nigeria raised earlier this year…

Here is a compilation of some of them that gave many Nigerians sleepless nights.

An Abuja-based, Prophet Joshua Iginla of the Champions Royal Assembly prophesised, “No matter how powerful or well-organized 2015 election is, it will be faulted. I am not a politician nor belong to any political party, I am just speaking God’s mind. The person sitting on the seat might not be perfect, but he will retain the seat. It’s not guess-work. Howbeit, it will be a battle between the lion and the tiger…Shortly after the election, especially on the night of the election, there will be great vandalization. I see cars being burnt, lives killed.” He veered off from the 2015, election and talked about Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s health and death in the Aso Rock: “President Jonathan will win, but he has to pray about his health and so many political blows. I pray the two people who enter the Aso Villa will leave together. That’s why we should pray for the woman beside the president. The president and wife should pray that the first lady would finish the tenure together and not losing one before the end of their tenure.”

INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church founder, Primate Elijah Ayodele Babatunde said “This year’s election will throw up a lot of issues. President Goodluck Jonathan will do everything to win a second term, however, he needs 14 days prayer to have a peaceful reign to enable him complete a second term. The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega will be confused during the polls. There will be several gimmicks to cajole the INEC to rig the election. E-voting will not work. There will be ballot box snatching and stuffing during the election. The President should also commit his health and that of his wife to prayer. Jonathan is in the midst of enemies who are after his life”.

For Apostle Johnson Suleiman of the Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide; it’s about bad news, after all. According to him, it’s going to be sad news for the nation, adding that the 2015 election would be a replica of June 12. He urged President Jonathan to be careful as there are plans to assassinate him. On Jonathan’s health, the acclaimed man of God said. “I see President Goodluck Jonathan coming back, but there was trouble. Patience Jonathan needs serious prayers,” he added. “2015 presidential election will be rigged, marred in violence and end up in court case. 2015 election is another June 12. The man who truly won will not govern, or rule.”

Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre, KICC, said, When the president’s name is announced as winner of the election, 20 percent of a certain part of the country will not agree. Eventually, after negotiation they will. We will agree that we are one.”

The founder of the Christ Royal Family Church, Lagos Bishop Tom Samson warned Nigerians to brace up for some “hardship and darkness in the first half of this year election.”

Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly said, “Whether you are from the East or from the West or from the North or the South, you will experience joy in 2015. Other nations will say ‘how did they do it.’ It will be indescribable joy. The nations of the earth will testify. I bring good tidings of joy to every part of the nation…”

Prophet Williams Onuoha, the General Overseer of Galilee Christian Centre, Lagos predicted, “the current governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, would become Nigeria’s president unless the governor failed to adhere to God’s direction.”

Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka of Catholic Church declared that President Jonathan will lose the election. He claimed that the “President has become a bad luck.”

Primate Theophilus Olabayo, the pastor and founder of the Evangelical Church of Yahweh, Lagos said. “God told me that they are going to rig the election and this will cause an upheaval and the results of the election will not be declared and if the result is declared, the winners of the election will not govern. But my advice to our politicians is that they should let the President Jonathan go peacefully and retired to his village.”

An Enugu based prophet, Anthony Nwoko on his part predicted that, “neither Jonathan nor Buhari will be president after the election”.

Prophet Michael Olubode, aka Micadeolu of the Celestial Church of Christ, Lagos said, I want to let the people of Nigeria know that the Lord will return His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to his presidential seat despite much hatred for him, it pleases the Lord God of Celestial to increase his tenure at the Presidential Villa”.

What can we say? Let’ God’s name be highly exalted.

http://naijasinglegirl.com/the-voice-of-man-prophecies-or-guess-work/

188
Oando Energy Resources Inc. ("OER" or the "Company") (TSX: OER), a company focused on oil and gas exploration and production in Nigeria, today announced financial and operating results for the year ended December 31, 2014. The audited consolidated financial statements, notes and management's discussion and analysis pertaining to the period are available on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval ("SEDAR") at www.sedar.com and by visiting www.oandoenergyresources.com. All monetary figures reported herein are U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.

"In 2014 we executed on our growth strategy by acquiring the Nigerian upstream business of ConocoPhillips Company and our continued focus over the near term will be on optimizing the performance of these key assets," said Pade Durotoye, CEO of Oando Energy Resources Inc. "While the acquisition propelled sizable improvements in our production base, we also invested in our legacy assets, which we expect will support further organic production growth in the near future. In the wake of the acquisition we have acted on a number of opportunities to improve our balance sheet including converting debt to equity and, subsequent to year end, resetting our oil hedging program, which contributed $234 million of the $238 million debt reduction in a $50 per barrel environment."

