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Fear Grips Passengers As Ibadan-Lagos Train Breaks Down in Bush - VANGUARD

FEBRUARY 15, 2022

By Ademola Adegbite

Ibadan — PALPABLE fear has gripped passengers on Lagos-Ibadan railway movement as train suddenly stopped in a bush.

Unconfirmed report said some yet to be identified people forced the train to temporarily stop in the bush.

It was further learnt that the passengers aboard the train which departed the Obafemi Awolowo Train Station in Ibadan at 8:30 am on Saturday, were said to have been forced to stop somewhere before Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, at the Papalanto area, due to the alleged removal of some components on the railway track by some vandals.

One of the passengers, who is a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Dr. (Mrs.) Feyi Leo, told our correspondent that fear gripped her and other passengers when the train was forced to stop.

She said the train coming from Lagos to Ibadan was also forced to stop in the opposite direction, and the two trains continued the journey after the damaged section had been fixed.

"The trip was smooth and we had gone past the station at Abeokuta moving towards Papalanto, when the train stopped and reversed some few meters.

"We were agitated and started asking questions. An announcement was made by the NRC official onboard that, their technicians were fixing a fault on the track, and that it would not take long." She explained.

We have over 1 Billion Litres of Fuel, shortfall will end soon – NNPC - TVC

FEBRUARY 15, 2022

The NNPC Ltd says the current fuel supply disruptions in many parts of the country, which was caused by the discovery and subsequent quarantine of methanol-blended cargoes of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly referred to as Petrol will soon be over.

The Executive Director, Downstream, of the Company, Engineer Yemi Adetunji Disclosed this in Abuja.

He said the to address the situation, over 2.3 Billion litres will arrive the country between now and end of February 2022.

This according to him will restore sufficiency level above the national target of 30 days.

He added that the Company has in its inventory as of today has over One (1) billion Litres of Petrol in stock, and the Petrol being dispensed today at the various filling stations in the country is safe. 

He added further that in order to accelerate PMS distribution across the Country, NNPC has commenced 24 hours operations at its Depots and Retail outlets.

He said Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot Owners & Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of

Nigeria (IPMAN) have also commenced 24 hours loading and dispensing activities in some of their designated outlets.

He disclosed that the NNPC has constituted a monitoring team, with the support of the Authority (NMDPRA) and other Security Agencies to ensure smooth distribution of PMS nationwide.

He implored Nigerians to avoid panic buying and assures that the ongoing efforts will be sustained to restore normalcy in a few days’ time.

Denmark Posts Drop in Cases to Justify Early End to Covid Curbs - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 15, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Denmark’s hands-off strategy on the coronavirus might be paying off. 

On Tuesday, it registered a decline in the contagion rate for the first time in over a month, indicating that the Nordic country is getting close to so-called hybrid immunity -- a combination of vaccinations and infections.

After becoming one of the first European countries to abandon pandemic restrictions, cases surged to levels far higher than more cautious neighbors like Germany. That raised questions about the approach, including from the likes of Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman.

Two weeks after Denmark declared that Covid-19 was no longer a threat to society, the so-called reproduction rate fell to 0.9 on Tuesday, meaning the outbreak is shrinking. It was the first time the R-rate was below 1 since Jan. 4, when health authorities said the data was skewed due to the Christmas holiday.

The decline is backed by sewage samples showing lower virus levels, Tyra Grove Krause, a director at Denmark’s institute for infectious disease, said in an emailed reply to Bloomberg questions.

“We expect the drop is due to hybrid immunity, caused by high vaccination rates and immunity after an infection, because the decline is largest in the areas where the infection rates were previously the highest,” she said.

What Our Analysts Say on Hybrid Immunity:

Third Covid-19 vaccine shots, and hybrid immunity (a vaccination plus an infection) -- which omicron’s transmissibility renders quasi inevitable -- may be the sole way of easing the global health burden, aside from zero-Covid strategies. 

-- Sam Fazeli, BI analyst. Read the research here.

Denmark has been a pioneer in Covid strategy. It was among the first to impose lockdowns in 2020 but has since focused on softer curbs -- although not as light as in neighboring Sweden. The validation of its current approach could encourage more countries to follow suit.  

The country stuck to its line even as the virus spread faster this year as the BA.2 sub-variant of omicron -- which is significantly more transmissible -- became the dominant strain. 

While the change in the trend is welcome, the current infection level is still 10 times higher than in November. That’s not really a concern though, says Krause. Given the milder symptoms caused by omicron, the most important data to monitor is hospitalizations at intensive-care units, she said. Those numbers have also declined.

High vaccination rates have helped shield Danes and kept hospitals from overflowing, despite the rampant spread of the virus. About 84% of Danes have received at least one vaccination shot and nearly two-thirds have received three. Meanwhile, the country of 5.8 million people has registered 2.3 million cases, including reinfections. 

