Nigerians Generated Over N10bn To Ease Petrol Supply To Non-functional NNPC Floating Stations In Three Years - IReporteronline
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Nigerians Generated Over N10bn To Ease Petrol Supply To Non-functional NNPC Floating Stations In Three Years

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In October 2006, George Marks, the then Managing Director of Julius Berger, described the mega stations it constructed with the NNPC as ‘technological wonders.’ Fifteen years later, some of these technological wonders, have become rotten mammoths floating on the waterways of the Niger Delta.

As early as January 2015, based on records on the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency’s website, Nigerians have been paying 15 kobo per litter of petrol purchased to ensure these floating stations are kept supplied with petrol at the same cost it takes to do same in any part of the country. This in turn is supposed to make sure the stations dispense gasoline to Nigerians in riverine areas and boats at a similar cost with an NNPC pump in Lagos.

 

As at Wednesday March 30, 2021, the floating station on the Nembe watercourse was selling gasoline at N175 per litter – N13 more than the NNPC approved price of the commodity.

In Okerenkoko Delta State, where the first floating station was launched and the concept declared a ‘technological wonder,’ residents say the jetty carrying the pumps sits idle.

“People go to town to buy petrol from filling stations and transport to the creeks,” Williams Welemu, a resident of the community, said. “They sell in 20-liter measurements called tanks. A tank of fuel could cost between N5,000 to N6,000 at the moment depending on the distance.” While Nigerians pay a subsidised price of N162 to N165 for a liter of gasoline, residents of Okerenkoko and other riverine areas in Delta pay N250 to N300 for the same product. Yet Nigerians are taxed by the federal government to bridge the price difference.

From January 2017 till September 2020 – the last month the NNPC published its monthly financial and operational report at the time of writing, the sole gasoline importer has sold 67.05bn liters of petrol. This tallies up to N10.05bn in fees collected by the Petroleum Equalization Fund for the supply of petrol to NNPC’s 12 floating mega stations.

Between January and December 2017 though, the NNPC supplied an estimated 14.48bn liters of gasoline, summing up to a rounded sum of N2.17bn generated from the Marine Transport average.

“When they increase the price of fuel for us, there is no change. Even when they sell at the lowest,we still buy at this amount Nigerians are complaining of now,” Welemu says.

Each of these stations costed the federal government between N700m to N950m but several have been out of commission for an estimated five years now. Another is in Burutu, also in Delta State.

The community’s member at the House of Representatives, Julius Pondi, moved a motion in the Eighth Assembly asking the lower chamber to mandate the NNPC to supply petrol to the floating mega stations.

In September 2019, the NNPC said it would work with the navy to reactivate the non-functional floating stations. Pondi is skeptical as to where the security problem faced by the structures stem from.

“Has anyone vandalized any of the floating stations before?” Pondi asked rhetorically. “This thing has been kept there and nobody is touching them. So what is the security challenge that they are complaining about?” He mused.

In 2019, the corporation supplied a little over 20bn liters of petrol, equating to an estimated N3bn paid by Nigerians to keep the filling station in Pondi’s constituency supplied with gasoline priced at the same rate with any urban town. This is the highest amount generated from the MTA within the period in scope.


“Initially, when they got there they were selling but we were not buying at the same price with those in urban areas but it was manageable,” the reps member said.

A 2017 editorial by Delta-based website Gbaramatu Voice, claims the floating stations in the state functioned between 2013 and 2015. By this account, the first of the constructed floating stations worked for two years between October 4, 2006 and March 30, 2021.

Pondi’s claim that the floating stations do not dispense at the same price with those in hinter lands is

corroborated by the claims of residents in Nembe Bayelsa, where one of the 12 floating stations works.

“They sell at N175 per liter and it has been functional for some time now,” says Deipreye Feghabo. Another resident of the area, Olali Ginah, says the station is functioning thanks to the construction of a road that has opened the precinct up.

“Before, they will get to Ogbia and use badge to siphon the fuel from the truck. They found it very difficult to operate,” Ginah explained. “Now Nembe is motorable so they can drive the truck up to the filling station and siphon the fuel directly.”