Key Operational Highlights

On July 30, 2014, the Company completed the acquisition of the Nigerian upstream oil and gas business of ConocoPhillips Company ("COP" or the "Acquisition Assets") for a total cash consideration of $1.5 billion, which included substantial production and a considerable base of exploration and exploitation opportunities;

2014 production increased to 9.1 MMboe (average 24,945 boe/day) from 1.5 MMboe (average 3,991 boe/day) in 2013. Fourth quarter production increased to 54,721 boe/day from 4,413 boe/day in 2013 which included 50,226 boe/day from the assets acquired in the COP Acquisition;

2014 Revenue contribution from the production is as follows crude oil (84%), NGL's (1%) and Natural Gas (15%);

In the fourth quarter, the Company and its partners completed the construction of the 45,000bbls/d Umugini pipeline project and commenced filling the pipeline in the final weeks of the year making it possible for net production from the Ebendo field to increase from 1,410bopd to over 2,565bopd;

Subsequent to year end, in March 2015, OER announced that initial production commenced from the Qua Iboe field at approximately 2,150 boepd gross; and

Also subsequent to year end, the Company successfully realized $234 million by resetting its crude oil hedge floor price from an average of $95.35 per barrel to $65.00 per barrel on 10,223 bbls/day of oil production for the next 18 months and another 1,553 bbls/day for a further 18 months until January 2019. The proceeds, in addition to $4 million cash on hand, were used to prepay $238 million of certain loan facilities.

See more details here http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1512021/oando-energy-resources-announces-year-end-2014-results?

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It remains for me the most memorable moment in the movie. The captain was informing the ship owner (who had bought into the lie that no force on earth or in heaven could sink the Titanic) that the ship had hit an iceberg. “From this moment, no matter what we do, the Titanic will founder,” he said. Having put so much faith in his own propaganda, the ship owner retorted: “But this ship cannot sink.” Without missing a beat, the captain responded: “She is made of iron, Sir. I assure you she can. And she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”

Because those who survive on rent in our country are adept at marketing their greed, they always succeed in selling to whoever occupies the number one office in Nigeria at any period that he is not only above the law, he is so powerful that he can never be defeated in an election. But with the current defeat of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), it is now very clear that the president of Nigeria is human, afterall and he can be ousted by the same people whose votes put him in power. That message has been most eloquently passed and our country will never remain the same again. It is a new day!

For sure, the president of Nigeria has enormous financial resources he can mobilise at any given time while the security agencies and critical institutions of state work at his pleasure regardless of what is written in the Constitution. And he is forever surrounded by clowns and jobbers of all sorts—I was privileged to have seen many of them at work in the Villa—who sing the mantra that, as “President and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”—a title that is so needlessly repeated for his pleasure almost as if it is a line in the national anthem—he has such unlimited power that he can even turn a man into a woman. Now we know better.

Having never bought into the scam that a president of Nigeria cannot be defeated, I have since about four months ago been telling some people very close to President Jonathan that he was electorally vulnerable. But they never took me serious. In my personal encounter with the president in his office on July 23 last year (he sent for me), I particularly explained to him that he was increasingly being perceived as “anti-North” and that it could hurt him at the general election. I recall the president interjected by saying “but Segun, you know me…” to which I replied that it was not my view but a perception challenge he should deal with. If he made efforts in that direction, they were either too little or too late, going by the results of the presidential election across the entire Northern zone where Buhari won outright in 16 out of 19 States. Details of that private encounter I had with the president will come in my coming book on the 2015 general elections in Nigeria that should be out before the end of the year.

Needless to say, I am not one of the people surprised by the outcome of the presidential election. In the fourth instalment of my 2015 election series, “A Time to Choose”, on 29 January this year, I wrote: “as the incumbent, Jonathan will run on his record which unfortunately would include not only his performance in office (which is not as bad as being projected) but also mismanaged relationships that may have been more costly in terms of the eroded support base. We may never know how much political damage the president inflicted on himself by his failed bid to install a Speaker for the House of Representatives in June 2011 and the refusal to accept defeat gracefully thereafter; the futile attempt to oust Rotimi Amaechi as the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman and how that eventually led to the split within the ruling party; the ill-feelings from aggrieved party members who lost out at the recent PDP primaries; the unfortunate Chibok ‘Waka-Come’ theatrics at the Villa by the president’s wife that went viral internationally; the saga of the ‘unaccounted for billions of Dollars’ in oil receipts that is yet to be conclusively resolved and the accompanying drama with Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that played out from the CBN Governorship office in Abuja to the Emir’s palace in Kano; the presidential redefinition of corruption as being different from--and perhaps more tolerable than—stealing; the evident contradictions inherent in the fact that those who once ran a vicious media campaign against Jonathan, baptizing him with the moniker, ‘clueless president’ are now the ones speaking for him etc. The thing about elections is that choices are usually made by most voters on the basis of sentiments (and emotions) such as the foregoing and that is why the incumbent is often disadvantaged, especially when the public mood is as fouled as it is in Nigeria today...”

