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Ahmad Lawan Seeks Reversal Of Power Sector Privatisation

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to review or reverse the privatisation of the nation’s power sector.

He warned that, if the sector was left in the hands of the Generating Companies (GenCos) and the Distribution Companies(DisCos) in the next 10 years, Nigeria should forget about electricity.

Lawan made the call while contributing to a motion on the “Power Sector Recovery Plan and the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Immediately after the debate on the motion sponsored by Senator Gabriel Suswam, the Senate called on the Federal Government to suspend the planned electricity tariff increase scheduled to take effect July, 2020.

It also mandated its Committee on Power to investigate all Federal Government interventions in the power sector since the privatisation of the sector.

Lawan, in hs contribution to the debate, said: “We gave them our common patrimony and they still come back as DisCos and GenCos to look for money from the public.

“The time has come to review and probably reverse this privatisation, if we leave them for the next 10 years there would be no power in Nigeria.

“Like I said before this motion was taken, the privatisation has so far not been successful.

“We expected efficiency and effectiveness in power supplies but probably on both sides, maybe the purchase agreements were not adhered to on both sides.

“What is obvious is that the DisCos particularly have no capacity at the moment to supply us power.

“The GenCos have challenges too. It is not good that we give them money for what we sold to them. These are businesses.

“If there are areas we must intervene as a government, it must be seriously justified.

“The way it is, I think there is need to review this privatisation to see what has happened. Something is certainly not right.

“In the event that this thing does not work properly, there will be need for the government to look into it.”

Senator Suswam had, in his lead debate, said that the Senate was aware that at the outbreak of COVID-19 , “the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, intimated the leadership of the National Assembly of plans to establish a N1.7 trillion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities across the country, stimulate agriculture, solid materials, power sector and also execute social intervention programmes that will benefit the masses.”

He noted that while the appropriate Executive bill that would articulate the actual use of the fund is yet to be presented to the Senate for consideration, “the devastating impact of the pandemic on the power sector has made the Senate to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the need to include the sector in the disbursement of the proposed fund.”

Suswam, a former Benue State governor, said that this was in view of “the vital role of stable electricity supply to current efforts towards jumpstarting the economy which is till groaning under the impact of the pandemic.”

He added: “Stable and uninterrupted power supply is also a critical factor in the management of COVID-19 patients as well as in the implementation of the proposed upgrade of healthcare facilities across the country after the pandemic.

“Aware that prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) was already facing teething operational constraints including the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, inadequate enumeration and metering of consumers, limited access to funds for investment, poor revenue generation and high levels of aggregate technical, commercial and collection (ATC&C) losses.

“Generation Companies (GenCos) were owed 72 per cent of their revenue in 2019 while the Distribution Electricity Companies (DisCos) reported average ATC&C losses of about 41 per cent in the same year.

“All these constraints prevented NESI from performing optimally across the power value chain.

“Alarmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted negatively on NESI as the DisCos reported a 50% loss of their average monthly revenue collection for the months of March and April 2020 respectively even as the Federal Government continues to harp on the need for a stable electricity supply.”

Other senators that contributed to the debate were Francis Fadahunsi, Abubakar Kyari, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and Uche Ekwunife.

Fadahunsi, who lamented that even though the Federal Government spent huge sums of money between 2006 till date, total power generation has not exceeded 6,000 Megawatts .

“I am not comfortable with the term cost effective tariff when no one has been able to say how much is spent in producing a Megawatt so as to determine how much to charge. Everything is based on assumptions and something must be done about it,”Kyari said.

While Abdullahi claimed that “ data being used to take decisions in the sector are incorrect,”

Ekwunife noted that “there is no difference between NEPA and DisCos as power is hardly available in the rural areas.”

After the contributions, the Senate resolved to “commend the Federal Government for the initiative to establish the N1.7 trillion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund to cater for issues that are critical to effective management of the pandemic and to stimulate gradual return to normal socio-economic activities in the country.

It urged the Federal Government to include the Nigerian Electric Power Sector in the disbursement of the proposed N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.

The Senate said: “This is in order to ameliorate the financial hazards and operational challenges such as the enumeration of metering of actual consumers and recent problem arising from the pandemic.

“The Federal Government is advised to suspend the planned tariff increase which is scheduled to take effect from 1st of July, 2020 bearing in mind the increased hardship resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We mandate the Committee on Power to investigate all Federal Government interventions in the power sector since the privatization of the sector to date with a view to ascertaining the adequacy of such interventions and other desired impact, and to report back within four weeks.

“The Senate Committee on Power is to investigate all market participants in the power value chain and ascertain the level of corporate governance compliance in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and to report back within four weeks.

“We urge the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow operators in the power sector access to foreign exchange for procurement and materials like what is done in the aviation and oil industry.