This logistical hitch could be the reason why Nigerians were futilely tasked N1.91bn between January and September 2020 to supply fuel to the residents of Southern Ijaw in Bayelsa.


“The last time I bought petrol with a Jerrycan it was N210 per liter,” Eriye Bruce, a resident of Oporoma in Southern Ijaw says. “I crossed over a canal to the neighbouring community to buy fuel. “The filling

station that sells petrol to Eriye and his neighbours is privately owned. It undoubtedly gets its supply from the NNPC but the government-owned mass of entities is unable to keep its own station supplied.

“It is really concerning that something that will serve our local government and nearby communities is not working. That station has been shut down over four years now and we don’t know why. There is nobody we can ask,” Bruce laments.

People in Oporoma have it better than those in Buguma – Asari-Toru local government Rivers State.


“The non-functionality of the floating station here is enormous,” says Brown Harry, a resident of the community. “You know there is no filling station here, we have to deal with these black marketers. We buy fuel at N250 per liter.”

NNPC says it supplied 19.79bn liters of petrol in 2018, implying that Nigerians paid N2.97bn to level out the price for residents of Niger Delta’s creeks. Harry reckons that the floating station at Buguma only worked the year it was installed, meaning no kobo from the Marine Transport average tax has been felt by the community for years now.


The News Agency of Nigeria said in a 2019 report that the 12 floating stations are situated in pairs across Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ondo and Rivers. The second floating station in Rivers is installed in Bonnie Island. A source said the station has dispensed petrol to no one for over two months now.

The uniquely designed filling stations were promised to indigenes of the Niger Delta’s creeks in 2004 by the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Media reports say he had noticed the petrol scarcity and the consequent price differential residents of these communities had to endure. He tasked the NNPC to find a means of supplying gasoline to these areas at a uniform cost with other parts of the country. This berthed the idea of floating stations.

The stations which were designed as jetties, were modelled by NETCO, the engineering arm of the NNPC. Seven of the communities where these floating stations are located were tracked and only the jetty in Arugbo – Ese-Odo local government Ondo State, sells petrol at N165 per litter.

Of the seven stations found, only the pumps in Arugbo and Nembe were functioning.

The Petroleum  Product Price regulatory agency (PPPRA) did not see this as a reason to delete the 15 kobo tax from its pricing template. Observers wonder if the agency thought it would be too insignificant?

Appolo Kimchi, spokesperson for the corporation, failed to respond to calls and text messages to clarify why the agency retained the MTA.

Spokesperson for the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), which manages the MTA and the Bridging fund, failed to respond to calls to explain how the transport average has been applied in the last five years. In 2019, a source in the ministry of petroleum resources told Sahara Reporters that the MTA was not been drawn down by the NNPC and the ministry was considering dropping it. This does not seem to have happened, with the PPPRA retaining the 15 kobo tax in its March 6, 2020 template.

The government has to explain to Nigerians how it uses both the MTA and the bridging fund of N7.51 per liter, which a recent report indicates yielded N943bn in 2020 alone. Data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics and the sources spoken to for this story, suggests that both the MTA and the bridging fund have failed to solve the problems they were designed for. There are concerns about the use of the funds generated.

This story was produced under the NAREP oil and gas 2021 fellowship of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism

Source: Sahara Reporters

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EndSARS: Lagos Supports Businesses With N940m

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The Lagos State Government says it supported a total of 1,835 businesses affected by the EndSARS protest mayhem with the sum of N939.98 million.

The Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Yetunde Arobieke, made this known during the 2021 Ministerial Press Briefing in commemoration of the Second Year in the Office of Gov. Bababjide Sanwo-Olu.

Arobieke said the ministry set up the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Recovery Fund to support businesses in Lagos State, whose properties and assets were vandalised post-EndSARS protest that rocked the nation in October 2020.

She said that with funding from both governments, corporate organisations and private individuals, businesses were supported with grant sums ranging from N50,000 to N5 million to beneficiaries to rebuild their businesses.

