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Economy

Removal of tariffs on importation of rice, other food items not yet ratified by President Tinubu — Presidency 

The Eyewitness Reporter 
The Presidency has debunked a widely circulated news that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has granted duty-free importation of some staple food items, including rice.
The presidency officials clarified that the matter is just a proposal to President Tinubu by the economic team as part of the measure to address the food crisis ravaging the country.

A leaked memo which circulated on Monday, July 8th, 2024 had said that the government of President Bola Tinubu was considering suspending tariffs on rice and other food commodities’ imports for 150 days to rein in hunger nationwide.

According to the leaked official document, Abubakar Kyari, minister of agriculture and food security, had in a statement earlier on Monday,  said duties, tariffs and taxes on imported maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas — through land and sea borders — have been suspended.

Kyari, in the memo, said a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities will be enforced as part of measures to be implemented over the next 180 days to ameliorate food inflation in Nigeria.

According to him, the measures are part of the accelerated stabilisation and advancement plan recently presented to President Bola Tinubu by the economic management team (EMT) under the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC) constituted by the president in March.

The minister has said in the leaked memo that multiple taxes and levies, infrastructural challenges and “sheer profiteering by marketers and traders” have contributed to rising food prices.

But Presidential spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, who had earlier posted the policy proposal on his official X handle but quickly deleted it a few minutes after later clarified that the memo was already circulating across government departments, but said the policy was not imminent as of Monday evening.
He also noted that the leakage of the memo was a regrettable error.

“The policy was mistakenly circulated,” Onanuga said on Monday evening.

 “We are still deliberating internally from the agric ministry to other agencies on how best to proceed with the policy.”

Onanuga apologised for the error and said the government was not oblivious to its potential impact on long-suffering Nigerians.

The retracted policy draft said the measures would be implemented over the next 150 days and involve relaxing duties, tariffs and taxes on importing certain food commodities through land and sea borders.

It would be recalled that the Tinubu government is facing growing anger among Nigerians over its failure to address endemic food shortages urgently, even as inflation hovered at historically high figures.

On Monday, a frustrated citizen attempted to jump to his death from a 40-metre-high radio transmitter over a worsening economic crisis.

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Economy

How I fought local, international oil mafia that tried to sabotage our refinery project- Dangote

The Eyewitness Reporter 
The Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has accused those he described as oil mafia of trying to sabotage the refinery project.

Dangote who was speaking at the Afreximbank annual meetings (AAN) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Wednesday, said the group he labeled as stronger than the mafia in drug, tried several times to stop the project from becoming a reality.

“Well, I knew that there would be a fight. But I didn’t know that the mafia in oil, they are stronger than the mafia in drugs,” he said.

When asked if the group is local or foreign, he said, “Both. There is a local one and a global one. It is all mixed up. They tried all sorts but you know, I’m a person that has been fighting all my life. So, I think it’s part of my life to fight.”

‘We’ll end up winning’

Despite the battles, Dangote believes victory is assured.

“I think we will end up winning because the population and the government will be on our side because what we are doing is right,” Dangote said during the event.

In January, the Dangote refinery started production in an event the company described as a “big day for Nigeria”.

“Dangote Petroleum Refinery has commenced production of diesel and aviation fuel,” the group said. “This is a big day for Nigeria. We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone.”

The 650,000 barrel-per-day Dangote refinery is expected to be a game changer when fully operational by helping end Nigeria’s reliance on fuel imports.

It sits on 2,635 hectares (6,500 acres) of land at the Lekki Free Zone on the edge of Lagos and costs an estimated $19 billion.

Though one of Africa’s largest oil producers and the continent’s top economy, Nigeria relies almost totally on imported fuel and diesel because of a lack of refining capacity.

The refinery, first scheduled to open in 2021, was officially inaugurated by then-president Muhammadu Buhari last year.

