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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has debunked claims that Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company is among the oil firms it is allegedly set to recover crude oil allocation accruals worth $42 million from spanning 2012 through 2014.

A top NNPC source who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja on condition of anonymity urged the public to summarily dismiss what he termed the “fabricated” report, since both parties enjoy a cordial working relationship and currently share a Joint Venture (JV) tipped to be currently the best performing asset in Nigeria.

“Aiteo has met all its obligations to the NNPC in full and is not indebted to the Corporation or any of its subsidiaries. If and when there are outstanding debts to be cleared, we will duly inform Aiteo. But we have no ties to unsubstantiated reports claiming that we have Aiteo on our shortlist for debt recovery,” the source said. NNPC is a professionally run MDA and will never communicate with its JV partners on the pages of newspapers.

Last week, some online publications alleged that following President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive, the Dr. Maikantu Baru-led NNPC had set machinery in motion to recover $42,339,372.22 million as unpaid debts from the trio of Benedict Peter’s Aiteo, Igho Sanomi’s Taleveras and Walter Wagbatsoma’s Ontario, as part of a larger plan to hold local and foreign oil firms accountable for debts owed the Corporation.

When contacted, Aiteo Group’s Senior Corporate Communications Manager Mr. Ndiana-Abasi Matthew said: “We do not respond to gossip. Previous official rebuttals on this issue are in the public domain for all to reference.”

Our investigations reveal that Aiteo collaborated with Duke Oil in the SWAP crude oil-for-refined-products-exchange programme and Offshore Processing (OPA) Agreement in 2015. However, Inside sources from the NNPC assured that both were governed by robust legally binding agreements backed by the necessary financial instruments to mitigate and manage potential risks which include bad debts.

According to the source who spoke with our correspondent: “The claim that President Muhammad Buhari has told the NNPC boss, Dr. Maikanti Baru, to recover every penny owed the Corporation…’ is a clear pointer to any discerning media house that the report is completely false and malicious. If not, how could the initial report (dated 12 March, 2017) a day before the President resumed work after 49 days of medical leave abroad, possibly quote the President as making such a claim?”

In what industry sources describe as one of the most competitive bids, Aiteo won the 45% rights on offer on OML 29 in the Niger Delta divested by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in March 2015.  The remaining 55% is held by the Federal Government through the NNPC. Aiteo is the operator of the Joint Venture.

In another development, the NNPC has assured that the shutdown of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company’s (SNEPco) Bonga Oil Field for maintenance is being managed not to affect the financial performance of the corporation this year. The source, who spoke with our correspondent exclusively, said the NNPC would work to minimise the impact of the 225,000 bpod in Bonga.

The source said: “We assure Nigerians that production output will not be significantly affected holistically this year, as we will work round the clock to optimise production output to average out this shut in.”

Recall that earlier this month, SNEPco shut down the Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel for turnaround maintenance which involves inspections, recertification, testing and repair of equipment, among others.

It was envisaged that the routine maintenance would drastically reduce Nigeria’s crude oil exports, since SNEPCo produces under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the NNPC.

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“The Labour Of Our Heroes Past Shall Never Be In Vain” —-By Moyo Odunlami

Peter Okunoren

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This line from the Nigerian national anthem is a paradox in itself, especially when one takes a look at present-day Nigeria and realizes that the labour of the dead heroes who fought for the nation’s independence seems to be wasted. It has been sixty-one years since Nigeria gained her independence from Britain.

For the past sixty-one years, Nigerians have had to deal with the same regurgitated set of leaders. In fact, if Nnamdi Azikiwe and co. were to come back from the dead and take a field trip to Nigeria, they’d be shocked to find the same set of people, who were in power during the 80s, still ruling Nigeria.

As Nigerians, it is clear that we have a leadership problem. The old men who ruled when our fathers were half-naked, innocent children are still in power today. This brings us to the big question: why?

Why are youths not holding the reins of power? To any foreigner observing from outside Nigeria, two answers may seem correct. One, the nation is practicing gerontocracy. Two, the youths are too incompetent to handle power.

