Monday, May 25, 2015

Africa Day 2015 - Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Agenda 2063
Government of Mauritius

Over the years, the condition of women in Africa has certainly improved from what it used to be. Female life expectancy is increasing, more girls are going to school, more women are in paid workforce and many African countries have introduced laws to protect women's rights.

However, still more remains to be done in terms of participation of women in decision making instances, addressing gender based violence, and respecting the rights of women in the social, economic and political domains.

This statement is part of the message of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, on the occasion of Africa Day 2015 which is observed on May 25.

In his message the Minister underlines that it has been acknowledged and reiterated, time and again, how women are the pillars of a successful development process.

The theme for this year, "2015 Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063", is thus timely as it gives gender mainstreaming a renewed momentum to harness political leadership and overcome gaps and challenges pertaining to gender disparities. The theme further adds value to the proclamation of the years 2010-2020 as the African Women's Decade.

Minister Sinatambou outlines that a fundamental area where women's participation is most meaningful is peace and security decision-making, both during and after peace negotiations. Hence, while implementing the flagship project of Africa Agenda 2063 on the silencing of guns by 2020, the participation of women and girls in all peace and security processes and structures will be strongly encouraged.

He further emphasised that recognising that women remain a most important pillar for accelerated growth, Mauritius has placed women at the heart of its development. Various legislations pertaining to women's rights have been enacted and policies and programmes have been devised to uplift the status of the Mauritian womenfolk.

Government is determined to consolidate and sustain its interventions and aims to see more individuals, institutions, the community and society at large supporting women's empowerment and gender equality.

The Minister concluded by stating that the celebration of Africa Day today marks the opening of new opportunities to renew our commitment and political will at the national and Continental levels and to unleash the full potential of women. Hence, Africa Agenda 2063 translates "Africa Rising" from myth to reality and gender mainstreaming will no more remain a mere rhetoric.
All-Africa Students Union Statement On 2015 Africa Day
Press Release
May 25, 2015 0

On 25th May, every year, the world celebrates African Day. The Day is commemorated within Africa and amongst African Diaspora in order to encourage the rapprochement of African people and of African origin in view of acting together to reinforce African unity, promote peace and stability for the development and socio-economic progress of the continent.

As a reminder May 25 is a memorable date marking the signing of the constitutive act of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 that has become the African Union (AU) since 2002. Divided in 54 States on an area of 30million sqkm2, with a population of over one billion people representing 16% of world population, Africa is a part of the planet earth engorging enough natural and human resources capable of being transformed in real riches for the benefit of its inhabitants.

For those who have Africa and its future in heart, this Day should be an occasion for sober reflection and debate on the current political, economic and social situation of the continent, but also on the attitudes of the actors who manage the different sectors of African society.

Africa is still a continent confronted with serious problems that are hampering its collective takeoff towards its emergence. There is a real problem of democratic governance. It is a tiny minority of the ruling class that holds the quasi-totality of resources of the continent. There are practically no viable social distribution structures of the meager available financial resources amongst the vast majority of the people miring in an unimaginable misery.

The ideal of the fathers of African independence, to unite the continent and promote economic integration, has as the years pass become a nightmare if not a fare away dream hardly realizable.

Africa is ever divided and cannot speak with one voice on a number of crucial subjects of continental interests.

The African continent is still engulfed in internal armed conflicts, civil and ethnic wars which are most of the time fuelled from outside with their cohorts of violation of basic human rights and the dilapidation of the natural resources etc.

It is important for everybody to understand that the establishment of real democratic system, good governance and independent judiciary are important principles to resolve the problems confronting the continent.

However its current positive economic growth, youthful and more and more well informed population and its immense natural resources make Africa the continent of the future if its institutions of learning are adapted to the reality, its structures of good governance and the management of its natural resources are upright.

The All Africa Students Union (AASU), on this important occasion of Africa Day, calls once more on African Leaders to materialize without any further delay the integration of the continent as that was the raison d’être of the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU) and as it has been demonstrated times again that is the way to ensure its future.

AASU demands on the part of African leaders to exercise their political power within the framework of the law and the respect of the fundamental texts governing the management of the State.

AASU condemns any constitutional manipulation in order to enable leaders to perpetuate themselves to power as it is the situation in Burundi.

All for Africa integration!
Long live African Unity!

Awaah Fred
(Secretary General)
secgen@aasuonline.org/akaphari@yahoo.com/ +233(0)243101626
Africa Day 25 May 2015
25/05/2015
Vatican Radio

By the late 19th century, the whole African continent was under colonial rule by Britain, France, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

This is what is often referred to as a period of the ‘Scramble for Africa.’

The "Scramble for Africa" is the popular name for the invasion, occupation, colonisation and annexation of African territory by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. This period is also called the Partition of Africa and the Conquest of Africa.

In 1870, only 10 percent of Africa was under European control. By 1914 it was 90 percent of the continent, with only Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Liberia still being independent.

The Berlin Conference of 1884, which regulated European colonisation and trade in Africa is usually referred to as the starting point of the Conquest of Africa.

In 1914, when Germany and Italy were defeated at the end of the First World War, they lost their colonial territories in Africa to the victors.

To this day, Africa’s artificial boundaries drawn up during the partition of Africa continue to create wars and conflict. The boundaries were drawn across tribal lands.

With more countries gaining independence in the 1960s, there was a felt need, by the newly independent nations, for an organisation that would express collectively the aspirations of African people and their struggles. And so it came to pass that on 25 May 1963 African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).  Africa Day was thus born and through this day, Africans celebrate the cherished ideal of African unity.

To further cement the push towards a more unified Africa, the OAU decided in Lomé, Togo, in the year 2000, to expand and transform itself and some of its earlier ideals. Two years later, the OAU was officially disbanded. On 9 July 2002, in Lusaka, Zambia the OAU was reconstituted as the African Union (AU).

As almost all African countries are politically independent, Africa Day is becoming more of a day for awareness creation about matters African.  It has also become a platform for informing people about the political and developmental challenges of modern-day Africa.

The day has also a cultural dimension to it, that is, celebrating African life, culture, the gift of music, bright colours and art.

e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va
Zuma: Learn African Union Anthem
May 24 2015 at 03:40pm

President Jacob Zuma at the Africa Day celebration held at University of Pretoria, Mamelodi Campus.

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma on Sunday urged South Africans to learn the African Union anthem, and asked companies and institutions to fly the African Union flag alongside that of the national flag.

“On this 21st year of being part of the AU, we must begin a new chapter and formalise the promotion of the AU and our African identity in every aspect of life,” Zuma said while speaking at an Africa Day event at the University of Pretoria.

“Starting today, every school, church or community choir and individuals, must practice the African Union anthem so that we can sing it at all our important gatherings and celebrations.”

We urge South African institutions and companies to begin flying the African Union flag together with the South African flag.”

Africa Day is officially celebrated on May 25 to commemorate the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union (AU).

South Africa joined the OAU on May 23, 1994.

Zuma said South Africans should reclaim their African identity which was suppressed during the apartheid era.

South Africa would continue working with the AU to advance peace and stability on the continent.

“We are proud of our modest contribution to the success of the continent through involvement in peacemaking, peacekeeping as well as reconstruction and development, working within the ambit of the African Union with other sister countries,” said Zuma.

“We continue to work together as Africans to find solutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Mali, Sudan, the Central African Republic and other parts of the continent facing challenges such as Burundi in recent weeks.”

While the continent continued to show advancements on the economic front, more work needed to be done, said Zuma.

“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. We have a sound socio-economic development plan in the form of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD. We have clear programmes to advance infrastructure development, industrialisation and advancement in agriculture, health and other social programmes,” he said.

“The challenge is to make the growth inclusive and for it to translate into an improved quality of life for the one billion Africans who inhabit our continent.”

- ANA
Burkina Faso to Exhume Body of Slain Ex-leader Sankara
Captain Thomas Sankara, former president of Burkina Faso, gives a press conference in Harare, on September 2, 1986

Ouagadougou (AFP) - The remains of slain former president Thomas Sankara and 12 of his colleagues who were assassinated during a coup d'etat in 1987 will be exhumed Monday, a judicial source said Sunday.

Thomas Sankara was a popular Marxist army captain who came to power in a 1983 coup and transformed what was then the former French colony of Upper Volta into Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso authorities in March ordered the corpse to be exhumed so it could be formally identified.

"Tomorrow Monday at 8:00 am (0800 GMT), we will proceed to exhume the bodies of president Thomas Sankara and 12 others," mostly members of the military who died at the same time, the source told AFP.

Lawyer Benewende Stanislas Sankara, who is not related to the former head of state, told AFP the leader's relatives and their legal representatives have been "summoned by the investigative judge to attend the exhumation of the bodies".

