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Shallow, insignificant – NLC, CSO, others knock Nigerian Govt over N18 electricity tariff reduction

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Nigerians, the organised labour, Civil Society Organisations and power sector experts have knocked the Nigerian Federal Government and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, over the N18 downward review of electricity tariff for end-users under Band A.

DAILY POST reports that NERC announced a tariff decrease for customers under Band A feeders on Monday.

The Commission slashed electricity to N200.6 per Kilowatt-hour from N225.

Ikeja Electric, Abuja, Kaduna, Ibadan, Enugu, and other discos effected the new tariff implementation on Monday.

The development comes a month after NERC approved a 240 per cent tariff hike for electricity customers getting between 20-24 hours of supply.

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However, Nigerians, organised labour and other organisations have kicked against the hike, insisting on its reversal amid Nigeria’s economic hardship.

Recall that on Sunday, TUC issued a two-week ultimatum to NERC to reverse April tariff hike.

But, contrary to Nigerians and Organized Labour’s demand for an immediate electricity hike reversal, NERC settled for a downward tariff review.

NERC sighted Improved macroeconomic parameters as the reason for the downward review.

The Naira appreciated N1353.21 per Dollar on Monday at the foreign exchange market, up from N1400.4 on Friday last week.

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Explaining the decision, NERC said, “The Commission has considered changes in the macroeconomic parameters over the preceding month of April 2024 and especially the appreciation of exchange rates – consequently, the Commission has approved a downward review of end-user tariffs for Band “A” customers from NGN225/kWh to NGN206.8/kWh”.

Barr Dafe Akpeneye, Commissioner of Legal, Licensing and Compliance at NERC, stressed that, “It is based on other macroeconomic variables that the tariff was reduced”.

Meanwhile, the development did not go down well with NLC, Civil Society Organisations and many other Nigerians.

They described the reduction as silly, insignificant, tokenism, and shallow.

In an exclusive interview with DAILY POST on Monday, Benson Upah, the spokesperson of NLC, described the development as tokenism, stressing that it would not positively impact consumers.

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He said the downward review of electricity tariff for end-users under Band A fell short of Nigerian workers’ demands and expectations.

He called for a total reversal of April’s tariff hike and a review of Nigeria’s power sector privatisation.

“This is tokenistic. It falls far below our demand or expectations. Doubtful if this will make a positive impact on consumers.

“A total reversal and a review of the privatisation of the power sector is our demand”, he told DAILY POST.

On his part, the national secretary of the Network for Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria, Uket Obonga, said NERC was confused and was making a mockery of the sector.

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“NERC is confused. You wake up to issue electricity price hike. Is that the methodology of tariff fixing? NERC should not mock themselves.

“A methodology designed by the Commission has yet to be followed. All their claims about the benefit of electricity subsidy removal are scams,” he noted.

According to the 2023 Electricity Act, Section 116(6) provides that the proposed tariff will be published in Newspapers and the official gazette to enable stakeholders to raise concerns and representation to the Commission.

Additionally, it provides that the Commission shall issue notice to relevant stakeholders to submit their input within the timeframe determined by the Commission for consideration before the Commission updates the tariff methodology, which is why Obonga alleged that NERC failed to follow due process in issuing May’s tariff order.

Also, Ewetumo A A, a retired staff member of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, formerly the National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, said the recent review shows how shallow and misdirected NERC personnel have become.

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“It only shows how shallow and misdirected our bureaucrats and technocrats in NERC headquarters are.

“They refused to condemn a Gas-to-Power Policy denominated in US Dollar but are quick to pass on to hapless Nigerians the Forex fluctuations.

“NERC has no feasibility studies on Load Demand or a blueprint for building Power Plants to meet citizens’ energy needs nationwide but only to ration and price the little Megawatts remaining on the Grid”, he stated.

Similarly, the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said the tariff reduction is a silly manoeuvre by NERC.

He urged for a reverse to status quo before April’s tariff hike.

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“It is a silly manoeuvre. It is above the market cost of electricity. How sustainable is the Naira appreciation?

“If the Naira slumps tomorrow, will the tariff be increased? That is why I call it a silly manoeuvre.

