Group lauds removal of VAT on cooking gas


Group lauds removal of VAT on cooking gas

By Solomon Asowata

The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), says the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on cooking gas by the Federal Government will deepen market penetration, boost the country’s economy and protect the environment.

Mr Nosa Ogieva-Okunbor, President , NALPGAM, stated this during the association’s Governing Council Meeting held in Lagos on Tuesday.

He noted that the removal of VAT on the gas supply to marketers by Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) would attract more investors and reduce importation of gas into the country.

“This removal of VAT on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), popularly known as cooking gas, has crashed the price of cooking gas by about 30 per cent in the market.

“Currently, a 12.5kg bottle of gas which was N4,300 now sells for between N2,500 and N2,700 and has also deepened household usage of gas,’’ he said.

Ogieva-Okunbor said the association would take effective steps to deepen the use of LPG and increase local consumption from the current 700,000 metric tonnes to 1,000,000 metric tonnes annually.

He said that the target can increase to about five million metric tonnes by 2025 if stakehokders in the sector adhere to standards.

“If achieved, Nigeria will join the league of nations with high level of LPG consumption,” he said.

The President also stressed the need for the reduction of import duty on LPG equipment so as to encourage more investors to come in and deepen LPG consumption in the country.

He, however, expressed concern over growing indiscriminate establishment of gas plants in filling stations, which he said pose a great danger to the citizenry and the economy.

Ogieva-Okunbor said that the association is not against establishments of such plants but insisted that they must operate with the same Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) applicable to standard gas plants as laid down by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

He noted that the right procedure for petrol filling stations to dispense cooking gas was for them to retail already filled gas cylinders.

Ogieva-Okunbor added that the DPR had given a directive for the removal of gas plants in filling stations by December 2020.(NAN)

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Benue to conduct LG poll on Nov. 30

Gov. Samuel Ortom
Gov. Samuel Ortom

By Emmanuel Antswen

The Benue State Government said on Tuesday said that it plans to conduct election into local government councils in the state on Nov. 30.

Gov. Samuel Ortom made the announcement at the inauguration of the state Local Government Service Commission, the state Planning Commission and a member of the State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) in Makurdi.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the last local government poll was held in June 2017. The two years tenure expired in July 2019.

Meanwhile, the governor has appointed caretaker chairmen to the run the affairs of the councils before the election.

The governor said that the State Independent Electoral Commission had confirmed that it is ready to conduct the election on Nov. 30.

“I held a meeting with the state electoral commission; we agreed that tentatively, the local government election will hold in November.

“I am aware that the law requires the state to provide 40 per cent funds for the conduct of the election while the local councils provide the balance 60 per cent.

“We will ensure that the funds are made available for the exercise,’’ Ortom said.

He cautioned the service commission against use of federation allocation funds for overheads instead of executing projects.

“I want to know the exact staff strength of the local government councils. I also want to know the ghost workers in the local councils.

“If you go to Guma local council where I come from, you will see less than 20 people at the secretariat but the same council has over 900 staff in its payroll.

“Some people are working elsewhere but collect salaries as council staff. They are mechanics, business people, they don’t go to work but receive salaries monthly,’’ he said.

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ICPC seals NECAS headquarters, warehouse

ICPC Headquarters
ICPC Headquarters

By Muhammad Adam

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offence Commission (ICPC) has sealed up the national headquarters of North East Commodity Association (NECAS) in Yola over allegations of fraudulent activities.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that the office was sealed on Monday night, while the National President of the association, Alhaji Sadiq Daware, is at large.

According to a competent source in ICPC office in Adamawa, the commission also sealed a warehouse holding 100  tractors believed to belong to NECAS.

“The commission in one of its operation arrested one Mr. Stephen Maduwa , the Adamawa State Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria .

“After the arrest of .Maduwa, three warehouses that are linked to him were searched at Bachure and Bekaji in Yola.

“After the search, the warehouses were found to be containing 164,000 bags of maize, 412, 401 bags of sorghum,  698 bags of rice and  508 bags of fertilizer,” the source said

The source said the commodities were estimated to be worth N2.10 billion.

The ICPC Commissioner in the state, Mr Idris Bakori, however, refused to comment on the .matter, insisting that the issue was still under investigation.

The Federal Government assisted NECAS to acquire 600 tractors and farm inputs for distribution to farmers in the Northeast region.

However, communities and farmers complained of the diversion of the items and called for the government’s intervention.