I wrote that three months ago and I have been proved to be correct. However, despite the bitterness that characterised the 2015 presidential election campaigns, President Jonathan redeemed himself when it mattered most not only by the way he gracefully accepted defeat and congratulated Buhari even before the collation of results was concluded on Tuesday but also by the manner in which he rose to the occasion last Saturday.

Despite the discomfort of having to stand in the heat, Jonathan comported himself very well as the president, not a partisan, as we all watched on national television how three card readers failed to read his biometrics and accredit him for voting at his home town, Otueke, Bayelsa State. At a time television camera could project very clearly that his wife was already boiling with anger, the president said he was prepared to wait for as long as it would take for it to work before he was eventually accredited manually. Calm in disposition and measured in his utterances, Jonathan refused to be goaded by the reporters who were asking him leading questions about the use of card reader, knowing where he stood on the issue. “President Jonathan is just one person, so if we have problem with one person, as far as the election is going on well nationally, I am not worried. There might be a delay, my interest is that we conduct a credible election,” he said.

At the end, even if he lost the election, President Jonathan has turned out to be a man of his word. The fact most people ignore is that given the objection of his party to the use of the card reader, if the president had stormed out of the polling unit at Otuoke when three card readers failed him, that probably would have been the end of the election. And by now, Nigeria would be on the boil. Fortunately for all of us, Jonathan chose not to travel that familiar road often trudged by African leaders and history will forever be kind to him for it.

That Nigerians are today proud of Jonathan is not in doubt and it is a shame that it would take a defeat for him to approximate to the president many had wanted to see in recent years. But in the days and weeks to come when he begins the self-introspection as to how he lost the presidency, Jonathan should look no farther than his immediate environment. From his overbearing wife who used the campaign podium to preach hate, forgetting that there indeed is a God in heaven who promised in the Bible to “overturn, overturn, overturn... until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him” regardless of whether such a person is “analogue” or “brain dead” to people like Godsday Orubebe who made a disgraceful public show of himself on Tuesday not to mention Chief Edwin Clarke and confederates who, forgetting that politics is a game of addition, imagined they could abuse and blackmail the whole of Nigeria into re-electing their Ijaw kinsman.

How and why Jonathan lost will be a subject of interrogation in my coming book but it is a pity that his handlers paid scant attention to my warning of 19 January 2012, in a piece titled “Their Son, Our President”, which rankled Aso Rock and for which someone procured the services of hacks to attack me. I hope that Jonathan’s people will go back to read (http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/their-son-our-president/107435/) and reflect on what might have been had they taken counsel in the Yoruba adage that when your tuber of yam is growing too big, you use your hand to cover it.

For an election that had been predicted to be the end of our country, Nigerians have every right to be happy about the turn of events but there are just too many heroes and the first to be commended is the ordinary voter who stood under the sun and in the rain to exercise his/her franchise. And then the much-maligned chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega. Calm under pressure, mature in his approach to issues, serene in the face of provocation yet so firm and resolute in his conviction, Jega has written his name into the history books by delivering when it mattered most. With any other person, it is doubtful if we would be where we are today as a nation. And of course we must commend our president-elect, Buhari, not only for his tenacity of purpose (having lost three previous times) but also for the maturity with which he handled the campaign irritations from some PDP bigwigs and the president’s wife.

Finally, the biggest accolades go to the president who conceded defeat so that his nation can move on. By that simple but important gesture of patriotism, honour and nobility, Jonathan has earned the status that one old man imagined he could confer on himself just by the theatrics of tearing his party card before television camera. I just hope that the leaders of the victorious APC would have the decency to treat the president with respect in the remaining period of his tenure and after he leaves office. He deserves it.

I will be a bloody hypocrite to say that I was praying for Jonathan to win the presidential election. To be honest, I felt the country could do with some Change (even if I still don’t know its content) because of the way Jonathan mismanaged a couple of serious national issues, especially the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east. There was also this academic interest about whether the proposition in my May 2011 research paper 'Divided Opposition as Boon to African Incumbents' on factors shaping incumbent elections in Africa with special focus on Nigeria, would prove to be correct. Now that my thesis has been validated, I enjoy no real satisfaction that Jonathan is leaving office this way because, despite my misgivings about some of the people around him or his mixed stewardship, I still have a strong affection for the president who I consider a very good man.

