- Power Firms Owe Consumers Explanation for Estimated Billing
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said that the power distribution firms should explain to consumers the basis for estimated billing, which they subject them (consumers) to and when it will end.
Fashola, who stated this on Monday at the 12th Monthly Power Sector and Stakeholders’ Meeting in Ibadan, hosted by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, however, said rapid provision of prepaid meters would help to cement consumers’ trust.
He stressed the need for the firms to build confidence and trust between them and the consumers by communicating the steps being taken to improve service delivery.
“Consumers still feel that they are getting the wrong end of the stick with the estimated billing method. While the deployment of meters must go on at a very rapid and aggressive pace, Discos also owe an explanation to consumers on the basis of the billing where they are estimated, and explain when it will end,” the minister said.
He said, sometimes, the explanation would help people react more positively, but described the provision of meters as the solution.
“So, I continue to stand on the side of consumers; they have a right to have meters and the Discos have an obligation to deliver them whatever it takes. This is the business they signed up to and we will support them to do this,” the minister added.
Power generation in the country has worsened in recent weeks after hitting the 4,000 megawatts mark in December last year, with many consumers without prepaid meters complaining about over-billing despite the dip in supply.
Commenting on the problems in the power sector, the minister said sabotage of gas assets and pipelines had “decommissioned power plants and their ability to provide up to 3,000 megawatts of power.”
“The 3,500MW to 3,800MW that we have been able to keep on the grid over the last few months will be assisted greatly if we can have the gas pipelines back and add 3,000MW to it. That means we will be able to deliver well over 6,000MW if the gas pipelines are safe,” he added.
Fashola said the sabotage of facilities had also created debt and liquidity problems, shortfall in power expectation and in revenue recovery by power distribution firms.
He told the power investors and other stakeholders at the meeting, “Consumers are more resistant to payment when they don’t have electricity; I will be, too, and you will be too.
“We see that they (consumers) pay more when the power is more stable. Of course, there are issues also at the retail end, including metering and estimated bills.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Monday issued a Friday, February 17, 2017 deadline to power distribution companies to submit their audited and management accounts.
It also directed the firms to make all submissions of debts owed them by its Ministries, Departments and Agencies on or before February 28.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Power ministry have on several occasions condemned the refusal of power distribution companies to submit their audited accounts since they took over the successor companies of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
In November last year, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stated that in the past three years, the Discos had refused to submit their audited financial reports to NERC, adding that when the commission wanted to activate their contractual obligations as stipulated by law, the power firms dragged it to court and frustrated its efforts.
“Your advert should also have told the Nigerian public how many Discos have gone to court to frustrate the attempt by NERC to hold them to their contracts so that they can pay the Gencos, who have been sacrificing, and the gas producers, who have not received payment and who have continued to act patriotically,” Fashola had said.
To put an end to the delay by the Discos, the Federal Government came up with the deadlines and mandated the firms to comply.
The two directives were contained in a communique issued at the end of the 12th monthly meeting of operators in the power sector, which was chaired by Fashola and had the highest executive management staff of organisations in the industry in attendance.
The communique read in part, “The meeting also noted the steps taken to address the liquidity issues currently limiting the functioning of the sector through the work that is presently underway to identify, verify and pay MDAs’ debts to the Discos, as well as gas debts and generation debts.
“It was noted that Abuja, Ikeja, Ibadan and Yola Discos have complied with data requirements and verification of their submission is underway on a first come, first serve basis. A deadline of February 28, 2017 was issued to receive submissions on the MDAs’ debts from distribution companies, and February 17, 2017 was set as a deadline for the submission of audited and management accounts.”
The communique stated that participants at the meeting decried the negative impact caused by the sabotage of gas pipelines and that this had caused a severe limitation in power generation.
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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