Even holdouts are now rolling back restrictions, Germany on Wednesday will consider a plan that would see most pandemic restrictions lifted by March 20, even though it just reported an all-time high in cases on Saturday. 

Denmark has been able to avoid curbs because of one of the world’s most aggressive testing strategies, Krause said.

“In addition, the population has a high degree of trust in recommendations from the health authorities and have supported the vaccination drive,” she said.

Flight cancellations: Most airlines yet to upgrade planes for bad weather, says FG - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 16, 2022

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim


The incessant flight delays and cancellations by domestic airlines are due to the failure of the carriers to upgrade their flight equipment, the Federal Government declared on Tuesday.

It also stated that most of the airlines had not adequately trained their pilots to take advantage of the latest Instrument Landing Systems deployed at airports by the Federal Government.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction and the 2021 State of the Climate in Nigeria, put together by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

The National Assembly joint Committee on Aviation recently threatened to pass legislation that would empower foreign airlines to fly domestic routes in order to check the abuse of passengers’ rights by indigenous carriers, following repeated complaints of flight delays and cancellations.

Reacting briefly to the concerns, Sirika explained that the Federal Government on its part had tried to provide globally acceptable equipment to aid flight activities, but blamed airlines for not upgrading theirs.


  • He said, “We put Category-3 ILS (Instrument Landing System) that you can use to land in 0.00hours. Unfortunately, some of the airlines or most of the airlines have not upgraded their own aeroplanes and trained their own pilots to take advantage of this equipment to be able to land.

    “So we’ve done our bit and we also want to call on operators to please do same in the interest of safety and efficiency of our industry.”

    This came as NiMet in its 2022 SCP, projected that the earliest planting season for this year would begin in February, adding that the Southern part of Nigeria would have a longer growing season than the North.

    Providing some details contained in the SCP, Sirika said, “The earliest onset of the planting season (beginning of planting activities) is expected about the 28th of February 2022 in the coastal parts of the country.

    “The onset of rainfall is expected to occur between April and May in the central states, and eventually within June to July in the Northern states.

    “The onset of the planting season is predicted to be normal over most parts of Nigeria with a few areas having it earlier, while some areas having it delayed.”

    The minister noted that rainfall cessation dates across most parts of the county in 2022 was predicted to be near the long-term average conditions.

  • “The growing season is predicted to last between 250 to 300 days in southern parts of the country, and 100 to 200 days in the North, Sirika stated.

    He added, “Noteworthy, are areas around Kwara, Oyo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Benue, Bayelsa, and Rivers, which are likely to experience shorter than normal length of the growing season.

    “However, prolonged length of the growing season is anticipated in parts of Plateau, Kaduna, Edo,  and Imo states.

    He stated that for the annual total rainfall, the prediction indicated that the annual rainfall amount was expected to be normal in most parts of the country.

    Harder times loom as fuel crisis lingers - THE GUARDIAN

    FEBRUARY 16, 2022

    By Geoff Iyatse (Lagos), Kingsley Jeremiah, Joseph Chibueze and Matthew Ogune (Abuja) 

     Inflation decelerates slightly to 15.6 per cent 

    • ‘Data is a mockery of market reality’ 

    • Food crisis not reflecting govt’s ‘investment’ in agric, says farmers’ association

    • NNPC imports 2.3b litres as queues persist nationwide

    The near-term inflation outlook appears increasingly unpredictable, as the petrol shortage crisis and the rising cost of diesel have added to other challenges driving up prices of essential commodities in the country.     Efforts to rein in fuel supply shock have failed, leading to endless queues at many retail outlets in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other cities. The crisis has worsened gridlocks in the metropolis with thousands of commuters stranded at bus stops.

       The January Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), yesterday, points to a slight moderation in the headline inflation, from 15.63 per cent in December to 15.6 per cent.

    But there are fears that the direction of the inflationary trend could change significantly this month.       Triggered by the shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), the cost of transportation, a key driver of inflation, has doubled or tripled in different cities.

    Faced with the rising cost of diesel, which currently sells for about N450/per litre, and increasing insecurity on highways, haulage companies review their pricing on a regular basis, leading to consistent high urban food inflation.        Long queues persist across the country as the black market price of petrol hovers around N500 per litre in Abuja and N350 in Lagos, while motorists spend hours in queues.    Amid prolonged crisis, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, yesterday, said 2.3 billion litres of additional PMS is being imported into the country to complement the existing one billion litres supply, as part of measures to address the scarcity.

        Group Executive Director, NNPC Downstream, Adeyemi Adetunji, said the company understands the current fuel supply disruptions in many parts of the country, which was caused by the discovery and subsequent quarantine of methanol-blended cargoes of PMS.      “To address the situation, over 2.3 billion litres will arrive in the country between now and the end of February 2022. This will restore the sufficiency level above the national target of 30 days,” Adetunji said at a briefing in Abuja.      He noted that NNPC currently has over one billion litres of petrol in stock, as the product being dispensed at the various filling stations in the country is safe.

