Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB): 20 things to note

The New Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB): Top 20 Changes You Should Know!

The PIB seeks to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry and development of Host Communities. It contains 5 Chapters, 319 Sections and, 8 Schedules.

Below are the key changes:

Chapter 1 – Governance and Institutions

1. The key objective is ensuring good governance and accountability, creation of a commercially oriented national petroleum company, and fostering a conducive business environment for petroleum operations.

2. Creation of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of the upstream petroleum operations; and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of the midstream and downstream operations in Nigeria. The Commission and Authority are exempted from the provisions of any enactment relating to the taxation of companies or Trust Funds

3. Imposition of up to 1% levy on the wholesale price of petroleum products sold in the country (0.5% each for the Authority Fund and Midstream Gas Infrastructure Fund)

4. Incorporation of a commercial and profit focused NNPC Limited under CAMA within 6 months from commencement of the new law with ownership vested in the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (and Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated) on behalf of the Federation to take over assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC. This structure is expected to pave the way for eventually sale of shares to Nigerians.

5. Any assets, interest and liabilities not transferred to NNPC Limited will remain with NNPC until extinguished or transferred to the government after which NNPC shall cease to exist. Transfer and sale of the shares are subject to approval by the government and endorsement by the National Economic Council.

6. NNPC Limited will earn 10% of proceeds of the sale of profit oil and profit gas as management fee while 30% will be remitted to Frontier Exploration Fund for the development of frontier acreages in addition to 10% of rents on petroleum prospecting licences and mining leases.

Chapter 2 – Administration

7. The main objective is to promote the exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in Nigeria for the benefit of the Nigerian people and promote sustainable development of the industry, ensure safe, efficient transportation and distribution infrastructure, and transparency and accountability in the administration of petroleum resources in Nigeria.

8. Avoid economic distortions and ensure a competitive market for the sale and distribution of petroleum products and natural gas in Nigeria; and avoid cross-subsidies among different categories of consumers.

9. The Commission is required to develop a model licence and model lease to include a carried interest provision giving NNPC Limited the right to participate up to 60% in a contract.

Chapter 3 – Host communities development

10. The main objective is to foster sustainable prosperity within host communities, provide direct social and economic benefits and enhance harmonious co-existence.

11. Any company granted an oil prospecting licence or mining lease or an operating company on behalf of joint venture partners (settlor) is required to contribute 3% – 5% (upstream Companies) and 2% (other companies) of its actual operating expenditure in the immediately preceding calendar year to the host communities development trust fund. This is in addition to the existing contribution of 3% to the NDDC. The Fund is tax exempt and any contributions by a settlor is tax deductible.

12. Board of trustees and executive members of the management committee may include persons of high integrity and professional standing who may not necessarily come from any of the host communities.

13. Available funds are to be allocated 75% for capital projects, 20% as reserve and 5% for administrative expenses. However, a community will forfeit the cost of repairs in the event of vandalism, sabotage and other civil unrest causing damage to petroleum facilities or disruption of production activities.

Chapter 4 – Fiscal framework

14. The key objective is to establish a progressive fiscal framework that encourages investment in the Nigerian petroleum industry, provides clarity, enhances revenues for the government while ensuring a fair return for investors.

15. FIRS to collect Hydrocarbon Tax of 15% – 30% on profits from crude oil production, CIT at 30% and Education Tax at 2% which will no longer be tax deductible. The Commission will collect rents, royalties, and production shares as applicable while the Authority will collect gas flare penalty from midstream operations. Late filing of tax returns will attract N10m on the first day and N2m for each subsequent day the failure continues. A N20m fine is applicable to an offense where no penalty is prescribed.

16. Generally, expenses must be wholly, reasonably, exclusively and necessarily incurred to be tax deductible. However, a cost price ratio limit of 65% of gross revenue is imposed for hydrocarbon tax deduction purposes, any excess cost incurred may be carried forward.

17. No tax deduction for head office costs while tax deduction of interest on monies borrowed is subject to the satisfaction of the commission that the fund was employed for upstream operations and the interest rates reflect market conditions.

18. Royalties are payable at the rates of 15% for onshore areas, 12.5% for shallow water, and 7.5% for deep offshore and frontier basins, 2.5% – 5% for natural gas. In addition, a price-based royalty ranging from 0% – 10% is payable to be credited to the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

19. Gas utilisation incentive will apply to midstream petroleum operations and large-scale gas utilisation industries. An additional 5-years tax holiday will be granted to investors in gas pipelines.

