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Dangote: With new refinery, we’ll boost Nigeria’s economy by $20billion



Nigeria may take a breather from the twin issues of crisis in the production and distribution of petroleum products and rising cost of dollars, if the words of Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, who promised to tackle them, become real.

Dangote, owner of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria’s first private initiative in processing crude on a large scale and Africa’s largest in terms of capacity, was quoted as saying that with the planned commencement of the refinery located in Lagos, Nigeria could save up to $10 billion in foreign exchange (FX) and generate another $10 billion in exports when the facility begins operation.

The 650,000 barrels per day, also reputed to be the world’s largest single-train refinery, is set for inauguration on May 22, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The business magnate, who spoke in an interview with a special edition of London-based The Economists Magazine, entitled: The World Ahead 2023which was unveiled with considerable focus on West Africa and aimed to highlight both the potential as well as areas for improvement in Africa, was quoted as saying Nigeria currently imports over 90 per cent of its refined petroleum products, which amounted to roughly $10 billion in imports in 2022.

While this has brought major benefits to many businesses, Dangote explained that more prosperity could be created by locally refining Nigeria’s resources, with the refinery being a major step in this direction by reducing the country’s dependence on imported refined petroleum products.

“The refinery’s completion will not only create direct and indirect jobs, but also lead to skills transfer and technology acquisition opportunities that will benefit the downstream sector.

“Moreover, the refinery’s production of critical products like naphtha and polypropylene will stimulate the development of other industries, such as cosmetics, plastics, and textiles. Refineries on this scale could save Nigeria up to $10 billion in foreign exchange and generate approximately $10 billion from exports.

“We see room for development of added value in agribusiness too. Here, initiatives like our Sugar Backward Integration Projects look to create a strong localised supply in the sugar industry. With a goal to produce around 0.5 million tons of sugar per annum from locally grown sugar cane, benefits will be created across the sugar value chain for local suppliers,” he added.

He noted that the soon-to-be commissioned 650,000 barrels per day refinery in Lagos, would enable Nigeria achieve self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products, as well as export to other African markets.

According to him, there are also ample opportunities to increase the country’s rice production, with the ongoing construction of six rice mills that could mill approximately one million tons per annum of locally produced rice, thereby empowering local farmers.
The renowned businessman pointed out that the group of companies also has a 2.8 million tons per annum fertiliser plant tapping into the fertiliser market, while opportunities are being explored in tomato cultivation and processing as well as dairy production.

“With many parts of West Africa still facing food insecurity, the emergence of strong localised industries with resourceful suppliers and clear trade networks will be a big step in the right direction,” he maintained.

Dangote stressed that Nigeria presents an attractive investment opportunity for international investors, saying with the country’s abundance of natural resources, diversifying and digitising economy, youthful demographics and vibrant society, investors will find in Nigeria a country of many possibilities.

“Its population of over 200 million — of which 40 per cent is under the age of 15 – means the country’s demographic dividend offers investors with a long-term view an encouraging option in several sectors.

“Nigeria has a variety of untapped natural resources which, for commodity-driven investors, offers options in the upstream, midstream, and downstream segments. Its vast arable land and favourable climatic conditions similarly support a wide range of crops, positioning it as an auspicious destination for agriculture-based investments.

“Here, we expect to see the development of a strong, home-grown agribusiness industry. We are also seeing the emergence of a strong digital economy, with several Nigerian start-ups becoming vibrant players in their respective tech-fields.

“Nigeria’s import dependency and reliance on foreign markets presents major prospects for import substitution and supply chain localisation. Across various consumer-goods sectors of the economy, as well as supply-side needs for commercial and industrial enterprises, there are different options to set up localised supply networks,” he argued.

With the conclusion of the recent elections, Dangote explained that he was looking forward to government taking proactive steps to enable and empower investment by the private sector as the country has a variety of opportunities for businesses to work alongside the government through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in infrastructure development.

On opportunities provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Dangote stated that the initiative has the strong support of many businesses across Africa with different private sector leaders actively involved in the process leading up to its signing and ratification.