         In a move to accelerate PMS distribution across the country, Adetunji said NNPC has commenced 24-hour operations at its depots and retail outlets, while the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot Owners and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have commenced 24-hour loading and dispensing activities in some of their designated outlets.    The company, according to him, has equally constituted a monitoring team, with the support of the Authority (NMDPRA) and other security agencies to ensure smooth distribution of PMS nationwide.

    Adetunji assured that the ongoing efforts would be sustained to restore normalcy and urged Nigerians to avoid panic buying.  

          At the Federal Capital Territory, petrol-induced traffic gridlock was at its peak as some motorists now perpetually abandon their cars at petrol stations waiting for when the stations would have products to dispense.    Although most fuel stations are out of supply, motorists still form long queues with the hope that they can get products when the stations eventually receive a supply.    The development, which is already undermining economic activities as transportation costs continue to soar, may worsen the rising cost of food items.

          At yesterday’s media briefing on January CPI, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Simon Harry, warned that the current fuel crisis could have adverse effects on the inflation rate going forward.     He said the crisis has made February inflation unpredictable. According to him, “That gives us a negative signal that is capable of affecting not just inflation rate, but also other macroeconomic variables such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and even the unemployment rate… It is not the best for the economy and if we must maintain a stable macroeconomic environment, this kind of crisis certainly is not the best, for it is not needed.” 

    Also, the President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry Young Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Fife Banks, said the figures did not add up or reflect market reality.   

      He said: “If things continue the way they are today, the country faces a very harsh reality. The current, sudden increase in the cost of fuel means the prices of goods and services will skyrocket significantly due to an increase in production cost.     “Also, with the kind of wages an average Nigerian earns, the number of layoffs in the economy and issues of insecurity, if nothing drastic is done, Nigeria may be reaching another harsh economic point in 2022.”     Banks suggested that a strategic engagement of the private sector could help the government gain fresh perspectives in creating new policies that could move the nation from the place of “potential” to a journey of shared and sustainable prosperity.

         The Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said the inflationary pressure remained a major challenge facing the economy. The economist observed that the food price crisis has not abated despite the expected positive impact of harvest.     “Food inflation, which has a significant impact on poverty and the poor, remained elevated at 17.13 per cent. Food prices further increased by 1.62 per cent between December 2021 and January 2022, indicating that the uptrend in food prices is yet to abate.       “The core inflation, driven largely by imports, maintained an upward trend. It accelerated by 13.87 per cent in January 2022 as against 11.85 per cent in the corresponding period of 2021. Between December 2021 and January 2022, there was a 1.25 per cent increase in prices, driven largely by core components of inflation. This was largely a reflection of the impact of the depreciation in the naira exchange rate and the liquidity issues in the forex market,” Yusuf said.

        He listed the impact of the high inflation rate as an escalation of production and operating costs for businesses leading to weak manufacturing capacity utilisation, an increase in the poverty rate, low aggregate demand and weak investors’ confidence.    To ease the pressure, Muda charged the government to address security concerns, reform the foreign exchange (FX) market to stabilise the rate and stimulate FX inflows, address high transportation and logistics costs and reduce the cost of doing business.      Notwithstanding the challenges, the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said the slight drop in the headline inflation is a welcome development and a result of renewed efforts by the government to address economic threats more frontally. 

         He, however, noted: “As much as the report is a positive signal from the economy, most Nigerians expect that the inflation rate should come down to a single digit. Such an outcome will help to stabilise the volatility within the economy, reduce the cost of production and bring down the cost of living.      “The lower rate of inflation is no doubt an early indication of recovery. It is, however, a fact that many other indices combined to give effect to early recovery. So, what we have is a positive signal, which when sustained would help to jumpstart the economy.”      Abubakar said to achieve a single-digit inflation rate and fast-track growth, the government must be ready to reduce the cost of funds, address challenges of multiple taxation, reduce the cost of governance, transform regulatory agencies to facilitating agencies and enhance private sector participation, among others.

        Also speaking, President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Prof. Benjamin Osisioma, said the ease is in line with the normal cause of economic movement.        “Otherwise, I really can’t see much of what the government is doing that led to the deceleration. Look at the different sectors of the economy – manufacturing, agriculture as well as oil and gas. I can’t see where the government has done anything spectacular that could be driving economic recovery,” he said.    On food inflation, which is at 17.13 per cent, President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabir Ibrahim, said Nigeria has no reason to have a food crisis if the government invested what it claimed it put into agriculture.  

      “The food inflation is still high. That is where we should focus; people are hungry. Whatever grammar you speak, if the people cannot get food to eat, you are just making a noise.     “It is not enough to do the so-called rice pyramids. How can you be building pyramids when people cannot buy rice in the market? Those pyramids, for me, are a mockery of reality. How can we put N900 billion into agriculture and we are still grappling with food crisis? It shows that somebody is not telling us the truth,” he said.     According to the NBS report, January headline inflation was 15.6 per cent year-on-year (YoY), which was 0.03 percentage points lower than the December figure.

