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States to draw from N300bn presidential bailout soon – Presidency

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The presidency hinted yesterday that the implementation of a three-pronged financial intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari to assuage workers plight and support the states is now in progress.

Mr. Laolu Akande, the media assistant to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted in a statement yesterday that specifically, state governments would start benefiting from the special intervention fund of between N250 billion to N300 billion in a matter of weeks. He said, “Currently, planning meetings are being held between members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC and CBN, on the one hand, and also between CBN and commercial banks on the other hand, regarding details of the special intervention fund and the debt relief programme of the President for the states.

“Such meetings are reviewing loan profiles of the states, issues around restructuring of existing loans including time span, and reconciling the figures.

“Already, it has been agreed that existing state loans be restructured for 20 years, and regarding the bond option, the rates to be applied would be market-based but with a cap to make it affordable. Within weeks from now, the states are expected to start benefiting from this two other parts of the presidential intervention”.

Recalling that the details of the presidential intervention are in three parts, he listed one of them as the sharing of about $2.1billion in fresh allocation between the states and the federal government which was “sourced from recent LNG proceeds to the federation account, and its release okayed by the president.”

He said the second one is a Central Bank-packaged special intervention fund to the tune of about N250billion to N300billion that will offer financing to the states, adding that this would be a soft loan available to states.

He listed the last one as a “debt relief programme by the Central Bank of Nigeria and Debt Management Office, DMO, which will help states convert their commercial bank loans into bonds, and restructuring such loans by extending their life span thereby reducing the debt-servicing expenditures of the states.

“By extending the commercial loans of the states, the third part of the presidential intervention would therefore make available more funds to the state governments.

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Reps Committees probes identities of contractors involved in N18.9b bush clearing contracts

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The Public Account Committee of the House of Representatives, PAC on Wednesday, resolved to unmask the real identities of the owners of the companies which took contracts valued the sum of N18.9 billion from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for clearing of bushes, land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others during the last COVID-19 lockdown of the country.

The resolution followed the appearance of representatives of two of the 20 affected companies at the resumed investigative hearing of the Committee on queries to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of the federal government by the Office of Auditor General of the Federation.

The affected companies are: Easy Construction Company LTD and NUKAAG VENTURES LTD respectively while the remaining 18 companies failed to show up.

The Committee being chaired by Hon Wole Oke (PDP-OSUN) said that the two representatives of the Companies (Johnson Philip and Taiwo Idowu), were of the Managerial cadre and as such not competent to appear before the Committee going by the Rules of the House.

Responding to a question posed by the Chairman of the Committee on whether they were familiar with the submission submitted to the Committee on the award and execution of the contractors so as not to mislead it, they both said no.

Consequently, the Committee directed the duo to leave immediately and directed that the Managing Directors or Chairmen of the companies should personally appear before it and speak to the submission before the Committee.

In addition, Hon Oke directed the Clerk of the Committee to write to the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC to furnish the Committee, the detailed information of the affected 20 companies, including year of incorporation, Corporate offices, names of the owners, shareholders amongst others.

According to him, “we are not concerned about who won the contracts, what we are after is to deter value for money paid out and the sites of the projects, and we will carry that mission to the latter.

“The Clerk should also write the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, to furnish the Committee about the financial status of the companies.

Hon Oke assured that the Committee would carry out a diligent investigation into the matter as it was interested in finding out the location of the projects and the significance of such projects to the country.

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Blackout looms as IKEDC stops operations

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The Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEC) has announced a shutdown of operations following the issues between the National Union of Electricity Employees and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TUC).

In a statement on Wednesday via its verified Twitter handle, @IkejaElectric, the Disco announced the shutdown of operations.

The statement read partly, “Due to the ongoing nationwide picketing of Transmission Stations by the NUEE, we are currently experiencing disruption of power supply as most stations within our network have been shut down.

“Kindly bear with us as we await an amicable resolution by the relevant stakeholders.”

Organised labour had on Tuesday directed workers in the power sector to shutdown and commence an indefinite strike over pending issues with the TCN.

The aggrieved workers under the aegis of the NUEE were at the Abuja national headquarters of the TCN Tuesday as a prelude to the proposed strike.

The union noted that the strike was in protest of a directive by the TCN Board mandating all PMs in acting capacity going to the Annual General Meeting to appear for promotional interviews.

In a circular titled, ‘Call to Action,’ which was addressed to senior assistant general secretaries and zonal organising secretaries, dated August 15, 2022, the General Secretary of the NUEE, Joe Ajaero, directed electricity workers to ensure total compliance, vowing to paralyse operations of the TCN nationwide over anti-masses activities.

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Electricity workers’ strike throws South-East into blackout

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Power distribution has been halted completely in the entire South-East States.

This follows the industrial action embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) power stations.

The development threw the five South-East States into a total blackout, Wednesday afternoon.

Emeka Ezeh, Head Corporate Communications, EEDC, confirmed that that operations across the franchise area of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) have been disrupted.

He said, “as a result of this development all our feeders are out of supply and this has affected supply to our esteemed customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States.

“Consultations are ongoing among critical stakeholders in the power sector to address this issue and possibly restore supply.

“The Management of EEDC hereby encourage customers and neighbourhood associations to be vigilant and protect the electrical installations within their environment against elements who might take advantage of this outage to vandalise these installations.”

“We, therefore, appeal for continued patience and understanding while this is resolved,” he noted.

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