- Pipeline Vandalism Hurts the People More than Govt
The vandalism of pipelines, particularly in the Niger Delta, does not really hurt the Federal Government, but those living in communities where the menace is being perpetuated, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said.
Fashola stated this at the headquarters of his ministry in Abuja on Tuesday while inaugurating six commissioners for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, but without a substantive chairman for the agency.
The minister noted that if not for the vandalism of gas pipelines, the country would have been generating about 6,500 megawatts of electricity instead of the current 3,500MW.
Fashola said, “I will again use this opportunity to reiterate to members of the public and to our brothers in the part of the country where they are breaking the gas pipelines that everybody suffers and this is not the way to get the government to act. And it doesn’t hurt the government really; it is the people who are our brothers and sisters who are harmed.
“As the gas lines are back, we can immediately recover 3,000MW of power in addition to the 3,500MW that we have now. So, we will automatically be going to over 6,500MW. Therefore, we will continue to appeal to them in the way that the President and the Vice President are appealing.”
The minister also told Nigerians that they should forward their power complaints to NERC and not to the ministry, particularly now that the commission had got commissioners, as he emphasised that the power sector had been privatised since November 2013.
He said, “So, for the avoidance of doubt, power is now in private hands and the government is now largely a policymaker and a regulator. Policy is the work of the ministry. Regulation is the work of NERC, acting through the commissioners we inaugurate today.
“So, for all those seeking licences to generate power, to build coal and solar plants, and all other similar proposals, your letters should go to NERC and not to the ministry. Although you can copy us for information.”
Fashola added, “For all those who have issues with meters, estimated billing and customer service issues, this is the work of NERC to ensure that the Discos perform, and I urge you to direct your complaints to them. But I am not complaining. Those who text me from all over the country that they don’t have power, I will continue to interface (with them).
“But let all of us just know whose work this really is and that is the work of NERC. However, it remains the ministry’s responsibility to oversee all the players in the industry to make sure that they work seamlessly to deliver stable power supply.”
The minister welcomed the commissioners and noted that their inauguration was pursuant to their nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate.
“They have been chosen in the manner prescribed by law and I particularly welcome their arrival for many reasons. Their arrival provides stability in governance regulatory action and institution building to the sector, and allows the ministry to focus on policy, coordination and completion of ongoing generation and transmission projects,” he said.
The minister directed the acting Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Dr. Anthony Akah, to hand over to the vice chairman and thanked him for his service so far.
Fashola said, “I will like to thank Dr. Anthony Akah, who acted in the capacity of the CEO of NERC for about a year. His service to his country is highly appreciated and he must now hand over to the vice chairman and his fellow commissioner and return to his normal schedule of duties.”
“To NERC and the new commissioners, I welcome you on board. Be firm, but fair. Regulate but be business oriented. Remember that regulations are rules and rules are made for us, we are not made for rules. Regulate with the understanding that the industry is young, is in transition and needs support.”
Speaking on behalf of the commissioners, the Vice Chairman of NERC, Mr. Sanusi Garba, promised that his team would live up to expectation and would not disappoint Nigerians in the discharge of their duties.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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