Lawan to DisCos: give Nigerians meters before tariff hike [Nation]

SENATE President Ahmad Lawan has urged electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to install functional meters for their customers before planning any tariff increase.

Lawan spoke on Tuesday after he and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila met with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on the proposed increase in electricity tariff.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had announced that the new price regime for electricity consumers would start today.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Osinbajo heads the Power Sector Reform Coordination Working Group.

In a statement on Monday, the National Assembly had said its leadership had agreed with the DisCos to suspend the planned increase.

Lawan, who addressed State House correspondents after meeting, said the increase was untimely as necessary parameters should be on ground before such hike.

“The joint leadership of the National Assembly sat yesterday with the DisCos and Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and we believe that it is not the right time to increase the tariffs in the electricity today.

“Nigerians have a lot of challenges to bear because of COVID-19 pandemic and the situation requires that we should do everything possible to make life easy for our citizens. Of course, government is doing a lot in this respect.

“We believe that the DisCos should continue to engage with their consumers, find better cost reflective tariff. But before then, there must some steps to ensure that the consumers are properly metered.

“Otherwise, you will still be guessing what consumers are consuming; that is to say, let the billing be very scientifically based. It has to be based on what you actually consume.

“So, we had this discussion with the Vice-President and we are sure that the announcement of an increase in electricity tariff in Nigeria is untimely.

“We believe that we need to do more work to ensure that before any increase, there must be some measures; some steps and some line of actions that must be exhausted, including the metering. This is a welcome idea to the Vice-President as well,” he said.

Lawan noted that to stabilise power supply, the Share Purchase Agreement signed between the Federal Government and the DisCos at the point of privatisation must be adhered to.

Gbajabiamila said all the parties agreed that there was need for cost reflective tariff, which must be done at the appropriate time.

The Speaker said when there is a major policy decision, it is always good that the Executive and Legislature are on the same page, hence the need to meet the Vice-President.

He said the National Assembly leadership had earlier met with President Muhammadu Buhari on the mater.

The President agreed with the leadership of the National Assembly to prevail on the DisCos to suspend their planned electricity tariff hike.

The leaders of the federal legislature said they met with the President to make him consider the time factor in the price hike.

Gbajabiamila said President Buhari and Prof. Osinbajo were on the same page with the National Assembly leadership on the deferment of the tariff hike, given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people.

“We have all agreed to suspend this for a while, tarry awhile and get the buy-in of the people, explain to the people why this has to be done, that it is, for the betterment of electricity to get stable.

“The DisCos and GenCos are businessmen and cannot be undercutting themselves.

“I think, it’s so far so good. The President listened attentively, the Vice-President listened attentively and I think everybody is on the same page. Hopefully, we will get some reprieve between now and whenever. But it’s not going to happen today,” he said.

Also, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has said the suspension of proposed service reflective tariff was initiated by the National Assembly due to their concerns on its timing.

Its Executive Director for Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, announced this in a statement yesterday in Abuja.

“Members of the National Assembly are representatives of the people. Based on the feedback they had been getting from their constituents, mainly around the difficult financial realities, they called for a meeting which we attended, and during the meeting, they laid out their concerns.

“DisCos have spent the last couple of weeks carrying out massive sensitisation across different platforms, preparing their customers for the new service reflective tariff as instructed by the NERC.

“DisCos have also been at the forefront of the calls for a reviewed tariff for years,” Oduntan said.

He added: “Based on the recommendation of the National Assembly leadership, the new regime should now take effect from the first quarter of 2021.”

The Senate on Tuesday asked the Federal Government to subsidise electricity for Nigerians to reduce the effect of the proposed hike in electricity tariff.

The Chairman of its Committee on Power, Gabriel Suswam made the call while addressing reporters in Abuja.

He said: “Nowhere in the world is power not subsidised, especially in developing economies, because there are genuine people, who, because of their income, are unable to pay what is called cost-reflective tariff.

“Nigerians are heavily burdened because of COVID-19. The economy has contracted by 3.2 per cent. That’s a lot.

 

Minister, lawmakers clash over plan to recruit 774,000 [Nation]

National Assembly joint panel turns back Keyamo after shouting match-

THE Special Public Works Programme (SWP) of the Federal Government designed to hire 774,000 youths has sparked a huge row between a Federal Executive Council (FEC) member and federal lawmakers.

The Federal Government has set aside N52 million to pay the 1,000 youths from each of the 774 local government areas at 20,000 per member for three months.

