Buhari: I’ll Resist Naira Devaluation, Fuel Price Hike – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his resolve to oppose the devaluation of the naira and increase in fuel price.

According to TheCable, the president stated his resolve in Abuja on Friday night at the 2016 regimental dinner organised by the presidential brigade of guards.

The annual event is organised to mark the end of drilling year of the commission – and it is also an opportunity for officers to “mingle” with their commanders.‎

Buhari said that his stance against the devaluation of the naira and fuel price increase precipitated his overthrow as military head of state in 1985.

“I have resisted the devaluation of the naira, increase of the petroleum products, among others,” he told the soldiers and officers.

“When I was military head of state, I rejected similar advice by the IMF and World Bank to devalue the naira.

“I refused and gave my reasons and the next thing I knew I was removed and detained for three and a half years.

“As a civilian president, I will do my best and I’m telling you all these because you are part of the leadership of this great country and God willing we will remain great,” he added.

At present, the official exchange rate of the naira is N300/$1, while it is N495/$1 at the black market. It was officially N197/$1 when Buhari assumed office in May 2015.

The pump price of petrol was N86.50 and has increased to N145.

NNPC approves partial closure of $546m OKLNG – Vanguard

*As workers decry non payment of entitlements

By Sebastine Obasi

THE Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, has approved the partial closure of the Olokola Liquefied Natural Gas, OKLNG, project with effect from December 31, 2016.

This is coming as workers on the project decry the non payment of their entitlements. OKLNG is situated in a border town between Ondo and Ogun States. In a letter sited by Vanguard and signed on November 9, 2016, the GMD approved the partial closure of the company stating: “Approved as prayed in paragraphs one and two above. The staff on site should be drastically reduced, if not completely demobilised and the camp be put on full preservation mode.”

Paragraph one of the letter stated that “OKLNG project is currently 100 percent funded by NNPC following the withdrawal of BG, Shell and Chevron in 2012/2013.” Paragraph two of the letter stated that “The project has suffered delay due to prolonged development since 2006 with the project expenses put at about $546 million since inception to date. This includes a proposed $4,580,940 million for 2016 work programme and budget which is to be funded by NNPC.”

The letter also noted that the non-inclusion of exit formalities for the shareholders has hindered the search for new investors, hence, the funding burden may continue to linger on NNPC for a while. The GMD, however, did not talk about the 44 contract staff, some of whom had put in between seven to 11 years in the company, neither was any notice of the company’s closure communicated to the affected workers.

According to sources, the staff should be paid severance package commensurate with the number of years spent in OKLNG. “Contract job in Nigeria is slavery. It is even unfortunate that NNPC is involved in short changing Nigerian citizens. It is really sad. NNPC should have paid them a minimum of one year salary,” one of the sources said.

OKLNG was meant to be a venture for the development of a Greenfield export facility for LNG. It involved the development of a 25.2 metric tonne per annum.

Buhari: I’ll Resist Naira Devaluation, Fuel Price Hike – Thisday

President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his resolve to oppose the devaluation of the naira and increase in fuel price.

According to TheCable, the president stated his resolve in Abuja on Friday night at the 2016 regimental dinner organised by the presidential brigade of guards.

The annual event is organised to mark the end of drilling year of the commission – and it is also an opportunity for officers to “mingle” with their commanders.‎

Buhari said that his stance against the devaluation of the naira and fuel price increase precipitated his overthrow as military head of state in 1985.

“I have resisted the devaluation of the naira, increase of the petroleum products, among others,” he told the soldiers and officers.

“When I was military head of state, I rejected similar advice by the IMF and World Bank to devalue the naira.

“I refused and gave my reasons and the next thing I knew I was removed and detained for three and a half years.

“As a civilian president, I will do my best and I’m telling you all these because you are part of the leadership of this great country and God willing we will remain great,” he added.

At present, the official exchange rate of the naira is N300/$1, while it is N495/$1 at the black market. It was officially N197/$1 when Buhari assumed office in May 2015.

The pump price of petrol was N86.50 and has increased to N145.

CBN fails to print small naira notes in one year – Punch

 

…it’s not true, says apex bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has not printed small naira denominations for about a year now, causing the scarcity of the notes in the economy, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

Sources at the CBN hinted that for a year now, the apex bank had not awarded contracts for the printing of the notes such as N5, N10, N20 and N50, which was usually done abroad.

NAN gathered that the recently printed notes in circulation, N200, N500 and N1,000, were produced by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc.