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Health officers plan to disinfect Abakaliki, environs of yellow fever

Health officers
Health officers

By Uchenna Ugwu

Mr Sunday Nwonu, a Sanitarian and Senior Environmental Health Officer, Ministry of Environment, Ebonyi, says the ministry plans to sanitise Abakaliki and environs following the recent outbreak of yellow fever in the state.

Nwonu made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki on Tuesday during a programme to strengthen efforts in controlling the circulation of the yellow fever virus.

The Sanitarian said that the exercise was to ensure total elimination of mosquito vectors in dirty environments and to prevent further outbreak in the area.

Nwonu who is also the President, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi Chapter, said that it would also complement the long-term strategy of high coverage of yellow fever vaccination.

He said the association was collaborating with the state ministry of health to commence the exercise.

He appreciated the efforts of the World Health Organisation, (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Gavi, the state government, among other partners, in containing the situation.

“It is not enough to administer the vaccines to people because environments where the mosquitoes live is still a factor.

“We are making plans to interface with state government to embark on disinfection process around government property, drainages, residential areas and removing objects that will help the mosquitoes reside, among other factors.

“The exercise is the responsibility of the environmental health officers to attack the mosquito vector and eliminate the yellow fever,’’ Nwonu said.

He called on residents, schools and other public establishments to support government efforts by disinfecting their premises against yellow fever.

He, however, encouraged them to properly discard abandoned objects such as old tyres, cover empty containers and pots with water to avoid mosquitoes residing in them.

NAN reports that the state ministry of health reported that no fewer than 15 persons had died following the outbreak of yellow fever in Iboko community, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi.

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NAFDAC warns against consumption of non-iodised salt

NAFDAC headquarters building in Abuja

By Aderogba George

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has advised Nigerians to stop the consumption of non-iodised salt as “it is dangerous to human health.”

Dr Abubakar Jimoh, the Director of Public Affairs of the agency, gave the advice in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

The director was responding to information that people in rural communities were still consuming  local salt, which was not processed.

He said that the consumption of such local salt could lead to goiter and other dangerous diseases and called on Nigerians to avoid the product.

According to the director, there are four areas in Nigeria where traditional salt is still being traded, particularly in Nasarawa State.

“NAFDAC is making effort to stop the trading of this salt in these states but some of them have refused.

“With the creation of NAFDAC in 1993, that was the first time and there was still major work to be done on salt consumption.

“We have organised sensitisation workshop on universal salt iodisation.

“We have been educating Nigerians that we should not be consuming this local salt because it is not iodised.

“We began a programme in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Micro Nutrient Initiative, Global Alliance and other development partners on the issue.

“We flagged off a campaign against that and it was held in Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, in 2004 under late Prof.  Dora Akunyili as the Director General of the agency.

Jimoh said based on the work NAFDAC did then, Nigeria was declared universal salt iodisation compliant in Turkey and also won numerous awards in that regard.

“Nasarawa is one of the identified four major endemic areas, they have insisted that it is their traditional source of making livelihood, it is commerce for them.

“They told NAFDAC at that time that if they must leave the trade, what they will be trading on must be provided for them,” the director said.

He, however, called on those still trading and consuming non-iodised salt in Nasarawa State to stop as the act was capable of bringing setback to the country.

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Aero begins flight operations to Benin

Aero Airliner
Aero Airliner

By Yunus Yusuf

A Nigerian carrier, Aero Contractors,  on Monday began  flight operations on the Lagos-Benin route as part of its expansion drive.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the airline’s Boeing 737-500 aircraft departed the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 in Lagos at about 5:05 p.m. to Benin Airport.

Aero Contractors.  with the move, has  joined Arik Air and Air Peace which already operate daily flights to Benin City, the Edo State capital.

Capt. Ado Sanusi, Managing Director, Aero Contractors, in a statement said the airline would operate into Benin City four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday .

“We are resuming these operations to give people from the state opportunity to make Aero their preferred choice of the airlines operating into the city.

“Resuming operations on the Benin route will reinforce the strength and quality of our brand.

“We will continue to offer the most reliable, safe and secure operations which the airline is renowned for,” Sanusi said.

He explained that for weekdays, the flight would depart Lagos to Benin at 4:55 pm and out of Benin to Lagos at 6:15 pm, while on Sundays, it would depart Lagos to Benin at 12:40 pm and out of Benin to Lagos at 2:00pm.

Sanusi said that the airline intended to increase its flight frequencies to daily in the not too distant future.

NAN reports that the aircraft is expected to be received at the Benin Airport by Edo State Government officials and other eminent personalities. (NAN).