”With a total of 1,835 beneficiaries and N939.98 million disbursed, 10,005 direct jobs and 40,020 indirect jobs were saved.

”The achievements recorded so far by the ministry have been made possible through the unwavering support of the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, in his pursuits to mitigate unemployment in Lagos State,” the commissioner said.

Arobieke said that the governor had approved the creation of a model and robust online marketplace with a lot of features that make it globally competitive.

She said that the informal sector, largely populated by artisans, was faced with challenges in the areas of access to the market, inadequate or lack of finance and access to capacity development.

The commissioner said that these challenges were being holistically addressed through the development of the online portal, a marketplace for artisans and consumers.

According to her, the aim is to expose the artisans to a global market and scale up their potentials and all government certified artisans are currently been onboarded on the app.

She said that a total of 2,000 artisans selected from registered Trade Associations were re-trained in 2020, while the retraining and equipping of another batch of 2,000 artisans would soon commence.

Arobieke said that the tradesmen were exposed to entrepreneurial training, book-keeping, ICT, Communication, among other training, which essential in running modern-day businesses.

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Edo To Name, Shame Defaulting Tax Payers

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Edo State Internal Revenue Service (EIRS) says it is ready to embark on a name and shame campaign of defaulting taxpayers in its renewed drive to ensure compliance with tax laws.

EIRS’s Executive Chairman, ‘Nidu Inneh, said this in a statement on Wednesday in Benin.

He said that the list included owners of hotels, bars, eateries, restaurants, trade associations, as well as lawyers, architects, medical professionals and school proprietors.

Inneh added that many high net-worth individuals and contractors faced the risk of prosecution for tax evasion.

According to him, we have resolved to embark on a name and shame campaign, as many proprietors who run viable businesses in the state are culpable for tax avoidance and evasion.

“At the same time, we wish to appreciate our dutiful taxpayers, who have kept faith with the government and have continued to pay their taxes.

“We thank you our esteemed compliant taxpayers.”

He added that the state government was committed to ensuring tax defaulters were brought to book.

He noted that a number of gas plant operators and petrol station owners fall in the category of those who had not been faithful with offsetting their tax obligations.

(NAN)

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FBN Customers In Panic Withdrawal After CBN Shake-Up

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FIRST Bank of Nigeria (FBN)  customers were caught in panic withdrawals in Abuja, following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s board shake-up and damning verdict on the bank’s poor corporate governance.

The FBN, one of Nigeria’s tier-one banks, surprised both depositors and admirers when the Central Bank issued the board of the bank with a query for the removal of its CEO Adesola Adeduntan, citing non-approval of the change of the CEO. The CBN  stressed that the bank was not beyond regulatory supervision.

The situation was curious because Adeduntan had eight months to the end of his tenure.

The apex bank noted that the action of the board of the FBN sent a negative signal to the market on the leadership of the board and management, stressing that it queried the board because of negative developments.

For instance, the Central Bank of Nigeria raised concerns that FBN had not complied with regulatory directives on divesting its interest in Honeywell Flour Mills despite several reminders.

The CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision Haruna B Mustafa said after four years, the commercial bank was “yet to perfect its line on the shares of Mr Oba Otudeko in FBN Holdco which collateralised the restructured credit facilities for Honeywell Flour Mills contrary to the conditions precedent for the restructuring of the company’s credit facility.”

The CBN stated that for failure to perfect the pledge and satisfy the condition for regulatory approval, such restructuring had been terminated and the credit facilities now payable immediately.

In the eyes of financial experts,  the insider dealing did not go down with the CBN and could reflect that things were not going down well with the bank.

Nigeria has witnessed several banking collapses in the past. For instance, in 2009, the Nigerian economy faltered and the banking system experienced a crisis.

The stock market collapsed by 70 per cent in 2008-2009 and many Nigerian banks had to be rescued. This followed a consolidation exercise by the apex bank, which led to the merger of some banks to save customers from loss of deposits.

