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Forbes magazine has ranked Nigerian business mogul, Aliko Dangote, among 75 most powerful persons in the world.

Forbes' made this known in its latest 2018 ranking of the World Powerful people, released Wednesday.

The ranking placed Mr Dangote among world leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Messers Jinping, Putin and Trump were ranked first, second and third respectively in the new ranking.

The Nigerian business tycoon was ranked 66th most powerful person in the world ahead of other influential figures around the world. He is the only Nigerian on the list.

Mr Dangote, Africa's richest man, is also one of only two Africans who made the list. Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was ranked 45th most powerful, is the other African on the list.

According to the Forbe's list, Mr Dangote, who owns Dangote groups, had an estimated net worth of $14.1 billion in March. He was also ranked among the 100 richest in the world.

As the richest man in Africa, Dangote had held the position for almost a decade. In 2014, he was ranked 23rd richest man in the world and in 2013, he surpassed the Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi by over $2.6 billion to become the world's richest person of African descent.

Mr Dangote, the president of Dangote Group, has several investments in humanitarian interventions through the Aliko Dangote Foundation in Nigeria and across Africa.

The foundation, for instance, has made efforts to rid Nigeria and Africa of polio, malaria and mal-nutrition.

Mr Dangote has also made significant contributions to the establishment of the Business School complex in Bayero University, Kano; the University of Ibadan Business School, among others.

He has also made donations to the World Food Programme as part of efforts to assist Pakistani people devastated by floods in 2010.

Consumers are facing trying times following increases in the retail prices of edible oil, which is becoming scarcer with the passage of time.

A random survey carried out by The Citizen has shown that the scarcity started late last month, and is being experienced in many parts of the country, including major cities like Dar es Salaam and Arusha.

The survey also established that the wholesale and retail prices for both locally manufactured and imported cooking oil increased by between 10 and 25 per cent in just two weeks.

Indeed, the retail price for one litre of cooking oil that is produced locally from home-grown oilseeds had increased by 25 per cent, rising to Sh5,000 a litre, up from Sh4, 000 a couple of weeks ago, and retailers are already warning of a possible upward price spiral.

In Arusha, the survey also showed that a ten-litre container of cooking oil is now sold at Sh35,000, compared to Sh31,000 recently - a nearly 13 per cent increase.

Times are bad mainly for consumers who can only afford to purchase small quantities of cooking oil from time to time, ranging from Sh200 to Sh500 per measure when the commodity is aplenty.

But that is not currently the case, as small-scale retailers in Dar es Salaam, for example, were found to have run out of stocks of cooking oil.

The sudden shortage of cooking oil in the country has reportedly been caused by the government's decision to detain for two weeks now two ships with an estimated 62,000 tonnes of crude vegetable oil consignments.

In the event, this has forced six cooking oil millers to suspend production for lack of crude vegetable oil as an input, even as thousands of tonnes of the commodity are held up at Dar es Salaam Port.

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) maintains that the held-up consignments are in fact of refined cooking oil, and not crude oil as earlier declared by the importers.

Cooking oil imports are subject to an import duty rate of 25 per cent ad valorem, while crude oil is subject to only 10 per cent import duty.

"It is true that we are holding two ships with cooking oil consignments on which they are required to pay taxes," said TRA director of taxpayer education Richard Kayombo.

The current annual demand for cooking oil in Tanzania is estimated at between 400,000 and 570,000 tonnes, while domestic production is only 210,000 tonnes, leaving a deficit of almost 360,000 tonnes which needs to be covered by imports, including crude for refining into the finished product.

Tanzania spends around Sh190 billion to import assorted cooking oil brands from some Asian and neighbouring countries.

A senior official with the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA), Mr Hussein Kamote, told The Citizen that the impasse regarding the two ships detained in port has emerged following a newly introduced tax regulatory framework which was introduced recently, but which the authorities want it to be effective retrospectively.

 
"TRA enacted regulations in February this year which they want to be applied to import consignments that were ordered since November last year. They also demand nonexistent imports documentations," Mr Kamote said.

"Importers are wondering why TRA is insisting that the (detained consignments) are of purified cooking oil, while the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, have declared them to be unrefined oil," he added.

Indeed, an unnamed TBS official who spoke to this paper confirmed that the held-up consignments are of unrefined cooking oil.

The consignments held up at the port were intended to be used by local manufacturers as raw materials for making cooking oil. These are Bidco, East Coast, Azania and Murza Oil Mills.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja inaugurated National Food Security Council, to among others, explore and nip in the bud, issues capable of creating food security crisis in the country.

