Breaking: Buhari reappoints Prof Yakubu as INEC Chairman

President Muhammadu Buhari has reappointed Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, for a second term in office.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Tuesday.

President Buhari, in a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said: “In accordance with the provision of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term.”

Prof Yakubu was first appointed by President Buhari in November 2015.

FG begins payment of N30,000 grants to 333,000 artisans

The Federal Government yesterday announced that it has commenced implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP, with the payment of N30,000 one-time grant to 333,000 artisans across the country.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, stated that the payments were being made to sets of verified beneficiaries of the Artisan Support Scheme, a track under the MSMEs Survival Fund.

According to the statement, “In the first stream of payments starting today, beneficiaries are being drawn from the FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau and Delta States. They form the first batch of applications for the scheme submitted between October 1 and October 10.

“The MSMEs Survival Fund scheme is a component of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP, which was developed by an Economic Sustainability Committee established by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2020.

“The President asked his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to head the committee which produced and is overseeing the implementation of the plan.

“Under the ESP, the Survival Fund is generally designed to among other things, support vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their different obligations and safeguard jobs in the sector.”

It will be recalled that applications for the Artisans’ Support Scheme under the MSMEs Survival Fund opened on October 1.

The statement further said that the enumeration for the second stream of States under the Artisan Support Scheme has also commenced with enumerators in various States compiling the lists of artisans through their association leaders. All artisans are expected to liaise with their association leaders to document their details.

It said, “The registration of applicants for Stream 2 began on the 19th October 2020. States under Stream 2 are: Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Enugu, Ebonyi, Adamawa, Taraba, Bayelsa.

“In the same vein, enumeration and verification of the documents of applicants under the Survival Fund Payroll Support scheme is still ongoing. Dates for the commencement of payment would be announced in due course.

“The application process for the payroll support scheme, which began on September 21, had ended on the 15th of October 2020. Accepted applications are categorized by industry sectors, including Education and Hospitality, among other sectors.

“However, there may be an extension for applications for some States that have not met their quota on beneficiaries. The Artisan Support Scheme is to benefit about 9,000 Nigerians per State and FCT.

“In addition, the formalization support under the MSME Survival Fund will also commence today. This involves free business names’ registration for 250,000 MSMEs nationwide by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“According to the CAC, 6,606 business names in each of the 34 states will be registered for free. In Abuja, there would be 7,906 free registrations, 9,084 in Lagos and 8,406 free business names from Kano.

“Also, a date for the commencement of the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme under the Survival Fund will be announced soon. This scheme is designed to safeguard existing small businesses and save jobs while ensuring continued local production by guaranteeing off-take of priority products.

“The Offtake Scheme is a track specifically for MSMEs that are into production of items approved by the Steering Committee of the Survival Fund coordinated under the leadership of the Industry, Trade and Investment Minister of State Ambassador Mariam Katagum. The basic requirements include CAC certificate, valid BVN, SON or NAFDAC certification.

“The N2.3 Trillion Economic Sustainability Plan consists of fiscal, monetary and sectoral measures to enhance local production, support businesses, retain, create jobs and provide succour to Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.”

#EndSars: Minister breaks down in tears after inspecting destroyed properties in Calabar

The Minister of State for Power, Prince Goddy Jeddy Agba on Tuesday broke down in tears after inspecting various government owned properties destroyed in Calabar ,the Cross River State capital.

The Minister who was speechless after seeing the level of destruction of government institutions and property in Calabar, could not hold back his tears at the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital.

Prince Agba who went round Federal government parastatals including NTA, WAEC, Cross River Office, BASIN AUTHORITY and Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital broke down in tears over the devastating destruction that was carried out by hoodlums under the guise of #Endsars protest.

At the Calabar branch office of WAEC, the Minister of State saw how the entire office furniture were destroyed and looted and the building set ablaze with many certificate of the candidates and records inside completely burnt.

The Cross River Basin Development Authority, CRBDA, was also not spared as same situation of wanton destruction of property including the operational vehicles at premises which was now in rubbles including the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA channel 9 Calabar which no longer has a studio as all equipment were destroyed.

While addressing staff of the various parastatals, he expressed shock at the level of havoc that was carried out on various government properties and the huge deficit that has been created as many of those office would be build from the ground up .

His words: “It’s just like we are coming out of war , I am shocked beyond expression, with the level of destruction I have seen I cannot find words to express how I feel after looking at the Carnage carried out.

“It is obvious that you can no longer perform your duties because your offices were completely vandalized, I have seen it with my eyes and I will report back to Me President as well as your minister who is also in his state on the same assessment.