    Marketers resolve to blend dirty fuel, scarcity persists in states - PUNCH

    FEBRUARY 16, 2022

    BY  Okechukwu Nnodim, Leke Baiyewu and Stephen Angbulu


    Oil marketers have resolved to start blending the over 100 million litres of adulterated Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, which was imported into Nigeria over two weeks ago.

    It was gathered on Tuesday that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had yet to recall all the contaminated PMS, as the commodity had been occupying spaces in the tanks of filling stations.

    As a result, marketers said the situation had made it difficult for filling stations to take delivery of new products to sell to their customers, a development that worsened the scarcity of petrol, resulting in massive queues in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Niger, Nasarawa and many other states.

    The Nations Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent that some retailers in Lagos had started blending the adulterated PMS with clean fuel.

    Asked whether the NNPC had recalled all the contaminated PMS as reported in some quarters on Tuesday, Ukadike replied, “That is not true.”

    He added, “I also want to tell you that in our members’ filling stations, some of the ones I know in Port Harcourt, Ichie and Obigbo in Rivers State, as well as a few in Abuja, I have their names and numbers, the (adulterated) products are still in their tanks now.

    “And they have been running helter-skelter to see whether they will be able to get fresh products to blend the ones in their tanks and push all of it out to the public.

    “This is because we got information that some of our members who are in Lagos are bringing in fresh products to blend with the contaminated ones and neutralise the sulphur and methanol.”

    Ukadike, however, noted that many filling stations had yet to get new supplies that were enough to blend the adulterated products in their tanks.

    “But unfortunately up till now they (filling stations) have not got new supplies and that is one of the basic reasons for the scarcity you see here and there across the country,” he stated.

    On whether marketers have the capacity or equipment to blend the adulterated products with clean fuel, Ukadike replied that they were ready to try it, since the NNPC had yet to recall the products.

    He said, “The NNPC has a blending plant which could have done this thing clinically and make it more appropriate. But we have waited for weeks now and nothing has been done.

    “You know, we don’t have testing machines, so marketers just want to do this permutation, considering the huge amount spent on the purchase of the products and in order to help to address petrol scarcity.”

    The scarcity of petrol persisted in Abuja and neighbouring states on Tuesday, as Ukadike told our correspondent that the situation was also pronounced in many states.

    It was, however, gathers that to address the situation, over 2.3 billion litres of PMS would arrive the country between now and the end of February 2022.

    Sources at the NNPC stated that this would restore sufficiency, and even above the national target of 30 days.

    “As of today, the NNPC has over one billion litres of petrol in stock, and the PMS being dispensed today at the various filling stations in the country is safe,” the source, who pleaded not to be named due to lack of authorisation, stated.

    The official stated that in order to accelerate PMS distribution across the country, the NNPC had commenced 24 hours operations at its depots and retail outlets.

    Buhari didn’t order query of NMDPRA boss—Presidency

    Meanwhile, the Presidency on Tuesday debunked reports that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), ordered that a query be issued to the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed, over the importation of adulterated fuel into the country.

    A media report (Not The PUNCH) had on February 9 claimed that Buhari, who doubles as the minister of Petroleum, had directed the Minister of State, Mr Timipre Sylva, to issue a query to Ahmed.

    However, an authoritative source within the Presidency told State House correspondents on Tuesday that it was time to set the records straight.

    The source said, “There was no directive to issue a query. What Mr President is interested in is for all the stakeholders to team up and resolve the issue that has brought untold hardship to Nigerians, who queue for hours on end to get petrol.

    “The President is aware that the Minister of State, the Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, the NMDPRA head, and everyone involved, are working together to resolve the issues, at the shortest possible time.”

    The official added, “Forget the story of any query being issued. It is not correct. Yes, Mr President is unhappy with what happened, but he didn’t direct that a query be issued. The story is not correct.”

    Reps probe petrol shortage, fault NNPC’s sufficient supply claim

    The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, expanded the scope of its ongoing investigation of the crisis caused by the importation of off-spec Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, asking its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to investigate why long queues were still persisting at the filling stations.

    Specifically, the House is to probe the claim by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited that there is sufficient reserve of standard PMS to ease the tension caused by the adulterated supply.

    The Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, had raised a point of order to decry the hardships caused by the shortage of fuel in the Abuja metropolis.

    Elumelu said, “I wanted to come under Order 8 Rules 4 and 7 for us to discuss this issue of the lingering fuel crisis in Nigeria. I agree that the NNPC said they had enough but it (the situation) does not seem to tally with their submission that they have enough fuel. There are still some lingering fuel crises in the whole of Nigeria.

