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FG plans cooking gas export ban to crash price

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The Federal Government is to stop the exportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, popularly called cooking gas, in a bid to increase its volume domestically so as to warrant a crash in price.

It stated on Thursday that LPG producers in Nigeria and key stakeholders in the industry had been told to stop exporting the commodity out of Nigeria, following the recent jump in the cost of cooking gas.

Although the volume of LPG consumption in Nigeria depends on the specific timeframe, figures obtained from the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority indicated that in 2022, the total cooking gas consumption across the country was 1.4 million metric tonnes.

Data from the agency put total domestic production during the review period as 600,000MT, while imports accounted for 800,000MT.

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In 2021, total consumption was estimated at around 800,000MT, as domestic production was about 300,000MT, while the volume that was imported in that year was put at 500,000MT.

Cooking gas consumption has been increasing significantly, with ambitious targets to reach five million metric tonnes by 2029, as LPG dealers stated that though Nigeria exports the commodity, the country relies heavily on imports to meet domestic demand.

This implies that the Federal Government could stop the export of over 600,000MT of cooking gas based on its drive to crash the price of the commodity locally.

Findings showed that the cost of refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and some other states had climbed to about N18,000. It was specifically N17,500 in Abuja on Thursday, a product that sold for less than N9,000 in November last year.

LPG dealers under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers had predicted mid last year that a 12.5kg cylinder would cost N18,000 going by the incessant hikes in its cost.

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To tackle this, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, constituted a committee in November 2023, headed by the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed.

But up till today (Thursday), the cost of the commodity has maintained a northward movement, as many LPG users are gradually shifting to the use of charcoal.

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But while speaking on the sidelines of the internal stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja on Thursday, Ekpo stated that the Federal Government had asked LPG producers to stop exporting the commodity.

He named some international oil companies including Mobil, Shell and Chevron as producers, stressing that the government was interfacing with them to crash cooking gas prices.

In November 2023, a kilogram of cooking gas was about N700, but the product is now sold at about N1,400/kg. Some operators stated that the cost would increase further if the government fails to intervene.

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Ekpo said, “With the issue of gas, you have seen the demonstration of the Federal Government by withdrawing all taxes and levies from the importation of gas related equipment. It is a big incentive.

“On the issue of LPG (cooking gas), we are interacting with the critical sectors to ensure that there is no exportation of LPG. All LPG produced within the country will have to be domesticated. And when this is done, the volume will increase and, of course, the price will automatically crash.

“I’m in contact with the regulator, NMDPRA, we have meetings almost on a daily basis and with the producers of the gas like Mobil, Chevron and Shell. So there is that hope that things will turn around.

“And that is also why we are having this engagement to know exactly what the problems are, so that we can address them once and for all.”

When told that the removal of Value Added Tax on LPG seems not to be reflecting on the cost of the commodity, the minister stated that cooking gas investors were trying to maximise their profit from the sale of the product.

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“Excuse me, it is not going to reflect that way. We are dealing with human beings. A policy has been put in place and these people, the investors, want to maximise the profit that they are going to get from it all.

“So at the end of the day we had to come in, which is why you have the regulator. We are interfacing with them to make sure they crash the price. We are meeting with them on a daily basis,” Ekpo stated.

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It was reported in December 2023 that the Federal Government had exempted the importation of LPG and its equipment from the payment of customs duty and Value Added Tax, as the move was expected to result in a drop in the cost of cooking gas across the country.

This was disclosed by the Federal Ministry of Finance in a letter (dated November 28, 2023) to the Special Adviser to the President on Energy; Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service; and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, signed the letter.

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Meanwhile, when asked on Thursday to state when government vehicles would start running on Compressed Natural Gas as always championed by the government, the gas minister stated that he would speak on this later.

“The Presidential Initiative on CNG was set up before the inauguration of the ministers, but I’m interfacing with them. The Federal Government committee is working towards realising the goals. So the moment I get a clearer picture about it I will address you accordingly,” Ekpo stated.

Nigeria has over 208 trillion standard cubic feet of gas reserves and is now viewed as a gas-rich nation.

But most of the country’s gas resources remained untapped due to several reasons such as lack of investments in the sector, the shift from fossil fuels, policy issues, among others.
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Ekpo was also asked whether the government would allow operators in the sector to run most of their transactions in naira, as against the popular practice of dollar transactions, and he said the matter would be discussed at the meeting by stakeholders.

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“If you were there when the director on gas was presenting what we discussed during the stakeholders meeting on February 6, 2024, it (the concern) was presented, and I will have the views of the implementers and regulators today. Then from there we can take a decisive decision on how to address it,” the minister stated.