If the president needed any validation that he acted wisely, it is by the outpouring of congratulations to him from all over the world and the way he has practically repositioned our country for business. Perhaps nobody has captured the situation as succinctly as Mr. Mo Ibrahim, one of Africa’s wealthiest men and philanthropist, who said yesterday: “The news from Nigeria today is wonderful. Africa’s largest country has concluded a peaceful election process. Furthermore, the incumbent has already gracefully conceded and congratulated his successor – a first for Nigeria and a benchmark for other African countries to follow. Today, we Africans are all proud of Nigeria and President Jonathan. Thank you Mr. President. If you are seeking a legacy, you have definitely achieved it.”

Last Saturday in my hotel room in Lagos, my friend and research assistant, Dipo Akinkugbe, with whom I was watching on television the drama of Jonathan and the Card Reader as the election accreditation exercise unfolded, said after the president had fielded questions from reporters and left: “This is a rare display of statesmanship that I have not seen in President Jonathan for a long time.”

That, I told him, is the essential Jonathan whose Ijaw handlers and a few power mongers from other parts of the country did not allow to blossom. But in falling from power through the electoral process, Jonathan has risen in the estimation of Nigerians for his statesmanlike concession to General Buhari.

Perhaps, in this final moment of loneliness, the President finally acted as Jonathan, unencumbered by the hidden motives of the army of power merchants and ethnic salesmen who have held him hostage all these years. Perhaps it is this last act of selfless submission to the will of the people that will eternally redeem Jonathan in Nigerian history. This end, then, could justify the murky path of this humble man from Otuoke who started life without shoes but has risen to great power and now to the honour roll of great Nigerians.

The message from the foregoing is profound yet so simple: In losing power, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has finally found himself.

http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/goodbye-ebele-jonathan/205662/

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Vacancies / Vacancy - Civil Engineer (Click here for details)
« on: April 01, 2015, 04:55:12 PM »
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Idled oil projects could be revived * Militant groups welcome Buhari election * Reduced fear of violence in oil-rich Delta The reaction Wednesday from the Nigerian oil industry to the election of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari has been overwhelmingly positive, with some officials predicting that some suspended oil projects could be revived and even the once-feared militant group MEND, or the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, welcoming the result.

Buhari, who ruled Nigeria between 1983 and 1985, secured 15.4 million votes to defeat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan who secured 12.8 million votes, the head of the Independent Electoral Commission said Wednesday.

Industry sources, who had previously feared that a Buhari victory could trigger violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, said the fact that the election, adjudged by local and foreign observers to be mostly transparent, had doused the expected tension.

"That the election was fairly peaceful and the results declared without any rancor has helped to clear the uncertainty that trailed the election and will restore investors' confidence in Nigeria," said Mayowa Afe, managing director of Danvic Petroleum International Corp.

Industry analyst Victor Eromosele added: "That the election is seen to have been fairly peaceful should remove fears of likely unrest in the country, the oil region especially. Expect to see many of suspended projects back on track soon." MEND WELCOMES BUHARI ELECTION

The rescinding fears over a new outbreak of violence in the oil-producing Niger Delta region was further bolstered after militant group MEND, which terrorized Nigeria's oil industry for years, Wednesday described the emergence of Buhari as the "right choice."

"The Nigerian people have spoken and elected Muhammadu Buhari to be the next President of Nigeria," MEND said in an emailed statement signed by the group's spokesman under the usual pseudonym Jomo Gbomo.

"In doing so, we have not only made the right choice of a new leadership, we have also reaffirmed the strength of our democracy," it said.

Officials from western oil companies expressed cautious optimism over the emergence of a new administration, and urged Buhari, who is expected to be sworn in May 29, to move quickly to tackle crude oil theft.

"There is still palpable tension in the oil region, like in (southern) Rivers state. However, one would expect that the incoming administration will give priority attention to stop oil theft as promised," said an official who declined to be named.

While state oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. declined official reaction, some at the company expressed optimism.

"We are expecting, for once, a change in administration of the corporation. I can tell you that the NNPC was headed in wrong direction, but I think with the emergence of a new government, that will be reversed," an NNPC source said. TRADER REACTIONS

Traders active in both the Nigerian crude and gasoline markets said Wednesday they did not expect any immediate change in the sector following the change in leadership, though differences in approach were likely to emerge in due course.

"I don't think Buhari's election will have any effect in the short term. On the other hand, longer-term the composition of the government will have an uncertain impact in the Nigerian market," a European trader said.

"So far we haven't seen anything out of the ordinary in the market," another trader said.

