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Disregard Reports of Petrol Price Increase, FG Tells Nigerians

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The federal government yesterday said it had not approved a new petrol pump price, stating that such decisions were usually not taken in secret or without consultation.

In a statement in Abuja, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, urged Nigerians to disregard any information to the contrary, explaining that “this is not the time” for any such upward review.

Some news outlets had yesterday reported that the government had officially increased the price of petrol by 8.8 per cent to N185 per litre, from the existing N170 per litre. They also insinuated that the ex-depot price had shot up from N148 per litre to N167.

But in the statement signed by the Senior Adviser, Media to the minister, Mr. Horatius Egua, Sylva insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari had not approved any price increase for the product “as it is being bandied around.”

He stated that any increase now would mean the president backtracking on his pledge to make sure prices are not raised at this time given current national challenges.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has not approved any increase in the price of petrol or any other petroleum product for that matter. There is no reason for the president to renege on his earlier promise not to approve any increase in the price of petrol at this time.

“Mr. President is sensitive to the plights of the ordinary Nigerian and has said repeatedly that he understands the challenges of the ordinary Nigerian and would not want to cause untold hardship for the electorate,” Sylva pointed out.

He added: “Government will not approve any increase of petrol secretly without due consultations with the relevant stakeholders. The President has not directed the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) or any agency for that matter to increase the price of fuel. This is not the time for any increase in pump price of PMS.”

While promising to ensure normalcy returns to the supply of the product soon, Sylva said the rumours were planted by people he described as mischief makers.

“What is playing out is the handiwork of mischief makers and those planning to discredit the achievements of Mr. President in the oil and gas sector of the economy.

“I appeal to Nigerians to remain calm and law abiding as the government is working hard to bring normalcy to fuel supply and distribution in the country,” the minister stressed.

In the meantime, members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have pegged current product availability at 50 per cent despite several claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) that it has sufficient products in stock.

The marketers also contended that there is confusion currently in the downstream sector of the oil industry as scarcity continues to linger nationwide. In many states of the federation a litre currently sells for as high as N400.

Speaking on a national television station, the Deputy National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Zarma Mustapha, disclosed that the volume of products lifted by oil marketers has dropped markedly.

Describing the current issues in the sector as complex, the top IPMAN chief expressed doubt whether the NNPC was importing enough products to meet local demand.

But the NNPC had on November 29, 2022, said it had a “National PMS stock of over 2 billion litres,” which according to it is equivalent to over 30 days of sufficiency.

“Sometime in July-August, the volume of lifting we had and what we have today has dropped by about 50 percent or 40 percent,” he added.

Mustapha also contended that the lingering presence of queues at fuel stations across the nation may be due to the high cost of subsidy.

“We are just assuming maybe the volume of the products they are bringing in – the more the volume, the more the cost of the subsidy.

“It doesn’t seem that they are bringing in more. If they’re bringing in more, we would be having the same volume that we usually get at the loading point.

“As of today, with what is trending in the private depots, the volume available is not enough. The private depots also contribute by not giving the product as it is being regulated by the NNPC,” he argued.

But Mustapha pointed out that he had not heard any official statement from NNPCL or the industry’s regulatory body, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) about insufficient supply.

“But with the look of things, and with what is going on at the loading point, the product is not enough as they usually bring it, supply it to the private depots and we purchase from the private depots,” he said.

According to the IPMAN deputy president, NNPCL is presently saddled with importing the products and distributing them to private depots, adding that independent marketers do not have depots.

“Yesterday, I bought a product in Lagos at a depot at N247 per litre to be transported down to the far North at the cost of N50-N60 per litre. As of yesterday, it was going for about N240 in Lagos, N235 in Warri, and N240 in Port Harcourt. In Calabar, it’s as high as N250 per litre.

“As a marketer, you will buy that product for upward transmission to where your retail outlet is. You’ll transport it yourself,” he posited.

Underscoring the chaos in the sector, he noted: “There are a lot of confusions in the industry, which the government must come in and address these confusions so that the common man can get the product for the approved price.

