President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mele Kolo Kyari as the new Group Managing Director of the NNPC, the state oil firm said on Thursday. This brings to an end the tenure of Maikanti Baru, who is due for retirement from the corporation next month. According to the NNPC’s spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, the President also appointed alongside Kyari, seven new Chief Operating Officers. Until his new appointment, Kyari, a geologist, was Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division of NNPC and also doubled, since 13 May, 2018, as Nigeria’s National Representative to the OPEC. The newly appointed officials will take up their new positions on 8 July after they must have worked with the current occupiers of the various offices till 7 July, 2019. The corporation, however, said that the appointment of Farouk Garba Said (North West), who is replacing a retiring Chief Operating Officer, is effective from 28 June. Kyari would be the 19th Group Managing Director of the national oil company.

Nigeria’s cocoa farmers are worried over heavy rainfall and poor sunshine across the country’s cocoa-growing regions as the weather raises the likelihood of black pod disease, which would hurt the main crop this season. Sayina Riman, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said on Thursday that the 2018/19 season has seen flash floods, which are expected to affect the quality of the main crop. He said besides preventing mould, sunny weather is also needed for a bigger bean size. Cocoa trees need a delicate balance of rainy and dry weather. Too little rain and they wither; too much and they become susceptible to insects or fungal black pod disease. Beans can also go mouldy if small farmers are unable to dry them outside. According to Riman, who farms on a 170-hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest region of Cross Rivers, the cocoa trees are at the fruiting stage ahead of the main crop but the weather could affect pod formation. The International Cocoa Organisation has forecast the 2018/19 output will be 245,000 tonnes, whereas CAN had forecast a 30 percent rise from last season’s estimate of 250,000 tonnes. The association was now waiting for the end of the mid-crop before revising its figures as farmgate prices have declined to around ₦720,000 ($2,353) per tonne from ₦850,000 in January, Riman said.

President Buhari has said that the inability of Nigeria to effectively supervise and to ensure that other countries in the AU don’t dump goods on Nigeria to the detriment of its young industries as reason it has not agreed to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area. Nigeria, according to Buhari, will be guided by ‘‘national interest’’ in taking any decision on the agreement establishing the AfCFTA. Speaking to the National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria who were led on a visit their president, Mansur Ahmed, Buhari also said that if signed at this moment, the AfCTA might be detrimental to Nigeria’s capacity to utilise foreign exchange for imported goods. Buhari noted that he was ready to receive the report of a committee set up to assess the potential costs and impact of signing the agreement establishing the AfCFTA for Nigeria. The Presidential Steering Committee on the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Committee was inaugurated on 22 October, 2018, with the mandate to assess the extent to which Nigeria was ready to join the agreement, and what the impact of doing so would be.

The FG will borrow ₦824.82 billion ($2.7 billion at ₦305/$) from foreign sources in 2019, the DMO, has said. The FG would consider multilateral and bilateral lenders as the first priority to get loans while the balance would be raised from commercial sources, including securities issuance such as Eurobonds in the International Capital Market. The statement from DMO is to clarify a report that the office had ruled out the issuance of Eurobonds this year. The plan to borrow the $2.7 billion from external sources was contained in the 2019 Appropriation Bill. The DMO added that it would continue to focus on its objective of reducing debt service costs by emphasising borrowing from concessional sources while considering Eurobonds and other commercial sources as secondary options. Nigeria’s debt profile grew from ₦12.12 trillion as of June 30, 2015, to ₦24.39 trillion as of December 31, 2018. This means that within a period of three and a half years, the country’s debt profile rose by ₦12.27 trillion, reflecting 101.23 percent increase in the debt profile within the period.