Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shell's profits hit by drop in Nigerian production

Europe's largest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, has stated that its global third quarter 2013 earnings fell largely due to a drop in the company's crude oil production in Nigeria, where attacks on pipelines led to shutdowns of production facilities, with the company losing 65,000 barrels per day.

The Hague-based United Kingdom energy giant said earnings on a so-called "current cost of supplies basis" which "strips out the impact of fluctuations of oil prices between when it is produced and when it is sold fell to $4.25 billion from $6.15 billion in the same quarter a year ago".

The company's global Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter Voser, who will retire by the end of this year, said in the third quarter financial results that the company's net profit dropped to $4.68 billion from $7.16 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2012 largely due to insecurity in Nigeria. "We are facing headwinds from weak industry refining margins, and the security situation in Nigeria, which continue to erode the near term outlook," said Voser, who will be replaced by Ben van Beurden. Shell said its production in the third quarter fell by two percent to 2.93 million barrels per day, causing its "upstream" earnings to fall 29 percent to $3.46 billion.

This Day

Video - Documentary on Nigeria's out of control oil industry

Heavily polluted from 50 years of living with the oil industry, the Niger Delta is riddled with corruption, oil theft and sabotage. This investigation reveals why oil and the Delta's residents do not mix.

Nigeria says it's losing 400,000 barrels of oil a day to criminal activity. "The military are the biggest players. There's nothing you can do without seeking their consent", says a local oil trader. Nnimmo Bassey of Oil Watch International agues that, "oil has been the major factor that has dislocated everything", but others believe it can still benefit the local people.

Aliko Dangote makes Forbes list of most powerful people in the world

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote hit another milestone Wednesday when he was listed by US-based magazine Forbes as one of the most powerful people in the world.

Dangote, who was ranked 64th out of the 72 persons recognised by Forbes, was one of two black people that made the list. The other being UK-based Mohammed Ibrahim, founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Topping this year’s list of most powerful people was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who knocked his US counterpart, Barack Obama, off the top spot. The US president held the title last year.

According to Associated Press (AP), Obama has been on the top of the list every year with the exception of 2010, when Hu Jintao, the former political and military leader of China, was number one.

The annual World’s Most Powerful list is made up of heads of state, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs and the list represents the collective wisdom of top Forbes editors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s top 72 power-brokers.

This year’s list features 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of some $48 trillion — including the three most powerful people, Putin, Obama and Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

The 27 CEOs and chairs control over $3 trillion in annual revenues, and 12 are entrepreneurs, including new billionaires on the list, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote (No. 64), founder of Dangote Group, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison (No. 58). This year’s list has 28 billionaires valued in excess of $564 billion.

In addition, there are 13 newcomers on the list who include Pope Francis (No. 4), Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee (No. 41), Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn (No. 49) and the South Korean President Park Geun-hye (No. 52).
There are just nine women on the list, but that is an improvement on both 2011 and 2012 which featured six women leaders and the inaugural list from 2009 included only three.

Two of the world’s most important NGOs run by women feature on the list - Christine Lagarde (No. 35) who leads the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Margaret Chan (No. 59) who steers the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Below are the top 10 most powerful people on the Forbes list:

• Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
• Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
• XI Jinping, General Secretary Communist Party of China
• Pope Francis, Roman Catholic Church
• Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
• Bill Gates, Cofounder Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
• Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve
• King Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia
• Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank
• Michael Duke, CEO Wal-Mart

This Day

Pregnant girls rescued from baby making factory in Nigeria

Nigerian police have raided a baby factory in the oil city of Port Harcourt and arrested a woman accused of harbouring six pregnant girls, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“We rescued six girls last week at different stages of pregnancy from an illegal maternity home in Port Harcourt,” Joy Elomoko of the Imo State police told AFP.

She said the youngest of the girls was 14, without disclosing the ages of the others.

“We have also arrested the proprietress of the clinic and she is assisting us in our investigation,” she said.

Elomoko said the raid on the Port Harcourt home followed the arrest of a girl with a baby in nearby Owerri on October 15.

“A lady was found in suspicious circumstances with a day old baby and after interrogation she confessed that she gave birth to a baby in Port Harcourt,” the police spokeswoman said.