“We cannot buy a product between 220 to 240 naira, transport it for about N50, which is already N300, and then expect the marketer to sell to the public for N200 or N190. It is not realisable,” he maintained.

Credit: This Day

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NIMC TO PAY TWO- YEAR BACKLOG OF PAYMENT TO FEPS IN MARCH – DG  

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) says it is ready to clear the outstanding payment owed to its Front-End Partners (FEPs) within the first quarter of 2024.

Director General of NIMC, Engineer Abisoye Coker-Odusote gave the assurance in a statement issued in Abuja, even as she expressed sympathy with the FEPs who have been burdened with running their businesses for 2 years without payment.

She said: “The National Identity Management Commission, under my leadership has conducted a revalidation exercise to review the outstanding payments which the new management inherited with a view to offsetting the debt after going through due audit process to validate the claims made by the FEPs.”

“In the process, we found out that some of the invoices submitted by the FEPs did not tally with the enrolment figures shown on the database thus prompting the revalidation exercise to confirm the true and accurate enrolment information.”

“Notwithstanding, we are wrapping up the audit process, and the activation of the FEPs will be done according to the outcome of the validation exercise.”

“We sympathise with our partners over the delay and appeal for understanding especially as the new NIMC management is just a few months in the saddle and had been working on resolving all inherited debts.”

“Unfortunately, the previous management could not clear the outstanding dues because of lack of funds but we are working hard to source for the funds to clear the debt.” 

“I therefore use the opportunity to reiterate that the revalidation exercise was aimed at sanitizing the system as well as ensuring efficient and effective enrolment processes in line with international best practices of securing citizens’ data.”

The Commission assured concerned Nigerians that payment will be made to the Front-end Partners in the first quarter of 2024 and added that there are plans to hold a stakeholders engagement summit this month.

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Coker – Odusote:100 Days at the Helm of NIMC

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By Walter Duru, Ph.D

It was Albert Einstein that once said that “setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” That sentiment expressed by Einstein is the primary essence behind the theory of transformational leadership, which requires passion, charisma, and the ability to motivate others. Transformational leaders are usually very authentic, emotionally intelligent, great listeners, results-focused, visionary, and self-aware.

In just 100 days at the helm of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote has ushered in a new era of transformational leadership, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Her eventual confirmation as substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission did not come to many as a surprise.

She did not waste time to hit the ground running and showed commitment to advancing the NIMC’s mission and mandate.

Coker-Odusote has taken steps to streamline National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes, while addressing the long-standing challenges associated with identity registration in Nigeria. This, she is handling through strategic restructuring and the integration of advanced technologies with a view to significantly reduce waiting time and enhance the overall efficiency of the system.

Today, date of birth and other kinds of modifications at NIMC happen within 48 hours. The several years backlog of date of birth modifications she inherited are almost cleared, as she had given a one-month deadline for the same to relevant staff of the Commission.

Again, responses to issues and complaints, such as those whose National Identity Numbers did not hit the NIN Verification Portal are now resolved within 24 hours.

Recognizing the paramount importance of data security in the digital age, the NIMC CEO has taken steps to enhance data security by introducing robust measures to fortify the protection of citizens’ sensitive information. This includes, but not limited to the adoption of cutting-edge encryption technologies and the establishment of a dedicated cybersecurity team.

Her interest in improving service delivery at NIMC cannot be overemphasized. She has concluded plans to ensure regular training and retraining for staff of the Commission, emphasizing customer-centric approaches, to ensure a more positive experience for citizens seeking identity services.

On partnerships, Coker-Odusote, leveraging her extensive network and expertise, has forged strategic partnerships with governmental agencies, private organizations, and international bodies. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management.

Understanding the pivotal role of technology in modernizing identity management, Engr. Coker-Odusote has spearheaded the integration of biometric advancements and artificial intelligence into the registration and verification processes.

This not only improves accuracy, user experience and ease of enrolment, but also positions NIMC at the forefront of technological innovation in identity management. A typical example is the NIMC Contactless Biometric Solution, which delivers a best-in-class fingerprint and facial capture image output quality, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The new solution was unveiled by the commission at the 2023 Identity Day, held in Abuja on September 16, 2023.

