The amount of sleaze involved in handling the constructions of the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road projects has suggested that they may not be completed and commissioned by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The House of Representatives Committee on Works led by Abubakar Kabir, an APC-Kano representative said this Thursday at the National Assembly Complex. The engineering construction contractor handling the second Niger Bridge project among others, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc., had said that the construction of the bridge would be completed by February 2022. However, the legislators also described the construction company as incapable of handling the three projects as they suggested that the road projects be split and shared with other contractors to guarantee speedy completion. They also accused the company of submitting doctored documents claiming work done on the projects. The 2nd Niger Bridge, was awarded for ₦206 billion, the Kaduna-Abuja Road, was awarded for ₦155 billion, while the 1st section of the Lagos-Ibadan road was awarded for ₦134 billion.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation lost ₦30.81 billion in April 2020. The figure represents at least a 200 percent increase in its operating deficit. Data from the corporation’s financial and operational activities for April 2020, showed that the deficit posted by NNPC’s flagship subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, caused the over 200 percent monthly loss recorded by the state oil firm. The deficit recorded in the period is compared to the ₦9.53 billion deficit posted in March 2020. The development attributed to the 29 percent increased deficit for NPDC is as a result of the impact of reduced exports caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This is coupled with the upsurge in corporate headquarters deficit arising from terminal benefits made to retired staff. The oil firm said that the net result was an increased deficit to the group. It noted that a total of 0.94 billion litres of PMS translating to 31.37 million litres per day were supplied in the month of April in the downstream sector to ensure continuous increased PMS supply and effective distribution across the country. A total of 65 pipeline points were vandalised in the month under review, representing about 2.4 times increase from the 19 points recorded in March 2020. The data also showed that in March 2020, total crude oil production in the country increased by 3.17 million barrels or 5.28 percent at 63.19 million barrels with a daily average of 2.04 million barrels per day.
The total volume of payments across payment channels in Nigeria fell by 26 percent to ₦₦7.6 trillion in April compared to the figure recorded in March 2020, according to the data from the Central Bank of Nigeria. The transaction values, which include cheques, ATM, PoS, E-bills and NIP transactions dropped from ₦12.3 trillion in March. The CBN data for April excluded other channels, such as Web, Mobile, and NEFT in the report which captures the period when the Federal Government imposed a total lockdown on economic activities in Lagos, Ogun states and FCT Abuja. The total volume of transactions was 251.9 million in March but dropped to 186.6 million in April. According to provisional data available in CBN, the transaction values also dropped from ₦12.3 trillion in March 2020 to ₦7.6 trillion in April 2020, indicating a ₦4.6 trillion or 37.7 percent drop in transaction value. The last time Nigeria recorded payment transactions of less than 190 million for the payment channels was in February 2018 at 159.9 million. The NIBBS or NIP platform remains the dominant form of transferring money by value. The platform suffered a ₦3.9 trillion drop in transaction values. The development reflects the lockdown of economic activities as most companies that rely on the platform to make transfers operated minimally. Cheque channels performed worse with only ₦10.3 billion in transaction value. PoS transactions, which reflects the spending pattern of Nigerians via merchant outlets, such as supermarkets, retail markets and shops, and shopping malls, dipped by 26.2 percent from ₦368.9 billion in March 2020 to just ₦272 billion in April.
Gabon has named Madame Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda as its new Prime Minister. By the announcement made by the spokesperson to President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Rose Raponda becomes the country’s first female Prime Minister. She will replace Julien Nkoghe Bekale, who had been in the position since January 2019. The presidential spokesperson said the president had instructed her to form a new government to run the affairs of the Central Africa oil producer. She is the fifth premier to serve under the Ali Bongo presidency. But Raponda is not new to Gabon’s political history as she became the first woman to be elected mayor of the capital Libreville in 2014. The role of PM has so far being occupied by 11 men since the first occupant in the person of Leon M’ba. The PM post was abolished between 1961 and 1975 with Leon Mebiame as the longest-serving PM who lasted 15 years in the role under the presidency of Omar Bongo, father of the current president.