“We also call on the Federal Government to consider additional tariff support to cushion the effect of rate shock over a fixed period to allow time required for TCN (Transmission Company of Nigeria) and DisCos to access funds and implement performance improvements investments that will support increased tariffs to certain classes of customers especially during the pandemic.”

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N2bn Controversy: Ebonyi Indigenes Want EFCC, Others to Probe State Financial Records

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Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has asked the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to embark on a comprehensive probe of the state financial records in the last 16 years.

The association specifically called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) the Directorate of State Services (DSS) and the Police to bring to book all those who have caused the state economic doldrums and future dooms beginning from the Sam Egwu-led administration to Elechi and now, the Dave Umahi-led government.

In a statement signed on Sunday by the President worldwide of the association, Ambassador Pascal Oluchukwu, said the probe become necessary over alleged mismanagement of a N2 Billion loan given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the state government under the leadership of Engr. David Nweze Umahi, for the 2016 farming season.

“We are aware that it all started with the courage and boldness of one of the enlightened citizens of the state and former Secretary to the Ebonyi State Government, Professor Benard Odoh to hold the Umahi-led administration accountable especially with regards to the disturbing statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics which recently named our State as the 3rd poorest in the federation and information from the Debt Management Office, DMO which indicates that the present government has increased the State’s domestic and external borrowings.

“Already, Prof. Odoh had in his response to the allegations maintained that he had no hands in the disbursements of the said fund as his role was merely limited to providing strategic leadership for the supervising Ministry of Agriculture as then headed by Barr. Uchenna Orji as a Commissioner.

“After making startling disclosures to the effect that only a little over N900m out of the total sum were released to the committee for disbursements and purchase of tractors, a seemingly confident Odoh has filed a petition to the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) inviting it to probe all persons involved in the matter while also stunningly offering himself to be investigated.

“AESID as a non-governmental organization whose mandate is to protect and safeguard the interests and welfare of the common Ebonyian, we laud the steps taken so far by the former SSG, Prof. Odoh in reporting this matter to the EFCC which is indeed the appropriate body to investigate financial crimes and prosecute offenders as being in the right direction. This is because it is only reasonable that the accuser whose present and former appointees are also being questioned cannot be the judge in their own case.”

While condemning what it called witch-hunting, intimidations and harassments of the former SSG Prof. Odoh, the group said: “We strongly believe that the state would be saved from an impending economic doom if its financial records are holistically ascertained and offenders who have plundered its resources made to face the wraths of the law.

“There exist in our beloved state, many phony contracts and projects which have remained uncompleted several years after they were awarded till date while the contractors obviously live large on public funds meant for their executions. Also, many funds, grants and loans given the State which is still being repaid from the allocations as debts have remained largely unaccounted for. This has severely hampered developments on all fronts in critical sectors in the State such as; Education, Health, Agriculture, Economic and Human capacity developments and Empowerment, Youths and Sports development among several others.

“In specific terms, we were reliably informed that the Engr. David Umahi-led government for instance has accessed many grants such as N6bn UBEB funds which could not be secured by the previous Elechi administration. Also, information at our disposal indicates that the same government has in the last 5 years accessed a total of over N9bn so far as Agric loans for farmers from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Despite these humongous sums and the fact that the government prides itself as investing heavily in the Agricultural sector, we are terribly disappointed that our dear State only boasts of getting most of its rice from some northern and neighbouring States for milling and packaging as the ‘Abakaliki’ brand of local rice.

“Like the rest of Ebonyi people who have been made to believe that this step was meant to save cost for the government and the people, we demand to know: How much exactly have been saved by the government through this use of direct labours by the Umahi-led administration?

“To this end therefore, we also call on other anti-graft agencies such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) including the Directorate of State Services (DSS) the Police and indeed, any agency that is responsible for law enforcement and justice implementation in Nigeria to wade in and ensure that fairness and justice is not only seen to be done but actually done and the state’s looted resources recovered.
“It is our strong believe that this probe would be in the overall interest of the Ebonyi masses,” the statement said.

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Governors Loses Control Of State Judiciary And Legislature

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Governors of the 36 states of the federation have lost control over states judiciary and legislature due to Executive Order No.10 of 2020 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari which grants financial autonomy to states Legislature and Judiciary.

The federal government released details of the Executive Order No.10 of 2020, four days after it was signed into law by President Mohammadu Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari
The details signals the implementation of Financial Autonomy for the State Legislature and Judiciary Order of 2020.

With Buhari’s assent, the legislative and judicial arms of government in the 36 states of the federation will no longer have to wait on State governors for funds.

Speaking to journalist, Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media to Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said President Buhari’s decision was based on Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).

Full statement of President Buhari orders:

1. Appropriation, Authorisation, Orders, etc:

(a) Without prejudice to any other applicable laws, legislations and conventions at the State tier of Government, which also provides for financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary, allocation of appropriated funds to the State Legislature and State Judiciary in the State appropriation laws in the annual budget of the State, shall be a charge upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State, as a First Line Charge.