“These are our youths, the property is also our property, we cannot remain like, we must rebuild and come back stronger .We are sorry about the pains of the youths, we know they reacted, and we heard their reaction loud and clear and we will respond appropriately.

“We have heard their requests and we will be prompt about our response, but the youths must be patient with us, the President is a father who also has children and he listens too and he will do something.

According to him, the President was not happy with the level of destruction in Cross River State from the initial reports he has gotten.

“The President is concern about the plight of the youths of Nigeria and has directed all relevant agencies to fast track the implementation of various government programmes targeted at the empowerment of youths in the country,” he said.

Briefing youths earlier at Ekorinim Community ,the minister who was joined by leader of Bakassi ex-agitators – Bakassi strike force, BSF ,Benjamin Ene appealed the youths in the state to sheath their swords adding that he believes government has heard them loud and clear.

Ene however called on the Federal government to include the Ex-agitators of BSF in their amnesty programme of government promised through the Cross River State government.

He said “Our agitation started because of the illegal ceding of Bakassi. After the amnesty promised us by the Federal government through Cross River government which until now has not been fulfilled and very painful too, we have decided to give peace a chance so that growth and development can take place.

“I want to appeal to youths of the state, ex agitators to sheath their swords and give peace a chance as well as allow government to meet with our various request ,” he said .

​How DisCos Are Wickedly, Criminally Overbilling Customers Despite NERC Capping

By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The recent electricity bills distributed to estimated customers across the country is not only wicked, but criminal.

This was done in flagrant disregard for the capping which the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) issued out in February this year.

In view of the aforesaid, the  August and September billings are contrary to the NERC Order “C” of Page 7 of the ORDER NO/NERC 197/2020 titled Order on the Capping of Estimated Bills in the NESI.
The NERC had in February issued order No/NERC/197/2020 on capping of estimated billings in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, thereby placing a cap on estimated bills to unmetered customers. 

This was to protect unmetered R2 (Residential single and 3 phase meters, who consume more than 50kwh per month) and C1 (Commercial single and 3 phase meters, small businesses) customers from estimated and arbitrary billing and hopefully hasten the process of metering. (June 9, 2020) NERC Tweet.

“NERC Nigeria

@NERCNG

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has issued notices of intention to commence enforcement action against Seven electricity distribution companies over their failure to comply with the Order 197/2020 on capping of unmetered R2 and C1 electricity customers.

12:55 PM · Jun 9, 2020”

NERC further tweeted that some erring Distribution Companies (DisCos) were sanctioned for not adhering to the capping in June this year.

“NERC Nigeria

@NERCNG

The Discos are Benin, Enugu, Eko, Ikeja,Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt. @NERCNG @nannews_ng @NTANewsNow @AIT_Online @THISDAYLIVE @TheSun @LeadershipNGA @GuardianNigeria

12:55 PM · Jun 9, 2020,” the tweet said.

The power sector regulatory agency in its statement said, “The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has issued notices of intention to commence enforcement action against seven electricity distribution companies over their failure to comply with the order 197/2020 on capping of unmetered R2 and C1 electricity customers’’. 

Prior to the capping, NERC had done a proposal to Cap Estimated Billing.

NERC proposed to issue an order stipulating the maximum amount that any unmetered customer will pay to the distribution company (DisCo) that provides him or her electricity services.

This amount will continue to apply until the customer is metered by the distribution company. NERC proposes to set this cap at a level that will protect unmetered customers and provide sufficient incentives for the DisCos to quickly meter such customers.

The context of this proposed new regulation is the realization that distribution companies are not doing enough to meter unmetered customers. 

Since the takeover of the network by the preferred bidders on November 1, 2013, there has not been aggressive metering as promised by the preferred bidders. 

This has led to overbilling of customers especially in the face of epikeptic supply of electricity. 

The main reason for low rate of metering has been the inadequate financial liability of the sector. But this excuse is no longer viable as the NERC sought to solve this problem through the Credited Advanced Payment for Meter Implementation (CAPMI) which provides DisCos with the opportunity to finance metering through consumer finance. 

In spite of this innovative financial crowd-sourcing initiative, minimal metering has occurred because DisCos have not been determined enough to meter their consumers.

The Commission therefore needs to provide the incentive for speedy metering of unmetered customers by limiting the amount of revenue that a distribution company can earn from unmetered customers. 

This transfers the cost of non-metering of customers from hapless customers to operators who have the responsibility and capability of metering customers.