“They should go back to the status quo. Nigerians should know the actual cost of electricity. I am not impressed”, he told DAILY POST.

CREDIT: DAILY POST

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Neglect by govt blamed for decline in cocoa production in Cross River

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Godwin Ukwu, the National Vice Chairman of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the Akwa Ibom, Cross River, and Rivers states zone, has attributed the decline in cocoa production in Cross River State to government neglect. He mentioned that Cross River used to be the second-largest cocoa producer in Nigeria, following Ondo State.

Speaking at a training workshop in Calabar for key stakeholders in the cocoa, coffee, and oil palm sectors, Ukwu pointed out that the cocoa estates established in the 1960s by Dr. Michael Okpara, the former Premier of the defunct Eastern Region, have aged and are deteriorating due to a lack of regeneration plans.

Ukwu emphasized the need for a strategic development roadmap to achieve significant growth in the sector and praised the recent formation of a committee on the strategic development of cocoa, coffee, and oil palm by the state government.

“It has been challenging to secure a roadmap for cocoa in Cross River State. We have repeatedly advocated for this plan. The current administration seems committed to revitalizing the neglected cocoa sector, as our plantations have aged and are now dying,” Ukwu stated.

He argued that Cross River should be the leading cocoa-producing state, hindered only by the lack of political will and support to boost production and regenerate the estates. “With the efforts of the government and partners, it is highly likely that the state will achieve the number one spot, which has always been our dream,” Ukwu added.

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The training workshop, aimed at developing strategic plans for the cocoa, coffee, and oil palm sectors, was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in collaboration with the Cross River State government.

Professor Susan Ben Ohen, Chairman of the committee on the strategic development of cocoa, coffee, and oil palm, stated, “We are developing strategies for these three crops in the state. We have had extensive meetings and set goals and objectives. The training for members and stakeholders will help them understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in these sectors. The outcomes from these processes will benefit farmers, processors, marketers, banks, government, and others.”

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Heritage Bank: Revocation of license by CBN wasn’t surprising – Moghalu

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Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Kingsley Moghalu, has described the recent revocation of the banking license of Heritage Bank by the apex bank as the chronicle of a death foretold.

Moghalu said the development wasn’t surprising.

In a post on his X handle on Wednesday, Moghalu said the revocation of the license of the defunct bank should not worry anyone, adding that it doesn’t mean the financial system isn’t sound.

He said: “The revocation of the banking license of Heritage Bank by @cenbank is the chronicle of a death foretold. In other words, it’s not surprising.

“I don’t think it should worry anyone, nor does it mean the financial system isn’t sound. Banks are businesses, even if very special and thus heavily regulated ones. A bank that is badly run should not have a lifetime guarantee. The important thing is to protect depositors’ funds.

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“What we did in 2010 when we created @AmconNg was to ensure SYSTEMIC financial stability. We made sure no bank failed then to ensure systemic stability because of the unique situation of the global financial crisis. But over the long term, I never subscribed to a view that no bank, no matter how badly run, should ever fail. That would be a wrong approach to financial regulation.”

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Forex crisis: Why CBN should review recapitalization requirement for BDCs – ABCON

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The Association of Bureau De Change Operators has criticized the Central Bank of Nigeria’s new recapitalization requirements for its members amid the ongoing foreign exchange crisis.

ABCON President Aminu Gwadabe expressed this sentiment on Thursday at the 8th edition of the Vanguard Economic Summit.

This follows the CBN’s announcement of a new guideline for BDC operators in Nigeria on Wednesday.

The central bank mandated that all BDC operators reapply for licenses, raising the minimum capital requirement for tier-1 and tier-2 licenses to N2 billion and N500 million, respectively.

However, Gwadabe has urged a review of the CBN’s directive to increase the capital base for BDC operators, arguing that it deviates from global standards.

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“You increased the capital from N10 million to N35 million in 2014, and now you are raising the capital base of BDCs from N35 million to N500 million for Tier 2 operators and N2 billion. It’s highly against the global standard,” Gwadabe said.

These developments occurred as the Naira depreciated on Thursday in both parallel and official forex markets after four days of appreciation.

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