The same fears overwhelmed depositors with the First Bank Nigeria, as some of them engaged in panic withdrawal last week and early this week, findings by The ICIR have shown.

A depositor with the First Bank Nigeria who pleaded anonymity confirmed to The ICIR that she withdrew her N900,000 savings from the bank, citing concerns of recent development of the regulatory intervention on the bank.

“I have been in this country long enough to read the writing on the wall. With the Central Bank’s intervention in the leadership of the bank, I have a serious concern that there could be a corporate misdemeanour from the managers of the bank. I have the utmost respect for the bank with its longstanding legacy, however, I have to be cautious at this time.” the depositor noted.

Usman Mohammed, also a depositor at FBN, raised concern that the banking network had been poor since last Thursday, as he laid a complaint that he had to wait in the bank for five hours before exercising his banking rights. He noted that the banking services were still having some issues, stressing that the development might not be unconnected to the central bank’s intervention in the management of the bank as a regulator.

In Nigeria, failed banks are handed over to the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and depositors were initially paid N50,000 -although it was later increased to N200,000.

Most notably, poor corporate management and weak enforcement of banking supervision have resulted in a bank collapse. Bank collapses in Nigeria have pushed millions of people into poverty. It is on record that thousands of people who have kept their life savings in the banks have lost them, including children’s school fees, savings for retirement, and medical bills, among others.

On Thursday, Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the CBN announced the reinstatement of Adeduntan, after sacking all directors of the FBN Holding PLC.

The apex bank explained that it considered itself a key stakeholder in management changes involving FBN due to the forbearance and close monitoring by the bank over the last five years aimed at stemming the slide in the going concerns status of the bank.

“The action by the board of the FBN sends a negative signal to the market on the stability of leadership on the board and management and it is in the light of foregoing that the CBN queried the board of directors on the unfortunate development in the bank,” the apex bank said in a statement.

Analysts have said that the present corporate governance concerns raised by the apex bank were the same issues that resulted in the banking distress witnessed in 2009 by the nation.

Some of the factors that resulted in banking collapse included: macro economic instability caused by large and sudden capital inflows, major failures of corporate governance at banks, lack of investor and consumer sophistication, inadequate disclosure and transparency.

Basil Okafor, a depositor with the First Bank,  told The ICIR that he had been watching the turn of events recently in the country and had withdrawn a large chunk of his money from the bank as a precautionary measure in protecting his hard-earned savings.

“I was at the bank early as early as 8 am on Friday morning. I am a businessman and have been watching things closely.  I lived in Spain for years and had come back home to invest,” he said.

“However, with the turn of events unravelling in the country, I’m really sceptical about what is happening. Even the governance structure baffles me. which was why I had to quickly take that step. There is a lot of apprehensions even from my interaction with some depositors while we were in the bank. With this development in the bank and the recent turn of events in the country, I had to take this precautionary step on behalf of my family.”

Another depositor who spoke to The ICIR said concerns of poor corporate governance concerns raised by the CBN  had forced him to tread with caution regarding his relationship with the bank.

“I can keep my account at First Bank, but I will not lodge a huge amount in the bank. The CBN’s report shows the bank has poor corporate governance. The CBN is also not completely neutral,” the bank customer, who is a journalist and financial expert, noted.

A financial analyst Tope Fasua told The ICIR that the First Bank still had all the status of a big bank in place, stressing that he could still bank with FBN unless things escalated negatively in the coming days.

“If the First Bank should go down, it will be very cataclysmic to the industry. What this also shows is that there is no big bank that cannot have issues. The bigger the bank, the bigger the headache. It used to be the biggest bank, but later lost the status to other banks.”

Michael Ani, finance expert, while reacting to the concerns raised, told The ICIR that he would still confidently bank with FBN despite the concerns of the apex bank, since they had taken measures to ensure proper management of the bank.

“Yes I will, because it doesn’t affect depositors’ funds. I mean a bank like FB, the CBN will never allow such to happen. We saw it in the case of Skye Bank that is not even as strong as First Bank,” he noted.

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