The ward congresses held across the country on 30 July by the All Progressives Congress (APC) were characterised by protests, boycotts and the formation of parallel executives in some states. Some of the affected states included Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Osun, Oyo and Rivers, Thisday reports. However, states such as Edo, Katsina, Jigawa, Niger, Ogun, and others elected their ward leaders through a consensus arrangement as recommended by the national secretariat of the party. In Kwara, the party’s faction loyal to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, held a parallel congress. A splinter group within the Lagos APC, Lagos4Lagos, also claimed that it held a parallel congress but the chairman of the party in the state has debunked the claim. In Ogun, loyalists of Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun also held parallel congresses across some wards. Abiodun denied the reports. In Oyo, party members loyal to the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare, and those loyal to former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, held different ward congresses in Ogbomoso North Local Government Area. One person was killed in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti capital during the ward congress held across the state’s 177 wards. In Delta, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) and former governorship candidates of the party, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor and Chief Great Ogboru distanced themselves from the congresses in the state with thousands of their supporters after reports of the alleged hijacking of congress materials by supporters of Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. APC members backed by Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Ararume also shunned the exercise in Imo just as the loyalists of Senator Magnus Abe boycotted the congress in Rivers for supporters of Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi. In Akwa Ibom, supporters of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, accused the Secretary of the National Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe of manipulating the exercise. Akpabio supporters organised a protest at the party’s secretariat along Ikot Ekpene Road, the main thoroughfare of Uyo, the state capital, causing heavy gridlock along the major access road outside the metropolis. Party members loyal to Interior Minister, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, also kicked against the adoption of consensus arrangement by the loyalists of Osun Governor Gboyega Oyetola. Despite the protests and chaos that characterised multiple congresses across the country, the APC praised the conduct of the congresses, saying that its national caretaker chairman and Yobe Governor Mr Mai Mala Buni was not distracted. The other side of the political divide was hardly stable. Seven members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have resigned from their positions. The officials resigned in separate letters to the National Secretary of the party, Umar Tsauri, on Monday. Those who resigned are the Deputy National Financial Secretary, Gerald Irona; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Hassan Yakubu; Deputy National Legal Adviser, Ahmed Liman, and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi. Others are the Deputy National Woman Leader, Hadizat Umoru; Deputy National Auditor, Divine Arong, and another official who could not be identified at the time of this report. The party’s National Organising Secretary, Austin Akobundu, a retired colonel, confirmed the resignation of the officials to journalists on Tuesday. The party’s National Youth Leader, Udo Okoye told Channels Television on Tuesday night that the deputies were fed up with the leadership style of the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus. He said the officials were being marginalised and sidelined by the leadership of the opposition party. “The reason is anchored on the management of the party,” he said. “Our chairman is not managing the party that will lead us to victory in 2023. I don’t think he (Secondus) will lead us to victory in 2023.”

Royal Dutch Shell has launched a major divestment of its Nigerian assets, especially those in the shallow water and onshore, Thisday reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Sources close to the company said the oil giant had already hired Standard Chartered Bank to sell its Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) subsidiary, in a deal which could be one of the biggest ever in African oil and gas. When contacted, a Shell spokesman, who confirmed the talks, told the Lagos daily that although consultations were ongoing about the planned sale, they were still at its early stages. “Discussions with the Nigerian government are ongoing on the next steps for our onshore business in Nigeria. We are in the early stages of reviewing the commercial options,” the unnamed official stated. Sources close to the transaction said that sale documents were issued earlier this week and Expressions of Interest (EoI) are due by 10 September, with the vendor asking for non-binding offers in the subsequent second phase. The source said: “Shell is selling the business because it no longer views its activities in the Niger Delta as core to its ongoing strategy, which is driven by pressure from its investors, as confirmed by its CEO earlier this year. “Also, several of the Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) have upcoming development costs, which Shell does not intend to fund, one of the sources added but noted that the company will still retain its deepwater assets in the country. In May, Royal Dutch Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden, while speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, said that Shell could no longer afford to be exposed to the risk of theft and sabotage. Shell, the operator of onshore oil and gas joint venture SPDC, has struggled for years with spills in the Niger Delta as a result of vandalism, as well as operational issues, leading to costly repair operations and high-profile lawsuits. On the other hand, many people blame the company for the degradation in its operating areas in the region. In February, a Dutch court held the SPDC responsible for multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay damages to farmers, leading van Beurden to call its Nigerian onshore assets a “headache”.

The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended the Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Abba Kyari. The suspension was sequel to the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Baba, for immediate suspension of Kyari over his Indictment by the United States Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) and an order for his arrest by a District Court of California over his alleged role in a $1 million fraud case involving notorious internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas aka Hushpuppi, and five others. The IGP had earlier set up a four-man Special Investigative Panel (SIP) headed by the Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of Police in charge of Force Criminal Investigations, DIG Joseph Egbunike, to investigate all the allegations contained in the relevant US court documents served the Nigeria Police by the FBI. A statement issued by the Police Service Commission Sunday afternoon said the suspension took effect from 31 July 2021. The PSC statement read: ”The Police Service Commission has suspended Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force from the exercise of the Powers and functions of his office. “Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31st 2021 and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States”. The statement said, “the Commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.”

