BusinessDay

Nigeria may demand for increased crude production from OPEC+ in March

Nigeria may demand increased daily crude oil production from OPEC+ in March when the restriction placed on the country’s production quota is expected to be lifted.

OPEC+ had placed the restriction on Nigeria and Iraq for failing to comply early enough with the oil cartel’s production cuts occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both countries had their compliance extended to March 2021, as against December 2020, when other members of OPEC+ were allowed to slightly increase their supply to the global market in January 2021.

In other words, while other members of the organisation were allowed to increase their productions since January this year, the two countries have to wait till March to do same.

Industry analysts are of the view that Africa’s largest crude producer may ask to be allowed to supply more to the market when the oil cartel meets on March 4. If Nigeria secures OPEC+’s nod to do so, it will boost its earnings and capacity to finance the 2021 budget which benchmark was $40 per barrel.

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Nigeria currently produces 1.47 million barrels of crude per day, but Timipere Slyva, minister of State for Petroleum, says the country can produce above 2.5 million barrels.

“We have a very robust reserve; our crude oil reserve stands about 37.5 billion barrels. Last year when everybody was required to produce to the maxim, we are also able to achieve 2.5 million in one day, but had to cut down because of OPEC+ cut of production quota. If today they ask us to produce to capacity, we should be able to produce above 2.5 million barrels per day.’

Sylva said Nigeria’s reserve can support four million barrels per day but unfortunately we are not there yet, but there is good headwind to improve

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged energy markets and decimated demand. Of the three fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, and oil, demand for the latter was affected most due to its importance for the transportation sector. With grounded aeroplanes, reduced shipping, and parked cars across the world, the consumption of petroleum products decreased significantly in 2020. As demand recovers and oil prices rise at the beginning of this year, markets are increasingly concerned that the OPEC+ agreement that has provided moderate stability, could be about to fall apart.

Last year, two of the three largest oil producers in the world, OPEC’S de-facto leader Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed on production cuts to stabilise the market and to prop up prices. This led to a record 9.7 million barrels per day (mbpd) withdrawn from the market. Although a massive quantity under normal circumstances, the cuts were barely enough to stabilise prices.

During the last OPEC+ gathering, negotiations were particularly difficult due to the diverging views of Russia and Saudi Arabia. For Riyadh, Moscow’s continued participation is crucial. Despite the challenges, the parties agreed to extend the production cuts. Russian producers were allowed to increase production in February and March by 65,000 BPD, while the Saudis voluntarily decreased production by one million BPD.

The parties are scheduled to meet again on March 4 to discuss production levels for April. The unprecedented price rally of the oil markets will undoubtedly create tension between the negotiators.

Every year, the National Fire Protection Association puts out a report about injuries to firemen in the United States. In 2019, that report showed that 60,825 firefighter injuries occurred in the line of duty, an increase of 4 percent over the 2018 injury total. A good percentage of these injuries occur at fire grounds simply because no matter how much training firemen receive and how much protective gear they get, they have a job that often involves risking their lives for the lives of others.

In a very similar fashion, health workers are faced with the challenge of a high-risk profession, often heightened by disease outbreaks, like the coronavirus pandemic, which has waged war for over a year now. Within the time that it took for a vaccine to be developed, tested and administered for the first time, the novel coronavirus led to about 2 million deaths worldwide, a good number of them being deaths of health workers overwhelmed by the number of cases and exposed to the virus in the line of duty.

Ivuoma Tom is one of the lucky health workers whose story appears on the UNICEF COVID-19 Survivor Stories series. In her words, she, with other colleagues, was exposed to the virus when they came into contact with a patient they had no idea had been exposed. While she didn’t have trouble associated with the virus for the next 15 days after contact, she battled with breathing challenges and restlessness, and was placed on oxygen for five days after the signs of the virus manifested fully on the 16th day.