    “Today, it was even difficult for me to get here because all the roads are totally blocked by those wanting to get fuel, and there is no fuel. There is already an existing committee saddled with the responsibility of investigating the issue of adulterated fuel.”

    The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who upheld Elumelu’s order, asked the committee to also probe into the NNPC’s claim and the lingering supply shortage.

    Gbajabiamila said, “There is a connection or nexus between that motion of last week on contaminated fuel and what you have rightly brought up – the observation of the long queues. So, the standing Committee on Downstream Petroleum should please take note and expedite their investigation of this lingering crisis.”

    Motorists Groan As Petrol Sells N600/Litre In Abuja - DAILY TRUST

    FEBRUARY 16, 2022

    Commuters and motorists are lamenting as the scarcity of petrol bites harder across the country, Daily Trust reports. Findings reveal that a litre is..

    Commuters and motorists are lamenting as the scarcity of petrol bites harder across the country, Daily Trust reports.

    Findings reveal that a litre is sold for as high as N600 at the parallel or ‘black’ market in Abuja instead of between N162 and N165.

    In Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt, it costs between N250 and N400 even as many passengers were stranded as commercial transporters increased fares by up to 150 per cent.

    Daily Trust recalls that queues at filling stations got worse since last week when the news of adulterated fuel spread across the nation.


    It was learnt that about 100 million litres of adulterated Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was reportedly supplied to Nigeria, a development that prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to order for a probe. 


    Fuel scarcity may affect inflation – NBS

    Dr Harry, at a press briefing, noted that the scarcity would create an artificial shock in the economy that would see an increase in costs of goods and services.

    “Whether we like it or not, transporters will be taking advantage of the situation, thereby increasing the cost of transportation.

    “As you are bringing your commodities to the market for sale, you will be thinking of adding some amount on the selling cost so that you will be able to recover the cost of transportation.

    “So that gives us a negative signal that is capable of affecting not just inflation rate, but also other macro-economic variables such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and even the unemployment rate,” he said.

     

    Queues persist

    Queues have continued to grow as some petroleum marketers admitted scanty loading of the product from depots. 

    Commuters in Abuja were stranded and expressed dismay during interviews with our reporters on Tuesday. They asked NNPC and other stakeholders to tell Nigerians the real problem.

    Black marketers who sold the product in jerry-cans remained the easily accessible suppliers. They sold at between N500/litre and N600/litre, depending on location and the customer’s bargaining power. 

    It was observed that most filling stations along Kubwa, Berger, Wuse and other satellite areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were not dispensing the product to motorists.

    From Kubwa in Abuja to Zuba in Niger and Mararaba in Nasarawa, among other locations, hundreds of commuters were seen stranded at bus stops while others trekked.

    “We thought that Nigeria has gone past this stage, unfortunately here we are again. Yesterday, I had to pay N500 from Area 1 to Kubwa, which ordinarily should not cost more than N250,” a commuter, Omobolaji said. 

    Bolt and UBER drivers have also officially increased their charges.

     

    Activities hampered in Lagos

    >span class="s1">Petrol was sold at the normal rate at NNPC fuel stations yesterday while other stations sold for between N180 and N200. However, in some areas of Lagos, a litre was sold for between N200 and N250.

    At the Alaba Rago area of Ojo, a hawker, Abdullahi Adamu, sold a litre for N250. “Stations with petrol sell at night. At times they open to buyers like us around midnight. The extra money we put is for the trouble we went through searching for petrol,” he said.

    In Kano, vehicles along major streets of the metropolis were fewer yesterday, leaving many residents and commuters stranded. 

    While many filling stations were closed, the few operating had queues of cars, tricycles, motorcycles and also individuals who thronged them trying to get fuel.

    Despite the challenges of waiting for hours to get fuel, some of the filling stations providing the service had increased their pump price, selling for as high as N200 per litre.

    Malam Audu Kurum, a commuter, lamented how the fuel scarcity has upset his routine. 

    He said, “I was in the filling station from morning to early evening on the long queue.”

    Also, Abdullahi Muhammad, a tricycle rider lamented how he had to buy fuel at N190 per litre at one of the fuel stations.

    Other filling stations visited were littered with jerry cans belonging to black marketers who sold the product for between N300 and N400 per litre.

    A customer, Abubakar Sadeeq said, “Some filling stations preferred selling to black marketers because of the commission they get from them.”

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    1bn litres in stock, 2.3bn arriving – NNPC

    In reaction to the worsening petrol scarcity nationwide, NNPC Ltd said it had over one billion litres of petrol in stock while over 2.3 billion litres would arrive at the ports soon.

    In a statement on Tuesday, the Group Executive Director, NNPC Downstream, Adeyemi Adetunji, said the company understood the current fuel supply disruptions in many parts of the country.

    “To address the situation, over 2.3 billion litres will arrive between now and the end of February 2022. This will restore the sufficiency level above the national target of 30 days,” he said.