Elomoko said police detectives followed the girl to Port Harcourt where six expectant mothers were found in a clinic run by a woman.

“The woman could not produce any document authorising her to operate the clinic and she was subsequently arrested,” she said.

She said the girls also told police that they were being kept in the home to make babies which would be sold to willing buyers.

Elomoko said the suspect would be taken to court after police investigation.

Nigerian police have uncovered a series of alleged baby factories in recent years, notably in the southeastern part of the country. Baby boys can sell for a price of around $250 (180 euros), baby girls for slightly less.

Human trafficking, including the selling of children, is the third most common crime in Nigeria behind fraud and drug trafficking, according to the United Nations

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, but poverty is widespread across the country and most of the estimated 160 million people still live on less than two dollars a day.

Raw Story

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nigerian government has Infrastructure master plan in place

A 30-year National Infrastructural Master Plan (NIMP) is currently being put together by the federal government as a coordinated approach for the development of infrastructure, President Goodluck Jonathan said Tuesday.

Jonathan, who spoke through the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, in Lagos at the 70th anniversary lecture of the Island Club, also gave his administration a pass mark on the implementation of his administration’s Transformation Agenda, declaring that his government was on course.

According to the president, the absence of the NIMP had been the bane of development in Nigeria.
He explained that the Master Plan when ready would be implemented through three 10-year strategic plans, and six five-year operational plans and expected to guide the annual budgetary process commencing with effect from 2014. “NIMP provides the capital allocation framework, which identifies the required investments for infrastructural development, in line with the country’s growth aspirations. It also identifies and elaborates on enablers for implementation that would need to be put in place for successful execution. More importantly, the NIMP is in synergy with all other aspects of the Transformation Agenda and Vision 20:2020”

According to the president, in accordance with international best practices, a review of the Transformation Agenda was undertaken in May 2013, to take stock and re-strategising on the work-in-progress.

“’The review which covers the period May 29, 2011-May 29, 2013 was comprehensive and spanned all sectors of the economy. It also takes into account emerging developments in the global and domestic economy as well as the in-depth analysis of all aspects of our basic development objectives and priorities, while exploring the outlook and prospects for the second half of this administration. We presented the detailed report for information and assessment by all Nigerians in keeping with our mandate and campaign promises.”

Jonathan also declared that the mid-term review of the Transformation Agenda indicated that the country’s economy ws on the right track.
“The government has made considerable progress in the last two years at the macroeconomic and sectoral levels. Several reform initiatives have been implemented and significant aspects of the targets of the Transformation Agenda were achieved.

“In particular, the nominal GDP grew from $226.13 billion in 2010 to $257 billion in 2012, which translated to an improved global GDP ranking of the country from 44th position in 2010, to 36th position in 2012.”

He hinted that his government would ensure that the proportion of re-current expenditure in the total budget is significantly reduced in order to adequately invest in the future.

According to him, government had also introduced the performance management system, as a measure to benchmarking and holding public officers more accountable and ensure better effective delivery of services.

According to him, the aim of the transformation agenda is to achieve an all inclusive, non-inflationary growth, improve rural infrastructure, encourage large scale industries and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Others are to ensure fiscal consolidation, revitalise ailing industries, particularly in the manufacturing sub-sector, promote agriculture as a business and encourage local content strategies in key sectors such as petroleum, natural gas, power and other renewable energy programmes.

This Day

Video - Nigerian film director Biyi Bandele talks about adapting Half of a Yellow Sun

Related stories: Video - Half of a Yellow Sun film adaptation to premiere at TIFF

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Violence and corruption ruining Nigerian football league

The final 2013 Nigerian league table, showing home wins and away 
wins highlighted in grey. Photograph: Fifa

Notice anything curious about the league table above? It shows the final standings of the Nigeria Premier League, which finished last week. Kano Pillars became the first club in a decade to win back-to-back titles but look beyond that and ask yourself this: have you ever seen a starker difference between home and away results?