In addition, Engr. Coker-Odusote tackled the existing backlog of unprocessed identity requests head-on. Through a combination of strategic staff deployment and redeployment, process optimization, and digitization initiatives, she has made significant strides in clearing the backlog, demonstrating her commitment to prompt and efficient service delivery.

Recognizing the crucial role played by the NIMC staff in achieving organizational goals, the CEO has developed for implementation, a robust welfare programme aimed at boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. This includes, but not limited to training opportunities, health benefits, and performance recognition initiatives.

Furthermore, in consultation with in-house experts, elaborate public awareness campaigns are being planned, to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the importance and benefits of identity registration. These campaigns are expected to not only educate the public, but also serve to demystify the registration process, encouraging greater participation.

The NIMC DG has concluded plans to take the ecosystem enrolment forward by taking steps to deepen collaboration with ecosystem implementing partners, supporting to ensure the success and optimal performance of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, a Nigerian Project jointly funded by The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, and the French Development Agency.

Engr. Coker-Odusote’s strategic vision, commitment to efficiency, and emphasis on technological innovation positions NIMC for a future where identity management is not only secure but also seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of citizens.

On anti-corruption, the NIMC DG has left no one in doubt on her determination to sanitize the system, entrench a culture of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from putting systems and structures in place to discourage graft, she is directly involved in ensuring that the cankerworm has no place in the commission.

Just recently, in what one may describe as a sting operation, she paid an unscheduled visit to the Federal Capital Territory office of the commission, where she is reported to have arrested some staff for allegedly extorting money from Nigerians, even as she has maintained that enrolment was free.

Her devotion to supporting the policy direction of the present administration by strengthening the issuance of the NIN for access to service is not in doubt.

Speaking on Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office as NIMC CEO, Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Musa Odole Solomon described her as a vibrant, results-focused leader, determined to make a difference in the Commission.

“She has taken steps to build bridges of collaboration between NIMC and partners within the country’s identity ecosystem. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management in Nigeria.”

“The collaboration is also focused on enhancing handshake with institutions involved in the country’s identity ecosystem, with a view to deepening integration with the country’s Identity Management System.”

“In 100 days, she has taken the lead in working with the Nigeria Digital ID4D Project to speed up project implementation process, especially, processes geared towards the extension of NIN enrolment to hard-to-reach areas, women, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups, thereby fostering inclusion and access to social services.”

“She has introduced some innovations that I consider very progressive, and things are moving very well. The Nigeria Digital ID4D Project is happy to work with her, as she has shown that she has all it takes to assist us succeed.”

Responding to a question on his impression about the NIMC DG’s leadership style and the future of the relationship between NIMC and his organisation, Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra stressed that the relationship between NIMC and NPC has become more robust under Coker-Odusote’s leadership as NIMC CEO.

“I want to say that the National Population Commission has a long and robust collaborative partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in our efforts to harmonize and integrate biometric databases for planning and development of our country.”

“However, this partnership has become more dynamic and robust with the assumption into office of Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote as the Director General of NIMC. She has shown an unparalleled commitment and passion in working with the Commission, not only in registration of births and deaths, but also the upcoming population census. She comes across as a thoroughbred professional and innovator who will give Africa’s greatest nation a deserved identity profile for national unity, security, and development. I am more confident in the future of the Identity Management Commission under her.”

Responding to a question on the new grounds covered at the NIMC ICT, Director, IT/Identity Database of the Commission, Chuks Onyepunuka has this to say:

“Our DG is pragmatic, proactive, result-oriented and visionist. Her achievements in ICT in NIMC in the last 100 days include, but not limited to: “launching of self-modification and enrolments services to ease and simplify the processes for enrolment services; driving the clearing of about 3 million backlog of enrolment records awaiting manual adjudication within 3 weeks; decentralization of operations with objectives of ensuring that we are closer to the enrolees and adequate coverage in the nooks and crannies of the country.”