    “To accelerate PMS distribution across the country, NNPC has commenced 24 hours operations at its depots and retail outlets,” he also said.

    By Simon E. Sunday, Faruk Shuaibu, Seun Adeuyi (Abuja), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Salim U. Ibrahim, Sadiq Adamu (Kano), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt) & Eugene Agha (Lagos)

    Nigeria begins 24-hour supply to end fuel shortage - AFP

    FEBRUARY 16, 2022

    Nigeria's state-run oil company said it had started a 24-hour distribution of petrol to service stations to end a week-long scarcity that has caused traffic snarls in major cities.

    The fuel shortage which started last week in the commercial city of Lagos and administrative capital Abuja has caused long queues with few petrol stations selling the product.

    Transport fares have gone up in several cities, curtailing services and forcing some residents and workers to walk long distances to their destinations.

    Most homes in Nigeria also rely on petrol and diesel to power their generators as the public power supply is unreliable and prone to blackouts.

    The state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) blamed the situation on importation of adulterated petrol by four oil marketers into the country.

    The company said in a statement late Tuesday that measures, including around-the-clock distribution to service stations, had begun.

    "In order to accelerate distribution across the country, we have commenced 24-hour operations at our depots and retail outlets."

    The NNPC has also directed oil marketers, depot owners and service stations to begin 24 hours loading and dispensing activities in some of their designated outlets.

    The NNPC said it had enough stock to end the shortage, while more supplies were expected by the end of February.

    "As of today, NNPC has over one billion litres of certified PMS (petrol) stock that is safe for use in vehicles and machineries," the company said.

    "As part of NNPC's strategic restocking, over 2.3 billion litres of PMS (petrol) is scheduled for delivery between now and end of February 2022 which will restore sufficiency level above the national target of 30 days."

    It said a monitoring team, comprising security agents, to ensure smooth distribution of fuel nationwide had been set up.

    The company appealed to Nigerians to avoid panic buying, adding that its measures would restore normalcy in a few days.

    Nigeria, Africa's biggest crude producer, depends on fuel imports to meet local demand as its four refineries are either not working at all or operating below their installed capacity.

    Petrol is sold below market rate in Nigeria as part of measures to make it affordable, but the IMF and the World Bank have advised the government to stop the so-called fuel subsidy scheme to free resources for development.

    UK to scrap golden visas for foreign investors - YAHOO FINANCE

    FEBRUARY 17, 2022

    The government is expected to scrap so-called “golden visas” for wealthy foreign investors amid concerns over links between Russia and the UK.

    Those eligible for the tier one investor visa, launched in 2008, must have at least £2m in investment funds and have a UK bank account.

    It has been under review due to repeated concerns that the system could be exploited because not enough background checks are made on applicants.

    The rules to qualify for investor visas were tightened up in 2015 and checks on how applicants obtained their money were introduced. Since 2019, applicants must also have proof of a UK bank account.

    The BBC now reports an unnamed government source has confirmed the scheme will be abandoned in an announcement to be made next week.

    Read more: Migration data shows Johnson's Brexit will not result in a high wage economy

    Home secretary Priti Patel has decided to close the route because of “long-standing concerns” over abuse of the scheme by criminal groups and the super-rich from several countries, including Russia, China and Kazakhstan.

    The government issued 798 investor visas in the 12 months to September 2021, of which 82 were given to Russians and 210 to Chinese nationals.

    The decision comes amid concerns about Moscow’s influence in the UK as tensions continue about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border – but denies it is planning an invasion.

    The visas were introduced by Labour in 2008 in response to the financial crisis, granting British residency in exchange for seven-figure investments. The initiative fuelled a property boom for wealthy Russians in Britain.

    The tier one visa offers residency to those investing £2m or more in the UK, and allows their families to join them.

    These visa holders can then apply for permanent residency in the UK, at a speed depending on on the size of their investment.

    A £2m investment allows an application within five years, shortened to three years with £5m or two years if £10m is invested.

    The investment can be made in gilts, or government bonds, or in British businesses.

    Stations run out of petrol, scarcity paralyses states - PUNCH

    FEBRUARY 17, 2022

    • Small businesses grounded, labour threatens strike, PDP flays Sylva

    Many filling stations in Nigeria are still not dispensing Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol,  a development that worsened the nationwide PMS scarcity and paralysed activities across the country on Wednesday.

    In Abuja, Lagos, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Kano, Ogun states, among others, queues by motorists for petrol greeted the very limited number of filling stations that dispensed the commodity.

    The crisis caused by the adulterated petrol imported into Nigeria about two weeks had led to a hike in the cost of the commodity in many states, as black marketers of the PMS also cashed in on the development.

    In Abuja and parts of Niger and Nasarawa, for instance, black marketers sold petrol for as high as N6,000 for 10 litres, translating to N600 per litre.

    The cost of transport fares skyrocketed nationwide, and many small businesses were grounded due to the inability of the owners of the ventures to access petrol to run their activities.