Ahead of the capping, a Public Hearing On Proposal to Cap Estimated Billings and to Create an Independent System Operator was held.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in furtherance of its mandate to ensure an efficient and fair electricity market that ensures an adequate, reliable and affordable supply of electricity to Nigerian homes and businesses invited operators, consumers, and the general public to the public consultation to consider for approval by the Commission, two proposals, namely,

(1) A proposal to cap the amount that a distribution company can charge an unmetered consumer until he or she is metered;

(2) A proposal to create an Independent System Operator (ISO) from the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

NERC proposed to issue an order stipulating the maximum amount that any unmetered customer will pay to the distribution company (DisCo) that provides him or her electricity services.

 This amount will continue to apply until the customer is metered by the distribution company. NERC proposes to set this cap at a level that will protect unmetered customers and provide sufficient incentives for the DisCos to quickly meter such customers.

The Commission therefore, needed to provide the incentive for speedy metering of unmetered customers by limiting the amount of revenue that a distribution company can earn from unmetered customers. 

This transfers the cost of non-metering of customers from hapless customers to operators who have the responsibility and capability of metering customers.

There was also a Proposal to Create an Independent System Operator (ISO).

The Electric Power Sector Reform Act mandates the NERC to create and maintain an efficient, transparent and fair electricity market that continuously allows customers access to adequate, reliable, safe and affordable electricity services.

 As part of the features of such a market, the Act prescribes the establishment of an independent system operator (ISO) immediately after substantial privatization on such terms as NERC will indicate. 

The NERC  wishes to unbundle the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) into a Transmission Service Provider (TSP) and an Independent System Operator (ISO). 

The ISO is conceived to be jointly owned by the operators in the market and operate totally independent of government so as to be fully impartial and professional in the dispatch of energy. 

An ISO is a global model that guarantees credibility and confidence in the electricity market such that investors in independent power projects (IPPs) will have no fear of discrimination in the use of transmission network.

The public consultation in view of the above was held at the Hearing Room, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Plot 1099 Adamawa Plaza, First Avenue, Abuja on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

In futherance to that, on February 20,  2020, the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) released an Order on the capping of estimated bills in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) (the Order). 

The Order was enacted pursuant to the NERC’s powers to regulate the NESI, to create, promote, and preserve efficient industry and market structures and to ensure the optimal utilization of resources for the provision of electricity services in Nigeria. In this article, we revisit and discuss important highlights of the Order.

The Estimated Billing Methodology Regulation, 2012

The NERC’s (Methodology for Estimated Billing) Regulations 2012 (Estimated Billing Methodology Regulation) was introduced in 2012 to deter Distribution Companies (DisCos) from issuing to electricity customers arbitrary electricity bills which did not reflect their actual power consumption. 

The Estimated Billing Methodology Regulation classified consumers who can be issued estimated bills into three (3) basic categories.

Customers with faulty meters. This category belongs to those customers which have been issued meters but which are no longer functional.

Customers whose meters cannot be read. This category belongs to those customers whose meters cannot be read by the officials of the applicable DisCo due to inaccessibility arising from locked doors, customers who are not on the premises at the time when the officials of the DisCo come to read the meter, the presence of dogs on the premises of the customer etc.

Existing customers without meters. This category belongs to customers who have not been issued meters by the DisCo and who are directly connected to the DisCos’ distribution network.

However, the Estimated Billing Methodology Regulation achieved little success due to inadequate level of metering and distribution transformers. 
Over 65% of complaints lodged at the customer centres of DisCos together with the subsequent appeals to NERC are as a result of non-provision of meters and unrealistic billing of unmetered customers. To facilitate the metering of electricity consumers, the NERC introduced the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulations in 2018 with the ambitious aim of metering all customers within 3 years.
The Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulations, 2018
The MAP Regulations introduced by the NERC in 2018, were issued principally to:
Encourage the development of independent and competitive meter services in the NESI;

Eliminate estimated billing practices in the NESI.

Attract private investment in the provision of metering services in the NESI.

Close the metering gap through accelerated meter roll out in the NESI.

Enhance revenue assurance in the NESI.

As at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, the NERC had issued permits to twenty-six (26) Meter Asset Providers. 

However, due to a number of factors, including changes in fiscal policy, limited availability of long-term funding and several other constraints, the MAPs and the MAP Regulations were able to achieve very limited success. 

Metering thus, still remains a key challenge for the NESI with only two (2) DisCos having been able to meter more than 50% of their electricity customers as at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019 – Abuja and Benin DisCos. 