A third trader said he expected "oil equilibriums" to change in the coming months as leading officials in the Nigerian oil sector are replaced. But in terms of Nigerian gasoline imports, a source said the importing companies were "well established" and it would be "difficult to replace them."

http://www.platts.com/latest-news/oil/lagos/nigerian-election-result-lifts-veil-of-uncertainty-26054983?

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A month before Nigeria's national elections, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari traveled to London for a speech in which he described his vision for the troubled republic, torn by a war with Boko Haram terrorists and sapped by plunging oil prices.

Buhari, the 72-year-old head of the opposition All Progressives Congress who briefly led the country following a 1983 military coup, promised to "choke" Boko Haram, implement economic reforms and root out waste and corruption.

"Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa," he told an audience at Chatham House, an international policy institute

Now, with this week's resounding win over Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari has to prove he can deliver.

He is taking over Africa's largest economy and one of its most turbulent democracies, a country that has never before handed power to an opposition party without force. Nigeria sees itself as the one country to lead Africa into the future.

"With 183 million people — more than Russian Federation — what happens in Nigeria has an impact on the entire African continent," said John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.

The largely peaceful election alone is enough to raise Nigeria's prestige and influence, Campbell said.

But the country has profound problems.

Boko Haram's Islamist militants have killed thousands in the country's north in an attempt to create a regional caliphate. A February offensive drove the group back, but it remains a potent threat.

A steep decline in global oil prices has devastated Nigeria's economy, which derives about 70 percent of its revenue from oil. About a third of Nigerians live in poverty, Buhari has pointed out.

The country is split among ethnic, religious and regional lines, divisions that Buhari will have to transcend. Buhari is a northern Muslim; his predecessor, Jonathan, represented southern Christians.

Because he is Muslim, Buhari has had to defend himself against accusations he'd impose hard line Islamic law — and analysts say the allegations are not realistic.

Historically, power and oil revenues have been divvied up by Nigerian elites. That has led to extraordinary corruption, which Buhari has promised to eliminate.

Campbell said there are reasons to believe Buhari can be highly effective. That impression is rooted in his relatively modest lifestyle, notable in a country where former government "big men" leaders live lavishly. Campbell said that when he was ambassador from 2004 to 2007, he visited Buhari at his home, where he answered the door himself and didn't appear to have any servants.

"He's probably the only Nigerian politician or political figure who is genuinely popular on the street in the north," said Campbell, who is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This will be Buhari's second crack at leading Nigeria. The first one ended disastrously.

He seized power in a 1983 military coup d'etat. While in office, he engineered a legendary crackdown on government corruption, but was also criticized for trampling civil rights. After 18 months, he was ousted in another coup.

Since then, Buhari — whose human-rights record has been fiercely criticized — has described himself as a convert to democracy. He ran for president three times before before this week's victory.

The United States has had chilly relations with Nigeria, mostly due what has been seen as an ineffectual response to Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last April. Buhari's election was endorsed by the United States Tuesday.

A U.S. official saying the new president was in a position to build a "new" Nigeria that could lead Africa into a new era of modernization and peaceful democratic change.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/whats-stake-new-nigerian-president-muhammadu-buhari-n333541

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Oil & Gas Industry / Nigeria’s oil revenue drops to $32.3b, says IMF
« on: April 01, 2015, 01:22:10 PM »
Revenue received by the federation from crude oil sales, Petroleum Products Taxes (PPT), and royalties (after subsidies provided by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and cash calls) has decreased from $45 billion in 2011 to $32.3 billion in 2014, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) Country Report on Nigeria.

Besides, between 2011 and 2014, oil lifting fell from 2.38 to 2.19 mbpd (71⁄2 per cent decline), largely due to stoppages associated with pipeline vandalism. The report, which was released on Monday, stated that the drop in oil revenue over 2011 to 2014, was larger than expected from the evolution of oil prices and production.

The IMF said that in 2015, oil exports are projected to decline by six percentage points (ppts) of Gross Domestic Product and oil revenue by 2.4 ppts of GDP from 2014 levels, with a reduction in the current account balance and loss in international reserves.

IMF noted that a sharp contraction in public investment and domestic demand is projected to reduce growth to 4¾ percent, with inflation increasing to 11½ percent from the effects of exchange rate depreciation.

It stated that these developments also increase risks to the banking sector, given its significant exposure to the oil industry and the potential for capital outflows. “The outlook is subject to significant risks, both external (changes in oil market developments and investor sentiment) and domestic (uncertainty from the election outcome and security situation). Managing adjustment.