There are more stories like Ivuoma’s, which despite their call for a celebration are also scary given the tale of long-term effects of the coronavirus, meaning that survival is not always a win with this virus.

While it has been at the forefront of ensuring that health workers and the general public are well protected against the coronavirus, the possibility of keeping health workers from ever contracting COVID-19 is one of the reasons MTN Group is donating $25 million to the African Union to help with the procurement of COVID vaccine doses. The company recently announced this plan in a statement released towards the end of January, where it said that it was looking to help restore social and economic norms for the African continent and communities.

The donation comes at a time when a number of African countries are beginning to notice daily spikes in cases and a trend similar to the second wave leading to lockdowns in other parts of the world. Part of MTN’S belief is that it can curb the huge negative impact of the virus on the continent and prevent a repeat of the hardship it has placed on a large percentage of Africa’s over 1.3 billion people.

By vaccinating 7 million health workers across the continent, MTN is further ensuring that Africa has enough manpower to wage a strong fight against the virus, as health workers have proven to be Africa’s best defence against disease outbreaks – detecting cases early enough and providing optimal care to victims. This was the case during the Ebola outbreak and has been the case with the coronavirus.

In the early days of the coronavirus spread, MTN Group played a critical role in sensitising African citizens using its access to over 250 million subscribers. The company helped to ensure that people in different African countries had the right information to keep them safe. In August 2020, it launched the #Wearitforme campaign, a campaign to encourage mask-wearing as a safety precaution in the 21 different markets it operates. Before this, it had pledged over $16 million in relief packages for its employees, customers, vulnerable groups and support for selected government initiatives.

One more reason MTN has donated to the Africa Union is the drive towards equitable distribution of the COVID vaccine. According to Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Africa), the plan is for Africa to achieve at least 60 percent herd immunity, and reports estimate that this will cost between $10 billion and $15 billion – a price most African countries cannot pay.

In January, the Africa Union through its chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, announced the procurement commitment for 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses worth around $2 billion. Unfortunately, this only covers about 20 percent of Africa’s 1.3 billion people.

As the CDC Africa director puts it, MTN’s donation is a massive boost to the financing of the vaccine doses Africa needs and the logistical challenges of vaccinating at scale. Already, there has been some worry regarding the allocation strategy for the very limited vaccine doses available to certain African countries, and further procurement of vaccines. Private-public partnerships like MTN’s $25 million donations to the Africa Union are therefore important to see that Africa does not have to wait months to receive the vaccines as opined by most news publications. More importantly, it ensures that the vaccines do not get to only citizens of countries who can afford them and that Africa can maintain its plan of giving priority to vaccinating people at risk such as the elderly, key frontline workers, persons with comorbidities, and social workers.

Beyond funding, MTN is also looking to provide communication support to the Africa Union to ensure efficient execution of the vaccination programme. With their infrastructural strength across the continent, this will no doubt reduce cost and continue to provide the necessary public sensitisation about the pandemic, an initiative that has proven to be very crucial in curbing the spread of the coronavirus and helping people stay safe.

Numerous individuals more qualified than I have in the last week or so, reminded us of Alhaji Lateef Jakande’s numerous achievements, so respecting myself, I will resist the temptation to do same as I may fail woefully. Instead, I will limit myself to speaking about some of the virtues he bequeathed that I predict will continue to speak for him, long after brick and mortar have finished serving their purpose.

One definition of progressivism I came across is that it is “a social or political movement, which aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions.” Lateef Jakande saw this as his calling and dutifully yielded to it. Within a period of just four years and three months during which he governed Lagos State as it’s first democratically elected Governor, Jakande brought an unprecedented level of progress to the state. It is a testament to the quality of his governance that most of his infrastructural legacies are still standing today. The number of “firsts” he recorded as Governor in terms of infrastructural development, institutions established and pivotal policies remain to be matched.