The coup that killed Sankara put Blaise Compaore into power for 27 years, until a major popular uprising late last year led to his removal.

Sankara's remains are said to be buried in a cemetary of the Dagnoen district of Ouagadougou, but his family and supporters doubt that is true.

Throughout his years in power, Compaore refused to investigate Sankara's murder.

The exhumation by two doctors from Burkina Faso and a third from France will allow experts to "identify, using DNA tests, whether it really is the body of president Thomas (Sankara) in this tomb", the lawyer said.

They will also be able to determine "the cause of death", he added.

Dubbed Africa's "Che Guevara" by admirers, Sankara's reputation spread far beyond Burkina's landlocked borders because of his determined anti-imperialist outlook and a raft of measures to end dependency on foreign aid.
New Orleans Cop Shot Dead Inside His Patrol Car Near Superdome
45-year-old was pulling over after striking a curb in marked patrol car
Police were called to the scene at 7am, he was dead with shot wounds
The officer has not been named as his family is informed of his death

It is the first fatality since the housing authority security team became a police force in April 2012. Mayor Landrieu called it a 'vile, cowardly act'

By REUTERS
20:43 EST, 24 May 2015

A New Orleans housing authority police officer was found shot to death as he sat inside a patrol car near a construction site, officials said on Sunday, in a fresh reminder of the dangers of working in law enforcement in the United States.

Police responded just after 7am to a radio call from the Housing Authority of New Orleans reporting a patrolman had been shot, police said in a statement.

The officer, 45, was on patrol near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints, and was believed to have been shot while inside his marked patrol car, which had come to a stop after striking a curb, police said.

'After the officer was shot, his marked unit rolled forward and came to a stop at the intersection,' New Orleans Police Department spokesman Garry Flot said, adding that the department was 'investigating the murder.'

The officer, whose name was not released pending notification of his family, had been a member of the Housing Authority department since 2013.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3095578/New-Orleans-police-officer-mysteriously-shot-dead-patrol-car-went-park-near-Superdrome-Sunday-morning.html#ixzz3b7YkQguq
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Neo-Colonial Libya Attacks Ship Near ISIS-controlled Port
1:01 PM ET, Sun May 24, 2015

The puppet Libyan air force attacked a ship near Sirte port, one official says
Neo-Colonial Libya says the ship was trying to offload mercenaries, weapons and ammunition

A ship filled with "mercenaries, weapons and ammunition" was attacked by a neo-colonial Libyan air force plane Sunday morning, the chief of the air force told CNN.

Saqr al-Joroushi, the head of the western-backed Libyan air force for the imperialist-recognized Tobruk-based government, said the attack took place off the coast of Sirte after Libya received information that the ship was allegedly bringing fuel for ISIS. The fuel was destined for electricity stations in Sirte, which ISIS controls, he claimed.

"The fighter jet warned off the unflagged ship, giving it time to reassess, opposite Sirte port, but the ship ignored the warning," he said in a statement to Libya's state news agency, LANA.

The ship was slightly damaged after being hit by one rocket but is still near Sirte port, he told CNN in a phone call.

It's not known exactly where the ship or the fuel came from, according to al-Joroushi, other than "the north."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Britain Is 'Helping Turn Libya Into a Cradle of Terrorism' Exporting Killers to Europe Amid Thousands of Illegal Immigrants
Mahmoud Jibril was Libya's interim prime minister when Gaddafi was killed

Claims muddled policies have allowed ISIS to reduce the nation to anarchy
He uses example of the 21 Coptic Christian's beheaded on a beach by ISIS

By NABILA RAMDANI IN SWEIMEH, DEAD SEA, JORDAN
09:19 EST, 24 May 2015

Britain is helping turn Libya into a 'cradle of terrorism' exporting killers to Europe along with thousands of illegal migrants, one of the country's senior politicians has warned.

'Actually, ISIS's threats were very clear, and very open, when they slaughtered those twenty one Coptics in Libya.

'Their message to Europe was very clear, was very open, it was not implicit, it was a very explicit threat - that they will be coming to European shores.'

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on North Africa and the Middle East, Mr Jibril said:

'Actually we believed the international community's intervention was to protect civilians but it turned out that their main purpose was to get rid of Gaddafi.

'What civilians are exposed to right now is much more horrible, and much more dangerous than what took place in 2011, and the world community doesn't raise a figure about that.

Mr Jibril (next to David Cameron in 2011) was speaking at the World Economic Forum on North Africa and the Middle East,

'I remember October 2011, by the end of the Nato bombing campaign I was in Brussels.

'I was pleading to the European Union, saying the mission was just about to start now, saying don't leave us before we rebuild our institutions. It is now that we really need help.

'It's easy to destroy a home, but the hardest part is to rebuild that home, unfortunately nobody listened.

'I think the Europeans will pay a heavy price now, for not listening to that call for help. We even sent a letter asking them to extend the mission for a few months, but they refused.'

Thousands of migrants from all over the world are now using Libya as a gateway to Europe, with many drowning as they attempt perilous sea crossings organised by people smugglers.

ISIS SEIZE KEY BORDER CROSSING - BUT IRAQI FORCES REGAIN GROUND

Islamic State extremists have seized the Iraqi side of a key border crossing with Syria after isolated government forces pulled out.

'Daesh (IS) early this morning took control of the Al-Walid post on the border between Iraq and Syria after the withdrawal of the army and the Iraqi border police,' a police colonel said.

The jihadists had seized the Syrian side, known as Al-Tanaf, three days earlier, leaving Iraqi forces guarding the remote outpost in Anbar province very vulnerable.

The police colonel said the government forces at Al-Walid temporarily pulled back to the nearby Trebil border crossing with Jordan.

IS fighters seized another border crossing between Anbar and Syria last year. The other crossing between the two countries is further north and controlled by Kurdish forces.

The head of Anbar’s border commission confirmed that government forces had pulled out of Al-Walid.

'There was no military support for the security forces and there weren’t enough of them to protect the crossing,' Suad Jassem said.

'Daesh now controls both sides of both crossings,' she said.

It came as Iraqi forces regained ground from Islamic State militants in western Iraq on Sunday, advancing towards the city of Ramadi one week after it fell to the insurgents.

A police major and a pro-government Sunni tribal fighter in the area said they had retaken the town of Husaiba al-Sharqiya, about 10 km east of Ramadi, with the help of Shi'ite paramilitaries.

Shi'ite militias, Iraqi security forces and pro-government Sunni tribal fighters launched a counter-offensive on Saturday against the insurgents, who have pushed east towards a key military base after overruning Ramadi.

Mr Jibril warned that, by 2050, some 350 million young people from Africa would be looking for work abroad and, if Libya remained a 'black hole', it would continue to be their main 'funnel' into Europe.

Many of the illegal migrants from countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya itself arrive in Italy, and some make their way to Britain via Channel ports in France.

Mr Jibril warned that the number of IS killers in Libya had swelled from a few dozen six months ago, to some 2000 today, and a number were likely to be Europe bound too.

Referring to IS as Daesh, Mr Jibril said: 'A combined militia could crush them, but without political agreement I fear that Libya will become a black hole that will engulf all its neighbours in North Africa, the sub-Saharan Sahel and Europe.'

Mr Jibril added that: 'There are currently more than 27 million weapons in Libya. These could arm more than seven African countries.'

Bernardino Leon Gross, the UN Special Representative working to create a 'national dialogue' between internationally recognised governments based in both Tripoli and Benghazi, was also at the Forum in Sweimeh, Jordan.

He said 'agreement is crucial' to prevent the crisis growing even more serious, and urged the creation of a national unity government 'in a few months' time'.

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's former president, has been accused of wanting Gaddafi dead because the Libyan paid him millions in undeclared cash..

Mr Sarkozy feared that evidence against him would be uncovered during the Arab Spring revolt of 2011, but now denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Cameron has insisted that the attacks on Libya were justified, even though the UN resolution which sanctioned bombing were solely aimed at 'protecting civilian lives', rather than killing Gaddafi.

Libya was plunged into chaos following Gaddafi's death, with heavily armed militias and terrorist groups such as IS all competing for control of the country's massive energy wealth.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3094893/Britain-helping-turn-Libya-cradle-terrorism-exporting-killers-Europe-amid-thousands-illegal-immigrants.html#ixzz3b7PFYNJR
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Cleveland Streets Are Calm, but Anger Lingers Day After Officer’s Acquittal
By MITCH SMITH
New York Times
MAY 24, 2015

CLEVELAND — The 10 a.m. service at Elizabeth Baptist Church should have been a joyous occasion. It was Pentecost Sunday. The weather was beautiful. Worshipers applauded schoolchildren who received A’s and B’s on their report cards.