    Meanwhile, oil marketers also restated on Wednesday they were making moves to start blending the adulterated PMS since the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had yet to recall all the contaminated products.

    The NNPC had stated on Tuesday it was working hard to address the situation, as it noted that over 2.3 billion litres of PMS would arrive in the country between now and the end of February 2022.

    This, it said, would restore sufficient volume and above the national target of 30 days.

    “As of today, the NNPC has over one billion litres of petrol in stock, and the PMS being dispensed today at the various filling stations in the country is safe,” the oil firm said in a statement issued in Abuja.

    But despite the NNPC’s promises, the queues across the country persisted and the cost of petrol continued to rise above the official rate of N165/litre.

    In Ogun State, residents and traders in Abeokuta and some parts of the state lamented the hardship experienced over the scarcity of fuel in the state.

    Most of the filling stations in the capital and its environs were either shut to customers or increased the pump price of the commodity.

    Many residents and traders complained that they could not carry out their business activities due to the scarcity, which also forced an increase in transport fares and commodities.

    In Kwara State, the scarcity paralysed economic activities in Ilorin, the state capital, as most commercial and private vehicles were off the roads with many commuters stranded.

    The few filling stations that dispensed fuel were jam-packed by motorists in Ilorin, as transport fare increased by about 300 per cent for intra-city transportation, while inter-city fares doubled.

    Meanwhile, the anti-vandal unit of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps which went out to monitor the fuel situation on Wednesday said that it had ordered petrol stations that hoarded fuel to dispense it.

    In River State, the scarcity of petrol in Port Harcourt and other parts of the state caused a sudden rise in transport fares, leaving many commuters stranded.

    Findings by our correspondent on Wednesday showed that petrol sold for N250 per litre in some filling stations, while long queues were seen in the few outlets that dispensed products.

    As a result, fewer vehicles were seen on the roads, while commuters were seen trekking to their destinations.

    In Plateau State, the scarcity that resurfaced in Jos in the past one week persisted and grew worse on Wednesday with many motorists and residents lamenting the situation.

    Findings also showed that the price of the product had increased to between N175 and N200 per litre in the few filling stations that had the products.

    Many commuters were also stranded on various roads, as a result of very few available taxi drivers plying the routes.

    A motorist, Giwa Johnson, said he spent over eight hours in the queue trying to buy fuel at a filling station along the Yakubu Gowon Way in Jos, describing his experience as terrible.

    In Bayelsa State, the fuel scarcity also hit several towns and queues grew at filling stations around Yenagoa, the capital city, and its environs on Wednesday.

    Checks indicated that the shortage of petrol had occasioned an increase in the pump price of petroleum products in the state.

    Some of the petrol stations along the ever-busy Mbiama-Yenagoa Road and the Isaac Boro Expressway did not open for business on Tuesday and Wednesday, as consumers suspected that they might be hoarding the product.

    A few black markets were, however, sighted along the Isaac Boro Expressway selling a 10-litre jerrycan of fuel for N2,000 and 20 litres for N4,000.

    In Benue State, the fuel scarcity continued on Wednesday as black marketers took over the streets of Makurdi, the capital city.

    Our correspondent who went round the major areas of the state capital reported that most fuel stations had no product to dispense. At Jenny, Gabrow and Rain Oil located within Makurdi metropolis, long queues were observed, while some other fuel stations were under lock and keys.

    A motorist, who simply identified herself as Charity, said she had been on the queue at Jenny filling station for two hours and had yet to get the product at the time she spoke to our correspondent.

    TUC, NLC consulting, may embark on strike

    The Trade Union Congress said it was monitoring and engaging with stakeholders over the prolonged fuel scarcity in many parts of the country.

    Also, an official of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said the NLC was still consulting with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers after which it would decide on its next line of action.

    The situation apart from resulting in high transport fares in many states had also caused untold hardship to many Nigerians.

    Speaking at a briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, the National President,  Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye, vowed that the union might be forced to take an “emergency decision” if the situation persists after the union’s consultation.

    According to him, the union may proceed on industrial action or lead a protest over the matter.

    He said, “At the moment, we are watching, we are monitoring and doing some engagements for us to be able to make emergency decisions. When Labour takes an emergency decision, you know what it means? It is either strike or protest.

    “You can see that even what they are using to investigate the man-made problem is part of the funds made for the Nigerian workers. So we are monitoring and when it is time to take a decision we would.”

    On his part, Ugboaja said, “We are still consulting with NUPENG, which is one of our affiliates. We are expecting them to brief the leadership of the union, afterwards, the union would determine the next step to take.”

    Don’t store petrol at home, fire service urges Nigerians

    The Federal Fire Service has cautioned Nigerians against storing petrol in their homes due to the lingering scarcity in many parts of the country.

    We’re processing dirty fuel professionally for distribution, says marketers

    This came as the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria further revealed on Wednesday that the off-spec petrol was being processed professionally for distribution.