Those engaged are expected to do public works for the last quarter of the year.

At issue is the formation of the selection committee that will recruit the beneficiaries.

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo on Tuesday appeared before the Senate and House of Representatives joint Committee on Labour and Employment.

The meeting ran into troubled waters when Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nasir Ladan Argungu, was asked to explain the composition of the Keyamo-led 20 member committee handling the selection of beneficiaries.

Argungu said he could only account for eight statutory members of the committee, adding only the minister of state could speak on the remaining 12 members.

Some members of the joint committee complained that the representatives of their states in the selection committee were unknown to them.

They requested Keyamo for insight into how the 12 members were picked; the roles  of  representatives of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the recruitment and why  a  programme which budget is under the NDE is being hijacked by him.

The joint committee members accused Keyamo and Argungu of not being on the same page on the programme.

Before the minister could respond, co-chairman of the joint committee, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, said the briefing would go into a closed door session.

However, Keyamo argued that since the questions were asked and allegations made in the full glare of the media, a closed session   was not necessary. He said   his response should also be captured by the media.

His insistence angered the lawmakers who said he (Keyamo) could not direct how a session by a national assembly committee should be conducted.

They asked Keyamo to apologise for attempting to upturn the committee’s resolution  on how the sitting should be conducted.

Keyamo, who declined because he had “done nothing wrong”, threatened to walk out on the committee.

The disagreement and insistence by the minister led to flared tempers, banging on tables and eventual storming out of the session by Keyamo.

The uproar brought the session to an abrupt end.

Speaking to reporters, Keyamo said: “What they have not allowed me to say inside, I will say it outside.

“The background to this is that a couple of days ago,  they started mounting pressure on me that I must bring a list of those to select 1,000 persons per local government across the country for them to direct me as to what to do from state to state.

“The chairmen insisted I must come to them privately to be handed an instruction on what to do and how this programme would be done.

“I told them that it would amount to  sharing the powers of the President.  I can only be answerable for what I have done by the provisions of the Constitution,  but you cannot direct me.  I can’t  explain in an executive session matters like this because it involves the 774 Local Governments Areas across the country.

“You cannot accuse me of a lopsided issue in the open  and then  want to go into a closed session.

”They can investigate the programme I can be coming here every day to explain but they cannot control it.”

The minister later issued a statement  in which he said: “I will  not surrender the programme to their control since their power under the constitution does not extend to that.”

Keyamo, who said he learnt that the joint committee later suspended the work of the selection committee nationwide, directed the members to go ahead with the assignment as “only Mr. President can stop them.”

He argued that the action of the lawmakers was  ”tantamount to challenging the powers of Mr. President.”

Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), added: “I regret to say that their powers under section 88 of the 1999 Constitution is only limited to investigations, not to give any directive to the Executive.”

“I will not come into government and be intimidated to abandon my  principles. I will rather leave this assignment, if Mr. President so directs than compromise the jobs meant for ordinary Nigerians who have no godfathers or who are not affiliated to any political party.”

Senator Akwashiki, who presided over the joint committee, told reporters after the botched session that Keyamo insulted them.

Akwashiki said: “We asked the minister of state  to explain to us how far they have gone because we read on the pages of newspapers   that a 20-man selection committee from each state was inaugurated.  .

“He said it was a tripartite committee set up by Mr President that comprised eight ministries but we disagreed with him on that because we are lawmakers and we try to work always within the ambit of the law for the implementation of whatever we have for the Nigerian people.

“We said this money (N52billion) has been  approved under the NDE. It is even in the budget. So for him to say it is eight ministries that are involved in this we disagree with him.

“If we did not get it right with the selection committee, I want to tell you that this programme is going to be a failure.

”How the minister arrived at the remaining 12 people is best known to him. The Director General who happens to be the accounting officer of the agency did not know how he came about the selection of the 12 people.

“We cannot sit down and watch him. But because he claims he is a lawyer, he is trying to bring confusion.

“He is trying to turn us around. He is trying to make the whole system look like a busy-body saying that this is public hearing. This is not public hearing.

“At the end of the day, he tried to insult the lawmakers. He was trying to tell us the procedures of our sitting.”

 

Buhari to Economic Council: do more to develop Nigeria [Nation]

THE Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) was on Tuesday directed to develop more strategies that will put the country on a sound economic lever.

President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive during a virtual audience he granted the Prof Doyin Salami-led PEAC.