But 24 hours before the congregants gathered to sing hymns and take communion, a judge had acquitted a Cleveland police officer of manslaughter for his role in a car pursuit that ended with two unarmed black people fatally shot. The not-guilty verdict sparked demonstrations Saturday that began in orderly fashion but ended with dozens of arrests and prompted conversations at Elizabeth and across Cleveland about the city’s racial disparities.

Cleveland’s streets had calmed by Sunday morning, but many at Elizabeth suggested that the verdict had only exacerbated tensions between the justice system and this city’s African-American population. The Rev. Richard M. Gibson, the church’s pastor, said from the pulpit that the acquittal had left him angry, and eager for systemic change to the police and the courts.

“We cannot allow what has happened to go forward on our watch,” Pastor Gibson told his mostly black congregation.

Elizabeth is among roughly 40 faith groups that are part of Greater Cleveland Congregations, an organization that has called for drastic changes in how the law is administered here. Many members of Elizabeth say they live in a city where the system is rigged against black people, a perspective that has received increased attention amid heightened scrutiny of the Cleveland police and officer-involved shootings.

The verdict came as the city awaits a decision from prosecutors on whether to charge the officer who last year shot and killed Tamir Rice, 12, who was playing with a replica gun near a playground, and the officer who restrained Tanisha Anderson, 37. Ms. Anderson, who suffered from bipolar disorder and heart disease, died after she was restrained face down on the pavement.

Those cases have also drawn national attention, and Tamir’s name was chanted repeatedly Saturday. Many critics of the police say they fear that the verdict bodes poorly for the chances of convictions in the other cases.

Cleveland is also in negotiations with the Justice Department for a consent decree that would mandate changes to the city’s police. A federal report found last year that Cleveland officers engaged in a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force.”

Officer Michael Brelo, the patrolman acquitted on Saturday, was one of several officers who fired a combined 137 shots at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in a car chase on Nov. 29, 2012. Police said they believed gunfire was coming from Mr. Russell’s car during the pursuit, but he and Ms. Williams were later found to be unarmed. Officer Brelo was singled out for the manslaughter charges because he climbed onto the hood after the pursuit ended and fired at least 15 rounds into the car, which prosecutors claimed was unjustified. In his acquittal, a judge ruled that Officer Brelo had feared for his life and that his actions were protected by law.

Though Cleveland’s population has a black majority, and though the mayor and the police chief are black, many African-Americans here say racial tensions and mistrust of law enforcement are common. Some speak of “two Clevelands” — a mostly white city with a bustling downtown and increased commercial development, and a mostly black one where schools are struggling and crime rates are high, and the police are not trusted.

That dichotomy was on display Saturday night as more than 100 protesters, many of them black, blocked traffic and chanted downtown about the verdict and broader perceived injustices. As the police followed the march, the protesters passed group after group of patrons dining outside at fashionable restaurants. Most of the diners were white, and many had come downtown for a Cleveland Indians baseball game. The protesters walked past many such places without incident, but at one point, the police said, a protester threw a sign at a restaurant patron. At other times, baseball fans loudly suggested that the protesters go home.

As the evening progressed and tensions rose, officers ordered demonstrators to leave. Most did not do so, and the police said 71 were arrested, many on charges of aggravated rioting and obstruction of justice.

“We only moved in to make arrests when things got violent and protesters refused to disperse,” Police Chief Calvin D. Williams said. “We want people to understand we’re going to help you in this process, but if things turn violent in this situation, we will take action.”

Despite Saturday’s flare-ups, Cleveland has mostly avoided the violent unrest seen in Ferguson, Mo., where a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man last year, and Baltimore, where a black man died after being injured in a police van. Cleveland officials have worked with clergy members and other community leaders in hopes of staving off violence, and the efforts seem to have worked so far.

Greater Cleveland Congregations, the group Elizabeth belongs to, released a statement after the verdict, seeking broad changes to the region’s justice system. The statement mentioned high incarceration rates, racial disparities in arrests and felonies for nonviolent offenders. The congregations group, which is a local chapter of the national Industrial Areas Foundation, also seeks a consent decree between the Justice Department and the Cleveland police.

“I am certain that things are going to change in this community,” Pastor Gibson said from the pulpit Sunday. “I am certain that there will be leadership change in this city.”

But after the service, Pastor Gibson said he was unsure that the city’s leadership was truly committed to change. In news conferences over the weekend, Mayor Frank Jackson repeatedly said that the city welcomed peaceful protests, and that he believed demonstrations could lead to meaningful changes. Through a spokesman, he declined an interview request Sunday seeking further details. Some protesters have spoken in support of an effort to recall the mayor.

In the case involving Officer Brelo, the city has settled wrongful death lawsuits brought by the couple’s families for $3 million. Seventy-five officers have been disciplined for their roles in the chase and the shooting. An internal review that was paused during the trial was expected to resume after the verdict. Officer Brelo will remain on unpaid leave until the review is completed.

After church on Sunday, many at Elizabeth Baptist said they were disappointed in his acquittal, but far from shocked. That lack of surprise, they said, hinted at a deeper problem.

“Leading up to the verdict, there was already conversation about preventing rioting because the assumption was, in fact, that he was going to get off,” said Jacqueline Gillon, a church member and lifelong Cleveland resident. “That’s troubled me from the beginning, that there was never a general belief that justice would be done. It’s another smack in the face for our humanity.”
Demonstration Planned as Oakland Cracks Down on Protesters
Oakland riot police during the Occupy Movement of 2011.
By ALICE WALTON

Demonstrators, officials at odds in Oakland over continuing protests

A series of weekend protests in Oakland exposed the tensions between city leaders and demonstrators as they negotiate the delicate balance between public safety and civil liberties.

Problems began May 1 when a peaceful rally against police brutality turned violent as some protesters broke storefront windows and set fires. As a result, Mayor Libby Schaaf said the city needed to do a better job enforcing its existing laws against vandalism.

"Oakland protests have been marred, and in many cases shut down, when a small number of vandals have committed illegal acts, and those incidents tend to have happened during nighttime marches on the streets," Schaaf said.

She believes that if protesters rally in public spaces or on the sidewalk, rather than in the street, "we can better avoid vandalism and better avoid protests being ended."

But protesters see the crackdown differently.

An estimated 135 protesters gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza on Saturday. The group later marched from the plaza down Broadway to Washington and Third streets, where officers formed a line. When some demonstrators tried to breech the line, police deployed tear gas, according to a statement from the Oakland Police Department.

An unlawful assembly was declared and about 9:30 p.m., police formed a perimeter to move protesters back to the sidewalk. That’s when protesters who did not comply were arrested and cited. There were no reports of injuries or vandalism.

Demonstrator Cat Brooks has participated in protests in Oakland for the last seven years.

“It’s unfortunate that now we have to divert our attention away from the very pressing crisis of the black community, which is the stealing of our lives,” Brooks said. “It’s a very unfortunate distraction.”

Another protester, Katie Loncke of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, referred to the crackdown as "the shocking institution of a curfew on free speech."

"This is both an extension of the work around the Black Lives Matter movement and concerns around racist policing. It happens to be pushing back against this escalation and the aggression of police in Oakland in responding to nonviolent protests," she said.

Another protest was planned for Sunday evening at 14th Street and Broadway. About 100 protesters and religious leaders were expected to gather for prayer and meditation.

In a statement, the Oakland Police Department said it would “continue to facilitate peaceful demonstrations while enforcing all laws against violence, vandalism, trespassing or other criminal activity.”

Twitter: @thecitymaven
Fuel Scarcity: NLC Threatens to Direct Workers to Stay at Home in Nigeria
May 25, 2015
By Victor Ahuma-Young
Nigerian Vanguard

NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday in Lagos, threatened to direct workers to stay at home should the current fuel scarcity get prolonged.

NLC, in a statement by the Joe Ajaero-led faction of Congress, lamented that with petroleum products’ prices as high as N350 per litre, claims and counter-claims between Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and marketers over so-called  N159 billion  subsidy payments and all state actors looking indifferent, Nigeria was the only country on earth which unacceptably and criminally denied its citizens basic sources of energy, fuel and electricity.

The statement, by Mr. Issa Aremu, a Deputy President of Ajaero faction of NLC said; “After several weeks of deliberate deprivations of petroleum products by both the government and marketers, with all the associated hardships, it is time all Nigerians stopped agonizing and rose in unison against the situation. With petroleum products’ prices as high as N350 per litre, (far above N87 per litre) claims and counter-claims between Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and marketers over so-called N159 billion subsidy payments and all state actors looking indifferent, Nigeria is the only country on earth  which unacceptably and criminally denies its citizens basic sources of energy, fuel and electricity.’’

- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/05/fuel-scarcity-nlc-threatens-to-direct-workers-to-stay-at-home/#sthash.vCtHf61G.dpuf
Nigerian Striking Oil Workers Shut NNPC, Lock Out GMD
Nigeria Daily Trust

Oil workers yesterday morning shut down official and business activities at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Abuja.

Group Managing Director of the corporation Dr. Joseph Dawha was among top management staff of the NNPC that was denied entrance to the tower.

When the union workers prevented the GMD's convoy from gaining entry, he returned back home.

The workers donned mostly in red t-shirts and bowler hat, stormed the towers early morning and barricaded the main entrance.

Business activities in the tower were crippled as staff and other users of the complex could not gain access to carry out their various commercial transactions.

The oil workers' union said the action was to object the transfer of the operatorship by the government of onshore oil block OML 42, sold by Shell, to an indigenous company, Neconde Energy.

The workers, under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said they are calling for the reversal of the award of the operatorship to Niconde.

When asked for an interview with the leader of the striking union, the workers declined to identify their leader or to talk to the press but one worker who agreed to speak but asked not to be named told our reporter that they have resolved the issues and would be dispersing from the gate before evening.

He said there was no need to talk to the press because, "We have called the GMD back, very soon you won't see anybody here but if we have any course to come back tomorrow, I will let you know" he said.

Sources in the corporation told our reporter that work for the day was over as at 12 pm until today (Thursday) because they would not return when the gate would be eventually opened.

One staff told our reporter, "As I talk to you am already at home, if the GMD was not allowed entrance, then who am to go in. It's past one, even if the GMD comes back, for me, I have closed for the day".

Meanwhile, the actions by the workers over the transfer of ownership of OML 42 to two indigenous companies has been condemned by some stakeholders in the industry.

One of the stakeholders, who pleaded anonymity, claimed that the industrial action is very insensitive, and is fueled by some disgruntled senior management staff of the NPDC, who are not happy that the operatorship rights to the JV assets are being transferred to the indigenous companies who all have a 45% stake in the assets.

Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Wednesday is threatening economic activities nationwide. The protesting union members barricaded the entrance of the headquarters of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Abuja thereby preventing the employees from resuming in their efforts to get its management to attend to their demands.

Specifically, PENGASSAN called for a declaration of emergency in the oil and gas sector and urged the incoming government to do everything possible to address the plethora of issues bedevilling the sector in order to ensure its efficiency.

PENGASSAN’s President, Mr. Francis Johnson said in a statement that there were many issues requiring urgent attention from the incoming government to reposition the industry for efficient and effective delivery of its benefits to Nigerians.

For NUPENG members, the Federal Government should assess more critically how the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) was being managed with a view to ensuring that the guiding laws and rules relating to the operations of the company are subverted.

The Assistant General Secretary of NUPENG, Mr. Adamson Momoh, said that the strike against NPDC, which is an arm of NNPC, would continue until the management sees reasons with the workers.

In Lagos, the effects of the strike started manifesting as long queues, which had abated since Monday, became more pronounced in filling stations as motorists renew their struggles to buy fuel.

The unions had given a notice, which expired last weekend, urging the Federal Government to reverse the transfer of operatorship of the Joint Venture, JV, partnership in OMLs 40 and 42 to Neconde Energy Nigeria Limited and Elcrest Exploration and Production Limited.

A statement from the JV partners said the shut-in has affected all NPDC operated assets in joint venture with indigenous companies that had applied for operatorship, except Neconde, which, prior to the crisis, had been awarded the operatorship of OML 42, and immediately got the Joint Task Force (JTF) to secure the assets.

Elcrest (OML 40), which is next in line to be awarded operatorship, Shoreline OML 30 and FHN/Afren (OML 26) have now been shut as oil evacuation is hampered from OML 34 which relies on the OML 30 pumping station.


Nigeria: Strike by two oil unions threatens economic activities

May 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm

The strike by Nigerian oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Wednesday is threatening economic activities nationwide. The protesting union members barricaded the entrance of the headquarters of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Abuja thereby preventing the employees from resuming in their efforts to get its management to attend to their demands.

Specifically, PENGASSAN called for a declaration of emergency in the oil and gas sector and urged the incoming government to do everything possible to address the plethora of issues bedevilling the sector in order to ensure its efficiency.

PENGASSAN’s President, Mr. Francis Johnson said in a statement that there were many issues requiring urgent attention from the incoming government to reposition the industry for efficient and effective delivery of its benefits to Nigerians.

For NUPENG members, the Federal Government should assess more critically how the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) was being managed with a view to ensuring that the guiding laws and rules relating to the operations of the company are subverted.

The Assistant General Secretary of NUPENG, Mr. Adamson Momoh, said that the strike against NPDC, which is an arm of NNPC, would continue until the management sees reasons with the workers.

In Lagos, the effects of the strike started manifesting as long queues, which had abated since Monday, became more pronounced in filling stations as motorists renew their struggles to buy fuel.

The unions had given a notice, which expired last weekend, urging the Federal Government to reverse the transfer of operatorship of the Joint Venture, JV, partnership in OMLs 40 and 42 to Neconde Energy Nigeria Limited and Elcrest Exploration and Production Limited.

A statement from the JV partners said the shut-in has affected all NPDC operated assets in joint venture with indigenous companies that had applied for operatorship, except Neconde, which, prior to the crisis, had been awarded the operatorship of OML 42, and immediately got the Joint Task Force (JTF) to secure the assets.

Elcrest (OML 40), which is next in line to be awarded operatorship, Shoreline OML 30 and FHN/Afren (OML 26) have now been shut as oil evacuation is hampered from OML 34 which relies on the OML 30 pumping station.


NIGERIAN OIL WORKERS DOWN TOOLS OVER SALE OF OML 42

By: Thabile Manala
22 May 2015|16:47 GMT

OML 42 sale causes Nigerian oil workers to shut down official business and activities at the headquarters of the corporation.

These employees are demanding the reversal of the transfer to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). They are against the operatorship of OML 42 by Shoreline Group and Neconde Energy Ltd.

Emmanuel Ojugbana, the spokesman for white-collar oil union Pengassan, told Reuters on Tuesday, "the shut down has not been done yet," but that they would take action if the government had not met with them by the end of the week.

According to CEO of Shoreline Group, Kola Karim, “There was never any sale of OML, the true position is very simple… NPDC, as the operating arm of NNPC, had some assets novated to them to take on the operations about three years ago."

“Benchmarking that to what is happening today, those assets have not been operated efficiently nor does NPDC have the required funding to make sure these assets are performing."

Karim argues that the unions were aware that assets which belong 100 per cent to NPDC, were not being adequately looked after therefore, why was the focus of their strike against assets divested to Shoreline.

He said that a company like Shoreline had the required technical ability and financial capacity to produce royalties and revenues for the government even in the face of dropping oil prices. However, it is “shocking” that unions do not want that.

According to reports, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has been pleading with the government to stop the continued scarcity of petroleum products.

TUC further advised the government to take concrete steps on the issue of local refining to put a stop to the problem of importation of petroleum products and payment of subsidy.

With the current decline in the oil price and Nigeria’s debt woes, Karim said that the government stands to gain more from this.

“Government needs to step in and see the reality,” emphasised Karim.

He cited an example of SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company.

“When picked up, the asset production was less than 15 000 barrels a day. With SEPLAT's technical positioning and financial capacity this asset is creating over 70 000 barrels a day.”

There seems to be a mismatch in the opportunities at hand and Nigeria being able to exploit the assets in building its cash reserves.

Shoreline has been closed down for days now and according to Karim the government has no choice because, “The domestic gas obligation is not being met which in turn tells you the power situation is going to get worse in parts of Nigeria”.


Strike by Oil Station Staffers Complicates Nigeria Fuel Shortage

Sun May 24, 2015 5:12AM
presstv.ir

A strike by Nigerian oil workers has added fuel to the fire in Africa’s biggest oil producer, Nigeria, amid months of an ongoing fuel shortage.

Unpaid staffers at oil stations refuse to work, gas stations are closed across the country, and roads have gone almost empty of cars.

Black market profiteers are selling the fuel at roadsides at four times the regulated 87 naira (40 cents) a liter.

Flights are being canceled at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in the most populous city of Lagos one after another because no fuel is available this week.

At bus stations, out-of-fuel vehicles stand idle creating a challenge for staggering passengers.

Radio stations have also stopped their programs as well due to frequent power outages and the lack of fuel for generators.

Unpaid oil tanker drivers had already gone on strike earlier this month; other industry workers joined them earlier this week.

