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House Probes CBN, DISCOs over Mass Metering Programme

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to investigate the multi-billion naira disbursed to the Licensed Electricity Distribution Companies by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as loans under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon.

Uchenna Okonkwo, who underscored the need for all the institutions to take account of their stewardship on the utilisation of public funds.

In his lead debate, Rep. Okonkwo observed that NMMP was launched by the Federal Government of through the CBN to provide funds as loans to the licensed Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to improve customers metering and eliminate estimated billing.

“The House also notes that the NMMP aims to reach over 6 million households and businesses with meters before the end of 2021 as part of the power sector reform agenda to promote transparency, accountability and efficiency in the power sector.

“The House is concerned that there have been reports of discrepancies, mismanagement and non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the loans disbursed under the NMMP by some DisCos, leading to inefficiencies, underperformance and failure to achieve the objectives of the NMMP.

“The House is worried at the lack of proper oversight, monitoring and evaluation of funds disbursed under the National Mass Metering Program by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which has created opportunities for corruption, diversion and misappropriation of public resources,” the lawmaker alleged.

In the bid to fix the sector, the lawmakers urged the Federal Government to prioritize the implementation of the Power Sector Recovery Program, which provides a roadmap for sustainable power sector reform.

The House also tasked CBN to provide a detailed report on the implementation of NMMP including the number of loans disbursed, the amount disbursed and the status of the loans to the House of Representatives.

In the same vein, the House called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to provide a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the DisCos in metering customers and eliminating estimated billing.

To this end, the House mandated the joint Committees on Power, Banking Regulations, Rural Electrification Agency, Housing and Habitat to investigate the disbursement and use of funds under the NMMP by the CBN, and to ascertain the level of compliance with the terms and conditions of the loans.

The House also mandated the joint Committees on Banking Regulations and Power to investigate: cases of discrepancies, mismanagement and non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the loans disbursed under NMMP; and the level of oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the use of funds disbursed under NMMP by CBN and to recommend measures to enhance transparency, accountability, and performance in the NMMP and report back within four weeks.

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My Intention is to Reposition PDP – Suswam

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By Donald Andoor, Abuja

Former Governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam, vying to be the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has pledged to work with critical stake holders to revive, reorganise and reposition the Party as a viable alternative ahead of the 2027 general elections.

“I know all that is involved in the PDP since I joined the party in 1998, under which I was elected as a member of the House of Representatives, then as a governor and a Senator.
I know what the party stands for and most of its major players either dead or alive…“With this experience, my intention is to provide focused leadership to revive reorganize and reposition the party as a viable alternative” he said adding “the only way to prevent absolute dictatorship is to have a virile opposition party.
”Suswam who spoke to some journalists over the weekend in Abuja dismissed allegation of different camps in the PDP but rather insisted the party needs a strong leadership to lead the way.Flacked by Hon. Richard Gbande, former member of the House of Representauives for Katsina Ala/Logo/Ukum Federal Constituency, Suswam emphatically said the party needs a strong leader.“I am not insisting it must be me but if it is me it will be better for the party.”Acknowledging he was widely consulting with the critical stake holders of the party, he explained that the PDP was not planning a national convention for the election of the National Chairman that has been vacant since the exit of the former National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu but the National Executive Committee (NEC) would come together to choose a replacement in line with the provision of Article 47:6 of its constitution.He explained further that the provision empowers the NEC to appoint a successor from the geo-political zone where the removed National Chairman comes from to complete such a tenure. He cited several instances to expatiate how the party had complied with the provision of its constitution in the past, including the appointment of Chief Audu Ogbe by the NEC to replace Chief Barnabas Gemade who was elected at the national convention of the party.

He debunked allegation that the former National Chairman, has a pending case in court against the party over his removal with a terse dismissal that “Ayu is not in court.”The PDP NEC has slated April 18, 2024 to appoint a replacement for the vacant position of the National Chairman following the exit of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu last year.Amongst others contesting for the vacant position are: the 2023 governorship candidate in Nasarawa State, David Ombugadu and a former Minister from Kogi State, Humphrey Aba.Suswam, faulted some policies of the Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress (APC )-led governmentas he regretted the dangerous economic slide as a result of ill-thought policies.He said the ruling – APC failed to learn lessons from the economic woes of Ghana and other Latin American countries, including Brazil that floated their currencies and attendant consequences on their economies.