Chapter 5 – Miscellaneous provisions

20. The PIB repeals about 10 laws including the Associated Gas Reinjection Act; Hydrocarbon Oil Refineries Act; Motor Spirit Act; NNPC (Projects) Act; NNPC Act (when NNPC ceases to exist); PPPRA Act; Petroleum Equalisation Fund Act; PPTA; and Deep Offshore and Inland Basin PSC Act. It amends the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Oil Exports Act while the provisions , PPTA, Oil Pipelines Act, Deep Offshore and Inland Basin PSC Act.

Another Modular Refinery set for commissioning in Q4

• 1500 job opportunities on offer

The 2500 barrels per day modular refinery at Egbokor, Edo State will fully come on stream for commissioning in the last quarter of 2021. 

A partnership between Duport Midstream Company Limited and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the refinery is part of the Duport Energy Park designed to include a-30-million standard cubic feet per day gas processing facility and a power plant.

According to the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engineer Simbi Kesiye Wabote, the project, which is about 80 per cent completed, with the modules for its two (2) Megawatts power plant as well as the control room being fabricated and assembled in Lagos for delivery to the site.

Engineer Wabote gave the confirmation during a visit to the project site where he evaluated the progress of work on the tank farms’ fabrication; civil works, pipeline installation, and other site preparation works.

Praising the contractors for the significant progress so far made on the project, Wabote said the refinery’s operational phase has the capacity to generate employment for 100 persons with about 1500 persons benefitting from indirect and induced jobs.

The NCDMB boss said the partnership with Duport Midstream outfit and other investors to develop critical energy facilities was planned to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to create millions of jobs for Nigerians, adding that NCDMB is focused on jobs creation for Nigerians through its direct projects and collaboration with other project promoters.

Explaining that the Federal Government has put words into action in its resolve to remodel the erstwhile volatile Niger Delta region and give the people a better future, Wabote said; “When the Federal Government enunciated the policy on the development of modular refineries, NCDMB decided to explore ways through which we can build modular refineries to refine products locally.

“We first partnered with Waltesmith Modular Refinery in Imo State and it is already operational, refining 5000 barrels of crude per day. Azikel Modular Refinery in Bayelsa State is the second one and this Duport project is the third project and we believe that it would be commissioned in the last quarter of this year.”

Also speaking at the occasion, Chairman of Duport Midstream Company, Dr Akintoye Akindele explained that the project, the first integrated energy park, would have a scalable and environmentally friendly modular refinery, power generation, and distribution plant.

So far, three modular refineries have now been completed namely; Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) Modular Refinery in Rivers State; OPAC Modular Refinery in Delta State; and Waltersmith Refinery in Imo state.

Also, construction is ongoing on others listed as Ikwe-Onna Refinery in Akwa Ibom; Azikel Refinery in Bayelsa; and AIPCC Refinery in Edo state.

Determined to deliver on its Niger Delta New Vision package, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has effectively tackled insecurity and youth restiveness in the region with a huge positive impact on the economy, even as the establishment of private-sector-led modular refineries across the nine states of the Niger Delta is on the table.

Information contained in the 2020 NIGER DELTA Fact Sheet indicates that with the three modular refineries ready for commissioning and more to be completed soon, kudos go to the Buhari administration that the establishment of modular refinery in Nigeria is gradually gaining traction.

Spearheaded by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of the President, during his tour of the region and meetings with Niger Delta elders in 2017, many development experts agree the initiative is already yielding positive results in giving the region and its people a breath of fresh air.

In June 2020, the NCDMB’s Governing Council, chaired by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, approved the project partnership with the Duport Energy Park. It is supported under NCDMB’s commercial ventures programme, in line with the Agency’s vision to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry as well as other linkage sectors.

NDDC Pledges to Assist Niger Delta University

The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has pledged to assist the Niger Delta University, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, in its quest for an enhanced educational environment for its students.

Speaking at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the university, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Mr Efiong Akwa, assured that the Commission would immediately provide a 1,000KVA power generating set and a 23-seater bus for the university.

On the university’s request for the construction of a student’s hostel, the NDDC boss said that it would be included in the Commission’s 2022 budget, stating: “We will award a new contract for the students’ hostel project because the previous hostel was sited in a water-logged environment.”