(b) The Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorise the deduction from source, in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).

2. Determination of the Budget:

Notwithstanding the provisions of any existing law, convention or regulation, other than the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), providing for appropriation or management of funds at the State tier of Government as follows:

(a) every State Government of the Federation shall set up a Committee from the commencement of this Executive Order comprising the Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of the State, representative of the State Budget Office, Chief Registrars of State High Court, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal, (where applicable), the Clerk to the State House of Assembly and the Secretary of the State Judicial Service Committee or Commission;

(b) where applicable, determine and ascertain from the Revenue profile of the State, a workable budget for each Arm of the State Government based on the request and needs of the Accounting Officers; and (c) the Committee shall be given and accorded legal recognition in the various relevant appropriation or Funds Management Laws of the States.

3. Creation of State Judiciary Budget Committee:

(a) For the purpose of Appropriation to the State Judiciary, each State Judiciary of the federation shall set up a State Judiciary Budget Committee (in this Order referred to as “a Committee”) to serves as an administrative body to prepare, administer and implement the budget of the State Judiciary with such modifications as may be required to meet the needs of the State Judiciary.

(b) The Committee shall consist of the State Chief Judge as the Chairman with the Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, the President, Customary Court of Appeal, where applicable and two members of the Judicial Service Committee or Judicial Service Commission to be appointed by the Chief Judge, in consultation with other Members of the Committee, to serve as Members.

(c) The Chief Registrar of the State High Court is to serve as Secretary.

(d) The modalities for budget preparations and implementation shall include but not limited to the following:

(i) upon the receipt of the Budget Estimates of the Fiscal Year for the State Judiciary, the State Judiciary Budget Committee shall invite all the Accounting Officers of the various Courts/Judicial Bodies to defend their budget estimates;

(ii) the budget estimates for Courts and Judicial bodies shall be based on expenditure line items given to them by the State Judiciary Budget Committee which shall be defended before the State House of Assembly; and

(iii) upon the appropriation of Funds, the State Judiciary Budget Committee shall on a monthly basis or as the case may be, request the Budget Office of the State to release the statutory allocation for the quarter or monthly and the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) shall be raised by the Office of the Accountant-General of the State for the release of the Fund to all the Heads of Courts/Judicial Bodies in line with the Appropriation Law.

4. Budget Preparation, Templates and Modalities:

(a) Without prejudice to any existing budget templates in force in any State of the federation, the State Legislature and State Judiciary shall continue to maintain the strata of line consultations, inter Arms and inter-Agency pre-budget consultations and frontloading as is done in some States.

(b) The budget templates and models in the schedule to this Executive Order shall apply to State Legislature and State Judiciary with modifications, in compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) and such other applicable Laws.

5. Appropriation and Supplementary Appropriation Law, etc:

(a) At the commencement of this Order for implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), all States of the Federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.

(b) Where Appropriation Law exists in any State of the federation before the commencement and implementation of this Order, such States shall amend their Appropriation Law to encompass financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary.

(c) This Order expects States without Appropriation Law on the financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary to do so.

6. Special Allocation for the Judiciary:

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be special extraordinary capital allocations for the Judiciary to undertake capital development of State Judiciary Complexes, High Court Complexes, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal and Court Complexes of other Courts befitting the status of a Courts.

(b) In this section, “Other Courts” includes Magistrate Courts, District Courts, Customary Courts and Area Courts.

7. Implementation of this Order:

(a) Subject to section 8(1) of this Order, implementation of the provisions of this Order shall be carried out by the Presidential Implementation Committee in accordance with its recommendations.

(b) To the extent as may be permitted by law, the Accountant-General of the Federation shall take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Order and implementation of the recommendations of the Committee, as may from time to time be made.

(c) This Order shall be implemented consistently with States applicable laws that guarantee financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary and subject to the availability of funds.

8. Citation: This ORDER may be cited as the Implementation of Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary Order, 2020.

9. Commencement: This Executive Order shall take effect from this 20th Day of May 2020.

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Secondus Berates Buhari’s Performance After Five Years In Office

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The national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Uche Secondus, has described the five years’ administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as a waste and a road that ought not to be taken.

In a statement on Friday, the PDP national chairman said that in the last five years, all negative indexes in the country’s socio-political and economic life as a nation were activated.

Speaking further, he noted that in 2015, the global international community stood in salute for Nigeria for the great feat recorded in the area of democracy but rather than progress from it, the nation under the watch of the APC has continued to go in retrogression.

In the key areas of security, corruption, threats on democratic institutions, unity of the country and economic development on which the Buhari administration had hinged its promises to Nigerians, the PDP also scored the administration low.

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