22 May

Daily Watch – Nigeria to sort visas in two days, Abuja bus fares pocket unfriendly

  • The labour union that had called for the shutdown of all Exxon Mobil Corp facilities in the Niger Delta has suspended its strike at its Rivers state branch in the oil production hub, two union representatives said on Saturday. It was unclear whether members of PENGASSAN had shut the company’s facilities in the region on Friday, and oil industry sources said there was no impact on production. “The strike has been suspended,” said Chika Onuegbu, who represents PENGASSAN in Rivers state. Onuegbu and a senior PENGASSAN official, who also said the strike in Rivers state had been suspended but did not want to be identified, said the move followed a ruling by an industrial arbitration panel. PENGASSAN’S chairman in the Port Harcourt zone, Azubike M Azubike, later said the industrial action had not been suspended elsewhere in the country. “The strike is still on nationwide, especially in Exxon Mobil facilities across Nigeria. We are still talking with Exxon Mobil management,” he said. Nigerian labour unions have held a number of strikes in the last few months over the dismissal of oil industry workers. The latest industrial action was in protest at the sacking of 150 workers in December, of which 82 were PENGASSAN members. Strikes by Exxon workers in Nigeria at the end of last year did affect output, delaying loading by weeks.
  • The NBS says residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Cross River, and Adamawa states paid the highest intra-city bus fares in April. In a new report released on Tuesday, residents paid at least ₦255.00, ₦210.54 and ₦200.00 respectively moving within the cities of those states and the FCT. Adjusting for inflation, the data revealed that the fares have risen significantly when compared year on year, and month on month. This means commuters spent more of their income on transportation which also had a knock-on effect on the prices of goods and services, further squeezing Nigerian consumers. “Average fare paid by commuters for bus journey within the city increased by 5.43 percent month-on-month and by 59.29 percent year-on-year to ₦134.66 in April 2017 from ₦127.72 in March 2017,” the NBS report said. According to the agency, the states with the lowest bus journey fare within the city in the month under review were Enugu (₦75.88), Yobe (₦62.50), and Borno (₦60.00). But the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity increased by 8.22 percent month-on-month, and 34.21 percent year-on-year to ₦1,587.04 in April, up from ₦1,466.46 a month earlier. It also said the average fare paid by air passengers for specified single journey routes increased by 0.70 percent month-on-month and by 29.89 percent year-on-year to ₦30,803.03 in April 2017 from ₦30,587.40 in March 2017. States with the highest airfares in April 2017 were Jigawa (₦40,000.11), Edo (₦40,000.00), and Abuja (₦36,000), while states with lowest airfares in April 2017 were Katsina (₦22,500.00), Kogi (₦22,500.65) and Plateau (₦25,000).
  • A new bill seeking to amend the Public Procurement Act, 2007 not only represents a policy somersault but will also hamper Nigeria’s capacity to provide basic services to its citizens if passed into law, the World Bank has said. In a letter to the House of Representatives suggesting amendments to the provisions of the bill, the World Bank said the provision for the payment of 50 percent mobilisation fees to contractors contradicted the government’s policies on Treasury Single Account and zero budgeting, saying paying contractors for huge projects that cannot be completed within one year will mean transferring government’s funds to private entities to trade with, while the government will be left with nothing to cater for the needs of the people. The bank also criticised a proposal to turn the Federal Executive Council into a Federal Tenders Board for the award of major contracts, saying it would demean the FEC, legalise continuing contraventions of the Act, serve as a cover-up for wrong doings in the procurement system and weaken accountability. It also frowned on proposals for the establishment of different procurement systems for the three arms of government and one to subject procurement audit to the review of the National Council on Public Procurement chaired by the President before submission to the National Assembly.
  • Nigeria will process all tourist and business visas within two days, the vice president’s office said on Friday, as the country tries to improve the ease of doing business. Applicants will be notified whether their visas will be issued or rejected within 48 hours, with the change to take immediate effect. The move follows the launch in March of a system aimed at enabling business executives to apply for a visa online and collect it on arrival 48 hours later. Foreign executives had complained that obstructive embassy officials made it difficult to enter the country.
  • The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria says its Ethics and Professionalism Division received 136 petitions with claims that amounted to ₦27.6 billion from bank customers in 2016. The institute made this known in its 2016 Annual Reports and Accounts signed by its Registrar, Seye Awojobi and released on Saturday. It said 79 cases were fully resolved, translating to a total refund of ₦3 billion. The CIBN said that it also raised ₦439.58 million in corporate subscriptions for its annual development fund during the year under review, noting that the figure was lower than a ₦443.38 million forecast. The report also added that the institute’s individual membership grew from 118,802 in 2015 to 122,680 in 2016.