Nigeria produces more than two million barrels of petroleum a day but imports refined fuel because it does not have enough functioning refineries. The country regularly suffers fuel shortages, but the current countrywide crisis has been unprecedented.

Some critics say the fuel shortage in the oil-rich country is a scam to benefit oil suppliers and ‘corrupt’ government officials.


Nigeria Grounds Flights as Fuel Crisis Deepens in the Largest Oil Producing Nation in Africa

BY BENZAMIN
MAY 24, 2015

Majority of Nigerian airlines grounded flights as Africa’s largest oil producing nation comes to a virtual standstill due to the ongoing fuel crisis.

Nigeria is a nation that produces more than 2.5 million barrels of crude oil every day and yet this country is facing one of the most severe fuel shortages witnessed in recent times. According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the country is actually producing more oil than it needs, but is still being forced to import fuel. This is because the country lacks adequate refineries to process the millions of barrels of crude oil it produces daily into fuel, to meet the needs of the 150,177 people residing in the country.  “We are an oil producing country, very rich, a giant in Africa,” commented Seun Olewaleon, one of the many drivers carrying empty fuel cans in the streets of Lagos in hopes of ‘striking oil’. “But the experience we are getting now is so hard”.

Fuel in Nigeria is a very precious commodity as it is not used for cars and transport services only. Most Nigerians rely on fuel to power their generators for homes and businesses alike, since the country gets only a few hours of electricity a day. The crisis has been going on since March, as fuel importers claim that the Nigerian government is holding off from clearing their dues. The oil suppliers claim that they are the real ‘victims’ here, as they have been hit by multiple fronts simultaneously. With the Nigerian credit policy being tightened coupled with the low international oil prices and add to that massive amounts of unpaid government dues, which they claim to be around $ 1 billion, the oil tanker drivers had no choice but to go on strike.

The Nigerian government claims that the oil importers are using this shortage in fuel, to press home their demands of getting paid without letting the concerned authorities go through standard protocols to verify their claims before disbursing payment. “You have to verify the claims of the marketers before they are paid, and because the government is coming to an end, they are getting quite nervous,” commented Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian’s finance minister. She however insists that the government will not succumb to these lowly tactics and will ensure that the proper verification is done before paying the suppliers.

It remains to be seen what steps the Nigerian government takes to end the ongoing crisis that is crippling life in Lagos.


Nigeria's leading cellphone provider urgently needs diesel to prevent countrywide shut-down

May 24, 2015 | 2:16 p.m. EDT
By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's leading cellphone provider said Sunday it urgently needs diesel to prevent shutting down services countrywide — the latest business hit by a months-long fuel crisis in Africa's biggest oil producer.

Many aircraft have been grounded with foreign airlines diverting to other African countries to fuel for flights abroad.

Some radio stations have been silenced.

Nigeria's woefully erratic electricity supply keeps businesses dependent on diesel generators. Nigeria produces more than 2 billion barrels of petroleum a day, but imports almost all refined fuel because its refineries aren't maintained.

The party of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday accused President Goodluck Jonathan's government of deliberately wrecking the economy.

"The whole scenario reeks of sabotage," spokesman Lai Mohammed said in a statement. "Never in the history of our country has any government handed over to another a more distressed country: No electricity, no fuel, workers are on strike, billions are owed to state and federal workers, 60 billion dollars are owed in national debt and the economy is virtually grounded."

Buhari takes office on Friday.

MTN Nigeria, which has 50 million-plus customers, tweeted that cellphone service will start deteriorating in 24 hours if it doesn't find diesel. Some customers already are experiencing problems and Nigeria's landline network collapsed years ago.

"MTN's available reserves are running low and the company must source for a significant quantity of diesel in the very near future to prevent a shutdown of services across Nigeria," corporate services executive Akindale Goodwill tweeted.

The crisis began when oil suppliers, hit by tightened credit lines and unpaid interest, said the government owes them as much as $1 billion for fuel and subsidies going back to October 2014. They said they could no longer afford to supply fuel.

Oil tanker drivers unpaid by the suppliers started striking last week and were joined Thursday by other oil workers.

The government, reeling from halved international prices for petroleum that provides more than 80 percent of its revenue, is so cash-strapped it is borrowing to pay salaries, the finance minister said earlier this month.

Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala denied the debt on Friday, telling journalists the suppliers are asking the government to pay their foreign exchange differential losses caused by the naira's slump from about 160 to the dollar in December to today's 218.

She accused oil suppliers of holding Nigerians to ransom and said she has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to verify the figures because "there has been so much fraud allegations and scams in this business of oil marketing."
Nigeria Labour Party Doubts APC’s Ability to Fulfil Campaign Promises
24 May 2015
ThisDay, Nigeria
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Ahead of the Friday's transition of government, the Labour Party has criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC) for an alleged move to shift ground on it's support for fuel subsidy policy.

The party expressed doubt about the ability of the incoming APC government to deliver on its campaign promises claiming that the recently held Policy Dialogue of the Party whereby proposals were being made for the removal of petroleum subsidy is nothing but a sheer display of a policy somersault.

A statement issued on Sunday by the National Secretary of the Labour Party, Mr.  Kayode Ajulo, warned the President-elect and his party  "not to take Nigerians for granted as the people are very clear as to the type and depth of change they want and will not be taken in by any thoughtless excuse or attempt at cajoling them."

According to the statement, the recent Policy Dialogue organized by APC to discuss the implementation of the change it promised Nigerians is an indication that the party may not have been well-prepared for governance after all .

"They had no strategy nor sound methodology for effecting the change they promised. The campaign promises and manifesto were merely public relations gimmicks and  mere fraud, which no lavender words can moderate, " he said.

"As we have always maintained, the APC have shown themselves by this singular wrong and heartbreaking move on the eve of handover that they are merely "PDP re-packaged" and old wine-in-new skin which will soon rupture. They are like leopard trying to lose their spots in order to deceive the lamb. But reality is finding them out very early in the day even before they don the toga of office."

"It is interesting that APC had to go and import a former British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, as speaker at the occasion whereas there are many other credible and pro-people leaders around the world and even in Africa.”
Nigerian Oil Industry Bemoans Power of Workers to Shut Down Production
24 May 2015
ThisDay, Nigeria

In a move seen by oil industry stakeholders as similar to the protest used to blackmail the federal government to reverse the sale of the refineries, thus plunging the downstream sector into a perennial crisis, the workers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), recently shut down oil production over the transfer of operatorship of some divested oil blocks to the new buyers, an action that could erode the gains recorded in the upstream sector in recent years. Ejiofor Alike reports

The Decree No. 33 of 1977, which established the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), empowers the corporation to engage in “exploitation, production, transportation, processing of oil, refining, and marketing of crude oil and its refined derivatives.”

By this provision, the National Oil Company (NOC) is supposed to operate like other National Oil Companies (NOCs) such as Saudi Arabia’s Aramco; Malaysia’s Petronas and Brazil’s Petrobras, which compete with Shell and other International Oil Companies (IOCs) for operatorship of oil blocks.

But the NNPC has over the years abandoned its core mandate in the upstream sector and in the words of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, “the corporation is believed to have lost focus over the years as it assumed multiple and sometimes conflicting roles,” without making progress in crude oil exploration and production.

Before President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), which is the producing arm of the NNPC, was still producing less than 100,000 barrels of oil per day, after over 50 years of crude oil production in Nigeria.

With Nigeria’s over 50 years experience as an exporter of crude oil, the NNPC, which has a majority stake of 55-60 per cent in the joint ventures cannot operate any of the joint ventures with the IOCs as the JVs with Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Total and Agip are still being operated by these multinational partners.

NNPC established the NPDC as its crude oil production arm to implement its core mandate in the upstream sector but out of Nigeria’s daily output of 2.4 million barrels of crude oil, actual production by this company was about 80,000 barrels per day before this present administration came on board.

Divestment of Oil Blocks by IOCs

When Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Total and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) unveiled plans to divest their 45 per cent stakes in some oil blocks in 2009, their objective was to boost indigenous production capacity, which was below 10 per cent of Nigeria’s daily production.

In other words, both the NNPC and all the Nigerian independent companies, including marginal field operators were producing less than 10 per cent of Nigeria’s daily output before the IOCs started selling oil blocks to indigenous operators.

Shell and its JV partners – Total and Agip to date have divested a total of about 12 oil blocks, out of which only three- Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 4, 38 and 41 are operated by the farmee, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, while the rest are operated by NPDC.

Before it recently concluded the sale of their 45 per cent stakes in OMLs 18, 24, 25 and 29, the Anglo Dutch major and its partners had earlier sold OMLs 4, 38, 41, 26, 30, 34, 40 and 42 to local investors and their international partners.