Akwa stated that the NDDC was committed to building capacity in Nigerian universities, noting that the Commission was making plans to run its post graduate scholarship programme in universities in the Niger Delta region.

The Interim Administrator said that the previous system where the Commission sponsored students on foreign scholarships for post graduate studies was not sustainable, adding that it was better to train the students in universities in the Niger Delta region. “Our inspection teams will be visiting your universities to inspect your facilities,” he said.

Akwa said the NDDC would soon complete the 1,000-bed students’ hostel being built by the Commission at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. According to him, “the hostel will be a first of its kind in the region.”

He stated that the NDDC had built and handed over seven completed prototype hostels to the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, the University of Benin, Imo State University, Federal University of Science and Technology, Owerri. Delta State University, Abraka, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State.

Commenting on the NDDC Forensic Audit, Akwa revealed that the final report of the Forensic Audit was ready and would be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly. “The Forensic Audit of the NDDC is ready and will be presented to President Buhari. In fact it achieved a lot and it wasn’t a witch-hunt.”

Leading the visiting delegation from the Niger Delta University, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Samuel Edoumiekumo, commended the efforts of the NDDC in building the capacity of universities in the Niger Delta region.

He, however, noted that the university needed more projects to expand its capacity. For instance, he said: “We have a student population of 20,000 but we can only accommodate 2,500 and this creates a challenge for our quest to provide a conducive learning environment.”

He regretted that the hostel project for the university awarded by the NDDC in 2007 was abandoned.

The Vice Chancellor also sought NDDC’s assistance in the provision of power generating sets, construction of students’ hostels and school buses for the university.

He acknowledged the presence of some NDDC projects in the university but noted that they were not enough to make sufficient impact. He said: “We are happy that NDDC is building a 2-kilometre rigid pavement road in the university. However, we still have a lot of needs in the area of electricity.”

President Buhari Approves Steering Committee on Petroleum Industry Act.

President Buhari Approves Steering Committee on Petroleum Industry Act.

This was contained in statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Mr Femi Adesina. 

According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari has commenced implementation of the newly signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) by approving a steering committee to oversee the process.

The steering committee is headed by the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

Other members are: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Group Managing Director, NNPC, Executive Chairman, FIRS, Representative of the Ministry of Justice, Representative of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Barrister Olufemi Lijadu as External Legal Adviser, while the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, will serve as Head of the Coordinating Secretariat and the Implementation Working Group.

The primary responsibility of the steering committee shall be to guide the effective and timely implementation of the PIA in the course of transition to the petroleum industry envisaged in the reform program, and ensure that the new institutions created have the full capability to deliver on their mandate under the new legislation.

The committee has 12 months duration for the assignment, and periodic updates will be given to Mr President.

President Buhari Signs Petroleum Industry Bill Into Law

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021 into law.

This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President Mr Femi Adesina on Monday.

According to the statement, while working from home in five days quarantine as required by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 after returning from London on Friday August 13, the President assented to the Bill Monday August 16, in his determination to fulfill his constitutional duty.

The ceremonial part of the new legislation will be done on Wednesday, after the days of mandatory isolation would have been fulfilled.

The Petroleum Industry Act provides legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities, and related matters.

The Senate had passed the Bill on July 15, 2021, while the House of Representatives did same on July 16, thus ending a long wait since early 2000s, and notching another high for the Buhari administration.

We’ll Ensure Completion of Critical Niger Delta Development Projects – Osinbajo

*VP highlights Niger Delta’s diverse human capital, cites progress of FG’s New Vision initiative for the region

In furtherance of its New Vision development agenda for the Niger Delta, the Buhari Administration will ensure the completion of critical projects it has embarked upon in the region, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo who was represented at the event by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Edobor Iyamu, stated this on Tuesday at the 6th Anniversary Lecture/Niger Delta Awards Organised by Gbaramatu Voice Newspaper, which held in Lagos.

According to him, “in 2017, following my tour of the Niger Delta, which involved extensive consultations with key stakeholders in the region, the New Vision for the Niger Delta was birthed in response to the various challenges which had been plaguing our people. The objective of this New Vision is to ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from their wealth, through promoting infrastructural developments, environmental remediation and local content development.”

Prof. Osinbajo said that the administration’s Niger Delta New Vision initiative has recorded some landmark achievements in the areas of education, environmental remediation, infrastructure and local content development, among others.

He added that “as part of the quest to expand economic opportunities in the region, this administration has promoted investments in modular refineries. The objective of this initiative is to address our present energy demands and empower the Niger Delta people through promoting local content.”

