Saturday, September 15, 2012

Low diesel supply: Hard times ahead for manufacturers

Ayodele Samuel, in this report takes a look at the seeming unending power problem in Nigeria's manufacturing sector, as LPFO (black oil) and AGO (diesel) witness price hike.

Hard times are ahead of Nigeria manufacturing sector following the increase in the price of LPFO (black oil) and AGO (diesel) by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), as poor electricity supply continue to have devastating effects on manufacturers' operating cost.

Manufacturers holds the poor state of electricity supply as the major factor responsible for factory closures, relocation of production lines and hundreds of thousands of job losses in the last one decade.

The  Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) had argued that the price hike move was capable of crippling many companies  and could have  negative effects on the economy as may firms might closed shops.

According to MAN, the PPMC had in a memo last week, signed by the Depot Manager Kaduna, Shettima Bukar Imam, and copied to marketers among others, said the management of NNPC/PPMC had approved new Ex/Depot prices for AGO N126.30/Litre (old price) to N128.92/litre (new price) and LPFO N68/litre (old price) to N85.91/litre (new price).

According to the memo, the prices took immediate effect adding that ex-depot prices of PMS, DPK as well as other special products remained unchanged.

The manufacturers in a petition addressed to the Presidency Minister of Petroleum, Minister of Finance, Senate President and   Speaker of the House of Representatives and signed by Olushola Olabinri, described the sudden hike as shocking and arbitrary, calling for its reversal.

MAN described the policy as draconian and superfluous, because the brunt would be borne by the masses as the cost of production of various household consumables would increase drastically.

It warned that the high cost of LPFO was making most industries to fold up and therefore appealed to the government to reconsider the situation and return to the status quo.

Also Chief Michael Daramola, MAN Chairman, Oyo/Osun/Ondo/Ekiti states branch, said that inspite of the country's huge and diverse energy resources endowment, electricity was ranked as the most critical infrastructure constraint, adding that it had resultant effects on members operational cost, production stoppages, output losses and destruction of machineries and raw materials.

 "A review of the overall performance of the economy in year 2011 revealed to be reasonably fair despite the plethora of challenges that have continued to render the business environment unfriendly. Outlining them, as usual, is tantamount to reminding us of pitiable state of the manufacturing sector.

 "Notwithstanding, reasonable success and growth were achieved in some areas of the economy. Interestingly, we were able to weather the storm despite the seemingly harsh operating environment. Our efforts at keeping our businesses afloat in the face of multifarious challenges deserve to be commended," Daramola stated.

He stated further that, "We cannot forget in a hurry, the devastation of some of our member-companies facilities, especially in the Oluyole Industrial Estate during the year 2011 flood disaster which occurred precisely in the month of August. The disaster sadly claimed properties and products worth billions of Naira. We sincerely hope that your excellencies will proffer appropriate solutions especially in the area of adequate infrastructure needed to attain greatness in the industrial sector." 

MAN is, however,  projecting a 25 per cent manufacturing sector contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

MAN National President, Chief Kola Jamodu said if realised it would pave the way for achieving the Vision 20:2020 objectives.

Jamodu said: "We know that the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the  economy is very shallow, that is about four per cent and for Nigeria to realise its Vision 20:20:20 objective, we are thinking of growing from that stage to about 25 per cent GDP contribution to the economy.

"We have articulated programmes that will ensure that over a period of time we will achieve that plan. MAN will continue to adopt appropriate technology and continue to produce a high quality products. We want cars made in Nigeria to equate quality," he said.

He added that the sector will continue to remain steadfast in championing the manufacturers' interest within the country's economy,"he said.

"MAN has come up with a blue print which is intentionally a road map that shows that the economy has brought forth intervention programme with very detailed means of implementation," he stated.

Published in Peoples Daily Newspaper, August 16 2012 Page 20

Ondo 2012: Owo, the battlefield for Mimiko’s return

Ondo 2012: Owo, the battlefield for Mimiko's return

As the October 20th governorship election in Ondo state approaches, our reporter, Ayodele Samuel,

in this report takes a look at the impending political battle, raising the questions on the a

bility of Governor Olusegun Mimiko to break the second term myth in the state just as he underscores the importance of the ancient city on who produces the next governor of the Sunshine state. 

The ancient city of Owo is famous for being the cradle of politics and struggle of liberation in the South West region of Nigeria. The town came under British rule in 1893. After the nation's independence in 1960, it was part of the Western Region until 1967 when it became part of the Western State. 

History of progressive politics in the country would not be complete without making reference to Owo, where the Action Group (AG), believed to be the first political party with progressive ideas and ideology, was formed. Those who propagated the idea of forming the AG, which later contributed to the transformation of the region, were believed to have first gathered at Owo. 

