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Economy, Government, Manufacturing

The Kano branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to monitor the nation’s entry points in preparation for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

National Vice President of MAN, North West Zone, Alhaji Ali Madugu who made the call in Kano while receiving the Director General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim who was on a working visit to the State emphasised the need for SON’s quality verification of all imported products including those from West African Countries, even with the rule of origin in the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.

Alhaji Ali Madugu explained that, the commencement of the AfCFTA further underscores the need for SON’s presence at the entry points to prevent Nigeria from being turned into a dumping ground of substandard, fake and counterfeited products from other African Countries.

He acknowledged the need for product authentication as an additional tool to fight faking, adulteration and unfair competition with substandard products in the market and urged SON to look at the best way to implement it without putting genuine manufacturers at disadvantage in terms of cost and the procedure for compliance.

The MAN National Vice President, commended Mallam Salim’s approach to addressing the concerns of about 140-member strong, North West branch of MAN and enumerated issues for his further consideration.

These according to him include; Decentralisation of SON testing facilities through building of additional Laboratories across the country, including Kano; Easier processing of import documents without necessarily visiting SON Headquarters in Abuja; and Greater protection of local manufacturers’ MANCAP certified products from adulteration and faking of their brands in Nigeria and overseas as well as unfair competition with substandard imports.

Other members of the North West Branch of MAN Executive Committee called for an upgrade and enlightenment of members on the SON offshore conformity assessment programme (SONCAP) portal, as well as the inspection procedure, sampling and testing relating to the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for locally manufactured products.

Mallam Farouk Salim responded that SON was set up to provide technical assistance and support to genuine local manufacturers as well as protect them from unfair competition from substandard products.  He acknowledged their sacrifices through investment in infrastructure, creation of job opportunities and regular payment of taxes as part of growing the Nation’s wealth and assured them of his commitment and support.

In his words “We need to partner with MAN to protect genuine manufacturers and legitimate importers by sharing intelligence to apprehend and prosecute standards infractions. With adequate consequences for actions, most people will follow the rules”, he said.

He decried the current situation where SON is unable to carry out quality verification of all its regulated imported products at the points of entry nor accost suspected substandard products outside the ports.

Mallam Salim stated that efficient service delivery remains his focus and invited MAN to pull forces together with SON for collective success in the interest of the Nation’s economy and the wellbeing of its people.

The SON Chief Executive asked the MAN and other stakeholders to look forward to seamless and robust deployment of information communication technology to enhance the agency’s delivery of efficient services and an appreciable reduction in turnaround time for standards development, product certification and registration amongst others.

He invited MAN members to work with SON to further protect their brands through the deployment of a product authentication scheme to empower Consumers at the point of purchase. In his words “We need a symbiotic relationship to succeed without loss of business and relevance.”

“While I call for genuine partnership with MAN and other Stakeholders, SON would not back down from implementing the law by diligent prosecution of standards infractions”, he concluded.

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Energy, Government

Stakeholders in the oil industry need to find and agree on cheaper means of producing oil while also ensuring a more competitive environment that meets the needs and purposes of the Nigerian nation including the largest production volumes possible.

This was the view of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at a virtual meeting on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with stakeholders in the industry under the auspices of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) in Nigeria, and Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG).

According to Prof. Osinbajo “we need to agree on terms that will give us a more competitive environment. We should find a way of producing oil cheaper at the largest volume possible given the circumstances and future of oil itself, and of course, given our requirements and needs.”

The meeting held Tuesday afternoon just as consultations ahead of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) continue. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that in line with the focus of the Buhari administration, there is need for stakeholders in the sector to agree on terms to create a more competitive environment, while maximizing opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Continuing the Vice President said “the other point is that of gas. To sound the question of reconciling and maintaining our domestic gas obligation, and at the same time improving the gas environment in such a way that we are able to benefit maximally from it as a business and government.

 “I like the concept that gas should be an enabler for quick development and I think that we must reach some kind of balance with this, especially with this question around domestic gas obligation. I would like OPTS and IPPG to look more carefully and see in what ways we can come to some agreements as to how it should be done.”

Speaking further on the benefits of harmonizing interests in the PIB, Prof. Osinbajo observed that the passage of the PIB should be seen as an opportunity to transform the industry by addressing lingering issues that have impeded development across the different sectors that make up the industry.

“Businesses would like to invest and invest more in this environment. So, that is the point of convergence. We want more investments and obviously state governments like more investments, and you (private companies) would like to invest so that you can make more money. No question about that; what we should seek to do is to see to what extent we can come to that convergence,” the Vice President said

The new PIB, which was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in September last year, has already passed the second reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The central aim of the bill is to foster sustainable development in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Silva, said the interaction with the stakeholders in the petroleum industry is indicative of their commitment to the transformation of the industry through the PIB.

He assured that working with other stakeholders, including the National Assembly, the PIB as conceived by the Buhari administration would be passed into law.

On his part, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari said that most of the concerns raised by stakeholders have been addressed in the proposal before the National Assembly, noting that the Federal Government has moved from its previous position to one that is more competitive and attractive to investors.

Commending the efforts of the Buhari administration in guiding the process of having a new law for the industry, the Chairman of OPTS, Mr Mike Sangster, who is also the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Total E&P Nigeria Ltd, said stakeholders remain committed to making Nigeria the “preeminent hydrocarbon province” in the region and the world.

Other participants at the meeting include the Chairman and Managing Director of ExxonMobil in Nigeria, Mr Laing Richard; the Chairman of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr Rick Kennedy; and the Chairman of IPPG, Mr Ademola Adeyemi-Bero, among others

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Economy, Finance

The Federal Government is set to give N20, 000 cash grant to 160,000 poor, vulnerable rural women across the country to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

This was made known by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Faruk, at the launch of the grant, on Wednesday, in Katsina, where 6,800 rural women would benefit.

“We are targeting over 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women in Nigeria for the N20,000 grant, to uplift their economic status. Our rural women with disability will also be included.

“It is my hope that the beneficiaries will use this opportunity to increase their income, enhance their food security and contribute toward improving their families,” she said, adding, “The N20,000, will go a long way in supporting any serious woman to start a business. What is most important is how judiciously you utilise the money”.

The minister said that over N9.5 billion was received by Katsina State, under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, from inception of this administration to date.

According to her, the grants had impacted on the lives of over 142,474 vulnerable households in the state, as 12 local governments were currently benefitting from the programme.

The minister listed the benefitting local governments to include, Bakori, Batagarawa, Baure, Bindawa, Dandume, Ingawa, Kaita, Kankara, Mani, Musawa, Rimi and Danmusa.

The minister also said that the Federal Government, in partnership with World Bank, had designed a Safety Net programme for Nigeria, that included cash transfer, as well as a COVID-19 rapid response register.

“The President has approved 1 million beneficiaries in the country to be given another N5,000 for the next six months to cushion the effects of COVID-19. This time around, we are going to target the urban poor and the artisans who lost their small businesses as a result of the pandemic,” she said.

In his remarks, the state Deputy Governor, Mannir Yakubu, who represented Gov. Aminu Masari, at the occasion, commended the Federal Government for the grant.

Yakubu pointed out that the government had done so much through its social intervention programme, to uplift the living condition of people in the country, since its inception, and urged the beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the grant, to enhance their livelihoods.

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