Within the context of manufacturer’s associations and industrial groups, which he said he participated in, Dangote explained that he saw the willingness of African governments to engage with the private sector so they can hear what ingredients are needed to unlock increased intra-Africa trade.

In looking to opportunities for exports from a strong base such as Nigeria, the cement industry, he said, could benefit greatly from not only exporting cement to burgeoning construction markets across the continent, but could look to build cement plants in other markets.

Driven by population growth, urbanisation, infrastructure development, and housing demand, he noted that Africa’s cement consumption has considerable room for growth as evidenced by its per-capita cement consumption of 130kg, far behind the global average of 541kg.

“Sub-Saharan Africa presents an opportunity for expansion, as its population is projected to grow from 1.1 billion to over 2.1 billion by 2050, with two thirds of this growth in urban areas. Nigeria currently has an installed cement production capacity of about 54m tons/pa, which exceeds local demand and so a lot of this can be exported across Africa.

“Governments and businesses need to work together to improve competitiveness, dismantle barriers to accessing markets and develop supportive industrial policies. It is also important for countries to understand the potential revenue loss from the elimination of tariffs and develop strategies around tariff revenue gaps.

“Additionally, effective monitoring and enforcement of rules of origin is essential to ensure that products traded within the market originate from within the continent. By forging partnerships, businesses and governments can collaborate to overcome these challenges and maximise the potential benefits of initiatives like AfCFTA,” he explained.

As a key player in Africa’s push towards self-sufficiency in the cement industry, he disclosed that the group has an installed production capacity of approximately 51 million tons per annum across 10 African countries.

In addition, he noted that the group’s newly inaugurated urea plant in Lagos, with a capacity of 2.8 million tons per annum, not only ensures a secure supply of fertiliser for Nigeria, but also allows for exports.

On climate change, Dangote said businesses should actively look to integrate sustainable practices throughout their operations while embedding an awareness among staff of how business activities impact the socioeconomic realities of stakeholders.

By prioritising energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management and emissions control, he posited that companies could look to alternative fuel sources, energy-saving initiatives and waste management protocols as easy wins to benefit stakeholders.

Expressing his views on expectations for the creation of value-added industries in Africa, the richest black man in the world stated that Nigeria’s economy as presently constituted has largely been built around the extraction and exportation of its natural wealth.


Imo massacre: Armoured vehicles procured for police used to rig elections – LP



Labour Party, palpably in anguish at the slaughter of eight soldiers in Imo State on Tuesday by some rampaging gunmen, has raised questions over the whereabouts of the nine Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) Athan Achonu, it claimed its governorship candidate for the November 11 election, repaired and donated to the authorities in the state.

The party, all but called out the leadership of the Imo State Police Command, to whom they claimed the equipment were handed over, alleging that the last time they APCs were seen was during the last general elections, where they were used by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power in the state to snatch ballot boxes for candidates in the national and state assemblies.

The claim, was made when Nick Opara-Ndudu  and Nnaemeka Onyeka Obiareri , chieftains of the party appeared as guests on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television to sell the candidacy of Achonu, whom they said would never have allowed the type of insecurity in the state to endure under his watch.

Both men, who said that Achonu, whose highest political office so far, was his short stint in the Senate, where he served via the 2015 election before he was removed through the courts, remained the only solution not to the insecurity, in the state and even the South East,  but the one to rescue the people from years of underdevelopment from poor leadership.

Obiareri, spokesman of the LP in the state, argued that if the APCs had been in place, Tuesday’s incident in which the military men were killed alongside some policemen and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), would probably not have happened, said a check on the social media would reveal how they were used by party men of the APC for rigging the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The military men that were killed if they had armoured vehicles patrolling, they wouldn’t have been shot by those criminals. Athan Achonu, go and confirm from Innoson, paid hundreds of millions of naira to Innoson, Innoson is still alive, you people can still go and interview him, to repair nine armoured vehicles for the police. Five were supposed to be in Okigwe zone. Till today, we don’t know where those nine armoured cars are.

