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Soyinka Advocates Restructuring As Solution To Current Challenges In Nigeria

“All these things happening are for the good of the country, and the economy is going to bounce back. We foresee a situation where, in another year, this country is going to get better.

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Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday called for restructuring as a way to ensure self-sufficiency and sustainable development.

He noted that past leaders recognised the importance of restructuring but failed to implement it.

Soyinka was the guest speaker at The Punch 50th Anniversary Lecture held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday said his administration was laying a solid foundation to foster proper federalism.

Speaking during a visit to Afenifere leader Chief Reuben Fasoranti in Akure, the Ondo State capital, he said the right foundation would involve successful economic reforms to support a restructured country.

Soyinka stressed that the call for restructuring has been persistent but with no action.

He said: “Certain facts, however, implicitly admit that the word has a number of common, pragmatic implications for both governance and the governed, that indisputable commonality being as follows: the present contraption is not working – neither economically, developmentally, or even as a material expression of any functional social philosophy.

“Another is that those who come in power have indulged in pretend exercises in that direction, engaging the populace in totally phoney exercises – obviously just to ‘pacify the natives’. It is surely time that this demand be taken seriously, and addressed head-on.”

Soyinka argued that there is no shortage of reasoned and implementable propositions in past conference papers.

“It is high time we stopped the cyclic distraction of re-inventing the wheel. The spokes are in place, the rims intact. Only the will, not the wheel, is missing in action.

“The press, needless to urge, has a crucial role to play in this!

“However, be it noted that the press is only one of the enabling estates – all arms of governance, most pertinently, at the state level, have a propulsive, even commanding role to play in the effort.

“Repeatedly, backed by constitutional authorities, both publicly and privately, we have pointed out to them that there is sufficient constitutional leeway in the present protocols of association – if I may quote myself unapologetically – to ‘push the envelope as far as it can go without actually bursting’ – if the centre continues to shirk away from this now strident imperative.

“I repeat that wearisome call yet again. There can be no further evasion.

“That assertion is made both as a general principle of socio-political volition that is fundamental to any free, truly liberated people, and as an informed response to the actualities in which we struggle to exist as a sentient people, responsive to the exigencies of daily manifestation of change,” the Nobel Laureate said.

Soyinka acknowledged that restructuring may not be the magic wand to address Nigeria’s challenges.

He explained: “To anticipate accustomed banal responses, let me state quite clearly that no one has ever claimed that decentralisation – a precise word I personally prefer – will end hunger in the land or terminate religious conflicts and other forms of national malaise, no.

“We simply insist that this is central to the incomplete mission of – nation-being.

“It is essential to activities of basic existence such as food production, and access to such products.

“Palliatives remain crude, short-term, stop-gap measures only.

“As a veteran of food security working conferences from Uganda to India, from Paris to Sochi, I insist that, for a nation to be food self-sufficient, and sustainably, decentralisation is the key, not collectivisation.”

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris, hailed Soyinka’s fatherly role in nation-building.

He underscored the Tinubu Administration’s eagerness to address all the issues.

He said: “The Punch has been here for 50 years, and what that tells you is that it’s a story of resilience, trust, hard work, and commitment to the Nigeria project. These are the exact virtues President Bola Tinubu upholds.

“Nigeria is going through hard times now, but it’s not new and it’s not peculiar to this country.

“All the issues we are discussing now are issues other countries are discussing. A few weeks ago, we heard that the United Kingdom had gone into an economic recession.

“President Tinubu has taken very bold steps. The first day after he assumed office, he took away fuel subsidy. Before he assumed office, the economy was a dead horse standing.

“So, whether the subsidy is removed or not, the economy is going to be challenging. He ensured that the subsidy went away for the benefit of all.

“We knew from day one that it’s not going to be an easy sail, but we are seeing the effects of the decision, and the good story is that the government is taking very pro-active decisions to ensure that we turn the corner and Nigeria’s economy bounce back again.

“All these things happening are for the good of the country, and the economy is going to bounce back. We foresee a situation where, in another year, this country is going to get better.