The NSPM produces currency notes and coins for the CBN and a wide range of security documents for the federal, state and local government establishments, commercial banks and blue chip companies.

According to the NSPM website, the company has the ability to print over 40 million notes weekly.

However, the sources said the high cost of printing banknotes was the reason the apex bank did not give out contracts for their production.

“The cost of printing N50 is almost the same as N1,000. Printing small denominations costs more than the value, and with the present economic situation, it makes sense to print higher notes, which can be done locally by the NSPM,” one of the sources explained.

A worker at First Bank of Nigeria Limited told NAN that throughout the festive season, there were hardly smaller currency notes to give to customers.

The worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We usually request for cash from the CBN through our Cash Management Centre, but recently, we have not been able to get mints of N100 and below.

“We had N50 at one point but it wasn’t in the quantity we are used to getting. We have been telling our customers who call to request for mints that the smallest currencies they can get is N200.”

A political economist, Mr. Jude Ndukwe, said the implication of the situation was that prices of goods were likely to increase since there were no smaller currencies in circulation.

He said, “A bread seller is likely to increase the cost of bread from N350 to N400 simply because he does not want to deal with the difficult task of getting change.

“The same goes for a bus conductor and so forth. This act alone is enough to add to the hardship of the average Nigerians; N10 or N50 may not mean anything to some, but it means a whole lot to millions of Nigerians living in poverty. So the government should do something about this.”

But the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, denied the allegation that the apex bank had not contracted the printing of smaller denomination currencies since 2015.

He stated, “There is no scarcity of smaller denomination notes in the market. People are complaining because we did not make provision for mints to be supplied in smaller denominations during the festive season.

“You see, people are fond of abusing these denominations by spraying them to be stepped on during weddings and other ceremonies. The abuse is even worse during the festive season; so, we decided to make scarce the denominations. But it’s not that we have not been printing them.

“Yes, we haven’t printed abroad but we also print locally, which we have been doing.”

When asked the last time Nigeria actually had the smaller denominations printed, Okoroafor promised to get the details.

He reiterated that it was a crime to hawk or sell mint notes in the country, saying there was an enforcement committee comprising the CBN and the security agencies to check the menace and arrest culprits.

Okorafor said that the CBN was collaborating with the police to ensure that Nigerian currencies were not abused.

Naira among four worst global currencies in 2016 – Punch

•NSE emerges worst performer

Stanley Opara with agency report

 

The naira is one of the world’s four worst performing currencies in 2016, according to a report by Bloomberg LP.

The naira was said to have lost 36.68 per cent of its spot returns for the year, while the Egyptian pound, Suriname dollar and Venezuela bolivar’s currency spot returns dropped by 58.84 per cent, 46.68 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, for the period.

The Nigerian equity market fared worst in the year, according to the report, as the nation’s economy is set to contract in 2016 for the first time in more than 20 years as capital controls deter foreigners from investing and militants are blowing up pipelines.

The five best performing currencies of the world are the Russian ruble, Brazilian real, the palladium, the Iceland krona, and silver, which appreciated by 21.31 per cent, 20.96 per cent, 20.08 per cent, 14.42 per cent and 14.41 per cent, respectively, in terms of spot returns.

Two Africa currencies, the Zambian kwacha and South African rand, emerged as the sixth and seventh best performing currencies of the world. The kwacha and rand appreciated by 11.96 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

The report stated, “It was a particularly bad year for any currency called the ‘pound’. The Egyptian version was the worst performer in 2016 as the nation took the dramatic step of allowing it to trade freely in an attempt to stabilise an economy struggling with a dollar shortage and concerns over social unrest. Britain’s pound tumbled after the Brexit and never recovered.”

On the other side of the spectrum, digital currency, bitcoin, was the best performer this year, rising more than 100 per cent as capital controls in places like China and isolationist rumblings in the United Kingdom and the United States fuelled interest in alternate currencies, according to the report.

It added, “When it comes to currencies issued by governments and central banks, the Russian ruble has been the best performer of the year as the oil market rebounded.

“While the UK currency’s slide didn’t match those in some emerging markets, it did tally the worst performance among major currencies.”

Despite recent unrest, Brazil’s Ibovespa stock index remained the best performer for 2016 when looking at all indices in terms of the US dollar, the report noted, stating that this was largely due to hopes that President Michel Temer, who took office after Dilma Rousseff was impeached, would end the worst recession in a century and bring about political stability.

Economic recession hits event planners – The Guardian

A number of event planners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said that the current economic recession in Nigeria caused a drastic reduction in the number of events organised in 2016.