The Vice President stated that while there are several modular refineries at different stages of completion across the region, three have been completed including the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) Modular Refinery in Rivers State; OPAC Modular Refinery in Delta State, and Walter Smith Modular Refinery in Imo State.

He also noted the ongoing remediation exercise in Ogoni land, Rivers State, which was kick-started by the Buhari administration under the recommendations of UNEP.

According to the VP, “It is important to note that the Ogoni clean-up is the first of its kind in the history of the Niger Delta. Indeed, this is the first time the Federal Government is directly involved in remediation activities within the region.”

“We are equally committed to expanding infrastructure in the region, this includes the ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometers Bonny-Bodo Road/Bridge, which has been abandoned for decades. When completed, the project, which was flagged off in October 2017, would connect several major communities and boost socio-economic development in the region.

“The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Line project, which was commissioned by Mr. President in September 2020, and has the capacity to handle both passengers and freight services, is connecting several communities and promoting commerce within the region.

“The Federal Government is also developing a number of deep sea ports across the region, including the Bonny, Warri, and Ibom Deep Sea Ports, among other development projects such as the establishment of Export Processing Zones to boost economic activities.

“In 2018, the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved the commencement of undergraduate degree programmes at the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, which happens to be situated in the great Gbaramatu Kingdom.”

The Vice President noted that “beyond its oil wealth, the Niger Delta region is incredibly blessed with diverse human capital across education, sports, technology, creative arts, entertainment, economy, and many other sectors.”

Speaking on the theme of the event, “The Dwindling State of Crude Oil Demand in the Global Market: The Way Forward”, the Vice President stated that factors such as the attendant decline in demand for our crude oil, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global energy demand and on government’s earning, the current situation, require creative and holistic approach to foster economic growth.

Noting that despite the fact that crude oil accounts for about 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, the VP stated that the Federal Government from inception had shown a commitment towards the creation of economic opportunities for Nigeria’s population in a post-oil future.

The Vice President highlighted initiatives being taken by the Federal Government to reposition Nigeria’s economy by taking advantage of global trends in the energy sector.

This includes the SolarPowerNaija Programme under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) which will complement efforts towards providing affordable electricity access to 5 million households, serving about 25 million Nigerians in rural areas and under-served urban communities nationwide.

The VP also highlighted efforts by the Federal Government on energy transition from crude oil to natural gas, as well as its National Gas Expansion Programme, also a component under the ESP.

He said, “as part of our drive to encourage investments in gas production and optimize our nation’s enormous gas potential, the Federal Government declared the period of 2020-2030 as the decade of gas. To this end, last November, the Federal Government launched its National Gas Expansion Programme, which focuses on the distribution of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) across gas stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“By the end of this year, this administration will commence distribution of CNG as part of our strategy to gradually replace the high sulfur petrol. Our objective is two-fold. First, this is the administration’s effort at managing the necessary energy transition from crude oil to natural gas. We intend to increase our domestic gas supply to meet this demand by exploiting our abundant reserves of natural gas.

“Secondly, we are aiming to develop CNG into an alternative automobile fuel as a means of affording Nigerians cheaper, cleaner and additional fuel. In this way, we will reduce the ecological and economic costs of energy. The Gas Masterplan provides for investment in the necessary infrastructure for gas transportation across the nation. All of these will basically reduce our local crude oil dependency, whilst strengthening our drive for cleaner sources of energy as a nation. And crucially, it will create jobs in what will be a fast-expanding frontier of opportunity.”

In line with the Administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta initiative to develop the region, the Vice President noted that the Federal Government has “also invested significantly in the Niger Delta as the region that holds the energy resources that have powered our progress for six decades as well as the keys to an emergent gas economy.”

The Vice President further noted that the Administration places top priority on peace and security in the region.

“In terms of addressing concerns around public safety and social security in the region, while ensuring peace and stability in the region, the administration has, among other things, sustained its commitment to the Presidential Amnesty Programme under which youths and ex-agitators are engaged in formal education, vocational skills acquisition and empowerment programmes that offer a pathway towards productive and dignified livelihoods,” he said.

Commending the publishers of Gbaramatu Voice Newspapers for organizing the event, the Vice President said the ‘cumulative effect of all these measures will have a positive transformational impact on the Niger Delta and on the future of our nation as a whole while ensuring sustainable peace and progress in the Niger Delta.