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Economy

Fuel scarcity looms as Oil workers join NLC strike 

Funso Olojo 
There may be yet another disruption in the distribution of the Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) otherwise known as fuel, as the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers(NUPENG) has directed all its members in all the branches of the union nationwide to comply with the indefinite strike action called by the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC).
It would be recalled that NLC has called out its members and affiliates, including the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on indefinite strike action from today, June 3rd, 2024 over a disagreement on minimum wage with the Federal Government.
In what appears to be solidarity with the NLC, NUPENG has directed all its units nationwide to cease operations and comply with the strike starting from Monday, June 3rd, 2024.
In a circular dated June 1st, 2024, signed by  Comrade Afolabi Olawole, the Secretary General of the Union and addressed to all NUPENG branches and members, the Union instructed all members to immediately put all processes in place to comply with the directive.
”This is to notify all our members and branches in all oil and gas installations, operations and services, including distribution and marketing of petroleum products, that our great Union is fully committed to ensuring total compliance with the directive of Nigeria Labour Congress issued on Friday, 31st, May, 2024 for an indefinite nationwide strike commencing from Monday, 3rd, 2024.
”As a Union, we are deeply concerned and disturbed with the insensitive and irresponsive attitude of the Federal Government to the very critical issue of negotiating a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers in view of the various social-economic policies of this administration that have impoverished the working people of this country.
”Leaders of our great Union at all levels, from the Units, Zones and Branches, should immediately put all processes in place to ensure total compliance with the directive.
”Our solidarity remains constant for the Union makes us strong” the circular, with reference No HQ/Ops/063/2024, said.
Already, Electricity, Judiciary, Medical and Port workers have indicated their resolve to comply with the NLC directive of the strike action
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Economy

Nigerians to groan under fresh fuel scarcity for another two weeks- Independent Petroleum Marketers

The Eyewitness Reporter 
The current fuel crisis in the country may not go anytime soon as the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has warned that the situation may likely persist for the next two weeks.
Speaking against the fresh fuel scarcity in the country, the IPMAN’s Public Relations Officer, Chinedu Ukadike disclosed that there is no petrol product available for supply in the country.
Ukadike, in a statement, said there is a breach in the international supply chain, adding that fuel is not available even for Nigeria’s sole supplier, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NPCL).
This follows an ongoing turnaround maintenance of refineries in Europe.Ukadike explained that once there is a breach in the international supply chain, it will have an impact on domestic supply because they depend on imports.

“The situation is that there is no product. Once there is a lack of supply or inadequate supply, what you will see is scarcity and queues will emerge at filling stations.

“On the part of NNPCL, which is the sole supplier of petroleum products in Nigeria, they have attributed the challenge to logistics and vessel problems.

“Once there is a breach in the international supply chain, it will have an impact on domestic supply because we depend on imports.

” I also have it on good authority that most of the refineries in Europe are undergoing turnaround maintenance, so sourcing petroleum products has become a bit difficult.” IPMAN spokesman said.
According to him, “NNPC Group CEO has assured us that there will be improvement in the supply chain because their vessels are arriving”.“Once that is done, normalcy will return. This is because once the 30-day supply sufficiency is disrupted, it takes two to three months to restore it.

“We expect that by next week or so, NNPC should be able to restore supply and with another week, normalcy should return,” he said.

Ukadike further stated that “NNPC has said the marketers who have not been able to renew their licences will not be allowed to remain on their portal which has been shut for some time now.

” Because of this, we have not been able to request new products”.

 “At this nascent period of deregulation, you will discover that this leads to scarcity, even when the product arrives.

“As it is now, even by their data, out of 15,000 marketers that are on the portal with licences, only 1,050 renewed their licences.

“The requirement for renewal by NMDPRA is so much. Marketers are facing a hostile environment. NNPC placed a deadline of April 15, 2024, for marketers to renew their licences.

“We are, therefore, appealing to NNPC to extend this deadline and also to NMDPRA to hasten the release of licences of marketers who have completed their processes, and also reduce bottlenecks around licence renewals.”

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