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Shell deploys cameras to track spills, crude theft


Shell Worker

By Edeki Igafe

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) says it has deployed state-of-the-art high definition cameras for quick detection and response to crude oil theft and spills from its facilities.

Mr Igo Weli, SPDC General Manager, External Relations disclosed this at a workshop on Monday tagged: “2019 Pipelines Right of Ways Media Engagement” in Warri.

Weli, who was represented by Mr Alaye Dokubo, said the cameras would also help in tracking vandalism of SPDC Joint Venture (JV) assets.

“The cameras are attached to specialized helicopters, which carry out daily overflight over our facilities. This measure has improved the surveillance of our Joint Venture assets,” he said.

The general manager also said that SPDC had implemented anti-theft protection mechanisms on key infrastructure, such as wellheads and manifolds to address constant attacks from vandals.

He noted that the development would prevent and minimize sabotage-related spills.

Weli said the daily loss of over 11,000 barrels of oil per day in 2018 and the threat to the integrity of the SPDC JV assets necessitated the approach to protect critical national assets.

“We collaborate with community leaders, traditional rulers, civil societies and state governments in the Niger Delta.

“This is to implement several initiatives and partnerships to raise awareness on the negative impact of crude oil theft and illegal oil refining.

“Such public enlightenment programmes on the negative impacts to people and the environment help to build greater trust in spill response and clean-up processes,” he said.

Weli said that SPDC would sustain its air and ground surveillance to complement the efforts of government security agents in checking crude theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refining.

He commended the effort of the Operation Delta Safe in protecting critical oil and gas assets and appealed to other government security forces to intensify their activities around oil and gas facilities.

“In its June 2019 monthly report, NNPC, which controls Nigeria’s 55 per cent interest in the SPDC JV, reported a 77 per cent rise in oil pipeline vandalism.

“Also, 106 pipeline breaches were recorded in June, up from 60 in May,” Weli said.

Also speaking, SPDC’s General Manager, Safety and Environment, Mrs Chidube Nnene-Anochie, said majority of spill incidents on SPDC pipelines were as a result of sabotage.

Nnene-Anochie, who was represented by SPDC’s Compliance Monitoring Leader, Temitope Ajibade said the company was worried by the continuous increase in cases of sabotage and theft.

“Oil spills due to theft and sabotage of facilities as well as illegal refining, cause the most environmental damage from oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta.

“SPDC removed more than 1,160 illegal theft points from its pipelines between 2012 and end of 2018.

“The attendant spills from the theft points are sometimes made worse by challenges of access to the incident sites to investigate and stop leaks.

“We track the progress of our spill response from when we learn about the leak to when clean-up is completed and certified by regulators,” she said.

Nnene-Anochie said that one of the key priority for Shell companies in Nigeria remained to achieve the goal of no spills from its operations.

“No spill is acceptable, we work hard to prevent them. However, SPDC cleans and remediates areas impacted by spills from its facilities irrespective of the cause,” she said. (NAN)

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Seven-year-old Nigerian robotic kid aims for World title

Winners of 2019 World Robot Olympiad, from left, Christian Peter-Jesse and Brendon Ikem
Winners of 2019 World Robot Olympiad, from left, Christian Peter-Jesse and Brendon Ikem

By Olanrewaju Akojede

Seven-year-old 2019 World Robot Olympiad (WRO) joint champion Brendon Ikem has said that he aimed to be the best Artificial Intelligent (AI) developer in the world.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ikem, emerged champion alongside his pair Christian Peter-Jesse at the just-concluded 2019 World Robot Olympiad (WRO) held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island on Saturday.

The 2019 WRO Nigeria serves as the qualification stage to the upcoming WRO in Gyor, Hungary from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, the qualifiers may have about 22,000 participants according to the organisers.

The theme for the 2019 WRO is “Smart Cities”, had over 120 students drawn from the public and private schools in attendance.

The 2019 WRO Nigeria was put together by Arc Lights Foundation, the national organiser of the programme since 2011.

The 2019 WRO Nigeria serves as the qualification stage to the upcoming WRO in Gyor, Hungary and the qualifiers may have about 22,000 participants according to the organisers.

Ikem, a pupil of Children’s International School, Lekki, Lagos, said that the robotic education means a lot to him, adding that he would love to be the world renowned AI.

“I am excited and happy to be the winner of 2019 WRO, I did not win last year but I came second, so, I am more determined to be the champion this year.