The President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, expressed appreciation to the council for the outstanding support and guidance it had been providing, which he described as a ‘tutorial’.

He said: “We are a country characterised by a large population of poor people, serious infrastructure deficit, lack of housing and a vulnerable economy now haunted by the COVID-19 pandemic and collapse of the oil sector and its effect on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Making a presentation to the President, the Council commended the administration for implementing several of its recommendations, even as it presented the government with a number of tough choices to make in order to put the economy on a higher growth path.

Prof. Salami, who led the presentation, specifically expressed delight with the ongoing review of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Budget in view of the disruptions   caused by COVID-19; the deregulation of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS); approval for the implementation of the Oronsaye Report on the need to rationalise and restructure federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as well as the adjustment of the exchange rate of the naira.

He, however, noted that more needed to be done to increase efficiency, coordination and accountability on the part of MDAs.

The PEAC welcomed the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) produced by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and adopted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

It, however, warned that in the implementation of the N2.3 trillion spending plan, there could arise a number of problems which if unattended, could hamper smooth implementation.

 

Labour, DisCos On Warpath Over Electricity Tariff Hike [Leadership]

For organized labour in the country and Distribution Companies (DisCos), the gloves are off as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday vowed to fully mobilise Nigerians to resist any attempt to increase electricity tariffs.

The distribution companies had in a statement insisted on increment of electricity tariff, saying , “with effect from July 1, a new performance driven increased tariff structure is set for implementation as a step towards narrowing the liquidity gap.“

In another statement by their umbrella body, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), signed by its executive director of Research and Advocacy, Barr Sunday Oduntan, DisCos said recent effort by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to distance itself from the July 1 commencement of a new service-based electricity tariff regime was unfair.

But the NLC warned that any further hike in tariff or other charges at this “time of great socio-economic dislocation would be ultra-insensitive, callous and a pre-meditated attempt to send many Nigerians, workers, to untimely graves.“

NLC president, comrade Ayuba Wabba, noted that in as much as Nigerians are relieved by the halting of the tariff hike by the DISCOs following the intervention of the National Assembly, the NLC is aware that the DISCOs are not unrelenting.

In a statement he issued yesterday, Wabba however said in the interest of fairness, equity and justice, the NLC demands that the DISCOs refund bailout funds collected from public coffers as well as return to Nigerians all the estimated billings that had been unjustly collected from them all these years.

 

NMA, NUT knock FG over order to reopen schools [Punch]

  • We can’t resume, we don’t want to die, teachers tell FG

The Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigeria Union of   Teachers, on Tuesday, took a swipe at the  Federal Government over its  “safe reopening of schools”.

The apex organisations of medical doctors and teachers in the country told The PUNCH that the directive that graduating classes should resume was not only badly thought-out, but also could expose both teachers and pupils to the deadly coronavirus.

The NMA President, Prof Innocent Ujah, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Jos, said that given the current low level of compliance by Nigerians with  COVID-19 safety protocols, it was risky to ask pupils to resume.

The NUT General Secretary, Mike Ene, said government was playing politics with the directive. He wondered how teachers, who had not been paid salaries in some states, would get money to buy personal protective equipment.

Ujah and Ene spoke just as the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Tuesday became the latest prominent Nigerian to test positive for the virus.

Following the governor’s disclosure of his COVID-19 status, the state government ordered commissioners and other aides of Akeredolu to compulsorily go for the coronavirus test.

But as concerns mounted over the spread of COVID-19, the NMA  faulted  Monday’s pronouncement by the Federal Government on the reopening of schools.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, at its briefing in Abuja, said the government in what it called “safe reopening of schools,” had approved resumption of pupils in graduating classes including primary six, the Junior Secondary School 3 and the Senior Secondary School 3.

The government also lifted the ban it placed on interstate travels and domestic flights.

In approving the resumption of graduating classes, it said water must be provided in schools for hand-washing and both pupils and teachers must wear face masks while observing social distancing.

Many schools don’t have water – NMA

Faulting the FG, the NMA president asked, “What is the compliance of the citizens in terms of regular hand-washing and other safety protocols?  At the moment, many of the schools don’t even have water. Obviously, it becomes very difficult to say that schools should reopen because you have to wash your hands regularly.

“Again, I don’t know how the teachers would be teaching with face masks and all the pupils will wear face masks.  If you are not used to face masks, you may not breath well,  particularly  if  the one you have   is not standard.”