Several other divestments are in the offing, including five from Chevron, out of which three have been subject of litigation between Brittania-U Nigeria Limited and Chevron/Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc.

Controversy over Operatorship
The first divestment came in January 2010, when SPDC said it had sealed a deal to transfer, within six months, its interest in the three production licences – OMLs 4, 38 and 41 and other related equipment in the Niger Delta to a consortium led by two Nigerian companies and a French firm.

The Anglo Dutch company was then the operator of the licenses under a joint venture between the NNPC, 55 per cent; Royal Dutch Shell, 30 per cent; Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited, 10 per cent; and NAOC, five per cent.

SPDC had identified the buyer as Seplat Petroleum Company Limited, an indigenous consortium jointly formed by two Nigerian firms – Platform Petroleum Limited and Shebah Petroleum Development Company Ltd – along with Maurel & Prom of France.

However, controversy had initially trailed the transaction following the decision of the NNPC to exercise its rights by taking over the operatorship of the blocks, in accordance with the provisions of the joint operating agreement (JOA) between Shell, NNPC, Total and NAOC.

NNPC, which clearly has no technical and financial capacity to operate the acreages relinquished by Shell had initially capitalised on the JOA, which provides that SPDC, as the operator of SPDC/NNPC Joint Venture, has no powers to transfer its operatorship to a third party without the written consent of the NNPC.

According to the JOA, Shell can only transfer operatorship to its affiliate or affiliated company and Article 1.1.2 (i) of the JOA defines Shell’s affiliates as: Shell in the Netherlands; Shell Transport and Trading Company Plc in the United Kingdom or any other company that is being controlled directly or indirectly by any of these two companies.

Unfortunately, Seplat Petroleum, the new buyers of the asset is not either Shell’s affiliate or an affiliate company of Shell, hence the agitation by the NNPC to take over the operatorship of the three assets.

THISDAY gathered that it was the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who resolved the dispute in favour of Seplat, thus the company became the only buyer of the oil blocks sold by the IOCs that also assumed the operatorship.

Seplat inherited Shell staff in the assets and raised the production from the three acreages to about 74,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, surpassing 30 years performance of NNPC in operatorship.

Unfortunately, other indigenous investors that bought OMLs 18, 24, 25, 29, 26, 30, 34, 40 and 42 in subsequent divestments were not allowed to operate the assets as the NNPC had transferred the operatorship to NPDC citing its powers under the JOA, despite its obvious lack of financial and technical capacity.

To boost NPDC’s production capacity, the company had in 2010 entered into Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) with Septa Energy Nigeria Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Seven Energy International Limited, an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas development company.

The initial SAA was in respect of NPDC’s interests in OMLs 4, 38 and 41 onshore in the Niger Delta.

The SAA, which became a subject of several probes by the National Assembly, provides the framework under which Septa will provide funding and technical services to NPDC for the development of both oil and gas reserves.

Under the SAA, Septa funds capital and operational expenditure of the fields, as well as support the technical resources of NPDC, with an ambitious target of increasing the company’s production capacity from 80,000 barrels of oil per day to 250,000 bpd by this year, a target that has not been achieved.

The NPDC later signed another SAA with Atlantic Energy to provide funding and technical assistance for its operatorship of the other oil blocks relinquished by Shell and its JV partners.

NPDC’s Poor Performance

Despite the funding and technical assistance provided by a third party to assist the NPDC to effectively operate the blocks, the company could not achieve its 250,000 bpd target by this year and has recorded a very poor performance in the operatorship of the assets sold by Shell and its partners.

For instance, THISDAY gathered that OML 30, which was acquired by Shoreline Natural Resources, has nine flow stations with combined production capacity of 395,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (Bopd).

The flow stations include Afiesere, 60,000bpd; Eriemu, 30,000bpd; Evwreni, 30,000bpd; Kokori, 90,000 bpd; Olomoro-Oleh, 60,000bpd; Oroni, 30,000 bpd; Osioka, 15,000bpd; Oweh, 30,000bpd and Uzere West, 60,000bpd.

THISDAY however, gathered that the current output under NPDC operatorship is only around 53,000bpd, leaving 342,000bpd unproduced.

Worried over the impact of the poor performance of NPDC on Nigeria’s target to boost her crude oil production capacity, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had recommended a Joint Operatorship Model (JOM) to the Minister of Petroleum Resources because of the unsatisfactory performance of the NPDC.

In a memorandum dated December 12, 2014, with Reference No. PI/1124/Vol.18/1, obtained by THISDAY, which was addressed to the Petroleum Minister, the Director of DPR, Mr. George Osahon, had reminded the minister that the investors that bought the divested assets were certified as capable of holding the acreages on the basis of their financial and technical capabilities, predicated on the outcome of the thorough due diligence carried out on the companies by the DPR.

“In order to develop and strengthen the execution capacity of the respective joint ventures between the assignees and the NNPC, often represented by its wholly-owned subsidiary, the NPDC, the DPR is proposing a Joint Operatorship Model (JOM). Under the proposed model, the investor may be designated as the operator and lead an Asset Management Team (AMT) that will spear all activities in the block. The AMT will comprise staff from each of the parties as would be specified in the respective revised Joint Operating Agreements (JOAs). This initiative is expected to offer training and understudy opportunities for NPDC to further develop its capacity in all areas of petroleum operation and compliance,” Osahon explained.

In proposing the JOM, Osahon informed the minister that the DPR had held discussions with the management of the NNPC as the corporation is the central player in all the joint venture relationships.

Osahon’s memorandum, which was approved personally by the minister on December 15, 2014, also recommended that in order to allow the parties to effectively benefit from the technical and financial resources of the farmees as operator in leading AMT, the JOM should be allowed to run for 10 years subject to satisfactory performance.

Osahon also suggested that after 10 years, the NPDC could be requested to assume operatorship or the investor could continue, depending on the assessment by the parties and the DPR.

Following the approval of the DPR recommendations, the Petroleum Minister recently approved the transfer of operatorship of OML 42, to Neconde Energy Ltd, which had bought 45 per cent stake from Shell, Total and Agip.

Elcrest Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited also received confirmation from the DPR that it had fulfilled its obligations, including the payment of the requisite premium and fees of $2.3 million, in relation to its appointment as operator of OML 40 for a minimum 10 year period.

But the oil workers in the employ of the NPDC shut down oil production in all the NPDC-operated joint venture assets in protest against the transfer of operatorship to some of the buyers of the assets.

The workers under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) are calling for the reversal of the award of the operatorship to NPDC.

The workers in all the subsidiaries of the NNPC also joined their colleagues in the NPDC on a solidarity strike insisting that, contrary to reports, they have the capacity and competence to operate the divested oil blocks.

The current resistance by the NNPC workers against the transfer of the operatorship is seen by stakeholders as similar to the opposition they mounted against the sale of the refineries on the grounds that they have the capacity to operate them to profitability, which later turned out to be a false claim.

The Federal Government wasted over $400 million on the refineries after the oil workers forced the Yar’Adua administration to cancel the sale, which had been concluded under Obasanjo’s administration.

Today, none of the refineries is working as even the belated attempt by the NNPC to invite the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to carry out Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) failed because the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in the north and militants in the Niger Delta scared away the foreign contractors.

Nigerians are now subjected to perennial scarcity of petrol as a result of her weak refining capacity.

Despite their lack of technical and financial capacity to rehabilitate the refineries after forcing the government to cancel the privatisation, the NNPC workers want to arm-twist the government to leave the operatorship of plum assets in the hands of NPDC, which has demonstrated lack of capacity over the years.

Both the present administration and the incoming administration should demonstrate the political will to resist this blackmail by calling off the bluff of the NNPC workers to ensure that Nigeria attains the required greatness in the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources by indigenous operators.
Nigerian Federal Government States Shared N6.2tn in Four Years, Says Okonjo-Iweala
MAY 25, 2015
IFEANYI ONUBA
Nigeria Punch

The Federal Government on Sunday night released details of how N6.21tn was shared from the Excess Crude Account by the federal and state governments between 2011 and 2014.

The breakdown was released by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, through a statement by her Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

The minister had last week promised to make details of the account available following a demand by the state governors under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum that she should explain how she had managed the over $20bn in the ECA between June 2013 and April 2015.

However, in the document issued on Sunday, the minister said she needed to make public the details “to clarify issues thrown up by recent claims made by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State on behalf of some governors.”

Analyses of the allocation as revealed by the document showed that in addition to their constitutionally approved receipts from the Federation Account, the Federal Government received the sum of N3.29tn, while the 36 states got a total of N2.92tn from the ECA within the four-year period

A further breakdown of the ECA disbursement showed that the 36 states received N966.6bn in 2011; N816.3bn in 2012; N859.4bn in 2013 and N282.8bn in 2014.

