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FG raises power tariff December, begins free meters purchase

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Power consumers nationwide may start to pay more for electricity, following plans by the Federal Government to carry out a review of power tariff.

This came as the Federal Government said on Wednesday it had commenced the procurement of four million meters meant to be distributed free of charge to unmetered power users nationwide.

It also put the number of unmetered electricity consumers in Nigeria at about eight million, adding that over 860,000 meters were distributed for free to power users under phase zero of the National Mass Metering Programme.

It was learnt on Wednesday the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission would review the country’s power tariffs by next month, barring any unforeseen circumstance.

On the four million free meters being procured, the Deputy General Manager, Consumer Affairs, NERC, Shittu Shuaibu, described it as the phase one of the NMMP, which had commenced.

Shuaibu, who spoke during a live radio programme monitored in Abuja, said the Meter Asset Providers, working with the distribution companies, had been able to deploy about 860,000 meters under phase zero of the mass metering programme.

He said, “The programme is supposed to run in three phases which include phase zero, phase one and phase two. Phase zero was rounded up around the end of October. Phase one has actually commenced and it is another government intervention of about four million meters.

“So far we have deployed about 860,000 or close to 900,000 meters, which were part of the one million meters that was procured as part of government intervention. For the four million meters, the procurement process has commenced.”

He explained that the mass metering intervention was not free as such because the government was giving out loans for the provision of these meters to Nigerians.

Shuaibu said power distribution companies would be part of the loans and were to refund it over a period of 10 years at a very reasonable rate through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

On plans for tariff review, the NERC in a notice on the review of transmission loss factor in Multi Year Tariff Order, informed the general public and industry stakeholders of the commission’s intention to commence two key reviews.

It outlined them to include the Extraordinary Review of Transmission Company of Nigeria’s Loss Factor (TLF) in the MYTO, and the processes for the December 2021 review of MYTO – 2021.

It said the December 2021 MYTO review was to consider changes in relevant macroeconomic indices, generation capacity and capital expenditure required for evacuation and distribution of the available generation capacity in compliance with extant rules.

The commission explained that pursuant to the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, the NERC adopted the MYTO methodology in setting out the basis and procedures for reviewing electricity tariffs in Nigeria.

The methodology provides for minor reviews every six months, major reviews every five years, and extraordinary tariff reviews in instances where industry parameters have changed from those used in the operating tariffs.

This change is usually to such an extent that a review is required urgently to maintain industry viability.

The commission said stakeholders and the general public were invited to send their comments to the NERC within 21 days from the date of the notice, which was on November 16, 2021.

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: Don’t paralyse Nigeria’s economy – PFN warns Buhari government

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President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Francis Wale Oke has cautioned the Nigerian Government against further aggravating the suffering of Nigerians through the proposed fuel subsidy removal.

He said the removal of fuel subsidy will lead to hikes in the prices of petroleum products.

In a release issued on Sunday by his Media Office, Oke warned that the implementation of such a policy could increase the hardship currently being experienced by the people of the country.

He lamented that prices of consumables and other items were increasingly getting out of reach of the people, noting that if the proposed subsidy removal is done, it would worsen the hardship of the people of the nation.

“Everybody will feel it, particularly the underprivileged. The negative effects will surely outweigh the positive. The cost of transportation for humans and goods across the country will skyrocket and other things connected which will have a spiral effect on the general living standard of the populace; the suffering will be multi-dimensional. Please, let all stakeholders be sensitive to this avoidable path and do the needful,” he said.

Oke said the situation has become worrisome due to the reduction in the purchasing power of Nigerians caused by the continuous fall in the value of the nation’s currency at the exchange market.

The PFN president, therefore, admonished the government to do all it could to revive the four ailing refineries in the country, with a view to ensuring they operate at an optimal level for a lasting benefit for the country and its people.

“By whatever means, let the Federal Government put its heart into ensuring that our refineries are back to life. In addition, in order to stem the rising cost of living, farmers and others connected to them should be encouraged. This is what can help our economy,” the cleric said.

While maintaining that the Christian body would always support policies that would enhance good governance, he urged the government to put in place tangible palliative measures that could ameliorate the hardship being experienced.

