Thursday, 28 June 2012

To ensure that credits granted to Nigeria by the World Bank work for the benefit of the citizens of the country, the Bretton Woods institution has undertaken a stocktaking of its $4.84 billion (about N774 billion) projects in the country. The Nigerian portfolio of the World Bank is made up of 27 projects worth $4.84 billion sectorally distributed as follows: Human Development - $ 1.130 billion (25 per cent); Sustainable Development -$2.452 billion (53 per cent); Financial and Private Sector- $275million (six per cent); and Governance and Economic Reforms- $735 million (16 per cent). The Nigerian portfolio has an average project age of 3.7 years. Only 34 per cent of the committed amount has so far been disbursed. The World Bank yesterday said its total value of assisted projects represented five per cent of Nigerias budget.
A statement by Mr. Bamidele Oladokun, the banks Communications Associate in the Nigerian Country Office at the end of the 2012 half year performance said the Nigerian Project Teams had committed themselves to achieving faster results of the World Bank-funded projects in the country.
He said the project teams met from June 25 to 26 in Abuja to discuss how to achieve faster results for Nigeria through improved project management and accelerated implementation, adding that project coordinators along with their procurement, financial, and M& E staff from federal and state level implementation units engaged in a review of their action plans to improve overall project performance and impact on the ground.
The statement noted: The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly told project staff all over the country to work as a strong team to deliver results on ground. She said that to achieve greater results, there was a need for coordinated action and involvement of all stakeholders to enhance project quality and disbursement.
The Country Director stressed the need to be clear on our common purpose, namely, to make a difference for the people of Nigeria through our programs. To this end, faster and more efficient project implementation is a step in the right direction and accelerating disbursement is an indication of progress in that direction. The Country Director  who observed that the current disbursement ratio was low for some projects, noted that five projects had not disbursed at all in the past three months.
She stressed that only a coordinated action and collective efforts can strengthen project quality and disbursement and ultimately deliver results. The Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi who attended the first session on Institutional Aspects of Project Management said: There is nothing such as a World Bank project independent of government project. The governor urged the need for better communication and consultation with chief executives on bank-funded projects.
The Mini Country Program Portfolio Review was aimed at reviewing progress in implementation, discussing key implementation issues, and agreeing on specific actions to improve portfolio performance. The meeting came up with specific recommendations on both cross-cutting themes such as institutional arrangements, fiduciary aspects, monitoring and evaluation, social and accountability; and project-related issues.
Participants agreed that to enhance implementation there was the need for better communication and consultation, constant briefing and involvement of key relevant government officials and chief executives both at federal and state levels. It was agreed that the governors forum would henceforth be used to introduce the work of the World Bank- assisted projects to state authorities. At the end of the review meeting, some participants described the meeting as extremely useful and innovative in its structure.

PENGASSAN, others differ over regime change in NNPC

President Goodluck Jonathans Tuesdays sack of the management team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday elicited varied reactions from stakeholders in the body-politic. While some welcomed the development as long overdue, others rued the sack as one too many, stressing that it was capable of stunting the growth of the petroleum industry.
The new NNPC helmsman, Dr. Andrew Yakubu, is the fifth Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation in five years. In April, 2007 the then GMD, Mr. Funsho Kupolokun, was fired from office and Alhaji Abubakar Lawal YarAdua succeeded him.
Twenty months after, YarAdua was also sacked. His successor, Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, spent 15 months on the saddle before getting the boot in April, 2010. Alhaji Shehu Ladan who took over from Barkindo only lasted one month, as he was sacked in May 2010 when the immediate past GMD, Mr. Austen Oniwon came on board.
The Public Affairs Department of the NNPC has confirmed that Yakubu assumed office yesterday as his predecessor, Oniwon, handed over to him. In a reaction, President, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Babatunde Ogun, yesterday submitted that incessant change in the top echelon of the NNPC would adversely affect on-going reforms in the oil sector.
According to Ogun, one of the policy thrusts in the ongoing NNPC transformation that is likely to suffer a setback, is the ongoing Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) and repair of the four refineries intended to put them back on stream to operate at their installed capacity.
The sacked NNPC management had been working assiduously on how to bring back the refineries and there has been results to this effect, as the Kaduna Refineries and Port Harcourt Refineries have started working progressively towards their installed capacities. Also, there are plans to put the Warri Refinery back on stream.
Ogun expressed the fear that the new NNPC management might abandon the on-going TAM of the refineries, and thereby allow the government to sell those refineries as scraps. He also argued that the incessant change at the NNPC would affect the investment drive in the oil and gas sector, saying: No investor will want to put money in a sector that the government can wake up in one day and just decide to change the drivers of the reforms and policies that can grow such sector.
Without prejudice, we are against the process of appointment and removal of NNPC Group Managing Director because it has always drawn the industry backward. It does not engender continuity of development policies, as each of the appointed GMDs comes with their governance style and discontinue previous administrations growth policies.
In our various engagements with the government, we demanded that the appointment of the GMD should be based on tenure just as we have it in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), among others, should be put in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Ogun noted that in the last 10 years, the national oil corporation had six GMDs from Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki to Mr. Austen Oniwon, while the CBN and the NCC have had two each within the same period, stressing that this brings serious challenges of uncertainty and instability in a volatile and strategic industry like the oil and gas.
While the decision has been taken and new drivers of the corporation appointed, the government must address our concerns which we believe will go a long way in helping the growth of the oil and gas industry.