    It disclosed this in a statement, as it urged Nigerians to bear with operators in the sector.

    The statement read in part, “We have worked assiduously with the regulatory authorities from the onset to curtail the further distribution of the off-spec fuel in all DAPPMAN depots and retail outlets.

    “DAPPMAN also seconded versatile professionals to the Technical and Commercial Committees set up by the regulators and stakeholders who have initiated best practices ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ to ensure not only that the off-spec products are quarantined, professionally processed, tested and certified good for distribution to the market, but we are also working with NNPC Ltd through its subsidiary, the PPMC LTD, to ensure that adequate stocks of ‘on-spec’ petrol are made available to Nigerians in all nooks and crannies of the nation.”

    Reps to summon importers of dirty fuel, insist on sanctions

    Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) on Wednesday said it would invite those engaged by the Federal Government to import the PMS to explain the circumstances surrounding the recent supply of an off-spec variant of the product, which has caused a crisis in the country.

    NNPC demands damages from suppliers, says scarcity’ll end next week

    This came as the NNPC said it regretted the hardships caused Nigerians by the supply of the dirty fuel, saying the struggles for petrol would end by next week, with the efforts being made by the company to correct the anomaly.

    The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Melee Kyari, also disclosed that the company was filing claims against suppliers of the substandard PMS, while alleging that Duke Oil, one of the company’s subsidiaries, shares in the blame.

    The committee, which grilled the NNPC GMD, at its investigative hearing in Abuja on Wednesday, demanded sanctions against the erring importers.

    The Chairman of the committee, Abdullahi Gaya, in his opening address, stated that the probe was “to elucidate the current fuel scarcity which has a negative impact on the people.”

    Gaya asked, “The whole country would like to know the current situation of the nation in respect of the supplies and what transpired from the beginning to the end.”

    Responding, Kyari said the NNPC had taken every necessary step to restore supply.

    “We have placed orders significant enough for us to cross into March, with at least 2.1 billion litres of the PMS in our custody. The situation you are seeing today, I can assure you that by next week, it will vanish, all things being equal, because of distribution issues that we may not have control over, including the movement of trucks. Otherwise, we have a robust supply arrangement to make sure that we exit this issue,” he said.

    The NNPC GMD said most of the petroleum products consumed in Nigeria are imported. He noted that imports are done based on contractual arrangements known as Direct Sale Direct Purchase.

    “Even if all our refineries come up today, except Dangote Refinery, we will still be in short supply of PMS, because all of our refineries can only make 18 million litres of gasoline (per day). Consumption is certainly above 18 million litres,” Kyari stated.

    He also decried that petrol, which the Federal Government subsidies, is being smuggled out of Nigeria, giving rise to the high daily consumption figure.

    Suppliers are given specifications – Kyari

    The GMD of the NNPC said, “On the basis of those contracts, our suppliers bring products to us and reconcile with them regularly. Part of those supply arrangements is to give specifications to your suppliers.”

    He added, “There was simply no way, based on the current specification, that you will know this PMS contains methanol. It is not part of their requirements at the load port. So, we did not ask them to declare whether it contained methanol because it is not part of our specification.”

    You must take responsibility, lawmakers tell NNPC

    However, a member of the committee, Adediji Olamide, replied, “Ignorance is not an excuse in law. We are in a situation where all Nigerians are suffering as a result of an oversight or as a result of an unspecified request from the NNPC to all the companies that are the importers of the cargo.”

    Other members including Olododo Cook and Abubakar Yalleman, corroborated the view.

    We are filing claims against suppliers – Kyari

    Responding, the NNPC GMD disclosed, “What we have done is that we put all our suppliers on notice that there will be liquidated damages. It is the practice that once you file liquidated damages, the supplier will transfer that to the next person until it gets to the originating supplier.

    “I do not know how many people are in this chain because in one cargo, you can have three sellers. Every one of them will transfer the liquidated damages until it gets to the originating supplier. This is what we are doing to ensure that the liquidated damages are settled. It is both a commercial and legal problem.”

    PDP demands Sylva’s sack, asks Buhari to step down as petroleum minister

    Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday asked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to step down as petroleum minister.

    It also called for the sack of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.

    The main opposition alleged that the All Progressives Congress-led administration was pushing Nigerians to take to the streets in protest against its “continued arrogance, corruption, insensitivity to the feelings of the people.”

    The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said this in a statement he signed on Wednesday and titled ‘N201b for toxic fuel: you’re pushing Nigerians too far, PDP cautions Buhari, APC.’

    By Okechukwu Nnodim, Leke Baiyewu, Solomon Odeniyi, Temitayo Jaiyeola, Stephen Angbulu, Henry Falaiye, Daud Olatunji, Tunde Oyekola, Dennis Naku, Amobi Davies, James Abraham, Daniels Igoni and John Charles

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