“The authorities adopted bold policy actions in November 2014— an adjustment in the official foreign exchange rate and band, tightening of monetary policy rates, and spending cuts totaling 1.7 ppts of GDP in the proposed 2015 budget”, it added.

The IMF said that as the oil price fall appears more permanent than temporary, additional policies will be needed, including greater flexibility in the exchange rate and further fiscal adjustment, particularly in state and local governments.

It noted that it will be essential to ensure that fiscal adjustment is achieved without endangering the delivery of critical public services. Boosting inclusive growth. “The authorities have a comprehensive economic transformation agenda, designed to boost growth, create new job opportunities, and reduce poverty.

With recent oil market developments, however, non-oil revenue mobilization (including an increase in VAT rate) is more urgent than ever and is critical for creating the fiscal space necessary to implement the transformation agenda. Further, the national infrastructure investment plan needs careful prioritization, as financing the entire plan would be a challenge, even with more supportive financial conditions and good progress in financial inclusion”.

IMF stated that a share of the market value of lifting, revenue from PPT and royalties—related to oil lifting other than the NNPC JV allocation declined from about 42 percent in 2011 to 36.9 percent in 2014. This decline, it noted, reflects higher capital and operational costs, part of which can be attributed to vandalism and production disruptions. “These factors reduced the oil revenue yield by 3.6 percentage points (estimated as a residual), equivalent to a loss of about 0.5 percent of GDP in oil revenue in 2014”.

It said that over this period, oil prices also declined by 61⁄2 per cent (from $109 to $102 per barrel). “The direct impact of these two factors reduced revenue by about $5.5 billion in 2014 relative to 2011. The observed drop in revenue was much larger (about $12.5 billion), implying a fiscal yield (relative to the market price)—the ratio of oil revenue to the market value of oil lifting—that declined from 47.2 percent to 39.5 percent over 2011 to 2014”. It disclosed that the recent fall in prices has compounded a secular decline in investment and production of oil, and highlighted the vulnerability of fiscal revenue and foreign exchange to high oil-dependency.

http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/04/nigerias-oil-revenue-drops-to-32-3b-says-imf/?

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Oil & Gas Industry / No sense of urgency
« on: April 01, 2015, 01:21:06 PM »
Trans-Saharan Gas Project remains on the drawing board 13 years after

Do you often wonder why Nigeria’s economy is still under-developed despite enormous natural resources deposit under her soil? Well, a classic example is the Trans-Saharan Gas Project (TSGP). The project is a 4,400 kilometres long pipeline that will take gas from Warri in Nigeria through Niger Republic to Algeria at the tip of the Mediterranean Sea. It is designed to gather the over-abundance of natural gas deposit under Nigeria’s soil for the huge European markets. Conceived in the 1970s, it was only in 2002 that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and her Algerian counterpart, SONATRACH signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for preparations of the project.

In 2005, NNPC and SONATRACH signed a contract for the feasibility study of the project which upon completion in 2006, the project was pronounced to be both technically and economically feasible. The project was again kept in the cooler till 2009 when a draft intergovernmental MoU was signed between the three partner countries – Nigeria, Niger Republic and Algeria. Preliminary joint venture agreements were also signed pending the next stage which was ratification of the MoUs and the taking of the Final Investment Decision (FID).

For a project which was scheduled to be completed in 2015, it has remained at the level of FID in the last six years. What this means is that not a soil has been turned on this pipeline project since 2002 when the first official move was made. The immediate result of this time-lag is that the cost of laying the pipelines which was estimated to cost $10 billion has doubled to about $20 billion.

It was projected to have an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. This would probably have mopped up most of the gas flared in the Niger Delta in the past three to four decades. In an age when gas has increasingly become the major source of fuel for the world, especially the developed West, this would have been an unassailable investment decision. Apart from the direct economic gains, the environmental benefits would be unquantifiable.

The project is considered so viable that most of the major International Oil Corporations (IOCs) wanted to take part in it. Some of the firms that expressed interest include the Royal Dutch Shell, Total S.A. of France, Italy’s Eni SpA, Gail of India and Russia’s giant, Gazprom. Such must be an indication of the viability of the project.

It is apparent that in the last four years or so, the NNPC never brought the TSGP project file for review as its last Group Managing Director (GMD) who spoke about it was Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo. He was fired about three years ago. Barkindo had said then that, “the MoU on the project now awaits resolution of differences and finalisation prior to execution. The challenge before us now is to clean it up. We will revisit the MoU, and assign the commercial and technical issues to the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) that will govern the project,” he said.

Apparently, this most important economic project was not delayed by a lack of funding or technical considerations but a sheer lack of political will and, if we may add, a blunted vision about the development objectives of the nation. Had this huge economic project been delivered on deadline which is this year, 2015 it would have taken the bite off the slump in crude oil prices and helped to stabilise Nigeria’s currency.