He also said it would be difficult to observe social distancing in crowded classrooms. Ujah stated, “I believe the government should think about it. If they can stay a little, people have to be alive to go to school and the way things are happening, the compliance level is still very low.  I don’t think it is appropriate to open the schools now.”

We can’t resume, we don’t want to die, teachers tell FG

Also, the NUT general secretary said government was not serious with his directive. He said teachers could not resume because nobody wanted to die.

He stated, “I don’t know who is going to use his own child as a guinea pig. It is only those who are alive that can speak of keeping hope alive. How can we resume? Does anybody want to die?”

Ene said if government wanted teachers to resume, they should be provided with necessary materials and incentives.

Teachers are being taken for granted, govt yet to provide PPE, says NUT

The NUT general secretary stated, “The NUT is saying that the government has not assured us properly to go back to school. Has the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control) moved around to make sure that the isolation centres are provided in schools? What measures have they told us have been provided for teachers to come back?

“We are being taken for granted.  Teachers are parents and human beings too and their children don’t want to lose them out of carelessness. We are ready. We are not afraid to teach. But government has not shown commitment for us to go back to school. All what the government is doing is mere politics.

“When you talk of guidelines, we have passed the stage of talking without actions. I just read a text from a certain school asking my daughter who is going to take final exams to come back. They are demanding sanitisers, face marks and other consumables, thereby throwing back the burden to parents who have already been overstretched with feeding their children since they have been at home.

“But government has reneged on what it should do. In a class of 60, 40 or 70 pupils, you’re talking of physical and social distancing. Can a teacher take a class from 8am to 2pm, 2pm to 5pm and 5pm to 10pm? What is the PPE that government has given to teachers?

“If a teacher is going to face many pupils in a class, and has no PPE, how will the teacher function or they expect him to use his meagre salary? I don’t know if government is aware that as of today so many states and local  governments are owing teachers.”

 

Senators, Keyamo in fierce argument over NDE recruitment [Punch]

  • Lawmakers walk out minister

FEDERAL lawmakers on Tuesday walked out the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, following his refusal to apologise after the legislators accused him of raising his voice against them.

The incident happened at an investigative hearing organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity.

Members of the joint panel had summoned the minister and the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment, Mr. Nasiru Ladan Argungu, to brief them on steps so far taken to recruit 774,000 persons across the country.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the engagement of 774,000 Nigerians for the Special Public Works programme under the NDE to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

By the arrangement, 1, 000 Nigerians who would earn N20,000 each on monthly basis for three months are expected to be recruited in each of the 774 local government areas, of the country.

The programme will take off in October this year.

Trouble started when the committee members asked the DG of the NDE, to give explanation on the composition of a 20-member committee per state, inaugurated on Monday by the ministry for the implementation of the planned recruitment

Argungu gave his explanation and disclosed that he was aware of only eight out of the 20-member committee.

He then asked the lawmakers to seek further clarification from the minister.

The lawmakers were not satisfied with Argungu’s explanation, which to them, showed that he was not in control of the programmme.

National Assembly had in the 2020 budget appropriated N52bn for the Special Public Works Programme.

The lawmakers therefore accused Keyamo of hijacking the programme from the NDE and alleging acute lopsidedness in the entire programme.

However, the drama intensified when the lawmakers asked the journalists to excuse them in order to speak in closed session with the minister.

Keyamo rejected the idea and insisted that having been openly accused and disgraced, the cameras should remain in the room.

The minister’s outburst infuriated the lawmakers, who asked that he should apologise for his behaviour.

At that point, Keyamo felt he had done nothing against the procedures of the legislature, hence he had no reason to apologise.

After about 30 minutes of loud arguments from both parties, Keyamo said he would only speak on camera or take his leave.

The minister’s statement further ignited troubles with the lawmakers shouting back at him to go if he wanted.

 

Ogun suspected fake lawyer defrauds client of N300,000 [Punch]

Men of the Ogun State Police Command have arrested a self-acclaimed lawyer, Elijah Ojo, for allegedly duping a client  into parting with N300,000.

Ojo was reported to have collected the money from a client to perfect her bail condition, but   bolted afterwards.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.

Oyeyemi said Ojo was arrested on Sunday for parading himself as a legal practitioner and swindling several people out of huge sums of money.

The PPRO added that the suspect was arrested following a petition written to the Divisional Police Officer, Ajuwon, by a legal practitioner.

Oyeyemi said the petitioner reported the suspect for parading himself as a lawyer and extorting money from unsuspecting members of the public.