(Full Speech) What Buhari administration is doing to develop the Niger Delta region – Osinbajo

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 6TH ANNIVERSARY LECTURE OF THE GBARAMATU VOICE ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2021

(Speech delivered by Mr. Edobor Iyamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Economic Matters/Niger Delta, who represented the Vice President at the event)

Protocols

I am delighted to be here at this very important forum of conversation about our country’s economic future. The theme you have chosen: “The Dwindling State of Crude Oil Demand in the Global Market: The Way Forward” is especially timely. It is no secret that revenue from crude oil, accounts for about 90% of our foreign exchange earnings. Within the last decade we have borne witness to the revolution in fracking technology which led to the Shale boom and the attendant decline in demand for our crude oil. In the past year, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an equally adverse impact on global energy demand and thence on our earnings. Thus, the current situation, more than ever before, calls for a creative and holistic approach to the task of fostering economic growth.

Beyond its oil wealth, the Niger Delta region is incredibly blessed with diverse human capital across education, sports, technology, creative arts, entertainment, economy and many other sectors.

Even before the onslaught of the pandemic, the imperatives before us had become clear and we had responded accordingly. Right from the inception of this administration, we have demonstrated a commitment towards the challenge of creating economic opportunities for our fast growing population in a post-oil future. Our entire strategic outlook has been shaped by the concept of “Nigeria Beyond Oil” – a paradigm that encompasses measures aimed at repositioning our economy by taking advantage of global trends in the energy sector.

Nigeria is currently ranked as having the ninth largest gas reserves in the world with over 200 trillion cubic feet of this resource within our shores. As part of our drive to encourage investments in gas production and optimize our nation’s enormous gas potential, the Federal Government declared the period of 2020-2030 as the decade of gas. To this end, last November, the Federal Government launched its National Gas Expansion Programme, a component of the Economic Sustainability Plan, which focuses on the distribution of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) across gas stations operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

By the end of this year, this administration will commence distribution of CNG as part of our strategy to gradually replace the high sulfur petrol. Our objective is two-fold.

First, this is the administration’s effort at managing the necessary energy transition from crude oil to natural gas. The NNPC has estimated that domestic demand for natural gas will rise from current levels of 1.5 billion cubic feet per day to 7.4 billion cubic feet per day by 2027. We intend to increase our domestic gas supply to meet this demand by exploiting our abundant reserves of natural gas.

Secondly, we are aiming to develop CNG into an alternative automobile fuel as a means of affording Nigerians cheaper, cleaner and additional fuel. In this way, we will reduce the ecological and economic costs of energy.

The Gas Masterplan provides for investment in the necessary infrastructure for gas transportation across the nation. All of these will basically reduce our local crude oil dependency, whilst strengthening our drive for cleaner sources of energy as a nation. And crucially, it will create jobs in what will be a fast expanding frontier of opportunity.

Concurrently, we have also invested significantly in the Niger Delta as the region that holds the energy resources that have powered our progress for six decades as well as the keys to an emergent gas economy. In 2017, following my tour of the Niger Delta, which involved extensive consultations with key stakeholders in the region, the New Vision for the Niger Delta was birthed in response to the various challenges which had been plaguing our people. The objective of this New Vision is to ensure that the people of the region benefit maximally from their wealth, through promoting infrastructural developments, environmental remediation and local content development.

We also have the Solar Power Naija Programme under the Administration’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) which will complement the Federal Government’s effort towards providing affordable electricity access to 5 million households, serving about 25 million Nigerians in rural areas and under-served urban communities nationwide.

Today, I am pleased to announce that the New Vision for the Niger Delta has begun to yield some tangible achievements. As part of the quest to expand economic opportunities in the region, this administration has promoted investments in modular refineries. The objective of this initiative is to address our present energy demands and empower the Niger Delta people through promoting local content. So far, 3 Modular Refineries have now been completed, these are: the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) Modular Refinery in Rivers State; OPAC Modular Refinery in Delta State and Walter Smith Modular Refinery in Imo State, whilst there are several others at different stages of completion across the region.

The remediation exercise happening in Ogoni land, under the recommendations of UNEP is another milestone we are proud to announce as an administration. The Clean-Up commenced in January 2019, with the handover of the first batch of sites to the selected remediation firms. A total of about 57 sites has so far been handed over to contractors by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) under the Federal Ministry of Environment. It is important to note that the Ogoni clean-up is the first of its kind in the history of the Niger Delta. Indeed, this is the first time the Federal Government is directly involved in remediation activities within the region.