The same lack of seriousness, dim vision, not to mention graft, have characterised most major economic projects that would have helped to lift Nigeria to the status of an industrialised nation. Now that there is a dire need to diversify Nigeria’s economy, the TSGP is a viable option waiting to be kick-started.

Read more: http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/news/407078-no-sense-of-urgency.html?#ixzz3W3kqPXJW

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Against the backdrop of the lingering global oil market headwinds’ negative implications for the Nigerian economy as well as its latest ratings by renowned agencies, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, speaks on key micro and macroeconomic performance parameters of the economy. She assures that despite all odds, the economic outlook remains bright still. TOLA AKINMUTIMI reports on the excerpts.

How is Nigeria faring in the face of the dwindling oil prices?

I will like to say one thing: there has been some attempt to make people feel that there is no hope; that this situation is so difficult; there is hopelessness. I said from the beginning when oil prices began to fall by 50 per cent. I said that this will be a tough year; but there is hope.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and the reason is because we have worked so hard as a country under this administration to lay the basics for us to exit this situation and get back on a good path. And that is what gives me hope. Why do I say that? First of all, let’s come back to the facts. We now have a Nigeria which is the largest economy on the continent and that is important. We have to keep stressing it because it means we’ve got the sectors. We’ve got the base which will enable us to carry out that diversification and be able to have a stronger economy in the long term that create the jobs and gives our young people hope.

So, it is very important to note that. We didn’t know that before. When you look at the structure of the economy and you see that the growth – all the analyses have shown that the growths from this economy have come from the non-oil sector that Agriculture has been doing well.

And that also come to the present situation, because Agriculture has been doing well, we have produced more food than ever before – 21million metric tons more food. We have produced paddy, 1.1million metric tons a couple of years ago to 1.6million metric tons now. In fact, what I am saying about rice is that it is dry season farming, not to talk of paddy. And we are on our way to really reducing our dependency on food imports.

What measures are in place to strengthen Nigeria’s reserves?

I know this is of concern to Nigerians, manufacturers looking for more foreign exchange, others paying their school fees and tuition abroad and even ordinary people. But I also feel that with this strong base that we have, if we just keep steady, we will be able to exit and the value of the Naira will strengthen because we have got the different sectors. And there are two ways we have to do it, and I think this is what Nigerians want. Instead of depending on oil, we have to look at the two ways to strengthen our reserves because that is the way we can strengthen the value of our currency. There are two ways. One is to reduce demand for imports and that is why I think our demand for agriculture imports is very important for us to watch that and then reduce our demand for foreign goods.

I have always encouraged Nigerians that even strengthening the value of the Naira is not just government actions alone, it is in our hands. If we buy more of what is made here in our own country and reduce the demand of things made outside, that means we can increase our reserves and the Central Bank does not have to continue giving money to import all those goods that we don’t need. The second way is for us to start exporting things other than oil. And that is where again I feel encouraged because we are laying the foundation for that. You will recall that in the 60s, we were exporting groundnuts, cocoa, cotton, rubber and many agricultural products and suddenly we didn’t keep up. We have the ability to go back to those but not just exporting the raw materials and we already have people in these sectors adding value. What we need to do is to expand growing the cocoa, processing it here for our own internal demand and export it. And then we earn foreign exchange.

There is an area which is unexploited where we can earn foreign exchange which we are not. When I go around the continent, every single African woman wants Nigerian clothes. I know this may sound strange to lots of people. Those of us here, don’t we import shirts, trousers, from the UK? But people are here (in Africa) demanding our own clothes. Yet, we are not able to get together as an industry – the fashion sector – to make clothes we can export.

We will be sitting here and other West African nations will come and exploit it. But there is an opening. I am happy that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment is organising and working with the textile industry and the fashion industry to export, because we can earn so much from that. Imagine dressing the whole of Africa and what we can earn from it.

So, those are the two ways. If we now earn foreign exchange and we conserve by using our products, we will be able to add more to our reserve which will underpin the value of our currency.

Would you say the current economic policies are sustainable?

No matter what government there is, there will be a set of policies, institutions that will support this country. And that is what I admire about Mr. President when he talks. You know he talks about how we can put in place something that will last; whether I am here or not here is not the issue. It is about laying in place the building blocks for the Nigerian economy.

What is the impact of the government policies on the economy on the “common man?”