The PPRO stated that the petitioner told the police that the suspect had never been to the Law School and therefore was not qualified to be addressed as a lawyer.

Oyeyemi added, “Upon the petition, the DPO, Ajuwon Division, SP Andrew Akinseye, and his team of detectives embarked on a painstaking intelligence investigation about the self-acclaimed lawyer.

“In the process of their investigation, they came across a woman, who was charged defrauded an offence, but was defrauded by the suspect, who collected N300,000 from her to perfect her bail condition, but never showed up in court.

“The suspect was subsequently arrested after much evidence had been gathered against him.

“On interrogation, he confessed that though he gained admission to study Law at the Ekiti State University, he did not finish the course and did not attend the Law School.”

The PPRO added that the Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, had ordered the immediate transfer of the suspect to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for further investigation and diligent prosecution.

 

Buhari, NASS stop electricity tariff hike [Sun]

  • Senate, Discos urge FG to subsidise power

President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have agreed on the deferment of electricity tariff hike.

The two leaders gave the nod after separate meetings with Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

This is as the Senate asked the Federal Government to subsidise electricity for Nigerians in a bid to alleviate the proposed hike in electricity tariff, which has been deferred to next year.

Representatives of the power distribution companies (Discos) had maintained that they would support the suspension of the planned hike, if government would bear the difference in the present tariff and what was considered appropriate tariff.

They had planned to effect a new electricity tariff structure from today.

Federal lawmakers on Monday had intervened to halt the proposed hike of electricity tariff by Discos, saying the timing was wrong, coming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant impact on incomes of citizens.

Lawan and Gbajabiamila, who briefed journalists after the meetings, said Buhari and Osinbajo agreed with the leadership of the National Assembly that the timing of the tariff hike was wrong and it was better deferred.

Gbajabiamila, who said there was the need to increase tariffs to reflect the realities of the time, explained that the meetings at the Presidency had become important given the need for the legislature and executive to reach a consensus on the temporary suspension of tariff increase.

Said Gbajabiamila: “Let me just say that we saw the President earlier this morning and we have also seen the Vice President. The whole idea is that when there is a major policy decision, it is always good that the legislature and executive are on the same page so that we don’t sing different tunes. I would like to say that I think we have all agreed on an increase in cost-reflective tariff, but the issue is that the timing is also important. Sometimes, timing is more important than even the policy decision that you make. There is a saying that ‘the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.’ So, the intentions is good, but what about the timing? We have all agreed to suspend this for a while, tarry a while and get the buy-in of the people; explain to the people why this has to be done, that it is for their betterment and for electricity to get stable. They are businessmen (Discos) and cannot be undercutting themselves. I think, so far, so good, the President and Vice President listened attentively and I think everybody is on the same page. Hopefully, we will get some reprieve between now and whenever, but it’s not going to happen today.”

Lawan said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted incomes negatively, hence government must do everything possible to make life easier for citizens.

On if the country would get to a point where Nigerians get steady power supply so that billing and metering would not be questioned or difficulty for citizens, Lawan said all stakeholders must adhere to the share purchase agreement signed by government.

“Once we are able to achieve that, we will have a better situation in the power sector in Nigeria. It is doable, it has happened elsewhere. So, we cannot continue to give Discos and Gencos the resources that we can ordinarily deploy to build hospitals. But whatever is necessary for us to do as part of our agreement with them, we must do those,” Lawan said.

Also speaking on the issue, chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Gabriel Suswam, called on the Federal Government to subsidise power supply.

Addressing newsmen, Suswam said:  “Nowhere in the world that power is not subsidised, especially in developing economies because there are genuine people, who, because of their income, are unable to pay what is called cost-reflective tariff.

“Nigerians are heavily burdened because of COVID-19. The economy has contracted by 3.2 per cent; that’s a lot.

“So, it makes it difficult for you and me to attend to some of our social problems; would the government prefer to add burden or lessen it?

“The President has been doing well; he has spent so much money, and what we expect is that the spending will gradually reduce or diminish as the power sector becomes more efficient,” he said.

On the way forward, the chairman said it was to make the power sector more efficient and for government to back out like in the oil sector where subsidy had been completely removed.

“Even at that, the government is reducing the pump price. So, should they, in the same vein, increase tariff? It doesn’t make sense,” Suswam said.

He expressed the hope that the executive would agree to subsidise electricity even though it was going to come at a cost.

Why we suspended tariff – Discos

The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has said the suspension of proposed service-reflective tariff was initiated by the National Assembly due to their concerns on its timing.