“Others are improvement in the process of engaging and revalidating our Frontend Enrolment Partners (FEPs); improvement in our ICT policies, processes and procedures; resolution of 95% challenges/issues affecting our window enrolment software (Res-Web) and commenced the integration and harmonization with National Population Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).”

Adding her voice, NIMC’s Director, Business Development and Commercial Services, Mrs. Carolyn Folami described the DG as a thoroughbred professional, committed to resetting the Commission for the good of the nation.

“It has been only 100 days, but it seems she has been here far longer, as within this period, we have achieved a couple of goals towards resetting the NIMC agenda and resettling the NIMC staff for productivity.”

“Starting with the planning and commencement of training of all staff, to the commitment to all Front-End Partners (FEP) to revalidate the business model for fair play and payment. She is very keen on stakeholder engagement and has secured the buy- in of our harmonisation partners for effectiveness. She is professional, thorough, dedicated, and above all, kind to all.

Adding his voice, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Project Implementation Unit, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Dr. Emmanuel Akogun argued that Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office were characterised by “dynamic, focused and results – oriented leadership,” adding that there is steady progress in NIN enrolment, with “103,500,000 Nigerians and other legal residents captured in the NIMC Database.”

There is therefore no gainsaying the fact that Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days as CEO of the NIMC have been marked by a series of commendable achievements.

At this point, one can confidently say that with Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote as Chief Executive Officer, NIMC is in safe hands.

Her recent confirmation as substantive Director General/CEO of the Commission is clearly an act of patriotism by the Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

However, as she commences a full tenure of office, following her recent confirmation, one expects that the standard is not lowered.

As she marks 100 days in office this week, the most challenging part of Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s journey as Chief Executive Officer of the NIMC is the need to sustain the successes recorded, remain focused, deepen stakeholder engagement and public enlightenment, check corruption, strengthen systems and structures, be fair to all, while supporting the policy direction of the present administration.

Deliberate steps must be taken to ensure the sustenance of the war against extortion at NIMC.

Again, a deliberate plan should be in place to ensure a more robust stakeholder collaboration, particularly with those involved in the country’s identity ecosystem.

Elaborate, sustained communication and public enlightenment activities are required, taking advantage of the conventional and unconventional channels of communication to inform, educate and mobilize the citizens on the need for all to register for the NIN. This requires a deliberate strategy and strategic implementation.

Finally, a deliberate inclusion strategy must be in place and vigorously implemented to ensure that no one is left behind.

As the DG continues to lead with passion and purpose, NIMC is poised for even greater accomplishments under her guidance.

Indeed, NIMC is in safe hands!

Dr. Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design) is a Communication/Public Relations Strategist, Researcher and Consultant. He could be reached on walterchike@gmail.com

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Ministry of Finance Incorporated: Can Takang Deliver?

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Walter Duru, Ph.D

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has just appointed a new leadership for the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), an asset holding and management company under the Federal Ministry of Finance, with mandate as the sole manager of all federal government investment interests.

According to a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, former Finance Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman is reappointed as Chairman of a 10-man Board of Directors of MOFI, while Dr. Armstrong Ume Takang is also reappointed to serve as the Managing Director/CEO of the organisation.

The other appointees include Tajudeen Datti Ahmed, Executive Director, Portfolio Management; Femi Ogunseinde, Executive Director, Investment Management and Mrs. Oluwakemi Owonubi, Executive Director, Risk.

The non-executive directors are Mr. Ike Chioke, Ms. Chantelle Abdul, Mr. Alheri Nyako, Mr. Bolaji Rafiu Elelu and Mrs. Fatima Nana Mede.

To describe the team as perfect is an understatement, as, when something is described as sweet, it is also important to state what it tastes like. The crux of this article is the appropriateness of the person of the Managing Director, Dr. Armstrong Ume Takong, saddled with the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the organisation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and governance, the appointment of a CEO/Managing Director plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of an organization.

Dr. Armstrong Takang emerges as the ideal candidate for the leadership role at the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, bringing with him a wealth of experience, a proven track record, and a vision for transformative change.