Ten of the league's 20 teams went through the whole season unbeaten at home, while no team won more than three away matches in the entire campaign. The runners-up, Enyimba, did not even concede a goal at home, winning 17 and drawing two of their 19 home games while winning just once away. The disparity between Gombe United's home and away form is even more striking: they managed to win 18 and draw one of their 19 home games, scoring an average of more than two goals per game, but away they lost every match, managing a grand total of four goals in 19 games. What is going on?

Enyimba's sweep of home clean sheets is unprecedented but the overall trend of home invincibility and away vulnerability is not new in the NPL, where travelling teams face perilous challenges relating to violent crowds, questionable refereeing and, indeed, travel itself. Arriving just before kick-off after long road trips, often on hazardous surfaces, is far from ideal preparation for players. And they do not always arrive. Last season two matches were postponed when first Sunshine Stars and then Wikki Tourists were robbed on their way to games. Mostly, of course, teams do make it to grounds – and that is when they must contend with fans and referees.

Referees must contend with fans too – for the men in the middle being beaten up is not so much a risk of the job as an inevitability. Wikki Tourists and Kwara United both had results overturned this season after particularly vicious attacks on officials at the grounds, while Enugu Rangers were ordered to play six matches behind closed doors for similar reasons. Those punishments were imposed after referees threatened a boycott and demanded bodyguards, though the officials relented after discussions with the League Management Company (LMC), which was set up last year to bring order to a league where violence, corruption and legal disputes between clubs are obscuring the performances of highly-talented, low-paid players (eight of the 23 Super Eagles that Stephen Keshi took to the summer's Confederations Cup play in the NPL).

Lack of funding constrains the LMC's ability to help referees in one crucial way: officials do not receive salaries from the league, rather they get "indemnities" that are paid before each match by the home team. At least, that is how the arrangement is supposed to work but referees complain that some clubs try to make payment performance-related. It is now common for away teams to seek to ensure balance before a game by offering to cover referees' indemnities too. "Sometimes the quality of refereeing can come down to which team offered the most generous expenses," a club official who did not wish to be named told the Guardian.

Even when referees are determined not to be influenced by payments, they must show even greater fortitude to ignore the demands of certain crowds. And even if they do, that is still no guarantee that the home mob will not get their way. "There was an infamous case several years ago when a referee, Dogo Yabilsu, awarded a penalty to Sharks at Kwara United and fans invaded the pitch," recalls the Nigerian editor of Colin Udoh. "Yabilsu was a colonel in the army and he took out his service pistol and chased the fans off. But Sharks were still afraid of what would happen if they scored so their player deliberately missed the spotkick."

Dolphins' players were equally intimidated at Kano Pillars a couple of seasons ago – so when the home side were awarded a late penalty several of them pleaded with their goalkeeper, Sunday Rotimi, a former international renowned for his penalty-saving prowess, to dive the wrong way, which he duly did.

Football does not, of course, exist in isolation. The sport is affected by problems that bedevil the country in general. That is true for corruption and funding difficulties, and also when it comes to political strife. Accordingly, north-east Nigeria, where the Boko Haram Islamist jihadist group operates, is an especially daunting away assignment – and not just because of the fear of being caught up in incidents such as the bomb attack that forced the postponement of last season's clash between Kano Pillars and Enyimba.

Supersport, the television company with the NPL screening rights, considers the region too volatile to send cameras to the home matches of sides such as Kano Pillars, El-Kanemi Warriors and Gombe United; and rival clubs claim that one of the reasons that none of those sides lost at home this season is because the absence of footage allows them and referees to get away with particularly outrageous abuses.

Northern clubs retort that their rivals are merely inventing excuses. It is never easy to know who to believe, a fact that the LMC discovered last month when the potential title-decider between Kano Pillars and Enyimba was abandoned following a pitch invasion. Enyimba refused to play on, claiming their players feared for their lives, but Pillars officials protested that their fans had simply been "jubilating" after their team scored a goal and pointed out that the pitch was cleared in under 90 seconds, the threshold at which a points deduction becomes mandatory.

The referees' report suggested officials felt the atmosphere was not safe for play to continue, but Pillars, who had been filming the match themselves, produced footage that appeared to show the referee trying to convince Enyimba players to come back on to the pitch.