The event planners made this known in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.

Stefanie Okerafor, a wedding planner, told NAN that there was a reduction in the number of wedding events organised as the year drew to an end.

“The major wedding months are June, July, August and December.

“The recession hit hard in September and since then there has been a decline in the number of events organised.

“I have clients that had set dates for events but ended up making deductions or cancelling their wedding dates due to financial difficulties.

“I was looking forward to making more profit in December but this month has really been slow,” she said.

Tonye Jack, another event planner said, “it has been really hard this December and I think it is the worst month I have had since I became a wedding planner four years ago.

“December normally has many events and we, event planners, make most of our income in December because of the weddings, bridal showers and Christmas parties.

“We are just hoping for a better 2017 and pray that more Nigerians have things to celebrate.”

Seun Ajisafe, also an event planner, expressed the hope that 2016 would be the worst financial year to be experienced by Nigerians.

“There was a fall in demand for the services of event planners by December of 2015, and I thought that would be the worst.

“I had high hopes for this year, but so far, it has been terrible.

“As 2016 draws to an end, I can safely say this has been the worst year for event planners in Nigeria and we just pray it doesn’t get any worse than this,” she said.

Nigerian naira loses a third in value in 2016 – Moneyweb

Stocks down 6%.

Airlines’ inability to pay for aviation fuel hinders supply of 45mn litres – Businessday

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) promise to supply 45 million litres of aviation fuel to forestall scarcity is currently being hindered as a result of the airlines’ inability to pay for the product.

Beyond just the hazy weather, the scarcity is also contributing to the incessant flight delays and cancellations across airports in the country, BusinessDay’s findings show.

On the alleged scarcity of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK), which is purportedly responsible for the hardship being experienced in the aviation sector, Maikanti Baru, group managing director, clarified that NNPC had taken steps to ensure adequate supply of the product with the importation of over 45 million litres.

Baru however said that the challenge had more to do with the inability of airlines to pay for the product upon the introduction of a cash-and-carry policy by marketers on account of the huge amount they were being owed by the airlines.

The inability of airlines to buy aviation fuel has continued to result in incessant flight delays and cancellations, especially during the yuletide, disrupting activities of passengers and leaving many stranded.

Obuke Oyibotha, media consultant to Med-View Airline, told BusinessDay that ever since the NNPC promised to supply the product, up till now, the airlines had not been able to access the product.

“There is no improvement on the supply of aviation fuel, even during this yuletide season and this has continued to affect the airline’s operations,” Oyibotha said.

Findings show that all domestic airlines consume one million litres of aviation fuel daily.

John Ojikutu, secretary general, Aviation Round Table, told BusinessDay that the problem with availability of aviation fuel was as a result of the indebtedness of the airlines to the various service providers, including the fuel marketers.

“I said there is no truth in telling the public that foreign airlines go to neighbouring countries to lift fuel; it does not make economic sense for EU and Middle East airlines that are not going there to pick passengers.

“The high cost of fuel is only applicable to the airlines that are owing; it is a clever way for the marketers to recoup their earnings from the airlines,” Ojikutu said.

Domestic airlines, NAMA clash over flight cancellations – Businessday

Domestic airlines and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are blaming one another over the incessant cancellation of flights at the nation’s airports.
While the airlines are blaming NAMA for its failure in upgrading the navigation aids at major airports across the country, NAMA on the other hand has slammed the airlines, stating that they do not have aircraft fitted with facilities to align with equipment on ground to aid landing and take-off during the harmattan period.
 
But sources in the aviation industry say the poor state of the airport landing systems, night lighting aids, runway lighting and other radio signals to aid 24 hours aviation at all Nigerian airports have made flying in the Nigerian airspace virtually impossible during this harmattan season.
 
Nogie Meggison, the chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), explained that in 1968, exactly forty eight years ago, the first aircraft operated at CAT lll and landed in zero (0) visibility at Heathrow airport, yet Nigeria is unable to land aircraft with visibility of about 800m.
 
“Why are the navigation aids not working or upgraded over the years? Why is there no solution to this issue after forty years of the airlines crying out?  “It is rather shameful that today in the 21st Century, we are still talking of operating at CAT l and unable to land at 800m at our airports,” Meggison noted.
  
“This is very unfair to operators who cannot charge passengers for the extra cost the airline has to bear on return or cancelled flights and we have to feed and lodge them in a hotel.
 