Starting from hosting the meeting of the Action Group led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo , the city has continued to remain relevant to politics of the region generally and Ondo State in particular. 

Also in the struggle for democracy, the town also became very popular during the darkest days of the military rule in the country when progressive politicians regularly gathered to review the administration of the late Gen. Sani Abacha's military government. Its famous son and first governor of Ondo state, late Pa. Adekunle Ajasin had at that time, assumed the leadership of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere and as well as the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). 

Without doubt, the ancient town occupies an important position when it comes to the social, economic and political development of the old western region. 

 Ahead of the October 20th gubernatorial election, Ondo state's incumbent governor, and Labour Party candidate Olusegun Mimiko last week took the battle for the control of the state to the ancient city and hometown of the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), when he flagged off his re-election campaign with a pledge to work with renewed vigour towards a better state just as he took a swipe at those who are aspiring to capture the state to perish the thought. 

Storming the city strategically with thousands of people who came from all over the state chanting the praises of Iroko, as he is fondly called, to show his popularity and acceptance by the people, was however described as political miscalculation by oppositions in the state. The opposition in the state based their argument on the town's popular myth that no one ever   brings war of any kind to the city and goes back home victorious.  

"Mimiko has just failed, coming to Owo to declare war is very wrong and time would judge because Owo people hate threats of war" Addressing the supporters, Mimiko said Ondo state will never worship on the altar of any foreign god adding that one million godfathers and their District Officers would meet their match on October 20, when the people shall once again speak loudly with their votes as they did in 2007. 

Mimiko, who lampooned ACN candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu,  whom he accused of being a foreigner in the state; who did not register to vote and never even voted in the state before but suddenly woke up with the idea of governing the state, insisted that the people want a committed Governor, not a District Officer.   "In 2007, we promised to work for you; we promised that your concerns shall be our concern; that in all seasons, we will work for you; that we shall unleash our incredible creative ingenuity to develop the state. In the last three and a half years, there are empirical facts on the ground that we have delivered on our promises and Ondo state is working again, and we are happier. We have in place over 350 projects in all our rural communities dictated by our people themselves. 

"Today, we are here again to solicit for your votes, we want you to vote for us and I sincerely assure you that we shall continue to work for you with renewed vigour. We have been with you; we know your concerns and aspirations and we have been meeting. We know that you want your children to have quality education without you selling your properties. We will continue to work to make Ondo state a real place of pride in Nigeria; we will continue to develop Agriculture, build more roads, build more mega schools for our children, markets for our women, more hospitals, our cities shall be the best cities in Nigeria" 

While noting that the choice of Owo town as the venue of his campaign flag- off was symbolic, Mimiko said that Owo was the de facto home of the progressives in Nigeria because in 1951, the Action Group (AG) was founded in Owo, making it the home of brave progressives when many towns were reluctant to host the group. "And we as inheritors of progressivism in Nigeria, have latched onto this proud heritage and we have taken hook line and sinker the ethos of progressivism in Nigeria and today, Ondo State is a model and the real progressives, as opposed to those who just mouth progressivism by mere words of mouths and not in deeds," Mimiko said. 

The governor   appealed to the leaders of the Afenifere, who have been lampooned by some so called leaders in recent times for daring to identify with him by describing him as following the footsteps of Pa Obafemi Awolowo saying that the whole world salute them for being the proud inheritors of progressivism in Nigeria. 

 In his address, the national Chairman of Labour Party (LP), Dan Nwanyawu, urged the people to vote for Mimiko who he noted had performed beyond even the expectations of the party pointing out that going by his landmark achievements in the state, he deserved to be voted for. While urging the people to be wary of those whom he noted had vowed to capture the state, Nwanyawu stated that they had no plans for the people as they only wanted to share the peoples' common resources for their god fathers. 

"I must warn you not to vote for these people who are very desperate even when they are not on ground but say they will do everything to capture Ondo state. In LP, we did not impose Mimiko unlike some people who sat in their mansion in Lagos state and selected for their party. In fact, one of their leaders openly stated recently that they don't believe in primaries. 

"All they are looking for is to increase their territories; they want to expand and they have not said that Mimiko has not performed but they just want to grab. Please, don't vote for them because they will ferry your wealth to feather their nests outside Ondo state and destroy the good legacies that Mimiko and other governors have done in Ondo state as they are doing in the states that they are now governing," he said. 

But responding to the allegation that its candidate is a foreigner in the state, the ACN said ""For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to assert that Rotimi Akeredolu is a registered voter in his home town, Owo, and this is verifiable. The ACN candidate, with intimidating credentials coupled with his credible pedigree, no doubt, is the candidate to beat in this election, hence all antics to pull him down at all cost." 

Winning Owo remain a key political calculation if Mimiko must return to Alagbaka House as the first governor to serve two tenure in the state