The document attributed the low figure shared in 2014 to a steep decline in revenues due to the impact of the crash in global oil prices, which began in the middle of that year.

Akwa Ibom, with N265bn, got the highest allocation from the ECA; while Rivers and Delta states followed with N230.4bn and N216.7bn, respectively.

Other states with highest allocations, according to the document, are Bayelsa, N176.3bn; Kano, N106.5bn; and Lagos, N82.9bn.

On the other hand, Kwara (N52.8bn), Enugu (N51.6bn), Gombe (N47.7bn), Nasarawa (N46.9bn), Ekiti (N46.8bn) and Ebonyi (N44.3bn) received the least amounts.

The summary of the inflows and outflows from the account indicated that the opening balance was $4.56bn in 2011 and reached a peak the following year at $8.7bn before declining to $2.3bn in 2013.

The document put the balance as of May 2015 at $2.07bn, noting that “the fluctuation in the ECA reflects the sharing of the proceeds usually requested by state governors as well as the practice of augmentation.”

It said the augmentation involved additional sharing from the ECA by both tiers of government when available funds were not adequate to meet revenue projections.

Okonjo-Iweala had last week described the governors’ demand as strange because issues relating to the management of the ECA were usually discussed by the commissioners of Finance of the 36 states of the federation during the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting.

She had said since the commissioners were representatives of their respective governors at the meeting, there was no basis for the demand.

Okonjo-Iweala’s statement read in part, “It has come to our attention that governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have requested that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance should account for an estimated $20bn oil revenue from the Excess Crude Account from June 2013 to April 2015.

“There is no basis for the demand and the stated amount. The statement by the governors is totally strange because FAAC meets every month and the ECA is discussed at every session, with all the state commissioners of Finance present.”

Contact: editor@punchng.com
Fuel Crisis Worsens Nigeria’s Power Problems
MAY 25, 2015
AKINPELU DADA, STANLEY OPARA, FEMI ASU AND GODWIN ISENYO
Nigerian Punch

The current nationwide scarcity of refined petroleum products has reached a crisis point with a litre of petrol selling for between N200 and N600 in many parts of the country, while diesel, household kerosene and liquefied natural gas have also become elusive.

Also, with power generation dropping to an all-time low of 1,327 megawatts, most Nigerian households are now living without electricity as they have also run out of fuel to power their generators.

Even before the dip in power generation, most Nigerian households have been relying on generators as the main source of their power supply while using the public power supply as a backup. However, the fuel shortages which started over a week ago, have made it impossible for households to even get fuel to power their generators.

Although, daily fuel consumption nationwide is about 40 million litres per day, it is estimated that a sizeable proportion of the demand goes into fuelling of generators.

“It is now impossible for me to get a four-litre fuel to run   my small generator,” a man who was in the queue in one of the filling stations, told one of our correspondents on Sunday.

Also, a resident of one of the upscale estates in Magodo, who identified himself as John Adebayo, told one of our correspondents that he had been unable to run his generator for three days because he could not get diesel to buy.

“I have money to buy diesel but it is just not available anywhere.   I can’t even pump water, it is really pathetic,”he lamented.

Already, the situation has started affecting companies with some firms like MTN and Airtel saying that they could not get diesel to run generators at base stations.

Unless urgent steps are taken by the Federal Government and all concerned stakeholders, many citizens will find it difficult to get to their various places of work and business as from today (Monday) due to the crippling scarcity of refined petroleum products occasioned by the refusal of marketers to import them and a strike by tanker drivers.

Our correspondents reported on Sunday that petrol had dried up in almost all the filling stations nationwide, while black marketers capitalised on the prevailing scarcity by selling the product in jerry cans for between N200 and N600 per litre in places like Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Kaduna and Oyo states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

The situation affected vehicular movements in many parts of Lagos and Ogun states on Sunday, with attendance at religious centres unusually low, while commercial transport operators raised their fares by over 300 per cent.

All the filling stations owned by major oil marketers visited by our correspondents were under lock and key. Majority of the independent petroleum products marketers were also not selling petrol on Sunday.

The very few independent marketers with petrol were selling the product for between N150 and N400 per litre, while black market dealers were selling for between N500 and N600 per litre in some of the stations visited.

A motorist plying the Berger-Mowe route traversing Lagos and Ogun states, who simply identified himself as Ola, expressed disappointment with the slow response of the government to the problem, adding that with the situation on the ground, workers would have to part with a lot of money to get to their offices on Monday (today).

A commercial transport operator in Ikorodu, Lagos, told one of our correspondents that he bought 30 litres of petrol for N12,000 instead of N2,610 at the regulated price of N87 per litre.

It was gathered that virtually all the filling stations in Osun State had run out of petrol as of Sunday, thereby forcing the residents to stay indoors.

A major petroleum products’ marketer told one of our correspondents that the Federal Government had refused to meet them to resolve the lingering issues surrounding the payment of the subsidy arrears owed the marketers.

The marketer, who pleaded anonymity, said since the last meeting they had with the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on May 4, nothing had changed.

The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Thomas Olawore, said though the marketers had reached out to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, on the lingering fuel supply problems, they had yet to get a positive response.

He confirmed that the marketers were not importing petrol at the moment, because they did not have the wherewithal to do so.

The spokesperson for the Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Saidu Muhammed, said the product scarcity was primarily due to the ongoing workers’ strike in the NNPC.

He said, “Products are not coming out from the depots and there’s virtually nothing anybody can do for now. But hopefully, when they resolve the strike, things may become normal.

“The strike by the NNPC workers is affecting all the depots. And until the strike is called off, there will be no loading. There is no loading in almost all the depots across the country and so products are not coming out.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has noted with concern the current energy crisis facing the country, which it describes as unprecedented.

In a statement signed by its President, Alhaji Remi Bello, the LCCI called on President Goodluck Johnathan to bring a halt to the imminent collapse of economic and social life in the country.

Bello said, “There should be an immediate engagement of stakeholders in the petroleum industry to discuss the outstanding issues of indebtedness and related labour matters in the interest of the economy and the citizens. The situation should not be allowed to degenerate any further.

“The Lagos Chamber urges the incoming administration to immediately deregulate the oil and gas downstream sector on assumption of office in order to provide an enduring solution to the recurring problem of petroleum products’ scarcity, corruption inherent in the subsidy regime, the collapse of refineries, lack of investment in the downstream sector, loss of jobs and so on.

“Options available to the incoming administration in this matter are very limited. The current regime of subsidy and government’s direct involvement in the operations of oil and gas sector should be discontinued. Government needs to get out of the way, so that the sector and the economy as a whole can make progress. This will pave the way for the restoration of normalcy in the sector and attract private capital, boost investments and create jobs.”

Similarly, a Global System of Mobile communications provider, Airtel Networks Limited, said in a statement that its commitments to delivering best-in-class quality of service and seamless telephony experience to all Nigerians was being affected by its inability to procure diesel for its base stations.

The company stated, “While we are currently doing everything within our means as well as going the extra mile to ensure that all our base stations and switches are up and running, it is sad to note that it is becoming increasingly difficult to replenish current stock of diesel due to the lingering scarcity of the product.

“We are also concerned that, if the situation persists, it may have adverse effects on our network, impacting both voice and data services.”

MTN Nigeria had issued a similar statement on Saturday.

A faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress led by Mr. Joe Ajaero said on Sunday in Kaduna that the current fuel scarcity across the country was a war against Nigerians.

It, therefore, warned that should the scarcity persist, organised labour would have no choice than to embark on an indefinite strike.

This was contained in a statement by the factional Deputy President of the NLC, Alhaji Issa Aremu, which was made available to newsmen in Kaduna on Sunday.

Contact: editor@punchng.com
Stakeholders List Steps to Ending Lingering Fuel Scarcity
by GBENGA ODOGUN on May 25, 2015
The Nation, Nigeria

Against the backdrop of the lingering fuel scarcity that has plagued the country in the last one month, stakeholders have been expressing concerns that the crisis may not go away any time soon, while also suggesting way out of the lingering fuel scarcity.

This follows the return of queues on the streets due to oil marketers suspension of importation in what was attributed to government’s refusal to pay the outstanding subsidies allowance owed them.

“The decision to suspend the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), was due to the Federal Government’s failure to pay them their claims” said a source at the depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, adding that most of the marketers have not been paid by the FG and this is limiting their ability to fi nance the importation of fuel.

According to our source “The money that the marketers were paid by the Federal Government was, according to the banks, like a tip of the iceberg, compared to the huge amount the marketers owe the banks” Majority of the marketers are not able to repay their indebtedness to the banks, making it impossible for them to secure new facilities from the banks to fi nance fuel import.