“The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, (NAMA) and The Federal Airports Authority Nigeria, (FAAN) need to be more responsible to ensure that our airports are equipped with the right landing aids to allow 24hours operations in any weather condition,” he stressed.
 
John Ojikutu, Secretary-General, Aviation Round Table and Former Commandant at Lagos Airport said that NAMA needs to ensure that its approach and landing aids are calibrated on time to meet the challenges of the inclement weather that often characterises the harmattan.
 
“The Instrument Landing System, (ILS) installed at most of the airports, to the best of my knowledge are category ll, adequate enough for landing aircraft in visibility of 500m to 3000n; but the question to ask the responsible agencies of NAMA and NCAA is, when last were the ILS that were meant to be calibrated every 6 months, calibrated last?”
 
Ojikutu explained that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) on the other hand, is not efficient and effective in enforcing the economic regulations on the operators and therefore the safety standards suffer.
 
NAMA in response said that the implementation of Performance Base Navigational (PBN) approaches in 20 airports is also a system meant to aid approach in a season like this but that it was left for airlines to get the required equipment fitted into their aircraft and train their crew to take advantage of this.
 
Emmanuel Anasi, acting managing director of NAMA said that it would have been easy to get some other facilities to improve air navigation if not for the gargantuan indebtedness of airlines to the agency to the tune of N6b and $27m dollars respectively.
 
Anasi disclosed that all the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) were working, while the agency has implemented the Performance Base Navigation, (PBN) approaches in 20 airports.
 
According to him, the PBN has been implemented in four major airports of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano in 2012 adding, that the agency has standard arrival route, standards instrument departure route for the four airports, making it the first in Africa to develop it.
 
Anasi said these procedures were designed to take advantage of advanced system to handle aircraft fitted with the capability of flying PBN.
 
 “Onus lies on our domestic operators to get the required equipment on board to be able to fly PBN and also to train flight crew to also fly these procedures and also get NCAA approval to fly these procedures, the rules in NCAA requires flight crew training, aircraft equipment and then a flight manual.
 
“In poor visibility operation like this, airlines that are equipped with this capacity can take advantage of that. NAMA is also aware that our ILS need to be upgraded to the category that will be able to allow aircraft to operate at very low visibility like what we are experiencing. The category of ILS that NAMA has is capable of that upgrade,” he added.
 
 BusinessDay’s findings show that from 25th till 27th of December 2016, MMA in Lagos operated skeletal flights as a result of the weather. During the period the weather was hazy, no airline could fly and passengers were delayed with colossal loss of revenue to the operators.
 
A Dana air flight that departed Abuja at 10am on 27th of December could not land in Lagos and had to return to Abuja until 6pm before flying back again still leaving about 500 to 600 passengers to various destinations stranded at the airport.
 
Most international and local flights had to be diverted to Cotounu on 27th of December. The issue of the harmattan haze is a yearly seasonal occurrence as Nigeria has mainly Raining (Thunderstorms) and Dry Seasons (Harmattan).
 
 Few weeks ago, Bala Ibn Na Allah, vice chairman of the Senate committee on aviation expressed disappointment with the poor state of projects in the services of NAMA stating that some landing aids like localizers and glide scope are not functioning to the required level forcing pilots to rely on procedural rules.
 
He said the cost of procurement of navigation equipment in Nigeria was five times the cost in other countries across Africa, warning that the Senate will ensure that funds budgeted for these equipment must be accounted for.

Naira to weaken further on low dollar inflow – Businessday

By HOPE MOSES-ASHIKE

The naira is expected to depreciate further next week following low dollar inflow from Nigerians in diaspora.

Currency dealers in Lagos said on Thursday that the dollar inflow from abroad during the yuletide was below expectation.

Naira yesterday remained stable at the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment and the parallel market closing at N490 per dollar.

The local currency also remained stable as it closed at N305.25k against the U.S. dollar at the inter-bank spot foreign exchange market according to the data obtained from FMDQ.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) economic report for the second quarter of 2016 revealed that aggregate foreign exchange inflow into the economy indicated that total inflow was US$15.33 billion.

This represented an increase of 3.7 per cent above the level at the end of the preceding quarter but, showed a decline of 35.3 per cent relative to the level at the end of the corresponding period of 2015.

The development was driven by increase in oil and non-oil receipts. Oil sector receipts, which accounted for 20.5 per cent of the total, stood at US$3.15 billion, compared with US$2.48 billion and US$3.65 billion, recorded in the first quarter of 2016 and the corresponding period of 2015, respectively.