However, as Nigerians living in Nigeria, we all know that these answers are incorrect. The problem with Nigeria is that the country is run by a set of people whose hands are stuck to the reins of power. Young Nigerians are rarely given positions of power and in cases where youths are elected into power, they only end up being puppets to the ruling class.

So far, Nigerian youths have proven their mettle and resilience in handling leadership positions, from creating startup companies to organizing groundbreaking revolutions.

However, just one thing stands in their way: lack of opportunities. For young Nigerians living in today’s world, finding the right opportunity is almost as difficult as finding a unicorn.

To make matters worse, there is an uneasy wave of political apathy among the younger generation. Most youths who have the leadership skills required to turn this nation around are simply not interested as a result of the discouraging state of the political and socio-economic systems.

Fortunately, this problem seems to be coming to an end, thanks to one man, Hon. Shina Abiola Peller, the senator representing Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola and Iwajowa constituency in the Federal House of Representatives. In January 2020, Hon. Shina Peller alongside a few young Nigerians birthed the idea of Lead Generation Initiative (LGI), a youth-driven organization committed to creating opportunities for young people to achieve their dreams and channel their creativity towards developing the nation.

Under the leadership of the young senator, LGI has successfully carved a niche for itself as a frontline organization promoting youth participation and empowerment.

In 2020, it partnered with YIAGA Africa to create the Get Involved Leadership Training (GILT), a program aimed at training youths on core leadership skills such as strategic communication, active citizenship, and nation-building. The program kicked off in Ibadan, Oyo state with up to 68 participants drawn from the 33 local governments of the state.

 

Moyo Odunlami writes from Ikeja

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Three Burnt To Death, Six Injured In Ogun Tanker Fire Accident

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Three persons were burnt to death and six others critically injured on Tuesday morning in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, when a tanker fell on ever-busy Presidential Boulevard road, following an accident.

The tanker conveying petroleum product fell after suffering brake failure while descending the Kuto Bridge.

A commercial motorcycle operator was knocked down to death by the tanker while others struggled to flee from the raging fire.

It was learnt that the tanker fell on the road and bursts into flame after it knocked down the motorcycle operator and as a side -to – side collision with a Lexus jeep and one other car.

It also left a gory sight of the charred remains of the commercial motorcycle operator and carcasses of burnt vehicles on the road.

Operatives of the Ogun State Fire Service were sighted making frantic efforts to battle the inferno.

The Public Relations Officer, Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), Babatunde Akinbiyi, who confirmed the accident, said three persons, including the truck driver, were burnt to death while six others were critically injured.

Akinbiyi attributed the cause of the accident to brake failure experienced by the tanker driver, forcing the tanker to veer into the lane of vehicles coming in the opposite direction and back to its lane before landing on the road with a bang that ignited balls of fire.

According to him, seven vehicles and six motorcycles were also burnt in the ensuing inferno.

He said: “Three people, including the driver of the tanker, died in the explosion and six others were injured while seven vehicles and six motorcycles were also burnt.”

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Ezinne Maria Ebi’s Burial Slated for January 29, 2021

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Matriarch of the Ebi family; Ezinne Maria Eriaba Ebi will on Friday, January 29, 2021, be laid to rest at Urualla in Ideato North Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State.

Ezinne Maria Ebi, who is mother to former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and former Chairman of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Ernest Ebi, died on November 15, 2020, at the age of 91.

According to a statement from the family, the burial activities will begin on Thursday, January 28, 2021, with service of songs at the Ebi’s family compound by 5 pm at Urualla, while the funeral mass holds on Friday, January 29, 2021, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in the same town by 11 am. She was a devout Catholic and community leader in her lifetime. She lived an exemplary Christian life and was renowned for humility, kindness, and generosity which earned her the sobriquet “Nne Muru Oha” – Mother of All.

Ezinne Ebi was married to the late Mr. Fabian Ebi and together they raised their biological and non-biological children with strong Christian and moral values of integrity, hard work, and perseverance. Family sources describe her as an enterprising and skilled businesswoman who was indeed a real helpmate to her husband in providing education to all her children and many others who had the opportunity to live with her or encounter her. She is survived by 9 children, 27 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

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