Meanwhile, experts and stakeholders continue to express concerns about the wave of fuel scarcity with some expressing the view that unless the federal government takes the diffi cult decision of removing subsidies and allow market forces dictate the pump price of products, we may not experience reprieve from the saga of perennial fuel scarcity at least not in the near future.

Mr Tonye Cole is the Chief Executive of Sahara group, he warned that Fuel scarcity is unlikely to end soon due to three main reason namely; change of government, prospects for removal of fuel subsidies and weakening Naira, adding that the combination of these factors will affect ordinary Nigerian in the nearest future.

“Despite being biggest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria is heavily dependent on gasoline imports to meet domestic demands. Gasoline subsidies incurred by the government on every litre of the product had to be cut by the cash-strapped government recently by 90 per cent and it is expected that they are going to be totally phased-out soon.”Tonye said

Also speaking on the same topic of fuel scarcity Barrister Opeyemi Bamidele said has the absence of a provision for fuel subsidy in the 2015 Appropriation Act is a booby trap for the incoming administration of the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

Opeyemi Bamidele, Opeyemi Bamidele, The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, stated in a statement that Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) should understand the full implications of this and take immediate steps to let Nigerians know where they stand on the matter .

“The truth and reality of the situation is that the outgoing PDP administration has, through the 2015 budget, removed oil subsidy and it must be made to accept responsibility for it rather than for the incoming APC administration to bask in the euphoria of having won an election without realising the booby trap into which they and the Nigerian people are walking into,” he stated

Bamidele, stated that apart from the reduced amount of N21bn provided in the Act for the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, no other provision was made in the budget for subsidized welfare services.

He warned that the absence of the provision for continued fuel subsidy portends grave implications for the Buhari administration as they would be sending Nigerians a wrong signal capable of creating the impression that the APC deceived Nigerians to get there.

Meanwhile, as the disagreement rages on as to how much is being owed the marketers or even whether they were being owed at all Nigerian in the meantime continue to suffer under the yoke of high transportation cost and unbearable heat waves due to lack of petrol to power generators which has become the only source of power generation for most households in the country.

Apart from this, many businesses whether small scaled, medium or large scaled continue to groan under the yoke of fuel scarcity. Ajoke is a retail soft drink seller on Broad Street, Lagos, she told Business Courage that the whole of last week had been terrible in terms of sales as he had recorded more than 50 percent drop in sales due to lack of petrol to power her fridge to ice her drinks since electricity supply is literarily non existence in her area. Similarly, Chuks, an Electronic seller at Balogun Market said patronage has dropped drastically in the last one month due to lull in the economy made worse by the absence of fuel.

However, and in spite of the non loading activities at the depots, petrol was still being hawked openly at black markets across the Lagos Metropolis sometimes right in front of fi lling stations, in full view of security operatives and at exorbitant rates. At Berger Bus stop, fuels were sold in jerry cans at N200 per liter, the story is not different at Onipanu along Ikorodu Road where the security operatives appeared helpless.
Manufacturers Seek Deregulation of Oil Sector in Nigeria
Simeon Ebulu, Okwy Iroegbu-Chikezie and Abdulgafar Alabelewe
The Nation, Nigeria

Manufacturers warned at the weekend that the economy would die, if the crippling fuel scarcity continues.

The Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) called for a drastic response to the situation which, it said has a risk of social unrest.

A faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is threatening a strike over the crisis.

The scarcity has virtually crippled the economy, with telecom firms warning that they could scale down their services for lack of diesel to power their base stations.

Air travel has been hit as flights have been either cancelled on the domestic routes or the frequency substantially slashed.

Food prices have risen steeply in many parts of the country due to the cost of transportation.

LCCI  President Remi Bello,  in a statement, said most economic and social activities had been paralysed, with the danger of an imminent shutdown of the entire economy. “There is no evidence of active engagement with stakeholders in the petroleum industry to bring an end to the crisis.  The government needs to demonstrate accountability to the people,” he said, adding:

“The impression should not be created that governance has been abandoned.  The administration has responsibility for the management of government business till the very last day of its tenure. The country and the economy should not be allowed to continue to drift as if there is no one in charge

“The power sector has practically collapsed, with power generation slightly above 1000 megawatts.”

Bello warned that the option of alternative power generation, which the private sector has resorted to, “ is fizzling out, with the acute shortage of petroleum products”.

He said: “Economic activities across virtually all sectors are progressively grounding to a halt, communication services are on the verge of being shut down as telecommunication companies have given indication of imminent shutdown of their base stations.

“We call for an urgent intervention by President Goodluck Jonathan  to bring a halt to the imminent collapse of economic and social life in the country. There should be an immediate engagement of stakeholders in the petroleum industry to discuss the outstanding issues of indebtedness and related labour matters, in the interest of the economy and the citizens. The situation should not be allowed to degenerate any further.

“It is in the overriding interest of the economy and the citizens to quickly deregulate the sector.”
Mobile giant MTN said it urgently needed diesel to prevent shutting down services.

MTN Nigeria posted a message on Twitter, saying most of its base stations and switches are powered by generators. The company, with 50 million subscribers, said it might be compelled to suspend service if it does not receive significant amount of fuel in the next 24 hours.

Another leading telecom company, Airtel Networks Limited, in a statement, said “the prevailing situation in the country regarding the scarcity of diesel and other petroleum products is at present impacting negatively our commitments to delivering best-in-class quality of service and seamless telephony experience to all Nigerians.

“While we are currently doing everything within our means as well as going the extra mile to ensure that all our base stations and switches are up and running, it is sad to note that it is becoming increasingly difficult to replenish current stock of diesel due to the lingering scarcity of the products.

“We are also concerned that, if the situation persists, it may have adverse effects on our network, impacting both voice and data services.”

Arik Air, the biggest airline operator, yesterday operated only one-third of its schedule. It cancelled all domestic flights on Saturday as the fuel shortage worsened. Spokesman of the airline Banji Ola said: “We’re operating just a few flights today, maybe 30 per cent of our normal operations. We could not operate domestic flights yesterday.”

Arik Air, with 26 aircraft, cut two-thirds of its 120 daily flights. That included flights to London’s Heathrow and New York needing to stop over for fuel in Kano, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lagos, Banji said.

Aero Contractors Ltd., Nigeria’s second-largest carrier, said on its website that “all our flights will not operate regularly as scheduled” due to fuel scarcity.

In a statement, Aero said:” Due to the general scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in the country, the airline will not be able to operate over 80 per cent of her domestic flights as scheduled.

“In the last few weeks, the supply of aviation fuel has been very irregular, which has compelled the airline to cancel some flights. We apologise to our esteemed customers for the inconvenience they may have been experiencing due to flight delays and cancellations caused by the scarcity of aviation fuel.

“We urge our customers to always check our website at www.flyaero.com or contact the call centre agent to affirm if their scheduled flight will operate. Aero regrets any inconvenience the changes will cause. All measures are being made to ameliorate the situation and revert to her regular flight schedule. We hope that the situation improves very soon.”

But Air Peace said it was not affected by the scarcity of aviation  fuel.

An official of the airline said operations had been running unhindered
Medview Airlines, DANA Air and AZMAN Air are also running normal flights.

The Comrade Joe Ajaero-led faction of the NLC has described the chronic fuel scarcity as a war against the citizens and a deliberate attempt to subject 170 million Nigerians to economic suicide.

The faction’s deputy President Comrade Issa Aremu, in a statement, said:

“Nigeria is the only country on earth which unacceptably and criminally denies its citizens basic sources of energy; fuel and electricity?’.

“After several weeks of deliberate deprivation of petroleum products by both the government and marketers alike with all the associated hardship, it is time all Nigerians stop agonising and rise in unison against this (Nigeria’s) agony capitalism.

“With petroleum products’ prices as high as N350 per litre (far above N87 per litre!) claims and counter-claims between Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and marketers over so-called  N159bn subsidy payments and all state actors looking indifferent, Nigeria is the only country on earth  which unacceptably and criminally denies its citizens basic sources of energy; fuel and electricity.

“What is happening in Nigeria amounts to economicide which is a conscious subjugation of 170 million people to economic suicide and economic ruination through unsustainable petroleum import-based racket that denies petroleum products needed for mass movement of goods and services, enriches few cabal, puts pressure on foreign exchange, fuels products hoarding and promotes sheer price robbery of the already impoverished citizens.

“This is an unofficial declaration of war against the citizens by combined forces of irresponsible ruling elite and business crooks. Economicide, just like genocide, is a deliberate and indiscriminate policy violence against a group of people with the intent to destroy the entire group physically and economically”.?