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President Buhari inaugurates first oil project in Northern Nigeria

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, inaugurated the first oil and gas project in the northern part of the country, making it the first time Nigeria will be drilling for oil away from the south which has accounted for decades of production in the African oil giant.

The Kolmani oil field located in Gombe and Bauchi States in the North-East is estimated to have a reserve of over one billion barrels of crude, and according to the Presidency, has attracted “$3 billion in investment aimed at opening an oil refinery, a gas processing unit, a power plant and a fertilizer factory.”

“The successful discovery of the Kolmani Oil and Gas field by Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and her partners has finally broken the jinx after long efforts to find commercial oil and gas outside the established Niger Delta Basin,” an seater Buhari said at the inauguration.

The discovery of oil and gas in the arid northern region is a welcome development for Nigeria as it will, to a large extent, take away attention and concentration from the Niger Delta region in the South where there have been a lot of environmental degradation and pollution due to the activities of oil companies.

Despite over six decades of oil exploration in the south, most parts of the region are largely impoverished and while the international oil companies and government officials have fed fat on the huge profits generated, majority of the people have continued to live in abject poverty.

The Niger Delta region suffers from pollution and ecological disasters while thousands of the youths have resorted to militancy, piracy and setting up illegal refineries in the swampy creeks, stealing the crude oil from pipelines, refining it and selling it on the black market.

With the discovery of oil in the northeast, many Nigerians are hopeful that massive unemployment in the country will be addressed while the insecurity in the region will be curbed or brought to a reasonable level.

There are also concerns that banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and other criminal activities in the northeast wh in have continued to hamper the smooth mining of gold in Zamfara State which also in the region could affect the running of the oil fields but Buhari has assured that adequate security would be put in place to tackle all forms of criminality in the area.

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Nigerian govt ‘may open border for importation of cement’

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The Nigerian government has issued a warning to cement producers, stating that if they continue to raise prices arbitrarily, it may decide to open the border to cement imports.

This warning was given by Arc Ahmed Dangiwa, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, during an urgent meeting with cement and building material manufacturers on Tuesday in Abuja.

The government last week called for an urgent meeting with cement manufacturers following a recent surge in the price of the product, which has seen a bag of cement jump from N5,000 to as high as N15,000 in less than two weeks.

However, during his speech to the manufacturers on Tuesday, Dangiwa urged them to be more patriotic, pointing out that domestic sources, such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, are used to produce cement rather than imports, and as such, they shouldn’t be valued in terms of dollars.

Dangiwa, who stated that the price of cement has increased and is unreasonable, also rejected the makers’ claim that the price increase was caused by petrol and the high cost of importing equipment.

This was in reaction to Salako James, the Association’s Executive Secretary, who had said that the association just heard of the  pricing from the market like every other Nigerian and did not discuss or decide the rates of specific enterprises.

“The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country the only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough.

“Even if you say about 50 percent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria it’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation. As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it.

“The time you bought it maybe it was at a lower price but because now the dollar is high you are using it as an excuse. Honestly, we have to sit down and look at this critically. The demand and supply should be good for you because the government stopped the importation of cement, they stopped the importation in order to empower you to produce more.

“Otherwise if the government opens the border for mass importation of cement, the price would crash but you would have no business to do and at the same time the employment generation would go down. So these are the kinds of things you have to look at, the efforts of government in ensuring things go well.”

Following the elimination of fuel subsidies, the depreciation of the national currency, and low agricultural output, Nigeria is currently facing its worst cost of living crisis. These factors have all contributed to Nigeria’s highest headline inflation rate of 27% year over year and food inflation of 32%. The massive housing shortage facing the nation seems to have a new facet as a result of the recent increase in cement prices.

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Nigeria’s Q3 jobless rate rises to 5% after policy reforms 

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The figures issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the jobless rate increased from 4.2% in the previous quarter following the government’s elimination of the expensive petrol subsidy in May.

Nigeria’s jobless rate increased to 5% in the third quarter due to a crisis in the country’s cost of living. Among young people aged 15 to 24, the unemployment rate increased from 7.2% to 8.6%. Additionally, urban unemployment increased slightly from 5.9% to 6% in the prior quarter.

With over 200 million citizens, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. However, decades of high unemployment have been caused by a population surge that has outpaced economic expansion.

However, once the government changed the formula for calculating the numbers in early 2023, the unemployment rate fell from a record 33% in the fourth quarter of 2020. With 87% of workers being self-employed, underemployment still exists. During that time, only 12.7% of people were employed for pay.

The NBS reports that the percentage of workers in the grey economy, or informal employment rate, remained relatively stable at 92.3%. Additionally, the workforce participation rate decreased somewhat to 79.5% from 80.4% in the second quarter.

President Bola Tinubu has defended his two main reforms, eliminating foreign exchange controls and subsidies, arguing that while these will cause hardships in the near run, they are essential to draw in investment and strengthen government coffers.

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