Resident doctors in Nigerian public hospitals began an indefinite strike on Monday over grievances that include the delayed payment of salaries and allowances, the doctors’ union said, as coronavirus infections rise. Nigerian doctors frequently strike over what they say are poor conditions of service. Last year they walked out from their jobs three times, including over demands for an allowance for treating COVID-19 patients. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), said the strike had started early on Monday and that the government had not reached out to the union since it gave notice of the job action. Asked whether the strike would affect the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Uyilawa told Reuters in a mobile phone message: “Hunger is worse than COVID-19. We have lost 19 members to COVID-19, with no death-in-service insurance.” The health minister said in a statement that the ministry is engaging the striking doctors to resolve the issues quickly, adding that Medical Directors should ensure service delivery is not disrupted. NARD said in a statement on Saturday that salary shortfalls stretching over months, failure to pay some doctors COVID-19 allowances and shortages of manpower in hospitals were among the reasons that had pushed its members to strike. Lagos State said the decision by the doctors was hasty and appealed for restraint from NARD doctors in the state. Resident doctors are medical school graduates training as specialists. They are pivotal to frontline healthcare in Nigeria as they dominate the emergency wards in its hospitals.

Commentary

  •  The instability in both of Nigeria’s major political parties is reflective of the way politics in Nigeria is structured: political parties are vehicles to capture power and are largely devoid of ideology. Specifically, the crisis in the APC arising from the ward congresses is because various actors in different states are intent on gaining control of the party’s structures to further their ambitions: in Delta, Kwara, and Oyo, the central actors are all warming up to contest for governorship positions, hence the desire for control of the party structures; in Akwa Ibom, Imo, Ogun, Osun and Rivers, former governors are looking to install state governors that will be under their control; while the battle in Ekiti is a battle for supremacy between Governor Fayemi who is a presidential hopeful and APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, who is not favourably disposed to Mr Fayemi’s ambition. This also played out on the national scale regarding the decision to hold the congresses after Vice President Yemi Osibanjo had directed the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the APC caretaker chairman Mai Mala Buni, the Yobe State Governor, to suspend the congresses as a result of the Supreme Court judgment on the Ondo governorship elections that risked voiding all congresses held by the current caretaker committee. In disregarding the directive of the Vice President, it seems that the stage is set for control of the party by the CPC wing of the party (to which Mr Malami and Mr Buni belong) to determine the next presidential candidate of the party, and against the ACN wing to which Mr Osibanjo and Mr Fayemi belong. This firming of control by the CPC wing is further bolstered by APC governors jointly throwing their weight behind Mr Buni’s party leadership. This brouhaha reflects the lack of internal democracy within the party, which often translates to dubious ways of selecting candidates for elections, with the resultant electoral challenges. For example, in 2019, all the APC candidates in Zamfara were not properly selected, a fallout of the creation of factions within the state chapter of the party in a bid to control the party and produce candidates for elections. It bears noting that ruling Nigerian parties tend to have even less internal democracy than opposition parties – pre-2015, it was the PDP that was regularly wracked by factional congresses and raucous party primaries. This is reflective of the desperate methods employed by Nigerian politicians to gain power, driven by the belief and desire to use the party’s control of the Federal Government to use state power (chiefly the security agencies, the judicial system and the elections management body) to hijack the elections to their advantage. Yet, despite the disarray that the APC seems to be descending into as a result of the ward congresses, they remain attractive to opposition politicians who want to be in, or close to, power and enjoy the benefits of state capture, including the PDP which has lost three governors in the last eight months as well as numerous federal and state legislators. The PDP is likely to lose some more before the end of the year. Together with the resignation of members of the party’s National Working Committee, these could significantly weaken the PDP ahead of the 2023 elections, and make it almost certain that not only will the APC win the Presidency again, but might also pick up more states and federal legislative seats than it did in 2019. Such a scenario will take Nigeria closer to being a one-party state in practice, and a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly will allow them to pass almost any legislation they desire unless dissent infiltrates the APC ranks.
  • Shell’s proposed exit truly represents the end of an era in Nigeria’s history and a fundamental shift in Nigerian geopolitics. The company is intricately linked to the country’s political economy, operating its largest oil production facilities and has been the poster boy for the environmental degradation that oil exploration exacted on the Niger Delta. Unlike its other counterparts such as ExxonMobil, Shell is deeply ingrained in Nigeria. Selling its Nigeria operations wholesale is an indication that its returns from the country are no longer worth the risks (which were always significant). Shell’s divestment of its onshore assets is not just driven by its challenges with theft and sabotage of its infrastructure, but also by a need to deal less with community issues that have plagued its operations since the 1960s. The company is blamed by a lot of people for environmental pollution in its operating areas, including by a Dutch court, which in January 2021 ruled that Shell was responsible for oil spills in two villages from 2008 and ordered them to pay unspecified amounts as damages. That ruling opened the door to more legal cases against Shell in Dutch courts. By focusing on offshore production, Shell