The leadership of the National Peace Committee met with President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday following a visit to Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar. Following the visit, there was speculation that Atiku had given a list of demands, but the PDP quickly dismissed those reports and are preparing to legally challenge the election results. Meanwhile, the APC suspended the governors of Ogun and Imo states, Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha respectively accusing them of anti-party activities, and recommended the expulsion of both men.

Nigeria’s refineries posted a cumulative loss of ₦114.3 billion in the first eleven months of 2018. Figures obtained from the NNPC showed that the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, made a loss of ₦31.62 billion, Port Harcourt Refinery recorded a ₦44.2 billion loss, while Warri Refinery lost ₦38.5 billion. Among the three refineries, Kaduna refinery earned the lowest revenue at ₦3.1 billion, Port Harcourt refinery made ₦140.82 billion, while Warri refinery posted total revenue of ₦140.23 billion. Nigeria’s refineries have been performing below standard over time, a development that made the government search for international financiers to revamp the facilities, although this move had yet to succeed.

The Islamic State has sacked Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi as leader of its West African affiliate, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). According to Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist with the deepest knowledge of the insurgency in the north-east of the country, the new ISWAP leader is Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar Albarnawi. Boko Haram joined IS in 2015, its leader Abubakar Shekau promising that the group would obey IS “in times of difficulties and prosperity”. However, also in 2015, IS named al-Barnawi leader of the group, which Shekau objected to, leaving the group factionalised and under the leadership of both men. No reason was given for the sack of al-Barnawi, and his location is unknown.

The Lagos State fixed income note, a sub-category of the larger ₦50 billion Medium Term Note used to finance the Cleaner Lagos project, has encountered problems arising from politics and bureaucracy. As a result of the fragile nature of the Note and other factors such as the slow response of the state’s treasury to the payment of the fixed income obligation, the Note has been unable to meet its target of making both coupon and principal payments to investors in the first week of March 2019. Proshare reports a likelihood that the Lagos State Government will skip its March payment in anticipation of the outcome of the governorship election which is being held tomorrow.

Commentary

  • The APC appears to be closing ranks and consolidating on its win by instituting disciplinary measures on those it considers errant members. However, its recent disciplinary actions on Governors Okorocha and Amosun could negatively impact its performance in the governorship and state assembly elections on Saturday. There also appears to be some pressure being exerted on the PDP and Atiku Abubakar to congratulate President Buhari on his win and to drop their plan to challenge the election outcome in the courts. However, this does not seem to be working as the candidate has already constituted his legal team, has approached the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and got permission this week to look at INEC materials. The stage is all but set for the legal showdown.
  • The performance of Nigeria’s refineries is a paradox – demand for refined products in Nigeria continues to increase, hence Nigerian refineries should ordinarily be struggling to meet this demand. However, years of mismanagement and ineptitude has led to a situation where year after year, they make losses and Nigeria continues to import much-needed fuel. The refineries add nothing to the Nigerian people and the Nigerian people should not continue to carry the costs of the loss-making assets. They should either be sold to those that can run them profitably or as scrap. Not another Naira should go into revamping or maintaining them any longer.
  • This is the second leadership change for ISWAP in three years. Almost nothing is known about the new leader, meaning no one is sure of his capabilities, or the strategic course he will likely pursue. Also, this leadership change increases the risk of another schism within the old Boko Haram orbit if Al-Barnawi orchestrates yet another breakaway. If this happens, there will almost certainly be a change of tactics within the geographic space they choose as their sphere of operations. From a Nigerian perspective, this leadership split makes the work of the Nigerian military and security agencies much harder in understanding the structure, leadership chain and tactics of each of the factions in order to keep them at bay and eventually neutralise them.
  • Visionscape, the embattled environmental management company contracted by Lagos state, is reported to have missed a coupon payment of ₦4.5 billion on the 5th of March. This means that Lagos State Government, which inexplicably gave a guarantee to the debt issue and subsequently signed an irrevocable standing payment order, has to bear the financial burden of repaying lenders. Considering that Visionscape’s operations have been hindered over several months, the cash flow generation capacity of the business has certainly dwindled, effectively saddling Lagos taxpayers with the cost of maintaining a wasting asset. Seen from that perspective, this delay is not in the state’s interest. In any case, either scenario is negative for Lagos’ credit rating, a situation that could see investors demanding higher interest rates for future debt issuances, leading to rising borrowing costs and questions about how the country’s largest economy will keep financing its development plans.