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Electricity: Labour Rejects Tariff Hike, Demands N615,000 Wage

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By David Torough, Abuja

National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has asked the Federal Government to withdraw the new tariff, saying it will push the price of goods upwards and affect the poor.The union wrote to the Minister of Power, describing the increase as absurd for a country already facing huge increases in prices of goods and services.

The letter signed by the Acting General Secretary, NUEE, Dominic Igwebike said the increase would inadvertently push citizens to purchase foreign products as local products are beyond their reach.
According to the workers, this is capable of grounding companies.The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on April 3 increased electricity tariff for customers enjoying 20 hours of power supply a day, branded as Band A.
Such customers now pay N225 kilowatt per hour from the former N66.The workers said they are at the risk of being attacked by customers when they go for disconnections.They said the Minister of Power did not adequately consult stakeholders before making the proclamation.“The recent hike in electricity tariff from N68/kwh to N225/kwh is absurd in a country where the majority of the masses are grappling with basic survival and an electricity access rate of about 55 percent.“The justification given by NERC is that the hike is attributed to only Band A consumers who make up only 15 percent of electricity consumers and utilize 40 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption.“It begs to understand the sensibility of the person(s) that uttered such a statement purporting that it would not affect the general public.“They need to answer these questions: Who are the Band A consumers? What do they do? Who are the customers of the Band A consumers? Who bears the brunt of the electricity hike? The general public is the one that will be most affected by this.“They are the customers and end users of the Band A products and services. The additional costs will be transferred to the common man so they are indirectly being exploited, notwithstanding their dwindling purchasing power and increasing impoverishment.“The Honourable Minister of Power and NERC didn’t consult with the stakeholders in the sector before the increase.

“What of Service Reflective Tariffs as it relates to consumers? We, as a stakeholder, do not know the energy policy of this present administration.“As a critical stakeholder in the power sector who is concerned with Nigerians getting constant and affordable power supply, we state categorically that the hike in the electricity tariff is not beneficial to Nigerians and should be withdrawn.”Electricity generation has gone down to 2,775 megawatts. Electricity generation hovers around 4,000 megawatts.Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress have demanded N615,000 as the new minimum wage for workers in the country.An executive of organised labour, who did not want to be named because told Sunday Punch that the new wage of N615,000 monthly was reached after consultations by the NLC and TUC.The source, who was a member of one of the sub-committees set up by the government to work on getting a new minimum wage for the country said the wage might still increase following the recent hike in electricity tariff.The source said, “We [NLC and TUC] have given our figures to the government [on the minimum wage] and it is N615,000.“That is the position of the NLC and TUC on the matter. The government has been informed as well.”On Jan. 30, President Bola Tinubu set up a 37-member panel to recommend a new national minimum wage.At the inaugural meeting of the panel, Vice President Kashim Shettima urged members to “speedily” arrive at a resolution and submit their reports early as the current N30,000 minimum wage expired at the end of March.Labour representatives in the different zones of the country advocated different figures ranging from N1 million to N500,000.The Federal Government is expected to make a declaration on the matter on May 1.

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Geregu Power Earns N50.4bn from Electricity Sales, Capacity Charges

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Geregu Power Plc has generated N50.4 billion on electricity sales and capacity charges to Nigerians in the first quarter of 2024.The power company which is the first listed power company of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd disclosed the performance in its Q1, 2024 financial statement.

The company grew its Q1 revenue by 225 per cent from N14.
2bn in 2023 to N50.4bn in 2023.A breakdown reveals that Geregu Power sold energy worth N31bn and received N19bn as revenue from capacity charge.
Recall that the power company posted an annual revenue of N82.9bn in the full year of 2023 but it has covered half of the amount in Q1.The revenue was above the company’s forecast for Q1 2024 when it projected its revenue to rise to N31.
24bn.Geregu Power recorded a profit before tax of N21.9bn up from the N5.3bn recorded in Q1 of last year, reflecting 307.8 per cent growth.During the period under review, the company saw its profit after tax rose by 307.3 per cent to N14.46bn from N3.54bn recorded in Q1 of last year. In the full year 2023, the company made N16.1bn net profit.The net profit was above the company projection of N5.5bn.Geregu Power took an income tax charge of N7.43bn, up from the N1.8bn in Q1 2023. The tax charges were higher than the N2.7bn projected for Q1 2024.The company also spent N21.5bn on the cost of sales involving gas supply and transportation, up from the N6.6bn spent on gas supply and transportation in Q1 2023.

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