is far removed from the constant tussles with its host communities and being prone to sabotage, oil theft and the activities of militants. Although there is increasing piracy and militancy in the Gulf of Guinea, its deepwater projects are located some distance offshore. For example, the Bonga oilfield is about 120km off the coast, meaning that militants and pirates will need to acquire sophisticated equipment to pose a significant threat. The Nigerian government will need to carefully consider this Shell situation. With a production capacity of up to 200,000 barrels per day and 150 million standard cubic feet of natural gas a day, the Nigerian government is heavily incentivised to protect these facilities or risk losing about a tenth of its daily oil production at a time when oil revenue has been declining and the government’s financial needs rising. The question now is, who will be the buyer of Shell’s onshore assets? So far, it seems that the likely operator of these assets will be the National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), which is the subsidiary of the state-owned oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The SPDC, which produces up to 156,000 barrels per day, is only 30% owned by Shell as it is a joint venture with the Nigerian government through the NNPC to operate oilfields allocated to it. Ultimately, this move represents an opportunity to extract the implementation of cleanups that Shell has promised but failed to carry out in the Niger Delta. It also represents an opportunity to recalibrate the modus operandi of whoever buys Shell, if the sale goes ahead. Our thoughts are that the Chinese giants – particularly China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Sinopec – will be looking very closely at this opportunity. However, experience has shown that they might be even less constrained by industry best practices than Shell which already has a bad record in the Delta. Will Nigeria be ready to deal with another actor any better? The nationality of the eventual buyers will say a lot about the direction that Nigeria’s oil industry is headed.
  • The reaction of most Nigerians to the indictment of Abba Kyari by the FBI appears to be that he is guilty. This reflects the prevailing perception that Nigerians have of their police officers – which came to the fore during the #EndSARS protests that rocked the country last October and brought it to a standstill. Although Mr Kyari has been praised for successfully apprehending violent criminals such as infamous kidnappers Chukwudimeme “Evans” Onwuamadike and Hamisu “Wadume” Bala, there have been numerous accusations against him of brutality, illegal detention, torture, extortion and the illegal conversion of the assets and properties of arrested suspects. Some of these cases, which stem from his time as the Officer-in-Charge of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit in Lagos, were brought before the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry into the Abuses of the SARS Unit, set up in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests. It is important to note that the alleged actions of Mr Kyari are more the norm than the exception. Ironically, the head of the Special Investigative Panel (SIP) who is tasked with investigating Mr Kyari, DIG Egbunike has a subsisting human rights abuse case to answer; specifically for illegally detaining three persons for six weeks for making comments on a WhatsApp group that offended some Enugu-based politicians. This once again highlights how systemic and widespread the abuse of power and disregard of the rule of law is within the Nigeria Police Force, and how pressing the need for reforms has become. It remains to be seen if the SIP set up to investigate Mr Kyari will make a finding of guilt in what appears to be an open-and-shut case (and for offences that are well known to be committed by large portions of the police hierarchy). We think the investigation will be left open so the extradition can be put off indefinitely. This dovetails into our opinion that there is a stubbornly persistent lack of appetite for police reform either at the Executive, Legislative or operational level. The FBI’s indictment will not move the needle on this. As a result, these problems will persist and the next Kyari is just around the corner.
  • This is the third strike by resident doctors since June 2020 over the persistent issue of delayed allowances and poor service conditions, despite being at the frontline of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Strikes by health workers’ unions of all stripes in the country have become commonplace due to the inadequate funding of the sector by the government at all levels. Data indicate that only 4.4% of the 2020 budget and 4.2% of the 2021 budget was allocated to the health sector – both well short of the 15% health sector funding agreed upon by member countries of the African Union in 2001 (ironically in Abuja). There is also the added challenge of the FG’s inability to implement universal health insurance coverage, which will reduce its direct funding obligations of the sector. As a result, Nigeria’s health workers remain underpaid and continue working under poor conditions in under-resourced hospitals and clinics, forcing many doctors and other health professionals to leave the country for greener pastures abroad. This contributes to Nigeria’s widening doctor-to-patient ratio, which now sits at 1:2753, far below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 1:600 recommendation. The strike will force the government – likely led by Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige – ironically a medical doctor who acts as the government’s firefighter during industrial actions  – to the negotiating table. The likely outcome would be that after drawn-out negotiations, the government will agree to allowance payments, improving conditions of service and more funding. However, the real question will be if the government will be able to keep its end of the bargain, especially in the face of a downward revenue outlook and rising calls from many sections of the country for more, not less public funding support. Like any other sector in crisis, there seems to be no appetite at either the executive or legislative levels of government for real reforms that will bring a final stop to such strikes. So, unfortunately, we are back to the time-worn cycle of strikes, negotiations, empty promises and little action. The more things change, the more they stay the same.