“If you go to Youtube, you’ll see Youtube record of members of the House of Assembly in Imo State using those APCs to carry ballot boxes. It’s there on Youtube, you can search it out. What Athan Achonu will do is very simple. Every local government area will have one humvy vehicle for the police. Police stations had been totally burnt in Imo State and Athan repaired most of those police stations.

“Then, there will be community vigilante. We’ll train those 50 youths per community – train them, equip them and arm them. They should guard their communities. When you have over 50,000 hectres of land, reclaimed from the bandits, and you have youths who are not only just farming, but who are trained to protect their communities, they’ll do the job.

“Then, we have to set up a security trust fund. Ndi-Imo are not scared. As at today, there are some communities in Imo State, where bandits – unknown gunmen, are ransacking and collecting levies from the communities. Basically, Athan Achonu will provide training, recruitment for people donated by the communities. Communities know those who are the terrible ones in their midst. And I tell you, in six months, they will flush them out.”

Opara-Ndudu, who dismissed the claim by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma that the carnage and other killings in the state were politically-motivated, blamed the governor for misplacing his priorities and failing to provide jobs for the teeming youth population in the state, questioning why nobody had been arrested and prosecuted fully in the courts if the insecurity in the state was all about politics.

Hear him: “The security problem has to do with objective conditions in the state. The young people are frustrated. The government is not making any investments in the areas that are required. We’re busy pursuing projects that are designs in deception. Look at the roads that are being done in Imo State, you know for you to deal with the problem of poverty and other economic challenges, you have to deal with the problem of infrastructure.

“In Imo State, the government has dedicated all of its time and half of its time to reconstructing federal roads without any attention – little or no attention paid to the rural areas. If you go to length and breadth of Imo State – Ngor Okpala, Ezinifte Mbaise, even in the governor’s local government – everywhere in Imo State, you find that the rural areas are looking desolate and abandoned.”

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Police find body of missing female student dumped in the bush, vow to get killers



Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), command, have vowed to fish out the killers of a university student, Blessing Karami, whose body was said to have been picked up from the bush days after she was declared missing on September 11.

The FCT police, which released the painful news on Thursday, said in a statement by its spokesman, Josephine Adeh that the remains were found in the woods in the Karimu area of the city.

The police spokesman acknowledged that her disappearance was reported to the police authorities last,  Thursday, September 14 added that 26-year-old Blessing, a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was declared missing after leaving her place of work in Garki, Abuja.

She said in the statement: “The body of Blessing Karami Moses, a 26-year-old woman who had been missing since September 11, 2023, was tragically discovered in a wooded area in Karimo. Her disappearance was reported to the authorities on September 14, 2023,” the statement read.

She said Commissioner of Police, FCT, Haruna Garba, had directed that command should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding: “While we are working closely with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to facilitate the respectful retrieval of the decomposed remains acknowledging the sensitive nature of this task, we will continue to provide updates to the public as our investigation progresses.”

Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP), also commiserated with Blessing’s family and loved ones over the incident.

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Ogun cult massacre: DSS raid home, pick up PDP lawmaker, five others



Damilare Bello Mohammed, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA), is currently telling operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) his side of the story, after he was picked up over his alleged involvement in the rival secret cult clashes that occurred in Sagamu town.

Mohammed, recently elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Sagamu State Constituency 1, was picked up on Wednesday by the agency over the incident in which at least eight persons were killed last weekend during the violent clash in the town, alongside five other suspected cultists allegedly involved in the cult violence.

The five other suspects; Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade, were arrested by the DSS operatives during a sting operation after a tip-off at the early hours of Thursday within the residence of the lawmaker.

Lekan Adeniran, spokesman to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor, announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, saying the secret police tracked the six suspected cultists to the official residence of the lawmaker.

Accusing the lawmaker of providing shelter to the cultists, Adeniran, said in the statement, that the suspects were presently undergoing interrogation in DSS custody after many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from them.

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