Not knowing what to conclude, the LMC ordered the match to be replayed at a neutral venue. Pillars took a giant step to the title by winning 1-0, a "home" victory for which the club rewarded their players with the bonus they normally get for away wins – 40,000 Naira (about £155) – one of just three times all season that the champions earned that bounty.

The Guardian

Monday, October 28, 2013

US Senator apologizes for calling Nigerians scammers

A United States Senator, Ted Cruz, has apologized over his disparaging comments on Monday, October 21 in which he referred to Nigerians as scammers.

He also called for a peace meeting with Nigerian-Americans who have demanded that he retracts the derogatory remarks.

According to local American media, Cruz, while taking a political swipe at the computer problems of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S, made the comments.

“You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately.

“They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website,” Cruz was quoted as saying on Monday in Houston.

Nigerians home and abroad have strongly condemned the statement, while the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Prof Ade Adefuye, demanded an apology from Mr. Cruz.

But a letter on Sunday from the senator to leaders of the Nigerian community in Houston, Texas, where the comments were made, said Cruz “regrets any misunderstanding.”

The letter was signed by one of the aides of the Senator, Mr. David Sawyer, the South-East Texas Regional Director in his office.

The letter of apology reads in parts: “Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz made a joke in which he used the term ‘Nigerian email scam.

“Senator Cruz regrets that it is unfortunate that we’re living in a time where just about every joke can be misconstrued to cause offense to someone.”

“Cruz has never, nor would ever use a blanket term in a derogatory fashion against such a vibrant and integral part of our community. This usage was never directed to the Nigerian community as a whole.

“To the good people of Nigeria – a beautiful nation where my wife lived briefly as the child of missionaries – no offense was intended.

“I am fully appreciative of the range of mutual economic and security interests that make Nigeria an important friend to the United States,” Cruz said apologetically.

Daily Post

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Video - Drug resistant strain of tuberculosis on the rise in Nigeria

In its latest reports, the World Heath Organization is calling for drug resistant tuberculosis to be declared a 'global public health crisis', as number of patients across Africa continues to grow.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Video - About 700 children die in Nigeria due to lead poisoning

More than seven hundred people - most of them children - have been poisoned to death in Nigeria.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nigeria going through biggest privatization phase in it's history

With over $3 billion proceeds from the privatisation of the 18 successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigeria may have recorded the biggest ever privatisation transaction in global history.

The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki, gave the score sheet, in a keynote presentation to “The Nigeria Investors’ Summit” held in New York, United States of America, last week.

He noted that the Nigerian Government has been consistent in its policy to open up its economy and create the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.

Dikki added that the present administration, in particular, has gone the extra mile in its efforts to create an environment conducive to attract private sector investments in infrastructure

He noted that the reform initiatives that were so far implemented by the Federal Government had worked; urging prospective investors to take an informed decision, as the upcoming reform initiatives would work.

He enthused that the world was waking up to the most attractive investment haven in the world – Nigeria— urging the investors that had missed the last tranche of investment opportunities, not to miss the next ones.

The Director-General said the first in the long list of upcoming opportunities are in the telecommunications and the transport sectors, stating that the NITEL and its frequencies are still available for sale in a guided liquidation process that will commence soon.

In the transport sector, he said that the railway, National Inland Waterways, Ports and Harbour, and National Transport Commission bills were ready and soon to be sent to the federal legislature for passage.

He revealed that the reforms in the housing sector had equally reached advanced stages; adding that with over 18 million housing deficit in the country, the Federal Government had made the reforms in that sector a priority.

The privatisation helmsman said the Bureau, in collaboration with key stakeholders, is currently reviewing the policies, legal and regulatory framework to attract private sector investments in the sector.

Said he: “We will harness the warehouses and silos all over the country and link them up to the trading platform for Warehouse Receipt Trading system. Once we make prices and buyers predictable, we have a mega boom in the making.”

Dikki said the planned reform in the Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) will commence with the privatization of Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA).

He noted that on the reforms in the tourism sector, the BPE has begun the review of the policy, legal and regulatory frameworks for the sector to attract private capital into this tourism gold mine

He alerted the investors interested in the Oil and Gas sector that when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed, the Refineries will be available for privatization; adding that the network of oil and gas pipelines will also be available for concession.