“I practiced and worked hard for this because robotics means a lot to me. I want to be the best in the world.

“ I will work hard to become the world champion,” he said.

Ikem’s father, Obed, an Engineer, said many preparations had gone into the preparation of his child before he became champion.

“So, much preparations had gone into his winning. We have been preparing for this for a long time. We had to teach him coding and build an application for him.

“I am a researcher and I gave him a lot of support towards realisating his dreams. Nigeria can be a great nation through Artificial Intelligence,” he said. (NAN)

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Housing deficit: Lagos Govt calls for increased private sector investments

By Grace Alegba

The Lagos State Government (LASG) has expressed its readiness to partner with interested and capable investors in its determined efforts to continuously reduce housing deficit in the state.

The Commissioner for Housing, Mr Moruf Akinderu-Fatai, said this while reviewing the activities of the ministry on Monday in Alausa,Ikeja.

Akinderu-Fatai said, “The housing deficit in the state is quite huge, particularly, in the urban areas and private sector participation is essential in changing the present narratives”.

He said that the state government was set to deliver more homes this year.

He said this would be achieved through rigorous planning and policy implementation aimed at timely completion of several ongoing housing schemes.

He added that more could be achieved with additional private investors willing to collaborate with the state government.

Akinderu-Fatai said that the state government had begun implementing policies that would create an enabling environment for increased private sector participation and joint ventures investments in mass housing, especially, in the urban areas.

The commissioner pledged the state government’s commitment to the provision of adequate and quality housing which he said would facilitate opportunity to home ownership in the state.

“Qualitative housing remains a critical factor that determines the quality of living.

“Hence, the present administration in its quest for building a 21st-century economy is focusing on providing decent homes in urban settlements for its teeming residents,” he said.

Akinderu-Fatai also said that the state government was committed to the provision of homes to the public on a continuous basis until the deficit would be significantly reduced.

“In order to serve our people better and to achieve the dream of the 21st century as swiftly as possible, the Lagos State Government envisages a sustainable and continuous system in which homes can be consistently and regularly made available to a larger number of people.

“Given other responsibilities of the state, this can only be possible when private sector investors collaborate with the state to add to the number of homes planned by the government,” Akinderu-Fatai said.

The commissioner called on real estate investors capable of meeting deadlines on high quality homes delivery to see themselves as stakeholders with government.

Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Housing, Mrs Toke Benson-Awoyinka, said that the government would also assist residents unable to access homes through mortgages or outright purchases in government-owned schemes. (NAN)

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N/Korea Kim writes Trump, invites him to Pyongyang

Kim and Trump to meet in Vietnam in February

North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, invited U.S. President Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang in a letter sent in August, amid stalled denuclearisation talks, a South Korean newspaper reported on Monday, citing diplomatic sources.

Kim, in the letter sent in the third week of August, spoke of his “willingness” for a third summit and extended an invitation for Trump to visit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, the Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified source.

Trump on Aug. 9 said he had received a “very beautiful letter” from Kim.

But U.S. officials have not said anything about the second letter in August.

Trump and Kim have met three times since June 2018 to discuss ways to resolve a crisis over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, but substantive progress has been scant.

Their first two meetings were formal summits, the second of which, in Vietnam in February, broke down after they failed to narrow a gap between U.S. demands for North Korean denuclearisation and a North Korean demand for relief from sanctions.

They met for a third time on June 30 in the Demilitarised Zone between the two Koreas and agreed to restart working-level talks but that has not happened.

Since the June meeting, North Korea has several times tested short-range projectiles.

The White House, the U.S. State Department and the North Korean mission to the UN did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

An unidentified director-general for U.S. affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday he hoped a “good meeting” with working-level U.S. officials would take place “in a few weeks”.

But whether a meeting would lead to a “crisis or chance” was up to the U.S., the official said, calling for a more flexible approach.

“The discussion of denuclearisation may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,’’ the official said.

North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister, Choe Son Hui, said last week Pyongyang was willing to have “comprehensive discussions” late this month.

Trump subsequently said he would be willing to meet Kim at some point this year.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-Wha, asked about the newspaper report, said there were “detailed explanations about such a letter’’ but declined to elaborate.

Kang said it could be “too much to expect’’ that Trump and Kim would meet before any working-level talks.

“No agreement was reached between the two leaders in Hanoi even after working-level negotiations,’’ Kang told a parliamentary panel.

“For the sake of the success of another summit, their working-level teams should meet and have primary discussions on the outcome of the summit.’’ (dpa/NAN)

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