As I said, meeting our salary bill is very important to us and our pensions. The second thing is making sure that the health benefits we have gathered in this economy, we don’t lose it. Children must be immunised. We can’t let down immunisation because we know what that means. On polio vaccination, we are almost close to eradicating polio. This administration has been working towards that. We have eradicated guinea worms and we must make sure that all those medicines and vaccinations are kept. HIV and AIDS, there are treatments and all that. And then, there are very important infrastructures we focus on doing that.

The President promised to build the second Niger Bridge. That work is ongoing. Reporters have gone out there and noticed that the pilling is ongoing. The Lagos-Ibadan road is very important. The rail – completing some of the rail and make sure that they are running. These are ways the average Nigerian can feel the impact of what this government is doing. I think it means a lot. I encountered some young Nigerians we don’t know what it means to be in a train because the train had never worked in this country. And now they can ride on a train. Very soon now, the Abuja- Kaduna line will be open. Lagos-Kano line has been operating, even the line to Makurdi and so on. These are things that impact and the roads system that have been upgraded and constructed in this economy. Yes, there are so many more. But we are on the good path, we should applaud it. When your journey on Benin-Ore road has been made smooth and short, isn’t that impact? When you go to some of our rural areas, and you have access to water because boreholes were dug by the MDGs programmes and they have solar lightings, that is impact.

And these are some of the things that we have started in this administration that are impacting lives.

Are there negotiations on ground to support budget deficit?

We have entered negotiations with the international financial institutions, specifically the African Development Bank and the World Bank. They have resources for us already programmed. We ask them to turn these resources into budget support for us. We are negotiating for $2 billion that will come in foreign exchange and remember that the terms for these loans from the World Bank and the African Development Bank are quite reasonable compared to what we can get outside. These are the money that are being set aside for us and we decided to draw on it and we have decided to bring in budget support to come in foreign exchange.

It will be disbursed in two tranches and we are advanced in negotiating with them and this will bring in some needed foreign exchange that will now be available for our private sector people to have access to. It will alleviate the situation and this is something we have started working on. We have been working on it daily and night with them because we need to address the need of manufacturers and others in the population. That will help ameliorate the situation.

The tenure of the loan will be standard. We will probably have about five years grace before we have to repay for about 25 years.

Where does Nigeria’s debt stand now?

I can tell you as someone who was central in the negotiation of the forgiveness of our debt cancellation that we are not near the situation we were before in terms of external debt. Our external debt is about 2 per cent of our GDP.

Remember that when we went to negotiate, we were almost at 70 per cent of the GDP and most of it was external.

We have hardly any domestic debt at that time. We have been very careful on our debt. We are prudent in terms of the way we borrow. We have more of domestic debts. What we are trying to do is to reduce the domestic borrowing so that we don’t crowd out the private sector. We have got some foreign borrowings which is just two per cent of our GDP. The domestic debt of both federal and states government is about 12 per cent of the GDP. So together, it is about 14 per cent of GDP. And the norm and threshold for a country like Nigeria size is about forty something of the GDP. We are well below that.

However, we also look at something called debt service to revenue; so we can’t just say our debt is low compared to our GDP which is what the world measures. We must look at our ability to repay and that is one of the reason we are very prudent because debt service to revenue, we don’t want it to increase too much. Two years ago, it was 19 per cent of GDP, it has risen to 22 per cent and we don’t want it to go too much beyond that. I think if we get to something like 25 per cent, we will be very strict and we are presently strict. We have been able, in this administration, to repay outright some of the domestic debt we owed. We paid back about N75 billion and that was a very good thing instead of just rolling it over.

Countries are coming here to request our assistance in debt management. The UK government named Nigeria debt management system as one of the best in the world. Even as we speak, South Sudan and other countries that are just starting up have come us for expertise in managing debt. We are not complacent at all. We looked very carefully at the risks of what we borrow.

What would you say about the down grade of Nigeria’s economy by S&P?

I will like to say that two other agencies, Fitch and Moody have maintained us at the same rate as at now. They have not tried to change it.

What S&P did is a special evaluation of all oil producing countries based on the fact that oil prices have fallen. They decided to do it and it is because of that not because of anything else. They look at oil producing countries and I can tell you that we were the last one to be downgraded. All the other oil producing countries from Russia, to Kazakhstan to Venezuela, to Angola, they review them and downgraded them.

It is a strong mark and credit to Nigeria if you read what S&P actually said. They commended the management of the (Nigerian) economy. They said it was proactive and ambitious, that the policies responded in the right way to the drop in oil price. They are saying that the drop in oil price is not our fault but the issue is how do we manage it? And they said we have managed it well; that we have been pro-active and ambitious. I am quoting them directly. What the issue is why they downgraded us is not because of our management which they have commended, it is because they believe that oil prices will still be soft for a while and because we are having elections.

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