Dr. Takang’s academic background, marked by advanced degrees in Computer Science, Finance and Business exposure/experience, sets the stage for his understanding of the intricate dynamics within the financial, business and investment sector(s). He is well equipped with strategies for exploring progressive solutions to economic challenges.

With an impressive career spanning over decades, Dr. Takang has honed his leadership skills in both public and private sectors. His tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of a leading multinational corporation showcased his ability to navigate complex landscapes, implement strategic financial planning, and drive sustainable growth. These experiences uniquely position him to bring a fresh perspective to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

One of Dr. Takang’s standout qualities is his commitment to transparency and accountability. In an era where financial governance is under intense scrutiny, his track record of implementing robust financial controls and ensuring adherence to international standards is commendable.

This commitment to transparency not only fosters trust but also aligns with MOFI’s mission to uphold the highest standards of fiscal responsibility.

Furthermore, Dr. Takang’s innovative approach to problem-solving sets him apart as a forward-thinking leader. His past initiatives, such as spearheading digital transformation in financial processes and advocating for sustainable financial practices, underscore his ability to embrace change and leverage technology for efficiency gains.

In an era where agility and adaptability are crucial, Dr. Takang’s progressive mindset positions MOFI for success in the face of evolving economic landscapes.

As a leader, Dr. Takang places a premium on talent development and team collaboration. His previous roles have seen him cultivate high-performing teams by fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

This emphasis on human capital is pivotal for the MOFI, ensuring that it can effectively navigate the challenges of an ever-changing global economy.

Beyond his professional acumen, Dr. Takang is known for his civic engagement and commitment to corporate social responsibility. His involvement in community development projects demonstrates a holistic understanding of the impact businesses can have on society. His previous positions, leadership roles and achievements speak volumes for him.

Prior to being MOFI’s CEO, Takang was the CEO of Growth Alliance Partners (GAP), a pan-African firm focused on providing post-investment value-add services to Private Equity backed businesses. He helped to turn around several businesses to create shareholder value.

His decades-long career in investment consultancy and public reforms traverses the public and private sectors across Africa, and in the US, where he worked at the New York Office of the KPMG.

He was Team Lead for a Private Banking Group, managed the Integrated Financial and Economic Management Information System (IFEMIS) Project in Nigeria, and led the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Many do not know that Dr Armstrong was pivotal in designing and implementing several national initiatives like the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT under NITDA, the ICT component of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)/Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), among others.

He is not new in the political environment, particularly, within the Ministry of Finance. He was Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, as well as Lead of the MOFI Transformation Team. It is a terrain that he is very conversant with, and this will ease stakeholder engagement, particularly, when there is a proper stakeholder management strategy in place.

Dr. Armstrong Takang’s appointment as the CEO of MOFI is a strategic move toward ushering in a new era of financial leadership, inclusivity, and discipline in managing public investments.

His blend of academic excellence, extensive experience, commitment to transparency, innovative thinking, and emphasis on talent development makes him the perfect fit for steering MOFI towards greater heights.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the leadership of MOFI, as announced, is a perfect combination. The transformations that MOFI has experienced in the last eleven months, under the leadership of Dr. Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, and Dr. Armstrong Takong as Chief Executive Officer is evident and must not be paused.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, Nigerians expect that Dr. Takang’s leadership must not only meet the challenges of the present, but proactively shape the future of financial governance.

It is safe to conclude that Mr. President’s decision to reappoint the duo of Shamsudeen Usman and Armstrong Takong is an act of patriotism.

Permit me to also single out Mr. Ike Chioke, the Group Managing Director at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, who also made the list, as a non-executive director.

With the calibre of persons on the present MOFI leadership team, failure is not an option.

MOFI is expected to support the Federal Government’s efforts towards addressing economic challenges, while spurring the renewal of the economy. There is no better time to be relevant.

Expectations are very high, and Nigerians are in a hurry to see results. Let Federal Government’s investments work for the country.

The time to act is now!

Dr. Chike Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication) is a communication expert, researcher, public relations, and stakeholder engagement consultant. He could be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

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