Of the 10.3 million registered electricity customers in the NESI, only 37.77% had been metered with the remaining 62.37% remaining on estimated billing at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.

Hence, it should be on note that the capping released by NERC in February 2020 stops DisCos from billing estimated customers more than 60 kilowatts monthly, which most of them are abusing, riding on the ignorance of electricity consumers.

ONJEWU DICKSON is a Kaduna based journalist

Lekki toll-gate shootings: Sanwo-Olu insists only 2 persons died

GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, yesterday, insisted that there were only two recorded deaths and no bloodstain at the scene of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting.

Several reports stated that no fewer than 30 protesters died as a result of the shooting which had generated public outcry after security operatives believed to be soldiers fired live bullets into the crowd of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate at Admiralty Circle Way.

Sanwo-Olu, who spoke to CNN’s Becky Anderson, said: “Two dead bodies, that is what we have seen from all the morgues, that’s what we have seen going to hospitals, that’s what we have seen as a record.

“What has happened is that there have been so many footages that were seen, that people have shown, but we have not seen bodies, we have not seen relatives, we have not seen anybody truly coming out to say I am a father or a mother to someone and I cannot find that person. Nobody has turned up. I have been to the ground; there is no scratch of blood anywhere there.

“From the footage that we could see, because there were cameras at that facility, it seems to me that they would be men in military uniform. That’s what the footage shows.”

While insisting that there was no form of international pressure as a result of the protests, Sanwo-Olu said: “I genuinely believe there would be change. For two reasons; what has happened, especially in Lagos is extremely unimaginable. It was also a clarion call for all of us in government understanding and realizing what the youths want us to be doing. It hit all of us like a thunderbolt and it was just a wake-up call.”

Sanwo-Olu assured that the Close Circuit Television, CCTV, footages will be part of the investigation by the judicial panel already set up to investigate the incident, which according to him has already started sitting on Monday.

He said: “People have claimed that their friends and family members have been killed or went missing over the years. That is what the judicial panel is meant to do. It is to answer all the unanswered questions and ensure justice.

“We will invite those who have one case or the other to try and identify those officers who were responsible.”

When asked if he was committed to a full investigation of the incident, the governor responded, “absolutely”.

He said: “It’s beyond my control to mete out punishment to those found culpable; however, those responsible will be held accountable.

“I am not the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The report will be out; we will channel the report to all the relevant authorities in the State to ensure everyone that is found culpable is accountable for the act.”

On disbanded SARS, Sanwo-Olu said: “It would be unfair to generalize everyone like that. Everyone agrees that there is a reform that needs to take place, there is a change that needs to take place, and there is some truth that needs to come on board.

“I have been an advocate that indeed, they should be scrapped, let us have genuine reforms and let us have a better conversation of how we police our citizens and the State so that we can have more enduring citizens and police relationships.”

#EndSARS: PDP flays NBC clampdown on AIT, channels, Arise

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condemned the clampdown on major broadcast stations including AIT, Channels and the ARISE TV by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC over their coverage of the EndSARS protest in various parts of the country.

In a statement issued Monday night by Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP spokesman, the party maintained that the rush to impose monetary fines on the television stations by the National Broadcast Commission “smacks of a fresh attempt to further gag the media, suppress free speech and Nigerians’ access to information.” it

The statement read: “Indeed, this clampdown on broadcast stations, if anything, has heightened widespread public apprehensions of attempts at concealments of details and suppression of material evidence relating to human rights violations during the protest.
“In fact, this display of high-handedness by the NBC has hugely detracted from the efforts being made by well-meaning Nigerians to douse the tension in the land and reassure Nigerians at this critical time.

“The NBC should rescind this rushed clampdown and handle its regulatory role more professionally.

“Our party holds that, in the course of information handling, especially in a crisis situation as we witnessed in the last two weeks, where caution is required, draconian measures should not be an option. Rather, all efforts should be towards national healing.

“Instead of seeking to gag the media, Nigerians would rather expect establishments like the NBC to be on the side of the people by urging government agencies to come up with information, particularly, such that contain critical pieces of evidence that would guarantee justice for victims of brutality by unscrupulous security operatives.

“While the PDP calls for caution by all Nigerians, especially in the handling of information, we urge agencies of government to be mindful of actions that are capable of acerbating the already precarious situation in which we have found ourselves.

“The PDP restates its call for calm and restrain in the general interest of the unity and stability of our nation.”

The NBC yesterday slammed a N3 million each on the trio of Arise TV, Channels TV and the African Independent Television, AIT, accusing them of airing unverified images of the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos shooting of protesters by the military.