We are equally committed to expanding infrastructure in the region. This includes the ongoing construction work on the 34-kilometres Bonny-Bodo Road/Bridge. This project, which was abandoned for decades, is a tripartite agreement between the Federal Government, Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) and Julius Berger Nigeria. When completed, the Bonny-Bodo Road/bridge, which was flagged off in October 2017, would connect several major communities and boost socioeconomic development in the region.

The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Line project, which was commissioned by Mr. President in September 2020, and has the capacity to handle both passengers and freight services, is connecting several communities and promoting commerce within the region.

The Federal Government is also developing a number of deep sea ports across the region, including the Bonny, Warri and Ibom Deep Sea Ports, among other development projects such as the establishment of Export Processing Zones to boost economic activities.

In 2018, the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved the commencement of undergraduate degree programmes at the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State. President Buhari approved a 5 billion Naira take-off grant to support this university, which happens to be situated in the great Gbaramatu Kingdom. The University currently has students spread across 13 undergraduate programmes in three Faculties, namely: Transport, Engineering and Environmental Management.

In terms of addressing concerns around public safety and social security in the region, while ensuring peace and stability in the region, the administration has, among other things, sustained its commitment to the Presidential Amnesty Programme under which youths and ex-agitators are engaged in formal education, vocational skills acquisition and empowerment programmes that offer a pathway towards productive and dignified livelihoods.

The cumulative effect of all these measures are certain to have a positively transformational impact on the Niger Delta and on the future of our nation as a whole. This path of progress and prosperity is one that we will pave by maintaining the partnerships between the administration, the leaders of the region and the communities.

I would like to commend the Gbaramatu Voice for organizing this forum and for being one of the agents of change working for sustainable peace and progress in the Niger Delta.

I am told that the publishers of GbaramatuVoice Newspaper, will also use this event to launch a Media Institute and Resource Centre for Niger Delta studies that will be located in the region. The Centre, as I have been informed, would “provide a platform where young graduates would be trained on different media skills for self-reliance, while providing a space for research into finding sustainable solutions to challenges within the region.” This is commendable and I hope it would, in the future, become a reference point for critical studies focused on developing the region.

On our part, this administration is determined to see through to completion all the critical projects that we have embarked upon in the region. Indeed, we are committed to doing so confident in the knowledge that what we do for the benefit of the Niger Delta redounds to the benefit of the entire nation at large.

Thank you and God bless.

FEC Approves $11bn For Construction of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Rail

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved $11.174 billion for the construction of a standard-gauge coastal railway from Lagos to Calabar, which is expected to link all Nigeria’s coastal cities by rail in six years.

Speaking to newsmen at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, said the meeting approved the memo for the ratification of the president’s approval for the award of the contract for the Lagos-Calabar coastal standard-gauge railway.

The information minister said, “This is a very old project, which we inherited. Under the former administration, an approval was given, but nothing was done, but today, the council has given approval to commence the Lagos-Calabar coastal route.”

According to him, the rail project is important to the nation’s coastal economy, which is why $11.174 billion is earmarked for it with a completion period of six years.

His words: “This particular route is very important because after the Lagos-Kano route, this Lagos-Calabar coastal route, actually will link all the coastal cities in the country.

“The proposed route alignment is to go from Lagos to Shagamu, Shagamu to Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ode to Ore, Ore to Benin City, Benin to Sapele, Sapele to Warri, Warri to Yenagoa, Yenagoa to Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt to Aba, Aba to Uyo, Uyo to Calabar, Calabar to Akamkpa to Ikom, to Obudu Ranch, with a branch line from Benin City to Asaba, Onitsha Bridge and then Port Harcourt to Onne Deep Seaport.”

The minister also stressed that the commitment of the present administration to expanding and consolidating on the rail projects across the country informed FEC’s approval of the funds for work to commence immediately on the Kano-Jibia rail and the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri route.

In the same vein, the council approved the acquisition of 20 per cent minority stake by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Dangote Petroleum and petrochemical refinery in the sum of $2.76 billion. This was as hope for the restoration of the country’s four refineries in less than eight years from now was raised yesterday.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed these at the end of the monthly FEC meeting in Abuja. Sylva also announced the federal government’s approval of $1.484 billion for the rehabilitation of both Warri and Kaduna refineries.