“Let’s talk about the good things happening in this country, it’s not bad news all the time. The National Bureau of Statistics said we are improving by about 66 per cent.

“Our fuel consumption has gone down by about a billion litres.

“These challenges will continue to exist, but the important thing is that the government will always take proactive measures to ensure that the challenges disappear.

“Very soon, we are going to have a major policy shift in the petroleum sector.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) complained about hardship in the land, but we are happy that 24 hours later they also found it necessary to suspend that action (protests). Most of the 15-point demands NLC made are being met.”

The Punch Chairman, Mrs Angela Emuwa, said the theme “Recovering the narrative” was a call to action in shaping the future all Nigerians would be proud of.

Describing the anniversary as no mean feat, Emuwa expressed the organisation’s gratitude to all its long-standing partners and audiences for the journey so far.

She said: “It is a rallying cry for the media and responsible actors to reclaim their rightful place as the guardians of facts, truth and justice, and the voice of the people.

“This is so because, in a world inundated with information, the power to shape narratives is a formidable responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.

“As the most widely read newspaper in the nation, PUNCH has not only been a witness to history but a key player in shaping narratives.

“Our 50-year resilience is a testament to the power of the press in influencing positive change, upholding the values of democracy, and championing the cause of the people.

“We hope that the impact of our 50-year journey will serve as a source of inspiration to all.

“We have weathered storms, stood against oppression, championed the cause of justice, and yet we remain unbowed and unbroken.”

The lecture was in memory of Chief James Olubunmi Aboderin, the founding Chairman of the newspaper, who died on February 28, 1984.

The event had in attendance media executives, captains of industry, academics, leaders of thought, and security chiefs, among others.

Among the dignitaries at the event were former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President, Bayo Onanuga, and former presidential spokesman Malam Garba Shehu.

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Plateau Govt Confirms 22 Dead, 132 hospitalised In Jos School Building Collapse

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The Plateau State Government has confirmed 22 dead and 132 persons injured in the Jos collapsed school building.

Musa Ashoms, the Commissioner for Information, said six of the injured were in critical condition.

Ashoms said that those injured were receiving treatment in various tertiary health facilities in the state, while the bodies of the deceased had been deposited in the mortuaries.

NAN reports that a two-storey building of Saints Academy, a secondary and primary school located in Busa-Buji community of Jos North Local Area, had collapsed, trapping students, teachers and others.

The incident occurred at about 8:30 am on Friday when the students were writing their third term examination.

Meanwhile, Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State has described the incident as a tragic and monumental loss to the state.

Mutfwang stated this in a statement issued by Mr Gyang Bere, his Director of Press and Public Affairs, on Friday in Jos.

The governor, who sympathised with the families of the affected victims, further described the incident as heartbreaking and unfortunate.

“This is tragic, unfortunate, heart-wrenching and a gloomy situation. We appreciate the timely intervention of the search-and-rescue team, as well as members of the public, who rushed to the school premises to assist in evacuating some of the surviving students and staff,” he said.

 

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Tinubu Renames National Theatre After Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has renamed the National Theatre in Lagos after Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

JomogNews reports that President Bola Tinubu has renamed the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

This online news platform learnt that Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

“When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

 

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FG Reaches New Agreement With IOCs On Crude Supply To Dangote, Local Refineries

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JomogNews Nigeria reports that the Federal Government and crude oil producers in Nigeria have committed to working towards a sustainable supply of crude oil to local refineries under a market-determined pricing system.

This Nigeria news platform understands that both parties said the commitment aimed to ensure that while the operators (crude oil producers) do business optimally, the refineries are not starved of feedstock.

Accordingly, the industry regulator, the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission has directed oil refiners in the country to provide monthly price quote on crude supply.

This came as the $20bn Dangote Petroleum Refinery is reportedly ramping up the importation of crude from the United States, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, Nigeria’s upstream regulator stated that oil producers under the umbrella of the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at a meeting called by NUPRC, agreed to concede to a framework that would be mutually beneficial with the aim of ensuring that local refineries are not strangulated due to off-the-curve prices.