The council, which comprises six governors drawn from six geographical locations of the country, and ministers and security agents, has among its key mandate to continuously assess existing food security policies, trade and national planning programmes "thereby guaranteeing that they achieve their full potential."

While inaugurating the council which is chaired by himself, the president said the council "shall also develop new programmes and projects that will protect and indeed, create more jobs in farming, fisheries, animal husbandry and forestry."

He also said the council would look at other issues with the capacity to impact on food production ambitions such as population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation, rural infrastructure development and climate change.

The president then proceeded to list the commitments of the council to include investment in research and development, developing local programmes, protecting Nigeria against dumping of foreign goods, and holding consultations with relevant stakeholders.

"These factors will also stress and stretch our land and water resources. This means we must invest in research and development to enhance yields and outputs. Moreover, we are not insulated from global and regional events.

"Accordingly we develop local programmes, but not lose sight of events from a far and their impact on us. Specifically, issues such as smuggling and dumping, it is our responsibility to ensure we develop and enforce strategies to protect Nigeria from these illegal and unhealthy imports.

"The council includes governors representing the six geopolitical zones. Some geopolitical zones have similar eco climatic conditions. The council is therefore a platform to further enhance the collaboration between the federal and state governments. We shall share success stories and collaborate to address common threats.

 

"We will also engage key stakeholders representing the core sectors of the Food Value Chain. Regular consultations will be held with investors, development partners, financiers, academia and our friends and allies abroad.

"Our deliberations will look into all the issues and our decisions will be implementable and impactful. We shall stay focused, first and foremost on securing our food requirements and employment for our people, especially the youths. We shall feed ourselves and build an inclusive Nigeria for ourselves and for future generations," he said.

 

Briefing journalists at the end of the inauguration, Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said the president had captured the main objectives of the council to include strengthening all existing policies on food security including policies on trade, agronomy, national planning and national security.

According to him, the design was to bring all states together to deliver food security to Nigeria.
 
Also briefing, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who said governors were drawn into the council from the six geo-political zones of the country, added that each governor spoke on food security as it affects his zone during the inauguration.

Okowa said in the last few years, a lot had been done on rice production which he said had reduced the amount of money hitherto spent on rice importation adding that the trend had given confidence that in no time, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in rice production.

He listed challenges confronting rice production in Nigeria to include influx of rice through the borders which he said needed to be addressed.

He also said the council discussed the need to develop oil palm plantations and spend a lot of money on wheat production with a view to achieving food sufficiency.

In his own briefing, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, said the military was aware of security challenges facing the country and listed such challenges to include: farmers-herders clashes and militancy, which he said all had direct effects on food value chain.

Submitting that the job of the military is to ensure that a safe environment is guaranteed for food production, Olonishakin listed measures put in place by the armed forces to achieve such a safe environment to include operations Lafiya Dole, Nawase in Niger Delta, Sarendaji in North-west and Safe Haven in Jos, North-central.

In his own submission, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said the newly inaugurated council looked at all dimensions of food security including the amount of money invested in food production and industry value chain.

The minister said the council would look at the comparative advantage emerging from these and also provide incentives aimed at encouraging local production as well as its sustainability.

In the same vein, the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, said the inauguration of the council marked the beginning of a paradigm shift in the economy of Nigeria.

According to him, the decision of the president to personally chair the council marked the commencement of the framework meant to take Nigeria from a monolithic economy to a diversified economy.

He said the council would address issues bordering on agriculture and national security, emphasising that everything that will guarantee the security of the nation in all spheres is encapsulated in the council adding that the council is absolutely being supported by governors brought into the council.

On his part, the Minister of State for Environment, Malam Usman Jubrin, said climate change would be on the front burner of the pursuits of the food security council, explaining that if Nigeria must move forward, issues bordering on climate change must be addressed especially as they affect agricultural activities including pollution in the Niger Delta.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed yesterday that the Federal Government would mobilise more revenues to drive its growth plan for the economy.The Minister made this known in Abuja at a meeting with a World Bank Mission of 10 Executive Directors led by Mr. Patrizio Pagano.

She stated that the government would accelerate Nigeria’s growth level and also improve the Ease of Doing Business.

“The Nigerian government is working towards accelerating the country’s growth level. The growth will be underpinned by stimulating the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and improving our capital expenditure, which we have done in the last two years.

“Nigerians should trust the government to deliver on its promises of improving the economy and providing sustainable infrastructural development. We are very optimistic but we will remain vigilant,” Adeosun said.  The Minister revealed that the country’s taxpayers’ base had risen from 14 million in 2016 to 19 million in 2018, grossing additional five million taxpayers into the system.

