Nigerian press zooms in on drop in foreign reserves, plans to rehabilitate ailing refineries

The drop in foreign reserves and the plans by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to rehabilitate the nation's ailing refineries…

The drop in foreign reserves and the plans by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to rehabilitate the nation’s ailing refineries are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Punch reports that Nigeria’s foreign reserves fell by $673.13m from $36.57bn on June 1 to $35.89bn on July 28, the latest figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed on Thursday.

The CBN, in its first-quarter economic report, titled ‘Gross official external reserves,’ said the gross external reserves fell in the first quarter of 2020.

It stated that gross external reserves were $33.69bn at the end of March 2020.

This indicated a net decrease of 11.6 per cent, compared with the level in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The external reserves position would cover 4.5 months of import of goods and services or 7.3 months of import of goods only, based on the estimated value of imports for the first quarter of 2020.

The Vanguard says that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Thursday, said it has concluded plans to rehabilitate and build new plants, as all the four refineries are currently down, thus forcing the government to import petroleum products from the global market.

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, made the disclosure at the just-concluded Seplat Energy Summit 2020, which had “Business Sustainability and Strategic Leadership in Africa” as its theme.

He said: “Today, unfortunately, all our four refineries are down. We are importing every petroleum product that we consume in this country. ‘’We are working to make sure that we are able to fix our refineries and also have new initiatives, like having the condensate refinery, which I am also happy to announce that the Seplat group is cooperating with NNPC to create a splitter plant in short term.

“There are other private initiatives. As we know, there are several licenses granted by the Federal Government for people to construct refineries, but they can’t do this because of the clear issue around the market structure.

The newspaper also reports that the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), and President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, have blamed the sliding state of the economy, insecurity and underdevelopment of the country on bad leadership.

According to them, any country ruled by untrustworthy leaders will always find it difficult to make progress and compete favourably in the comity of nations.

The duo spoke on Thursday at the thanksgiving service and reception organised by CAN in honour of Rev. Yakubu Pam, the new Executive Secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrims’ Commission (NCPC).

Gowon, decried the lack of quality leaders in many positions of authority, and blamed selfishness of leaders for the lack of peace in many parts of the country. Represented by the Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, Gowon said: “The country has suffered under the leadership of people, who wouldn’t want peace.”

ThisDay reports that the Nigerian government has approved the seventh evacuation flight for stranded Nigerians in the United States.

This is coming as 256 Nigerians have been evacuated from Morocco and Niger Republic between Wednesday and yesterday.

The Consulate General of Nigeria in the US in a statement dated July 29, but made available to journalists yesterday, said the flight was scheduled to depart George Bush International Airport, Houston, Texas on August 15 and would arrive in Abuja on August 16.

It added that the flight would thereafter arrive at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on the same day.

The Consulate said all prospective evacuees duly registered with any of the three Nigerian Missions in the USA could purchase their one-way ticket from Ethiopian Airlines.

The newspaper says that panic gripped residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital yesterday as multiple explosions from mortars fired by suspected Boko Haram insurgents hit the troubled town, killing one person and injuring 16 others.

The explosions occurred a day after gunmen, believed to be terrorists, attacked the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum at Baga.

The governor yesterday blamed the attack on military saboteurs, threatening to call the civil populace to take their destiny into their own hands if the soldiers fail to secure the important trading town.

Confirming the explosions, the Borno State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Aliyu, said one person was killed in the attack, while 16 others were injured.

He said the casualties were recorded in three explosions at the outskirts of the state capital.

The Guardian reports that the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector has continued to reflect the sector’s weaknesses as regards production, new orders, and employment levels.

According to the latest data released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), manufacturing PMI in the month of July stood at 44.9 index points, indicating contraction in the manufacturing sector for the third consecutive month.

Of the 14 surveyed subsectors, the transportation equipment subsector reported growth (above 50% threshold) in the review month, while the non-metallic mineral products sector reported no change.

However, the remaining 12 sub-sectors reported contraction in the following order, printing & related support activities; primary metals; fabricated metal products; paper products; food, beverage & tobacco products; chemical & pharmaceutical products; furniture & related products; electrical equipment; plastics & rubber products; petroleum & coal products; textile, apparel, leather & footwear and cement.