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Nigeria Paid N2.7tn For Darkness in 16yrs — Dogara

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SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara
  • Nigeria Paid N2.7tn For Darkness in 16yrs

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said on Tuesday that over N2.7tn of tax payers’ money spent on the power sector in the last 16 years only bought darkness to Nigerians.

Dogara noted that nothing had changed in the sector other than the fact that it continued to consume money but produced little positive results.

He observed that the privatisation of the sector had not fared better, a development Dogara said had put more pressure on both the Federal Government and other stakeholders to think of realistic steps to revamp electricity supply.

Dogara spoke in Abuja at the opening of a stakeholders’ dialogue on the ‘Nigerian Power Challenge: A Legislative Intervention’.

The session, which was facilitated by a power supply stakeholder, Surging Gold Limited, had, in attendance, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; and some key investors.

Dogara stated that Nigerians must again begin to ask questions as it would appear that every effort made to rescue the sector produced hiccups

He added, “Perhaps, the most important question is what happened to the N2.74tn spent on the sector from 1999 to 2015?

“Why is it that the more we spend on the power sector, the more darkness we attract?

“Why are most of the companies licensed by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission not able to start their projects?”

Saraki pointedly said epileptic power supply in Nigeria was the “failure of governance.”

He stated, “Wherever we go in the world, the failure is on all of us, whether we are in the private sector or those of us in the public sector.”

The Senate President observed that privatisation was meant to be a solution, lamenting that generation companies and distribution companies were sold to persons who had no idea about how to run the sector.

Saraki called on all stakeholders to be sincere in finding sustainable solutions to the sector by thinking more of the general interest of Nigerians than selfish interest.

“We must be prepared to put Nigeria first and the government itself must be sincere with every decision that they have to take,” he added.

Fashola told the session that he could not agree less with Saraki and Dogara, but quickly added that there was no going back on privatisation.

The minister argued that what was needed to be done was to strengthen privatisation by putting the right structures in place to encourage the investors.

For instance, he said Gencos were battling huge liabilities, which had hindered their ability to pay for gas supplies to generate power.

The minister also made references to court cases slowing down developments in the power sector.

Speaking on the impact of vandalism on the sector, the minister added “almost 3,000 megawatts of power” had been “decommissioned” by vandalism.

On their part, the investors pointed out that the way out was for the government and regulators to support “cost-reflective tariff” and for consumers to pay the power already supplied.

The Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, for instance, said there was no way investors would continue to put in more money when they were owed over N50bn.

Elumelu claimed that the sector was over-regulated and was not given the same leverage the telecommunications sector enjoyed years back to begin their operations smoothly.

He stated, “The tariff has to be cost-reflective for the sector to work, especially we are not taking into account the rate of inflation and the exchange rate.

“The cost of gas is there and so much regulation is stifling the take off of privatisation. The sector must be allowed to flow freely, like the telecommunications sector did before tariffs began to crash years later.

“With debts of up to N50bn, it is unfair to expect that investors will perform miracles. The system must encourage them and we all must be sincere with ourselves.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Concerns Mount Over Security as National Identity Card Issuance Shifts to Banks

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NIMC enrolment

Amidst the National Identity Management Commission’s (NIMC) recent announcement that the issuance of the proposed new national identity card will be facilitated through applicants’ respective banks, concerns are escalating regarding the security implications of involving financial institutions in the distribution process.

The federal government, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), introduced a new identity card with payment functionality, aimed at streamlining access to social and financial services.

However, the decision to utilize banks as distribution channels has sparked apprehension among industry stakeholders.

Mr. Kayode Adegoke, Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, clarified that applicants would request the card by providing their National Identification Number (NIN) through various channels, including online portals, NIMC offices, or their respective banks.

Adegoke emphasized that the new National ID Card would serve as a single, multipurpose card, encompassing payment functionality, government services, and travel documentation.

Despite NIMC’s assurances, concerns have been raised regarding the necessity and security implications of introducing a new identity card system when an operational one already exists.

Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, questioned the rationale behind the new General Multipurpose Card (GMPC), citing NIMC’s existing mandate to issue such cards under Act No. 23 of 2007.

Ogunbanjo highlighted the successful implementation of MobileID by NIMC, which has provided identity verification for over 15 million individuals.

He expressed apprehension about integrating the new ID card with existing MobileID systems and raised concerns about data privacy and unauthorized duplication of ID cards.

Moreover, stakeholders are seeking clarification on the responsibilities for card blocking, replacement, and delivery in case of loss or theft, given the involvement of multiple parties, including banks, in the issuance process.

The shift towards utilizing banks for identity card issuance raises fundamental questions about data security, privacy, and the integrity of the identification process.

With financial institutions playing a pivotal role in distributing sensitive government documents, there are valid concerns about potential vulnerabilities and risks associated with this approach.

As the debate surrounding the security implications of the new national identity card continues to intensify, stakeholders are calling for greater transparency, accountability, and collaboration between government agencies and financial institutions to address these concerns effectively.

The paramount importance of safeguarding citizens’ personal information and ensuring the integrity of the identity verification process cannot be overstated, especially in an era of increasing digital interconnectedness and heightened cybersecurity threats.

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Israeli President Declares Iran’s Actions a ‘Declaration of War’

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Israel Gaza

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has characterized the recent series of attacks from Iran as nothing short of a “declaration of war” against the State of Israel.

This proclamation comes amidst escalating tensions between the two nations, with Iran’s aggressive actions prompting serious concerns within Israel and the international community.

The sequence of events leading to Herzog’s grave assessment began with a barrage of 300 ballistic missiles and drones launched by Iran towards Israel over the weekend.

While the Israeli defense forces managed to intercept a significant portion of these projectiles, the sheer scale of the assault sent shockwaves through the region.

President Herzog’s assertion of war was underscored by Israel’s careful consideration of its response options and ongoing discussions with its global partners.

The gravity of the situation prompted the convening of the G7, where member nations reaffirmed their commitment to Israel’s security, recognizing the severity of Iran’s actions.

However, the United States, a key ally of Israel, took a nuanced stance. President Joe Biden conveyed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, given the limited casualties and damage resulting from the attacks, the US would not support retaliatory strikes against Iran.

This position, though strategic, reflects a delicate balancing act in maintaining stability in the volatile Middle East region.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian cautioned against further escalation, emphasizing the potential for heightened tensions and provocative acts to exacerbate the situation.

In response to the escalating crisis, the Nigerian government issued a call for restraint, urging both Iran and Israel to prioritize peaceful resolution and diplomatic efforts to ease tensions.

This appeal reflects the broader international consensus on the need to prevent further escalation and mitigate the risk of a wider conflict in the Middle East.

As Israel grapples with the implications of Iran’s aggressive actions and weighs its response options, President Herzog reiterated Israel’s commitment to peace while emphasizing the need to defend its people.

Despite calls for restraint from global allies, Israel remains vigilant in safeguarding its security amidst the growing threat posed by Iran’s belligerent behavior.

The coming days are likely to be critical as Israel navigates the complexities of its response while international efforts intensify to defuse the escalating tensions between Iran and Israel.

The specter of war looms large, underscoring the urgency of diplomatic engagement and concerted efforts to prevent further escalation in the region.

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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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