Dangote, Flour Mills Win, BUA Loses As NPA Wades Into Sugar War
BUA Group has emerged the loser as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) waded into its sugar war with Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc.
Indeed, the NPA has banned the importation of sugar from Free Trade Zones (FTZ), thus taking sides with Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc in their sugar war against BUA Group over control of the refined sugar market.
The Chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, and his counterpart at Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, John Coumantaros, recently accused BUA of setting up a sugar refinery in an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, thereby posing a threat to the attainment of the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) as well as the sustainability of the country’s local sugar industry.
According to the duo, the country has enough refining capacity to meet national demand and therefore does not need additional sugar refining capacity.
In a joint petition to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, dated January 28, 2021, the duo protested against the recent commissioning of the BUA Sugar Refinery.
BUA, however, wrote a counter-petition, accusing Dangote and Coumantaros of calling to question the authority of President Muhammadu Buhari’s powers and the diligence of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
But in a letter dated April 8, 2021, the NPA announced a ban on the importation of refined sugar and its derivatives from the country’s free trade zones (FTZs).
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This in essence means BUA will not be able to sell its refined sugar from the Port Harcourt refinery in Nigeria.
NPA’s letter to terminal operators in Lagos and Port Harcourt on the matter reads: “It has recently come to our notice that due to the recent location of a sugar refinery in a free trade zone, refined sugar is being imported into the Nigerian Customs territory under the concession granted to enterprises in the free trade zones to export 100 per cent of their output to the Nigerian Customs territory, and this is a real potential threat to the goals of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
“The Nigeria sugar industry is governed by the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP). The NSMP provides a framework for motivating investment in the local production of refined sugar by securing the Nigerian sugar market for investors in the backward integration program (BIP).
“Your terminal is hereby informed by this letter that, in order to protect our national interest and ensure the returns in the federal government’s investment in the NSMP are realised, and in line with extant laws and regulations of the federal government of Nigeria, the importation of refined sugar and all other sugar derivatives from the free trade zones into the Nigerian Customs territory is here prohibited by the honourable minister, ministry of industry, trade and investment.
“In view of the above, your terminals are by this letter directed to ensure strict compliance with this directive. Please accept as always the assurances of our esteemed regards.”
The letter was signed by Buba Jubril on behalf of the Port Manager, Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa.
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BUA Chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu, had earlier said that his sugar refinery did not contravene the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) Act or the operations of the Export Processing Zone.
He said : “The same NEPZA Act upon which this project is based, gives the permission to process, add value, and export at the same time. Companies under this act are allowed to process and if they so wish, sell 100 per cent of their production in Nigeria with payment of duties based on the current raw materials tariff.
“As a matter of fact, Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries, who is one of the complainants alleging and attacking this approval has also applied and obtained the same approval for his refinery project in Lekki, Lagos State where he is currently enjoying the same benefits of being in an Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
“What BUA Sugar is doing is legal and within the confines of the law. We have not done nor are we doing anything wrong.”
Rabiu further explained that the EPZ under which its Port Harcourt sugar project is sited went through a rigorous two-year review process before it was forwarded to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, for approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the president alone was constitutionally empowered to approve EPZ licences.
“Anything that is done to attack this project in any way, form or any guise, attacks Mr President’s approval and we will do everything to ensure our rights are not trampled upon,” he added.
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BREAKING: Old N200, N500, N1,000 Notes Remain Legal Tender Till Dec 31 – CBN
In compliance with a ruling of the Supreme Court, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that old N200, N500, N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.
The apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin spoke in a statement on Monday. This is coming 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled that old naira notes should co-exist with new ones till the end of the year.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
The highest court of the land had on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023.
This was after 16 states of the federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the President breached the Constitution of the Federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.
After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the President on February 16 that old N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.
However, the Presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the President never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” the Presidency noted.
According to the Presidency, the President is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust.”
The CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by the states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.
However, the President, in a national broadcast on February 16, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
CBN Asked Banks To Receive Old Naira Notes – Soludo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked commercial banks to dispense and accept old naira notes as deposits, according to Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo.
Soludo, a former CBN governor, made this known in a statement he posted on his social media handles.
He explained that the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele gave the directive at a Banker’s Committee meeting on Sunday.
He added that Emefiele personally confirmed the directive to him.
According to him, residents should report banks refusing to accept the old notes.
“Commercial banks have been directed by the Central Bank to dispense old currency notes and also to receive the same deposits from customers. Tellers at commercial banks are to generate the codes for deposits, and there is no limit to the number of times an individual or company can make deposits.”
“The Governor of the CBN gave the directive at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, 12th March 2023. The Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, personally confirmed the above to me during a phone conversation on Sunday night. Residents of Anambra are therefore advised to freely accept and transact their businesses with the old currency notes (N200, N500; and N1,000) and the new notes”, the statement added.
Elon Musk Reclaims Title As World’s Richest Man
Months after losing the title of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk has regained it.
A rally in Tesla’s stock price on Monday boosted the Twitter owner’s net worth by nearly $7bn to $187bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Musk’s recovery of the top spot from the French luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault follows a precipitous drop in his wealth in late 2022, when he became the first person ever to amass and then lose $200bn. His wealth peaked at about $340bn in November 2021 and fell to about $128bn at the start of 2023.
Musk’s personal wealth primarily derives from stock in Tesla. The electric carmaker lost nearly two-thirds of its value in 2022, amid investor concerns over weakening demand, Musk’s distracting purchase of Twitter and the tumultuous start to his tenure atop the social media platform.
While Musk’s troubles at Twitter continue, having reportedly fired an additional 200 employees over the weekend after already slashing the workforce from 7,500 to about 2,000 since October, the share price of Tesla has risen nearly 90% since the start of 2023.
On Wednesday, the company will hold its annual Investor Day at its factory in Austin, Texas, and Musk is expected to discuss future products, including the long-promised Cybertruck and Semi Truck, along with plans to expand its production infrastructure around the world.
One such plan was previewed on Tuesday, when the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said Musk had promised him by phone that Tesla will build a new factory in the city of Monterrey.
“This is going to mean a considerable investment and many, many jobs,” López Obrador said.
Tesla already has plants in China and Germany, and analysts suggest it may expand to Canada as well as Indonesia.
The carmaker continues facing challenges, however, including increased scrutiny of its driver assistance technology. It announced a recall of 362,000 vehicles on 16 February after regulators said its Full Self-Driving Beta software did not follow traffic laws.
Shareholders filed another lawsuit on Monday against Musk alleging that Tesla’s repeated exaggeration of its self-driving capabilities amounted to fraud.
Musk also keeps courting controversy through his erratic and provocative behavior online. After lifting bans on white supremacists, neo-Nazis and QAnon conspiracy theorists on Twitter, the billionaire has curried favor with rightwing trolls and activists.
On Monday, he threw his support behind Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist whose racist rant in a recent YouTube appearance has led to the cancellation of his comic strip in US newspapers.
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