“By 2019, the growth will be stronger than the present level in 2018. We are optimistic in sustaining Nigeria’s economic growth. That is why we are driving the mobilisation of more revenues.

“We have been able to grow the taxpayers’ base to 19 million in two years from the 65 million economically active people who are not tax compliant,” she added.

The leader of the World Bank Mission to Nigeria, Patrizio Pagano, explained that the team was in the country to acquaint itself of the government’s growth and power priorities.

“We have met with several Nigerian entrepreneurs and have seen how vibrant the private sector is. We want to understand how the power sector is evolving in Nigeria,” Pagano said.

The World Bank officials had earlier met with the Organised Private Sector (OPS)in Lagos and undertaken a tour of LAPO Microfinance projects in Lagos.

 The 10 World Bank Executive Directors, representing 96 countries, are expected to inspect the Azura Power Plant in Edo State in the course of their three-day visit to Nigeria.

ExxonMobil affiliate, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Mobil Producing Nigeria Joint Venture, today announced plans to invest up to N13 billion (US$43 million) in three community health, economic empowerment and education projects in Akwa Ibom State in the next 18 months.

These investments amount to one of the largest community investments by any company...

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, says the corporation will prove to Nigerians that it is the most transparent organisation in Nigeria.

Mr Baru said this at a stakeholders’ workshop on validation by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency …

The total value of capital imported in the first three months of 2018 (Q1) stood at $6,303.63 million, which represents a 594 percent increase (year- on–year) from $908.3 million in Q1 2017, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, has announced a three-point smart strategy aimed at ending gas flaring in the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.

Dr. Baru made the announcement while delivering the lead paper on a panel session at the ongoing 50th Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), in Houston, United States of America.

Speaking on the theme: “Nigeria’s Gas Flare Commercialisation, Prospects & Opportunities”, Dr. Baru explained that in the last decade, gas flaring in Nigeria had reduced significantly from 25% to 10%.

According to the GMD, the multi-pronged approach taken by the NNPC would ensure a sustainable solution to the historical problem of flaring, thereby turning waste into dollars.

The 3-point strategy championed by NNPC to arrest the growth in gas flares includes ensuring non-submission of Field Development Plans (FDPs) to the Industry Regulator – the Department Petroleum Resources (DPR), without a viable and executable gas utilization plan, a move aimed at ensuring no new gas flare in current and future projects.

The other two strategies, Baru added, were a steady reduction of existing flares through a combination of targeted policy interventions in the Gas Master-plan as well as the re-invigoration of the flare penalty through the 2016 Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) and through legislation, that is, ban on gas flaring via the recent Flare Gas (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulations 2018.

This development, Baru added, would not only see Nigeria dropping from being the second highest gas flaring nation in the world to seventh, it would also signify a major milestone in its gas commercialization prospects.

“Total flares have significantly reduced to current levels of about 800mmscfd and in the next 1-2 years we would have completely ensured zero routine flares from all the gas producers,” the GMD stated.

According to him, NNPC has embarked on the most aggressive expansion of the gas infrastructure network aimed at creating access to the market.

“Today, we have completed and commissioned almost 600km of new gas pipelines thereby connecting all existing power plants to permanent gas supply pipeline. We are also currently completing the construction of the strategic 127km Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben gas pipeline – “OB 3” connecting the Eastern supply to the Western demand centres,” he added.

Dr. Baru further noted that aside looping Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS 2) gas pipeline projects to increase gas volume capacity to at least 2Bcf/day, the corporation has recently signed the contracts to kick off the 614Km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project, which on completion, would deliver gas to the ongoing power plants in the areas and revive the manufacturing industries in the northern part of the country.

He assured that there was evidence that the interventions undertaken by the corporation were working as gas supply to the domestic market is growing at an encouraging rate, having tripled from 500mmcf/d in 2010 to about 1500mmcf/d currently. 

Dr. Baru informed that the aggressive development of gas infrastructure (pipelines and processing plant) between supply sources and the market would also create a sustainable evacuation route for currently flared gas and other gas sources.

Earlier, speaking at a panel session on New Oil & Gas Horizons and Procurement Procurements in Sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Baru had maintained that huge opportunities abound in Nigeria’s Gas Sector, with the country expecting over $25 billion investments anticipated over the next 10 years.

He described the Nigerian Petroleum Industry as the largest and the most vibrant in Sub-Saharan Africa with lots of potentials, especially in the deep water and untapped gas resources.

Noting that Nigeria offers unique opportunities for investment in exploration, refining, storage, transportation, power, distribution and marketing of petroleum products, Dr. Baru further observed that the nation’s Gas Reform was anchored on a robust strategic framework that is focused on maximum economic impact through gas. 

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