Govt. moves to boost maritime security

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved about N12.14 billion contracts aimed at providing maritime security and easing transportation along the nations coastal waterways. The council, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, approved a total of N3.238 billion for the procurement of six patrol and security boats for the use of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in the Lagos pilotage district.
The boats include two 17 Manta MK Aso, one 32m Manta MK ASD and three fast moving security boats. While the 17 Manta MK Aso is to be supplied by a South African firm at a total cost of $9,429,143.05, the 32m Manta MK ASD is to be supplied by a French firm at a total cost of $10,451,000.30. Also, a total sum of N233.625million was approved for the procurement of the three fast moving security boats.
The council also approved a total of N8.325 billion for reclamation in Abam-Nnuju-Igbiri-Oba-Ojimba-Okujagu-Ama water front and resident supervision consultancy services work. It is expected to be completed within 24 months.
A total of N321.510million was approved by the council for the procurement of four fast moving 40-45 passengers water buses to ease the movement of people around the country. It also approved a total of N236.666 million for the procurement of 12/10 cutter suctions dredger with ancillary equipment.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku , who was with his counterpart in the Ministry of  Transport,  Idris Umar, told journalists that the approval of the patrol and security boats became imperative in view of compelling security challenges, the new international guidelines and security regime required for enhanced comfort to shipping.
On the land reclamation project, Maku said the Okrika habitable land mass had been reduced to only 30 per cent of its original size which had led to rural-urban migration and increase in rural poverty, hence the need for the execution of the project.
Umar added that it was in an attempt to reverse the situation that he submitted the memo for the reclamation of land which had been reduced by erosion from surrounding coastal waters. He noted further that the project when completed would greatly address rural poverty with infrastructural development. On the passengers boat, he said that they were necessary in order to promote movement along inland water ways. He also revealed that the water bus was expected to serve Port Harcourt to Onitsha, Calabar to Oron, Yenagoa to Nembe-Brass, Marina, and Lagos-Mile 11.
The council also deliberated on the report of the Presidential Committee on Service Compact with all Nigerians (SERVICOM), asking Ministers and heads of departments and agencies to now chair SERVICOM committees in their various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).
Maku noted that the committee would meet every month to review progress and challenges. In view of this, ministries have been directed to include ministerial Servicom unit in each MDA and also to be included in budgetary provisions. According to him, in view of the fact that SERVICOM remains an important government instruments to meet challenges of nationwide service failure, the council approved the report of the committee which reviewed the SERVICOM initiative.

Reps reject motion to unbundle NITEL

The House of Representatives yesterday rejected a motion which sought to unbundle Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) from its mobile carrier, MTEL preparatory for privatization. The motion by Emeka Azubogu sought the approval of the House to mandate its Committee on Communications to find out how to unbundle NITEL and make appropriate recommendations to the House in four weeks. He said that selling NITEL, and MTEL as separate entities would make the privatization succeed.
However, at the end of the debate on the motion,  majority of contributors spoke against its approval. Members opposed the motion through a voice vote when Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha who was presiding, put the question.
Meanwhile, a budget Bill of N48.84 billion of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has scaled second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives. Subsequently, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Communications for further legislative action.

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