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We’re Ready to Negotiate $9.6bn Fine with P&ID –FG

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The Federal Government has said it is ready to negotiate with the Process and Industrial Developments Ltd over a judgment by a United Kingdom court granting the firm seizure of $9.6bn in Nigerian assets.

The judgment was based on a contract between the Federal Government and the P&ID signed in 2010.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke on Good Morning Nigeria, a live breakfast programme of the Nigerian Television Authority, on Thursday, said government was willing to meet with the P&ID to come up with a “reasonable” agreement.

Mohammed said, “We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that this judgment is set aside. I want to assure Nigerians that there is absolutely no imminent threat to seizure of our assets because even the UK courts said they cannot begin any attachments until the courts are back and there will be further hearing on the matter.

“We are even willing to sit down with the P&ID and negotiate. We are ready to take this matter to the highest level — legal, diplomatic and otherwise — because we think it is just unfair and unconscionable. You don’t inflict this kind of injury on a country and its people for your selfish reasons.

“The government is doing everything possible to get self-execution and to set aside this award. But at the end of the day, we need to sit down with the P&ID and arrive at something that we think is reasonable for all the parties.”

The minister said the contract and, ultimately, the penalty awarded against Nigeria would not have been possible without the help of some “unpatriotic” Nigerians.

Mohammed said, “One thing is clear: without insider collaboration, we would not have reached this sordid path. Clearly, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources had enough competent experienced personnel to know that this kind of contract cannot be entered into without involving the NNPC and the IOC.

“That is why, until this investigation is completed and concluded, we will not be able to know exactly what happened. But on the surface, I think it was a sham ab initio and the actors knew where they were going. The P&ID has engaged some Nigerians to do their dirty job for them.”

He also denied the allegation that the Federal Government did not diligently defend the case leading to the award of $9.6bn judgment debt against Nigeria over a botched gas contract.

The minister alleged that the award was unprecedented, unjustifiable and an attempt to inflict economy injury on Nigeria and its people.

He said, “It is not true that we did not defend it or we were not represented. The contract was entered into in 2010 and from the records made available, there were three arbitrators.

“The arbitrators were the parties to be nominated by the company, the other by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources while the two of them will agree on the third arbiter.

“Nigeria was represented on the arbitration by the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN).’’

Mohammed added that the government went into negotiations with the company after the award in July 2015 by the arbitration panel sitting in London.

He, however, added that the effort was futile.

The controversial contract was about a Gas Supply and Processing Agreement entered in 2010 between the Federal Government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the P & ID.

It was in respect of an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s Oil Mining Leases 67 and 123.

A dispute later arose on the contract between the two parties, with P&ID claiming that Nigeria failed to make wet gas available as stipulated in the GSPA.

The P&ID approached an arbitration panel in London for resolution, claiming to have incurred about $40m preliminary expenses on the project.

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FG Explains Reasons Behind Deregulation Policy

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The federal government has said in view of recent misguided comments and innuendos, it has become expedient for the Ministry of Petroleum to explain misconceptions around the issue of Petroleum Products Deregulation.

Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, in a statement he personally signed Wednesday in Abuja, explained that after a thorough examination of the economics of subsidising PMS for domestic consumption, the federal government concluded that it was unrealistic to continue with the burden of subsidizing PMS to the tune of trillions of Naira every year.

The Minister said more so when the said subsidy was benefiting in large part the rich rather than the poor and ordinary Nigerians.

The former Bayelsa state governor, however said the government was mindful of the likely impact of higher PMS prices would have on Nigerians, adding that to alleviate the impact the ministry will roll out the auto-gas scheme, which will provide Nigerians with alternative sources of fuel and at a lower cost.

According to the Minister, deregulation means that the government will no longer continue to be the main supplier of Petroleum Products. “But will encourage private sector to takeover the role of supplyer of Petroleum Products.

“This means also that market forces will henceforth determine the prices at the pump. In line with global best practices, Government will continue to play its traditional role of regulation; to ensure that this strategic commodity is not priced arbitrarily by private sector suppliers; a regulatory function not unlike the role played by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the banking sector; ensuring that commercial banks do not charge arbitrary interest rates.

“Petroleum Products are refined from Crude Oil. Therefore the price of Crude (the feedstock) for the refining process will affect the price of the refined product.