Written by Roseline Okere


Nigeria team bus attacked post World Cup qualifying match in Ethopia - Player injured

Nigeria's Nosa Igiebor was injured on Sunday when the team's bus was attacked in Addis Ababa after their World Cup play-off first-leg against Ethiopia.

The Real Betis midfielder needed emergency treatment on his palm after the bus windows were shattered as the team left the Addis Ababa ground.

Nigeria, who won the match 2-1, have reported the incident to Fifa.

"We hope Fifa will take an action," Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) vice-president Mike Umeh told BBC Sport.

"It's a shame that such an embarrassing behaviour could happen after a football match."

Ben Alaiya, the Super Eagles media officer, joined Umeh in condemning the actions.

Alaiya said in a press statement that fans attacked the team bus with stones after the match and one of the heavy stones shattered the rear windscreen of the bus, sending all inside the bus scampering for safety.

"Igiebor was the unlucky one as the stone slashed his right palm leading to profuse bleeding that was immediately attended to by team doctor, Ibrahim Gyaran," he wrote.

Nigeria are favourites to progress to their second straight World Cup when the two sides meet again in Calabar on 16 November.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Charges against Russians attempting to traffic guns in Nigeria dropped

The seven were among 15 Russian sailors charged with illegally bringing weapons into Nigeria last year, after Nigerian authorities intercepted a ship on October 23 and found on board several guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Confirming the verdict, defense lawyer Ogidigba Mobosa also told Reuters TV that two Nigerians who had been aboard the ship had been charged with wrongfully telling the Russians they had permission to enter Nigerian territory with the weapons.

The boat was operated by Nigerian shipping company Blue Sea Maritime.

Arms smuggling to and through Nigeria is rife, with demand fuelled by an Islamist rebellion in the north and by armed robbery, kidnapping, oil theft and piracy in the south.

Nigeria is also sometimes used as a conduit for shipping arms to other conflict-ridden parts of West Africa.

Shippers complain that a lack of permission for armed private security leaves them vulnerable to pirates. West Africa has overtaken Somalia's coast as the region of the continent worst affected by piracy, experts say.

During the court hearings, the Russian sailors did not explain why the arms were on board their ship.


Related stories: Video - Russia wants Nigeria to release arrested sailors

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Plane crash in lagos leaves dozens dead

A plane carrying 20 people has crashed shortly after take-off from Lagos airport in Nigeria, officials say.

A rescue operation is ongoing. At least 13 people are known to have died and several more of those on board were injured.

The Associated Airlines plane was bound for Akure, which lies about 140 miles (225km) north-east of Lagos.

The plane's engine appeared to fail and the aircraft plunged to the ground and burst into flames, officials said.

The charter flight took off at about 09:30 local time (08:30 GMT) from the domestic terminal at Lagos's Murtala Mohammed International Airport.

Officials said the plane crashed on to open land within the airport complex, close to a fuel storage depot.

It is not yet clear whether the fuel caught fire.

Eyewitness Ahmad Safian told the BBC: "I heard a loud bang and then there was lots of black smoke. The security forces rushed straight to the scene. I saw three bodies removed from the wreckage."

Mr Safian said the road to the airport was blocked for a short time but operations were continuing as normal at the airport.

Yakubu Dati from the Nigerian airports authority said that 20 people had been on board the plane.

Akure is the capital of Ondo state. Local media reported that the plane was carrying the body of the former state governor, Olusegun Agagu, who was to have been buried this weekend.

Although Nigeria's air safety record has improved in recent years, the country has a history of major passenger plane crashes.

In June 2012, more than 150 people were killed after a dual engine failure caused a plane to crash in Lagos.

Lagos airport is a major hub for West Africa and saw 2.3 million passengers pass through it in 2009, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Video - Security stepped up after Boko Haram attack on College in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria is stepping up security at schools in Yobe state. Dozens of students are in the hospital following an attack on their college that left at least 50 dead. The army says the students were shot as they slept by Boko Haram fighters.