“The focus of the meeting held at the instance of the Commission Chief Executive, Gbenga Komolafe, was on the status review of the Framework for Seamless Operationalisation of Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation Template.

“It was part of efforts to effectively implement key sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, especially the issue of pricing and crude supply to the domestic refineries,” the commission stated.

In the statement, Komolafe said President Bola Tinubu is fully committed to providing a level playing ground for producers and refiners to do business in the industry.

He expressed the need for a rule of engagement to ensure that the pricing model from the oil producers does not hinder the domestic refineries.

He directed producers and refiners to provide the NUPRC with cargo price quotes on crude supply and delivery for effective monitoring and regulation of transactions among parties. “We need to have the price quotes monthly,” he directed.

The NUPRC boss pointed out a convergence between the Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation and the nation’s energy security, indicating that his team is re-engineering its regulatory processes to address the challenges.

“We allow all our processes to be transparent. While the Federal Government targets the implementation of the regulation, all parties must submit to the rules of engagement as a guide for operation,” Komolafe stated.

He said NUPRC is committed to driving the willing buyer/willing seller provision.

“We have to discuss pricing, especially as parties have committed to respecting their domestic crude oil obligation. As the regulator, we don’t want the upstream sector to be operated sub-optimally through cost under-recovery.

“So, the regulator is very alive to that. In crude pricing we will never allow price strangulation to disincentivise our domestic refining capacity optimisation. The regulator does not support cost under-recovery in the upstream sector, and we will continue to work to ensure that crude supply profiteering as a negative factor that can strangulate our domestic refining capacity optimisation is disallowed,” Komolafe declared.

Dangote raises alarm

Last month, the Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, had accused International Oil Companies in Nigeria of plans to frustrate the survival of the new Dangote Petroleum Refinery.

Edwin had said the IOCs were deliberately and willfully frustrating the refinery’s efforts to buy local crude by hiking the cost above the market price, thereby forcing the refinery to import crude from countries as far as the United States, with its attendant high costs.

“Recall that the NUPRC recently met with crude oil producers as well as refineries’ owners in Nigeria, in a bid to ensure full adherence to Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligations as enunciated under section 109(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act. It seems that the IOCs’ objective is to ensure that our petroleum refinery fails. It is either they are deliberately asking for a ridiculous/humongous premium or they simply state that crude is not available.

“At some point, we paid $6 over and above the market price. This has forced us to reduce our output as well as import crude from countries as far as the US, increasing our cost of production. It appears that the objective of the IOCs is to ensure that Nigeria remains a country which exports crude oil and imports refined petroleum products.

“They (IOCs) are keen on exporting the raw materials to their home countries, creating employment and wealth for their countries, adding to their Gross Domestic Product, and dumping the expensive refined products into Nigeria – thus making us to be dependent on imported products. It is the same strategy the multinationals have been adopting in every commodity, making Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa to be facing unemployment and poverty, while they create wealth for themselves at our expense,” Edwin had stated.

But on Thursday NUPRC emphasised the imperative for appropriate pricing to drive willing buyer willing seller referencing guided Fiscal Oil Price published by the commission in line with the provisions of the PIA.

“NUPRC is committed to attracting the needed investments to boost upstream development and optimisation of our hydrocarbon resources just as we want sustainability of domestic energy supply in the midstream and downstream sector.”

Crude importation

Also on Thursday Bloomberg reported that Nigeria’s Dangote mega-refinery was ramping up the importation of crude oil from the United States, stating that the Lagos-based refinery had created a new flow of long-haul crude from the US, as inflows of American feedstock could be about to rise further.

The report stated that the Dangote mega-refinery was lapping up ever more US crude, bringing the barrels thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

It stated that Dangote bought more than 16 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate crude oil so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In August and September, the proportion it will take from the US — as opposed to Nigerian barrels — may be set to rise, based on tenders for new supply seen by Bloomberg.

 

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