“When Crude Oil prices were down, Government, through its regulatory functions ensured that the benefits of lower Crude Oil prices were enjoyed by Nigerians by ensuring that PMS was lowered.

“At that time, we indicated that increase in Crude Oil Prices will also reflect at the pump.

“This is a necessary action taken by a responsible Government in the overall interest of Nigerians. Indeed, one of the reasons we have been unable to attract the level of investments we desire into the refining sector has been the burden of fuel subsidy. We need to free up that investment space so that what happened in the Banking Sector, Aviation Sector and other Sectors can happen in the Midstream and Downstream Oil Sector.

“We can no longer avoid the inevitable and expect the impossible to continue. There was no time Government promised to reduce Pump Price and keep it permanently low.

“Let us therefore ignore the antics of unscrupulous middlemen who would want status quo ante to remain at the expense of the generality of Nigerians. In addition to attracting investments and creating jobs and opportunities, this very important policy direction will free up trillions of naira to develop infrastructure instead of enriching a few.”

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Osagie Denies Involvement In Widows’ Empowerment Scheme

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The Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, has denied involvement in any widows’ empowerment scheme.

In a statement on Wednesday, Osagie cautioned the public to be wary of fraudsters who are exploiting the political campaigns to deceive and defraud people.

“There is a scam message being sent on social media on a specious empowerment scheme targeted at women and widows in the state said to be linked to me. This is a scam,” he said.

“The Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication has no relationship with the group known as Insured Good People (IGP).

“The statement did not emanate from me or my office. It is ploy by fraudsters to exploit vulnerable women and widows and the general public should consider it as such”.

According to the governor’s aide, with the governorship election drawing closer and things heating up in the state, some fraudulent persons are using the opportunity to perpetuate their crimes.

“With the election campaigns getting to a head, some fraudulent people would want to use such schemes to defraud vulnerable people in the society.

“I have alerted security agencies in the state to watch out for individuals and groups, who would want to take undue advantage of the ongoing electioneering campaigns to defraud Edo people,” he said.

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Edo: South-South Forum Urges Nigerians to be Vigilant

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A group, South-south Emerging Leaders’ Forum (SELF) has warned against subterranean plot by some highly placed politicians to rig the the 2023 general elections, beginning with the forthcoming Edo state governorship election.

The South-south forum, in a statement made available Wednesday in Abuja, by its Convener Barrister Preye Wilson, said the arrow head of the plot has commenced moves aimed at compromising the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in order to return the APC to power in 2023.

SELF revealed that a renewal of tenure is being dangled before the Chairman of the INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu as bait to get him to play ball.

Prof. Yakubu was appointed as Chairman of the INEC by President Muhammadu Buhari on 21 October 2015. His tenure is due to expire on October 20 this year.

Section 3(1) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act 2010 (as amended) provides that “the chairman and members of the commission shall each hold office for a period of five years and on such terms and conditions as may be specified in their letters of appointment.”

The Forum further disclosed that according to
credible intelligence they gathered a top member of the National Assembly leadership has held a preliminary session with the INEC boss to “discuss the proposal and present the terms.”

He said that the INEC boss has been requested to show commitment to the cause by returning the candidate of the APC as winner of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo state.

The group said the leader of the highly secretive plot has pledged to facilitate Yakubu’s reappointment as INEC boss for another term of five years after he must have delivered Edo state to the APC in demonstration of good faith.

“There is a plot by the some politicians in the ruling party to ensure the return of the INEC chairman for a second tenure.

“They have held a meeting with the INEC chairman where it was stated that his tenure would soon be over but will be allowed to have a second term on the condition that he returns the APC in 2023.

“To be sure that he would not renege on the agreement, they have asked the INEC chairman to deliver Edo state in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

“This will prove that he will play ball in 2023 and as such, he will be recommend to the President, General Muhammadu Buhari, through his Chief of staff to be allowed to come back for a second term.

“With this information at our disposal, it is clear that the INEC chairman is already compromised and to this effect, the Edo State Governorship election is compromised.

“We, therefore call on Nigerians at home and abroad, the international community, United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, European Union, etc., to be vigilant and impress it on the APC government that they will one day be held accountable for their actions. We are watching!”

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