Earlier during his speech at the workshop, he said the aim of the event was to reposition the Nigerian gas sector for optimal performance, in line with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda to unlock Nigeria’s abundant gas resources for economic development and poverty eradication.

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“This is the second in a series of engagements with stakeholders in the gas sector, the first being the consultative meeting I held with external stakeholders in the gas sector on February 6, 2024 which provided a platform for me to hear from the various associations and groups operating across the gas value chain with a view to understanding the pain points of the industry operators.

“It is my expectation that having heard from the operators in our industry, we as policymakers, regulators and policy implementers will internalise the feedback from our stakeholders and customers to proffer workable solutions to tackle the issues bedevilling our nation’s gas sector.

“With over 208 trillion standard cubic feet in proven gas reserves, Nigeria has no business with energy poverty, and it is imperative for us to rise up as a people to tackle these challenges head-on,” Ekpo stated.

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He stated that as part of efforts to ensure a high level of performance and accountability within the Federal Government, the President, through the office of the Special Adviser on Policy and Coordination, had released the Presidential Priorities and Ministerial Deliverables for 2023 – 2027 to create a performance tracking mechanism for the Minister of Petroleum Resources and relevant agencies.

“The theme for this workshop – ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Proven Gas Reserves for Economic Growth and Development,’ is very apt and provides a platform for us to galvanise action and take the necessary steps to release this nation’s abundant gas reserves to accelerate our industrialisation and develop the economy for the good of our teeming population,” Ekpo stated.

The Chief Executives of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Ahmed Farouk, and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, were in attendance at the internal stakeholders’ workshop on Thursday.

Representatives from other agencies under the petroleum ministry such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, directors from the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, among others, were also in attendance.

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Crime

Nigerian Navy investigates civilian worker’s death

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The Nigerian Navy (NN) says it has begun investigation on how one of its civilian staff members, Mr Ifeanyi Onumaegbu, died.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, announced this in Lagos on Thursday.

He explained that Onumaegbu died at the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital (NNRH) Ojo, Lagos, where he worked.

He explained further that the deceased was a civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence attached to the Laboratory Department of the NNRH since 2009.

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”The navy is deeply saddened by the demise of Mr Ifeanyi Onumaegbu and the circumstances surrounding his death.

”On March 31, he was found lifeless in his office at NNRH.

“A preliminary investigation revealed that on March 26, the deceased was involved in an altercation with a civilian lady and some NN personnel in Navy Town Barracks,” he said.

Ogalla said that all suspected personnel and the civilian lady involved in the previous altercation had been identified and “are currently under close custody”.

He also said that NN had facilitated the movement of the deceased’s body to a reputable government hospital in Lagos based on the request of the family for an autopsy.

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“The NN further wishes to assure his family and the public that all necessary measures are being taken to unravel the cause of his death.

“Any person found culpable would be prosecuted according to extant laws,” he said.

Theheute recalls that the Joint Executive Council of Ministry of Defence embarked on a peaceful mourning protest on April 8 against the death of Onumaegbu

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The protest was held across all the civilian personnel units of the Ministry of Defence.

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Hardship: Prophet Fufeyin Donates N30m To Less-privileged Nigerians

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Billionaire prophet and General Overseer of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministry in Warri, Delta State, Prophet Jeremiah Fufeyin, has given out over N30 million in charity to reduce the current economic crisis faced by the masses.

In a viral video on social media, Fufeyin, known for his philanthropic gestures, was seen giving out wads of cash to church members to ameliorate the rising price of food items in the country.

The humanitarian effort has caught the attention of netizens, capturing the hearts of many amid the current challenging times.

Fufeyin has emerged as a beacon of hope by extending a remarkable gesture of kindness towards struggling church members even as he stressed the need for well-meaning Nigerians to help assuage the challenges of the masses.

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This spontaneous and substantial donation not only alleviated immediate concerns but also underscored Fufeyin’s deep empathy for those affected by economic hardship.

The response to Fufeyin’s act of benevolence has been overwhelmingly positive, with Nigerians taking to social media platforms to commend his compassion and selflessness. Amidst a climate of economic uncertainty and rising living costs, Fufeyin’s initiative has resonated deeply, sparking discussions about the importance of generosity and communal support during trying times.
Fufeyin expressed his motivation for the donation, citing a desire to alleviate the suffering of his church members and fellow Nigerians in tangible ways.

He emphasised the necessity of collective action in addressing societal challenges and urged others, particularly those in positions of influence, to contribute towards uplifting the less fortunate.
The impact of Fufeyin’s philanthropy extends beyond financial assistance, serving as a powerful reminder of the potential for positive change when individuals leverage their resources for the greater good of all.