“Without begging the issue, there should be well-defined palliative measures in place that can cushion the effect of the hardship being experienced by Nigerians, especially the commoners. One is not talking about political palliatives that never last. We have seen enough of such,” he said.

Continuing, the bishop pointed out that “an increase in the price of petroleum from its present N165 to N340 per litre can trigger tension and crises in the country which in turn can paralyse our economy if not handled with utmost care”.

On the proposed N5,000 to be paid to about 40 million poor Nigerians by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to ameliorate the effects of the planned fuel subsidy removal, Oke asserted that “Again, the planned introduction of N5,000 for 40 million poor Nigerians is to create a cesspool of corruption. How do you define ‘the poor’? They, mostly, don’t use telephones. They, mostly, don’t have bank accounts. How will the money get to them?”

The renowned cleric advised the government to be wary of policies that could jeopardise the conduct of the 2023 general elections, insisting that all hands must be geared towards steering the wheel of the country to a better place.

As a panacea to the rising cost of food items, the PFN President advised that farmers and relevant stakeholders should be empowered with relevant tools and funds through loans with little interest.

Meanwhile, Oke who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries implored the government not to relent in its efforts at ensuring that security challenges in the country become a thing of the past.

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New COVID-19 strain: Planned visit of Ramaphosa to Nigeria raises concern

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Following the outbreak of a new strain of COVID-19 in South Africa and the travel restrictions imposed on Southern African countries by several countries, concerns have been raised over the proposed visit of the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to Nigeria.

Barring any last-minute change, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to receive Ramaphosa and other top government functionaries of his administration, who are scheduled to undertake a three-day visit to Nigeria between November 29 and December 1.

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases had revealed that there were 22 positive cases linked to the new strain of COVID-19, adding that the percentage testing positive was “increasing quickly”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the strain identified as B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern” and named it “Omicron.”
The heavily-mutated new variant has so far been detected in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

This development has prompted the ban of travellers from Southern African countries by the 27-member European Union (EU), and the United States, Britain, Canada, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and UAE.

The EU’s executive “will propose, in close coordination with member states, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” EU chief, Ursula Von der Leyen, had tweeted on Friday.

The EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The US announced on Friday that it would be restricting travel from eight southern African countries over fears of the new variant, which some had expected to be named Nu but which has now been dubbed Omicron.

Travel would be mostly banned starting Monday (tomorrow) from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi, a senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration, had reportedly said
However, only US citizens and permanent residents will still be able to travel from the eight countries.

Canada also banned travellers from seven African countries – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – over concerns about the variant.
The United Kingdom had also placed South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe on its red list, which means that direct flights from the six countries were banned from Friday until Sunday (today) at 4 am.

Passengers arriving from these countries from today, at 4 am, would have to book and pay for a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days.

Ramaphosa’s planned visit has raised concerns in Nigeria following the new strain of COVID-19.
“What is the federal government’s dilemma over the visit? Is Nigeria going to receive the South African President and other officials when other countries are banning travellers from South Africa? Is the federal government going to tell them not to come? Under what structure are they going to come?” a top official of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) queried.

The visit will be President Ramaphosa’s first visit to Nigeria in his official capacity as the substantive president since he was elected some three years ago.

He had visited Nigeria in 2018, as the acting president, following the exit of former President Jacob Zuma from office.
There are about 120 South African firms in Nigeria, including the telecommunication giant, MTN, DSTV whose parent company, Multichoice, remains the number one leading player in the cable TV ecosystem in the country.
However, only a few Nigerian firms are operating in South Africa.

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COVID-19: FG directs all civil servants to resume, get vaccinated

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The Federal government has directed civil servants from Grade Level 12 and below to resume work effective Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Recall that federal civil service workers from Grade Level 12 and below had been working from home following a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.

In the now-viral circular , the directive, signed by the Head of Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, noted that beginning December 1, all Federal Government workers are requested “to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours.”

“It will be recalled that as part of the measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, Officers on GL 12 and below were directed to work from home. Following the advice of the PSC on COVID-19, this category of officers are expected to resume duties on Wednesday, 1st December 2021,” the circular reads in part

Recall that the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had earlier announced that beginning December 1, 2021 all Federal Government employees will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative PCR result to gain access to their offices.

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