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FG failed to provide N100bn electricity subsidy – Discos

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Electricity distribution companies on Sunday reacted officially to the takeover/restructuring of five Discos by the Federal Government through the Bureau of Public, describing the move as a backdoor renationalisation of the power firms.

They claimed that investors in the 11 Discos were shortchanged by BPE when the facilities were privatised in November 2013, while the government had failed to pay the N100bn subsidy on electricity since the privatisation of the sector.

Speaking under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, an umbrella body for the power firms, the Discos expressed concern about the restructuring of the five companies as announced by BPE on July 5, 2022, in collaboration with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The Federal Government through BPE had announced the planned takeover of Kano, Benin and Kaduna electricity distribution companies by Fidelity Bank Plc after the bank initiated action to take over the boards of the three Discos.

It also announced that with the takeover of Ibadan Disco by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, the bureau had obtained approval from NERC to appoint an interim managing director for the distressed power firm.

The government had further stated in its restructuring notice that it was restructuring the management and board of Port Harcourt Disco to forestall the imminent insolvency of the utility. The notice was signed by the Director-General, BPE, Alex Okoh; and Executive Chairman, NERC, Sanusi Garba.

Although some of the affected power firms had commenced legal actions against the move, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, ANED, Sunday Oduntan, said on Sunday that the association viewed the restructuring to be inconsistent with all the guidelines necessary to comply with the framework of privatisation agreements and the rule of law.

“We believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the resultant outcome has been an expropriation or backdoor renationalisation of the Discos by the Federal Government,” ANED stated in a statement issued in Abuja.

It added, “Such renationalisation or expropriation must be viewed through a historical context as necessary for a proper understanding of the performance challenges that the Discos have been faced with since privatisation.

“Fundamentally, the basis of privatisation was flawed from the beginning due to conditions that were not met by the Federal Government, while expecting the Discos to meet their performance obligations.

“Not only were the investors shortchanged because of insufficient and unreliable data that was provided by BPE to them during the privatisation process, but the government also committed to and failed to deliver on debt-free financial books; payment of ministries, department and agencies electricity debts; and N100bn subsidy.”

It outlined other areas of failure by the government to include its inability to implement a cost reflective electricity tariff, stressing that this singular unfulfilled condition had led to accrued significant debt and liabilities on the Discos’ financial books, as Discos continued to sell electricity below the cost price.

ANED further stated that the government had failed in the private management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, currently, a government-owned and operated entity.

It said the privatisation of TCN was a major requirement for attracting the private investment critical in addressing the transmission bottleneck currently belittling the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry value chain.

The association said, “These commitments have remained largely unmet over the post-privatisation period and have belatedly been partially addressed – too late to rectify current performance challenges.

“While the Discos are not exonerated from responsibility for performance failures, it would be unrealistic to reach related conclusions without taking into consideration the factors that have been listed previously, as well as the Federal Government’s contributions to these challenges.”

It added, “Furthermore, there is an established process by which a change of a corporate entity’s board of directors and management occurs. As such, it is with much surprise that the Disco investors awoke to the July 5, 2022, renationalisation or expropriation of the five Discos.”

The association argued that due process was not followed and that the Federal Government, as a 40 per cent minority shareholder, was represented by the director-general of BPE on the board of each of the Discos and was party to all decisions concerning the operations of the Discos.

It stated that what obtained in NESI currently was a misalignment of risk, technical and commercial factors, with the Disco investors bearing the brunt of the misalignment.

 The Federal Government stayed mute when contacted to react to the claims by the Discos as regards the N100bn electricity subsidy.

A senior official of the Federal Ministry of Power stated that the government could not speak on the issue and advised that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission should be contacted, since it was NERC alongside BPE that approved the takeover/restructuring of the five Discos.

The NERC, however, did not respond to enquiries when contacted by our correspondent on Sunday.

But industry experts expressed diverse views about the move by the government to takeover/restructure the power firms.

A member of the National Technical Investigative Panel on Power System Collapses (June 2013), who doubles as the President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kunle Olubiyo, stated that the move by the government should be commended.

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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