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FG battles oil theft, subsidy into New Year

Since the beginning of this year, the Federal Government has been battling with fuel scarcity and the incessant plundering of Nigeria’s crude oil by vandals, Okechukwu Nnodim writes Crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and the persistent scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, are the major challenges that characterised Nigeria’s oil and gas sector in 2022. Although there had been some positive outcomes in terms of crude oil output from Nigeria in the last two months, the country’s oil production suffered a severe crash between January and September this year due to massive oil theft in the Niger Delta region. In fact, oil production crashed to as low as 937,766 barrels per day in September, the lowest output in several years. The country consistently missed the 1.8 million barrels per day monthly oil production quota approved by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Nigeria is a long-standing member of OPEC and the country’s low oil production kept denying it millions of dollars monthly. This was despite the hike in global crude oil prices, following the military invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February. Data sourced from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission showed the repeated monthly decline in crude oil production between January and September. Nigeria pumped 1.39 million barrels per day in January 2022, but this dropped to 1.26mbpd in February, and further reduced to 1.24mbpd in March.


Following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s latest over-the-counter cash policy for individuals and corporate entities, a cross section of Nigerians especially economic analysts have supported the policy. While some have stressed that the move by the apex bank is not abnormal and is in the right direction, others have expressed their concerns, stating that this would have a negative impact on informal players in the sector. Speaking at the Accion Microfinance Bank 5thannual inclusion seminar in Lagos, the former Managing Director/Regional Executive Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, expressed confidence that this would improve financial security and transparency. “If you look at the level of theft when people go to buy things in the market, when they finish their shop, most robbery, cash robbery happens when people are coming from the shops, when they are coming from their farms on a Sunday, they believe that there is money with you. But with this policy, the average Nigerian will know well, maybe this person will not be holding up to N100,000,” Akinwuntan said. Earlier in his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Accion Microfinance Bank, Taiwo Joda, said the customer remains a major determinant of their success, as a result all efforts must be made to improve his experience in order to utilize the inherent benefits.


Nigerian Exchange Limited has urged the newly inducted brokers to uphold the high standard of ethics in the capital market and embrace a culture of continuous learning to keep up with the fast pace of developments and innovation in the financial space. At the induction ceremony for the 91 newly Authorised Dealing Clerks held recently at the Exchange in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, advised the newly inducted brokers to be advocates of integrity and impeccable character, with the penchant to place the market first in their decision making. He stated that NGX has enforceable rules, explaining that the exchange had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the bid to implement its zero-tolerance policy on infractions. Popoola said, “Technology is increasingly going to drive our business operations and activities going forward. Over the years, The Exchange has demonstrated its readiness for digital transformation as evinced by our seamless transition to virtual trading following the incursion of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Senate has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently extend the withdrawal of old currency notes from circulation from January 31, to June 30, 2023. The senate’s resolution was sequel to a point of order raised by Sen. Mohammed Ndume (APC-Borno) during the plenary on Wednesday. The CBN had on October 26, announced plans to redesign the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes. Raising Orders 41 and 51 of Senate Standing Rule, Ndume said that the call for extension of the date should be considered as a matter of urgent national importance in order to forestall imminent hardship for Nigerians. Ndume said, “This senate notes that many Nigerian banks on Thursday, December 15, opened their vaults to customers and depositors to exchange their old currency for the newly redesigned currency which has a stipulated deadline of Jan. 31. “Some Nigerians are already envisaging long queues in the banking hall across the country as a result of people trying to get access to the new naira note. “The old notes are expected to be in circulation along the new ones until Jan. 31 when the old ones are expected to be phased out.


The Central Bank of Nigeria has said it received 2,432 complaints against financial institutions in the first six months of this year. This was contained in the CBN Financial Stability June 2022 report published in December. It noted that 2,261 complaints were made against banks, while 171 complaints were against other financial institutions. According to the report, the majority of the complaints were on electronic/card issues, fraud and account management. The report read in part, “The total number of complaints received against financial institutions in the period under review was 2,432, indicating a 2.05 per cent decrease from 2,483 in the second half of 2021. Out of the complaints received, 2,261 (93 per cent) were against banks and 171 (seven per cent) were against OFIs. “Further analysis indicated that electronic/cards related complaints constituted the highest at 845 (34.75 per cent), followed by fraud with 697 (28.66 per cent); account management, 644 (26.48 per cent); excess charges, 115 (4.73 per cent); while others accounted for 131 (5.38 per cent).” The report further stated that 1,399 complaints were resolved with refunds made and 1,321 complaints were closed. “During the review period, a total of 1,399 complaints were resolved with refunds to the complainants, an increase of 63 (4.71 per cent) over the 1,336 recorded in the preceding period. Complaints closed increased by 226 (20.64 per cent) to 1,321, as against the 1,095 recorded in the preceding period. The resolved cases included outstanding complaints from the preceding period.”


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