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Crime

39 lecturers indicted for sexual harassment in five years – Report

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No fewer than 39 lecturers in the nation’s tertiary institutions have been indicted and dismissed over sexual misconduct in the past five years, analysis of media reports by Theheute has revealed.

Sexual harassment has been recurring in Nigerian higher educational institutions with a survey conducted in 2018 by the World Bank Group’s Women revealing that 70 per cent of female graduates from tertiary institutions in the country were sexually harassed in school, with the main perpetrators being classmates and lecturers.

Although the Senate had in 2021 passed a bill stipulating 21 years imprisonment for randy lecturers, Theheute reports that most of the lecturers indicted and found guilty after the bill was passed were simply sacked.

In April 2018, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, announced the indefinite suspension of a professor of Accounting, Richard Oladele, over sexual harassment.

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In 2021, the university also dismissed three lecturers from the Departments of English Language, International Relations and Accounting over sexual harassment.

In February 2020, the institution also announced the suspension of a lecturer at the Centre for Distance Learning, Monday Omo-Etan, for sexually molesting a 19-year-old female student.

In 2019, Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, announced the suspension of an associate professor, Monday Igbafen, over allegations bordering on sexual harassment of female students.

Igbafen, who was the chairman of the AAU branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at the time, had accused the vice-chancellor of the institution of trying to frame him.

The senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the university, in a letter written to the school by his lawyers, Osahon Irebhude & Co, demanded a written apology from the school.

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In September 2020, the management of the Imo State University announced the suspension of two lecturers, who were alleged to have been involved in sexual misconduct with female students.

In February 2021, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, announced the suspension of a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Tourism, Dr Chigozie Odum, over allegations bordering on sexual misconduct.

The Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, similarly suspended a lecturer in the Department of Media and Theatre Arts in June 2021 for sexual misconduct.

In the same month, the management of the University of Lagos announced the dismissal of two lecturers over similar offences.

In August of that year, the University of Port Harcourt announced the dismissal of a lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature for sexual misconduct.

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In October 2021, the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, also announced the dismissal of two lecturers from the departments of Nutrition/Dietetics and General Studies over sexual misconduct.

A lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education was dismissed for impregnating a female student.

In December 2021, the Kwara State University, Malete, announced the dismissal of a lecturer for harassing a student in the Department of Pure and Applied Sciences.

In January 2022, the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rivers State, announced the dismissal of a lecturer for harassing a female student.

In April 2022, OAU again launched a probe into allegations of sexual harassment against a professor in the Department of Linguistics and African Studies. So far, two professors have been affected in the institution.

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In June 2022, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof Abdul-Raheed Na’allah, announced the dismissal of two lecturers for sexual misconduct. Both of them are professors.

Earlier in 2023, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission arraigned Dr. Balogun Olaniran of the Tai Solarin University of Education, who was said to have allegedly demanded sexual gratification from a female student to alter her results in 2021.

In March 2023, a lecturer at the Kogi State Polytechnic, Abutu Thompson, was dismissed on account of sexual harassment and victimisation of a female student in the Department of Computer Science.

In May, the management of the Ambrose Alli University in Edo State reportedly dismissed an unnamed lecturer over allegations bordering sexual harassment.

Reports noted that the lecturer was dismissed on the recommendations of the institution’s Staff Disciplinary Committee, which found him guilty of the offence.

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According to AAU’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Asomwan Adagbonyin, the dismissed lecturer had claimed to only make advances, yet he went to the girl’s church to plead for forgiveness.

In July 2023, the VC of UNIABUJA, Na’allah, said two lecturers were dismissed following allegations of sexual harassment.

In August, the management of the University of Calabar suspended the embattled Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, over allegations of sexual harassment. Ndifon is currently being held by security operatives.

On September 7, 2023, the University of Lagos suspended a lecturer, Kadri Babalola, who was accused of raping a 21-year-old student.

Similarly, in October 2023, the Federal College of Forestry, Plateau state announced the suspension of four lecturers over allegations bordering sexual harassment of female students.

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Speaking with our correspondents on the matter, the Director of Programmes, Reform Education Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, urged President Bola Tinubu to sign the sexual harassment bill into law.

Oluwatoyin said, “The President signing the bill will be a game-changer. We need to make schools safe for our students. The most unfortunate part of the issue is that some of these students even when harassed are scared to come out in the open for fear of victimisation and other issues.”

Former Programme Manager, Gender Justice at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, Nafisa Atiku-Adejuwon, urged institutions to prevent survivors from being further victimised into silence and provide safe anonymous pathways for them to report such incidents.

Atiku-Adejuwon also called for the building of a system of trust between university management and the student population.

“The response system has to be survivour-centred and holistic; mental and physical health concerns must be taken seriously. The response system shouldn’t be created to make the university look good; it should be to take care of the survivors,” she added.

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