6 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Benin Airport upgrades to Int’l standard with cargo terminal Minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government has approved the upgrade of Benin Airport to international standard with a cargo terminal. Sirika said this during a courtesy visit to the governor at the Government House in Benin City, Edo State, on Monday. According to Sirika, the approval is due to the fact that the Benin Airport is one of the oldest airports in Nigeria and that the zone needs a standard international airport to serve its growing economic interests. He said the airport would be fitted with necessary facilities within 12-months, as part of plans to upgrade it to an international standard. “Plans have been concluded to upgrade landing system with adequate radio equipment that will enable the Airport handle both day and night operations, even in adverse weather conditions. Measures drive down cost of producing crude oil per barrel - NNPC HARRISON EDEH, Abuja Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says its measures have brought down the cost of producing a barrel of crude oil to $20, even as it now targets producing the black gold at $15 per barrel. NNPC group managing director, Maikanti Baru, who disclosed this Monday in Abuja during the NNPC Day at the ongoing Technology and Innovation Expo 2018, attributed the feat to the impact of science, technology and efficient work processes, saying the mileage would enable more revenue generation to the Federal Government. The Expo 2018 has the theme: Fast Tracking Sustainable Development of Nigeria Through Science and Technology, in Abuja. “There are plans to also extend the runway at the Benin Airport to enable it handle high volume of traffic with capacity to accommodate cargo planes,” the minister said. He said further, “Aviation connects businesses, trade, cultures, nations and people. With a standard airport in place, it becomes easy to achieve economic growth and development. We will work with Edo State Government to ensure that within the next 12 months, Benin Airport will become an International Standard Airport with all the necessary aviation equipment in place.” Governor Obaseki expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the effort to make the Benin Airport an international airport, noting, “This is the most astonishing news I have heard as a governor this year.” The Federal Government has shown commitment to support efforts to industrialise the state, he said. Represented by the chief operating officer, Gas and Power, Saidu Mohammed, Baru noted that the NNPC had been innovative and efficient in its various operations to drive down the cost of production of crude oil and gas. Baru in a statement issued said the NNPC was not only participating in the Science Fair but was also in full support of the ideals behind the event, stressing that science and technology is the bedrock of the Oil and Gas Industry. The GMD stated that the corporation had succeeded in domesticating engineering, procurement, construction and most of the major activities of the Oil and Gas Industry, adding that heading to London to prepare mere tender documents for engineering, procurement and construction belonged to the distant past. Dangote bags KADCCIMA Award For its contribution to the development of Nigeria’s economy, the Dangote Group has been awarded by the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA). Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, presented the award to the representative of the Dangote Group after it emerged the Overall First Runner Up. The governor described the awards as deserving and urged the awardees to scale up their activities and support the President Muhammadu Buhari-led effort in growing the Nigerian economy. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 39th Kaduna International Trade Fair, president of KADCCIMA, Muheeba Farida Dankaka, said the Dangote Group choice for the award was strictly based on merit. She said the Group had been a frontrunner in supporting economic growth and development through its various investments in agriculture, petrochemicals, cement, sugar, salt, flour and pasta, among others. Speaking earlier at the Dangote Special Day, regional cement director, Dolapo Alli, who represented the president of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said the conglomerate was the largest employer of labour in the private sector. According to Alli, with numerous multi-billion dollars investments coming on stream, the Group’s capacity will be bolstered and thousands more will be gainfully employed. He described the partnership with KADCCIMA and interactions with other investors at the Fair as fruitful and in the ‘interest of the Tuesday 06March 2018 NEWS Africa’s debt-overhang after ‘forgiveness’ worries US The US has expressed worry about the heavy indebtedness by African countries a few years after they were relieved of their debts by international financial institutions. News Agency of Nigeria reports that the US Department of State, during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Africa, said such loans were unhelpful to the continent. Tillerson would meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and also leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya during his travels from Tuesday, March 6 to 13. To date, debt reduction packages under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative have been approved for 36 countries, 30 of them in Africa, providing $76 billion in debt-service relief over time. In 2005, to help accelerate progress toward the UN Millennium Development Goals, the HIPC Initiative was supplemented by the Investment, industrial zones to have uptight security ... as Army 81 Division incorporates Osun RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta Considering economic statuses of Lagos and Ogun states in the comity of states in Nigeria, hosting largest number of investment in all sectors of the economy, the Nigerian Army has pledged to beef up security around manufacturing firms, industries, investments and enterprises operating within Lagos-Ogun industrial zones. The pledge came against the backdrop of increasing location and localisation of foreign direct investments within the axis for which the Army said must be more secured in addition to its primary duty of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation as well as lives and property. Speaking during a working visit to the 35 Artillery Brigade of Nigeria Army at the Alamala Barracks, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Enobong Udoh, a major general/general officer commanding (GOC) the 81 Division of Nigerian Army, said the mandate of the Army had been extended to security of investments and investors, especially in the wake of abduction of expatriates, workers and investors. Udoh, who revealed that the formations belonging to the Nigeria Army in Osun State would soon come under the 81 Division - comprising Lagos and Ogun states in accordance with dictates of Military Act, noted that adequate provision of security to civilians covered security of lives, property, investments and all the people that operate industries as well as goods and services, which in return improves socio-economic Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). MDRI allowed for 100 percent relief on eligible debts by three multilateral institutions – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the African Development Fund – for countries completing the HIPC Initiative process.” The department said: “In the Africa region, we are going to have a heart-toheart discussion with the Chinese. We’ve invited the Chinese to come to Washington to talk about their programmes in Africa. “And so on the one hand, the unhelpful role is the providing low-interest but really concessionary loans which really indebts the country. “So, for all of us who worked on HIPC – in other words, getting African countries post-colonial period off of debt – to see these countries re-indebted again is not only outrageous but terrible. “I mean, we spent so much time getting them off of debt, and to see them to go back on debt is just terrible. “And it goes back to not only corruption in some of these states, but also the ease in which not only China – and you’re talking Russia, Iran, and other countries providing low-interest loans. “And this is really kind of another forum of impoverishment and poverty, because unlike HIPC, we can’t really kind of repay loans back to banks. And so this is going to be a very tough issue to address.” The US said its relationship with China over Africa was a very complex one. “We have a lot of areas and issues that we’re in conflict, but the issue comes in is that we’re trying to find the areas where we can build some type of support and cooperation that will be to the betterment of Africa. “But one area that’s not to the betterment is these loan rates, which is terrible. So, we’ve looked at countries, and we’re doing data dumping. “Some – a lot of countries in Southern Africa and parts of the east and west - are having anywhere from 50 percent to in one case 200 percent of GDP debt. “And 80 percent and 50 percent are probably Chinese loans, and that’s really not acceptable, and that’s an area that we really need to address and focus on,” the US stressed. It, however, said it was not in any way “countering China” as far as Africa was concerned but was more concerned about resolving tensions and problems in Africa. “How can we make China much more supportive of the overall development of Africa? “Because what we don’t want to see is – let’s say, for instance, Congo, which is very rich in resources – where you see Russia, China, North Korea, Iran taking out resources, yet the Congolese don’t receive very much in benefits. “How do you resolve that? How do you develop, how do you get these countries to really benefit from the resources that they have, yet at the same time these countries such as China, Russia, Iran is also developing but also they give back a lot to the Africans? Anthony Osae-Brown, editor, BusinessDay, responding to a question from one of the pupils of Prisnob Model Nursery and Primary School, Lagos, during their excursion to BusinessDay head office ‘The Brook ‘ in Apapa, Lagos, yesterday. Pic by Pius Okeosisi growth and development. The GOC, while briefing military officers at 35 Artillery Brigade at Alamala in Abeokuta, including Basil Adonkie, a brigadier-general and commander of the Brigade, said, “Everything you do, do it professionally. It is my mission to ensure that the vision of Chief of Army Staff, which is based on Responsive Army, is achieved. “For me, professionalism is key, responsiveness to issues is key. I don’t want to hear that my troops are involved in extortion, sharp practices and other malpractices. We are in these uniforms to protect civilians, we work to secure them. When we go out, we go out against criminals and not law-abiding citizens. We should not do anything that molests civilians. Nigerian economy.’ Dangote Group’s executive director, stakeholders management and corporate communications, Ahmed Mansur, had during the opening ceremony said the Group was investing heavily in the agricultural sector, and that it was partnering most of the states, including Kaduna State. Earlier, President Buhari had described the role of the Dangote Group as central to his administration’s economic recovery and growth agenda. The President, who urged the private sector operators to join hand in bolstering Nigeria’s economy, said the key to modern economic growth and development was in the hands of private sector, and that government was desirous of providing the enabling environment for investments to thrive.
Tuesday 06March 2018 NEWS Labour dispute threatens Nigerian Content policy OLUSOLA BELLO There are fears that local capacity development in oil and gas being promoted by the Federal Government is facing serious threat following prevailing disputes between labour leaders and some indigenous service firms that form the engine of the policy drive. The labour crisis in the service segment of the petroleum industry, it was learnt, arose from attempt by indigenous companies that are desperate to retain many of their Nigerian workers they groomed under various capacity building programmes that took substantial investments but which are always lured with better payment by multinational firms. While the workers’ unions protest poor remunerations, the oil service companies on the other hand point at low oil price cycles, dearth and outright cancellation of contracts by operators whose projects have dropped from investment tables, as well as elongated downtime due to call-off contracts as some of the problems they are facing. The workers who regularly succumb to the allure of working aboard for foreign service companies also seek full exit entitlements from wound-licking indigenous firms, thus triggering a war cycle that draws in Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PEN- GASSAN) and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG). Currently, over 17 indigenous service companies based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, are battling to save their businesses from impact of attacks from NUPENG and PENGASSAN over unresolved entitlement issues. Other five companies have received demand notices from the workers’ groups. One of them, Ciscon Nigeria Limited, has been forced to declare insolvency as hostility from labour unions and sacked employees take threatening dimension. The situation has led to massive staff load off after resolution agreement failed. Shawley Coker, chairman/ chief executive of Ciscon, explained that the company had to downsize in response to downturn in upstream operations, after weak oil prices and low oil income forced operators to call off projects and cancel contracts at a time government offered no buffer for companies that staked funds on equipment and facility acquisition. With the massive downsizing going on in the oil services segment of the petroleum industry, Coker said the country had recorded active job losses, shed substantial industry capacity to create new employment for new graduates, and lost deep pocket investments in local job delivery capacity. But Fortune Obi, national public relation officer of PEN- GASSAN, in his reaction to the allegations by the indigenous oil service companies, said: “The indigenous companies have always run foul of obeying the laws of the country, especially the constitutional rights of the workers that guarantee their Freedom of Association. “Also in the extant labour laws and the International treaties, especially that of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to which Nigeria is a signatory, create rooms for workers to belong to the union of their choice and right to Collective Bargaining.” He said: “The question is why is it difficult for indigenous companies, including the Ciscon to respect these laws? Why can’t they respect the CBA that was legally signed with the workers? Or is it bad for the workers to ask for a CBA to guide their dealings with their employers? Why is it only the indigenous employers that run fowl of the right to unionisation which is allowed by the IOCs?” According Obi, the demands of the workers with Ciscon are contained in a CBA signed by both parties, and if they have any problem with the CBA, the management should go back to the table with the workers instead of embarking on blackmail and unilateral decision of severing the workers from their jobs or rendering those workers redundant. C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 7