The upturn in the price of the international oil benchmark, Brent Crude, has pushed Nigeria’s oil revenue above its 2021 budget estimate. Brent, against which the country’s crude is priced, has been trading more than $20 higher than the FGs benchmark for this year’s budget in recent months. The 2021 budget, which was signed by President Buhari on 31 December, was based on an oil price benchmark of $40 per barrel and a production level of 1.86 million barrels per day. According to the budget, 30 per cent (₦2.01 trillion) of projected revenues is to come from oil-related sources while 70 per cent is to be earned from non-oil sources. Brent crude, which closed at $51.22 per barrel in December, reached the $60 per barrel mark in February and rose further to as high as $70 per barrel before paring some of its gains. It closed at $64.86 per barrel on Thursday. For Nigeria, which relies on crude for about 50 percent of government revenues and over 90 percent of export earnings, rising oil price means increased revenue. On the other hand, rising oil prices will also translate to higher retail petrol prices as the country depends heavily on imports due to a lack of domestic refining. Using an average price of $60 per barrel and a production level of 1.42 million barrels per day, the country’s total oil revenue stood at $2.39 billion in February, compared to budgeted revenue of $2.08 billion. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, in its monthly oil market report for March, said the country’s oil production rose by 63,000 barrels to 1.42 million bpd in February, based on direct communication.
MTN Nigeria customers have been reconnected to banking channels after commercial banks had blocked them from using their channels, including the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data and banking apps on Friday. The channels were blocked as a result of MTN reducing the banks’ commission on USSD airtime transactions to 2.5 per cent. However, following the intervention by the Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Isa Pantami, and Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as well as the Nigerian Communications Commission, MTN agreed to revert to the 4.5 percent commission. In a letter signed by MTN Nigeria CEO, Karl Toriola, on Saturday and addressed to the Chairman of Body of Banks’ CEOs, Herbert Wigwe, Toriola said a meeting for the reduction of the charges would be held today. The letter was a follow-up to the virtual meeting held Saturday morning by Toriola, Wigwe, GTBank CEO, Segun Agbaje, and MTN Nigeria’s Chief Financial Officer, Modupe Kadri. The letter read in part, “In an attempt to resolve the current USSD recharge impasse, given the intervention of our regulators, we hereby agree that the banks revert to the status quo of 4.5 percent commission. “However, the banks and MTN Communications Nigeria Plc shall sit to agree on various options that will result in the reduction in the costs on 6th of April 2021.” Pantami confirmed the reconnection of MTN customers to banking channels when he tweeted on Sunday, “The services have been restored since early morning today. Best wishes.” Tariola gave the assurance that the company would do what was necessary to reduce customers’ inconvenience.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has claimed that members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are behind the attacks on a police command headquarters and federal prison in Imo. Gunmen had attacked the facilities in Owerri, the state capital, in the early hours of Monday. Adamu said the invasion was carried out by the Eastern Security Network, an IPOB outfit. Police spokesperson Frank Mba said in a statement on Monday that “preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers – who came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons such as General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), Sub-Machine Guns (SMGs), AK-49 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) – are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN). “The attempt by the attackers to gain access to the Police armoury at the Headquarters was totally and appropriately resisted by Police operatives on duty who repelled the attackers and prevented them from breaking-in and looting the armoury. The armoury is thus intact. Similarly, the police suffered no human casualty, apart from a police constable who sustained a minor bullet wound on his shoulder.” The IGP, who described the incident as an attack on “the soul of the nation”, called on members of the public to cooperate with the police in providing useful information that will lead to the arrest of the gunmen. He also enjoined south-east leaders “to speak out against the unfolding violence and criminality”. The police spokesman, however, added that the IGP has ordered the deployment of additional squads “to strengthen security in the state and prevent further attacks on security formations or any other critical national infrastructure in the state”.
A town in northern Mozambique that was attacked by Islamic State-linked insurgents in late March is now secure after the military killed a “significant number” of militants and cleared one final area, an army spokesman said. “We have completed the clearing (of the town). It was the only sensitive area that we needed to clear. … It is completely safe,” spokesman Chongo Vigidal said, in comments broadcast by state TV channel TVM late on Sunday. Insurgents on March 24 attacked the coastal town of Palma, near natural gas projects worth $60 billion that is meant to transform Mozambique’s economy. Clashes continued nearby as recently as Friday, security sources say. The government’s account could not be verified independently. Most means of communication with the town were cut off after the attack began. Footage taken by TVM in Palma showed a soldier covering a body lying in the street and burned buildings. Mozambique’s defence ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Monday. Islamic State-linked insurgents have been increasingly active in the surrounding province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, although it is unclear whether they have a unified aim or what specifically they are fighting for. Aid groups believe the latest attack displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom fled to safety in dense forest areas nearby or by boat.