ANED’s executive director, research and advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, who made the clarification in a statement in Abuja, said National Assembly’s concern was also based on what they saw as lapses in the internal workability of the plan within the sector.

According to him, Discos did not lobby for the postponement.

“Members of the NASS are representatives of the people. Based on the feedback they had been getting from their constituents, mainly around the difficult financial realities, they called for a meeting, which we attended, and during the meeting they laid out their concerns.

“Discos have spent the last couple of weeks carrying out massive sensitisations across different platforms preparing their customers for the new service reflective tariff as instructed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Discos have also been at the forefront of the calls for a reviewed tariff for years,” Oduntan said.

He said, over the weekend, ANED publicly voiced its concerns about an instruction from NERC its regulator, “which we felt would make the task of winning public confidence more difficult.”

Oduntan said the Discos had committed themselves to removing obstacles that would stand against the success of the take-off date.

He said it was, therefore, “extremely disingenuous for it to be suggested that, on the eve of it to come to fruition, we will now be the ones to initiate its postponement.

“July 1, 2020, had been pegged as the commencement date for a new service delivery-based tariff regime. Based on the recommendation of the NASS leadership, the new regime should now take effect from the first quarter of 2021,” he said.

 

COVID-19: No plan to reopen tertiary institutions, says PTF [Sun]

Hope of tertiary institution students returning to school soon was dashed yesterday, when the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 confirmed that there was no plan yet to reopen tertiary institutions.

National Coordinator of PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, in a radio interview, said the PTF was, at the moment, concerned with measures that would flatten the curve and contain community transmission.

“We know that schools, together with restaurants, bars and other entrainment activities could encourage community transmission of the dreaded coronavirus, hence the reason we were not in hurry to reopen them.

“However, we have taken pragmatic measures to ensure we do not lose a whole year in terms of primary to secondary school transition, hence the president’s approval for schools to reopen so that exiting students could return to school and write their examinations some of which are regional.

“Summarily, there is no plan to reopen tertiary institutions until we get to the top of the numbers and also see clearly that we are making significant progress in terms of flattening the curve.”

On Monday, PTF announced some modifications to the phase two of the ease of lockdown as earlier approved by President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha, said at the daily briefing that the president approved that schools should be reopen for Primary six, JSS 3 and SS3 students.

In addition, he said the president equally approved the lifting of the ban on inter-state travels while maintaining the curfew time which starts from 10pm to 4am.

 

FG, aviation unions set for showdown over airports concession [Sun]

  • NLC, TUC, ULC to join strike

Strong indications emerged yesterday that the Federal Government and four major unions in the nation’s aviation industry may be heading for a collision course over plans by the Federal Ministry of Aviation to concession four airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano and Lagos. The rising tempers in the sector followed last week’s issuance of Certificate of Compliance by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, signaling government’s approval for the proposed concession.

But Sirika, who received the ICRC certification on June 25, to proceed with the airports concession aftermeeting all needed requirements on projects got more than he bargained when the unions moved against him yesterday to reject the concession. The agitated unions including NUATE, Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), accused the minister of pursuing his personal agenda without referencing a committee set up by the Federal Government to consider the matter, thus charging him of running a “one-man show” that enables him do whatever he wants and getting away with it without recourse to other stakeholders, including workers in the sector.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, the General Secretary of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Ocheme Aba, described the  issuance of the Certificate by the ICRC to the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, on the concession as a ruse; questioning how that was approved when no one knows what was being concessioned.

Consequently, the unions vowed to make the industry ungovernable, should the minister proceed with a process they had discredited as the self-serving ruse, through nationwide protests against it as long as the idea to concession Nigerian airports is kept alive.

According to the workers’ associations, there is need to know the transactional scope that would enable the country know whether the minister had complied with the guidelines and what scope the concession is designed for before proceeding with it. They also argued that thus far, neither the minister nor the concession committee had named a transaction adviser, and wondered how the ICRC arrived at handing over a certificate of compliance to the aviation minister

“It is highly regrettable that both the minister and the ICRC are engaging in a ruse, and are indeed taking Nigerians for a ride.

Meanwhile in furtherance of the objective, Aba said the unions have sought the support of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) for the purpose of escalating the processes of engagement and protests. Never again, with the unfortunate mistake of selling of national assets to government officials and their cronies as happened in the electricity sector, shall we allow such to happen in Nigeria,” he said.

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