Not many people are aware that Jakande had a stellar career in journalism before venturing into politics. He was once the Editor-in-chief of the Nigerian Tribune before establishing his own paper, The Lagos News. With a knack for leaving his footprint wherever went, he founded the Nigerian Institute of Journalism in 1963 and initiated the establishment of both the Newspapers’ Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Nigerian Guild of Editors. In recognition of his stature in the profession, he was elected to serve as the first President of NPAN.

Lateef Jakande would later take up politics and subsequently become the Governor of Lagos State. He was not by any stretch of the imagination a tall man but was endearingly nicknamed “Baba kekere”, which meant “little or young Awolowo” (his political mentor) as opposed to being a reference to his diminutive stature.

Yes, I began by saying this article’s focus is not to reel out Baba Kekere’s numerous achievements but I would be doing him a great injustice if I didn’t mention a few. His administration built the current Lagos State Secretariat, the Governor’s office and the Lagos State House of Assembly complex.

He established the Lagos State Television (LTV), Lagos Radio, Lagos State University (LASU). He established a General Hospital in different zones of the state including building 20 health centres to provide free healthcare.

He built the Teacher Training College and the College of Education. He built 30 low-cost housing estates across the state. He introduced the first commercial boat transport service. He would have introduced a metro rail but this was truncated by the military coup that ushered in Buhari’s military government in 1983. Baba Kekere constructed over 22,000 classrooms. He established the Water Management Board, constructed the Adiyan Water Works and modernized the Iju Water Works. He established the Electricity Board for Rural Electrification, the first State Traffic Management Authority and founded LASACO Insurance. This great visionary initiated the Small Scale Industries Credit Scheme, which years later led to the founding of EKO Bank. He built new markets and expanded existing ones. He constructed too many roads to mention. He opened Lagos up from Victoria Island, where it hitherto ended, to Epe. Remarkable achievements by any standard. When a man’s mission is to serve, you’ll see it clearly in the results. How many of our latter-day Governors have achieved in eight years, 10% of what Baba Kekere achieved in just over four years? Still, that’s not all I want you to take away from this.

Celebration of this illustrious man’s life provides us an opportune time to reset our societal values, to better align with the principles of modesty, commitment and service embodied by this highly respected former Governor. Not known to wear his progressive garb like a cloak which he put on and off, Jakande remained the same man in and out of government; espousing the same values always. His lifestyle was a simple and spartan one, devoid of all the appurtenances associated with a sitting or former political office holder. Throughout his tenure as Governor, he used his personal car and lived in his personal house in Ilupeju; where he lived until his demise on February 11, 2021. In shunning the glitz of power and instead facing squarely what he was elected to do, he will forever be a shining example of one who indeed came to serve.

I dare say that if “Lagosians” are asked to write down a list of five people who’s service transformed their lives; who provided them with opportunities and hope for a better future and were thus largely responsible for who they themselves have become today, Baba Kekere would feature on more lists than most. Whose list will you be on? That’s your legacy right there.

It’s the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren, the most celebrated of all British architects who built world renowned landmarks such as London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace which famously reads, “If you seek his monument, look around you”. We can say the same of late Pa Lateef Kayode Jakande, but not just because of the physical transformation he brought to Lagos State. Remember, giants don’t always come in big sizes. It’s the enormity of their impact that portrays them as being larger than life. Baba Kekere will remain a testament to that. His legacy cannot be quantified by the legion of structures he brought to Lagos State, but by us having an understanding of what they represent; the promise of a better future for millions of Lagosians who up till then could hardly dream of owning their own home or being able to afford a decent education. He brought the walls inhibiting such dreams crashing down and ushered in a new dawn. Now that was his most monumental legacy; the people. Sleep well sir.

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.

‘ Celebration of this illustrious man’s life provides us with an opportune time to reset our societal values, to better align with the principles of modesty, commitment and service embodied by this highly respected former Governor

Akande is a Surrey University graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. An alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation and author of two books; The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. He can be reached via dapsakande25@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter via @DAPO_MINDS

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