Monday, 29 August 2016

Buhari's emergency economic bill: We've been here before

It emerged sometimes last week that President Muhammadu Buhari will be presenting an emergency economic stabilisation bill to the National Assembly when it resumes on September 13. The bill has been greeted with apprehension; with many fearing abuse of power by a President that has exhibited little tolerance for opposing views. While an Aso Rock mouthpiece has tried in vain to absolve the President of seeking emergency powers, the policy draft which found its way into the public space last week says otherwise.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Deep seaports everywhere, but which of them will be viable?

It appears some state governors are trying to outdo each other in the establishment of so-called deep seaports in their domains. Lagos State is pushing hard for the Lekki deep seaport and Badagry mega-port while Ondo and Ogun States have been championing the joint development of the Olokola deep seaport for about a decade. Akwa Ibom State joined the fray about four years ago under its erstwhile governor, Godswill Akpabio with the proposed Ibaka (or Ibom) deep seaport, while Ben Ayade of Cross River State, immediately assuming the governorship of his state in 2015, became a strong advocate of the Calabar deep seaport.

One begins to wonder if these governors have done their homework on the viability or otherwise of the proposed deep seaports. Why will any state, in this period of austerity, expend as much as two billion dollars on a facility that might not yield good future returns or add significant value to the economy of the state or better the lives of its citizens? I honestly do not believe that any deep seaport outside Lagos will be viable. There will not be sufficient cargo volumes to support such facilities in the next 50 years. This is clear enough from the current underutilization of existing port facilities in the country, especially those facilities outside Lagos. For instance, while the ports in Lagos have capacity utilization of about 50 – 60% at present, the ones in the South South – Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar – have about 25% capacity utilization. The exception will be Onne Port which is fairly busy. Even the so-called Olokola port; can it honestly compete with the ports in Lagos or the ports of fellow West African countries such as the Autonomous Port of Cotonou or the Port of Lome for cargo?

Monday, 15 August 2016

NLNG's evil treatment of Nigerian seafarers

Elsewhere, seafarers are highly respected; enjoy good remuneration and good living standards. But not in Nigeria. Many of our seafarers are jobless. Those of them who have jobs are underemployed and owed several months in salary arrears. A few oil majors and the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) were the only beacon of hope for these hapless seafarers.

Incorporated as a limited liability company on 17 May 1989 to produce LNG and natural gas liquid for export, NLNG enjoyed pioneer status and a 10-year tax holiday. Even after its tax holiday, it refused to willingly pay statutory charges to some agencies of government like the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Monday, 1 August 2016

The future of print newspaper

The debate is still raging as to what the future holds for the print newspaper industry as it struggle for survival in this digital age. Not only are newspapers witnessing serious erosion of their fortunes in the face of declining circulation and advertisement revenues, they are also facing tough times competing for online revenue. A survey by Ipsos Group S.A. reveals that only 11% of those who read newspapers online said they would prefer to pay a one-off fee for a mobile application, while 3% of those surveyed said they would opt for a monthly online subscription. Paying for online access per day and per article were the least popular digital options, both recording 1% of all surveyed. 31% said they would not pay for news while it is available elsewhere online for free. An overwhelming 77% said they had no interest whatsoever in paying for news content online. For the 83% that said they had accessed news online in the month before the survey was conducted, the sites of the traditional national newspapers didn’t make the top five.
The top five visited news websites for these users were, in order: BBC News (34%), Google News (17%), Sky News (6%), Yahoo! (5%) and MSN (5%). The majority of those surveyed by YouGov were also reluctant to pay for online content, with 83% saying they would refuse to pay. Only 2% were prepared to shell out for online content in the current format, while a further 4% would pay on the grounds that the content was not available anywhere else.