Wednesday, July 18, 2018

President Buhari: A ‘Messiah’s Loss Of Appeal

By Godwin Ogla
We are not all endowed with the peculiar gift of clairvoyance like Nostradamus, the famed fourteenth century astrologer -cum- physician, who arguably foretold great happenings and events that would later shape centuries he could only imagine. But when an audacious attempt is made to do a post-mortem of a presidency that is yet to round off its first tenure, then, one begins to wonder whether such a presidency has crossed the Rubicon on policies with disastrous effects from which returning may be impossible or perhaps, difficult. Who would expect something good from an administration whose actions and inactions conjure pictures of hopelessness even in its final days?
*President Buhari 
There is a limit to the propaganda machinery any government in the world can set in motion to inveigle her citizenry into giving it their unalloyed support, if there is great gulf between actual falsehood and reality. It is only a matter of time before the propaganda messages being deployed to influence public opinions, metamorphosed into an uncomfortable jarring sound that must be turned off to prevent the people from losing their sanity. The once fervent converts have now taken a deep dive into the rivers of apostasy because in vain, have they laboured for the religion of change. 

The Nelson Mandela In Us All

By Claus Stäcker
Barack Obama praised Nelson Mandela as the "moral compass" of his political career long ago. Obama spoke about that at length while addressing fans at Johannesburg's cricket stadium during his current trip to Africa. For a five-figure sum enthusiasts could buy a seat at his dinner table to hear more. It remains to be seen just where Mandela's needle will point Obama.
Mandela was no saint.
Still, next to him every well-known personality shrank to size. Mandela exhibited equal respect for musicians and presidents, queens and prison guards. By the time he was released from prison, after 27 years behind bars, he had become a global brand, an idol the world over, a projection overladen with expectations. Suddenly, he stood there upon the world stage and he seized the opportunity. Unlike others, he had a vision and a moral compass, as Obama so rightly recognized.

Lessons From Thailand Cave Rescue

By Tayo Ogunbiyi
On June 23, 12 young footballers aged between 11 and 16 and their 25 year-old coach ventured into the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand after completing a session of football practice and became trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave. The boys and their coach who are all members of a local association football team were reported missing a few hours later and search operations began immediately.
However, attempts to find them were hindered by rising water levels within the cave system and no contact was made with them for about 11 days. The rescue effort expanded into a massive operation amid concerted global public interest.After great efforts that involved delicate maneuvering through narrow cave passages and mucky waters, British divers discovered the missing footballers and their coach to be alive.

Weep Not For Fayose, Weep For Nigeria

By Femi Fani-Kayode
“When Fayose won in 2014, the whole of Ekiti erupted with joy. In 2018 the APC “won” and all the streets of Ekiti are looking so gloomy. The people are sad because their will has been truncated”
Adeolu Daramola

My friend and brother, Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, is not infallible. He is not an angel and like every other mortal, he has his own fair share of faults, excesses and shortcomings. We do not agree on everything and neither do we always share the same opinion on matters of state and policy.
*Gov Ayodele Fayose 
I should add this: some of his friends are my sworn enemies and some of my friends are his, yet nothing and no-one can come between us. That is the nature of our covenant and deep bond which has its roots well above politics, which was borne through our shared love of the Living God and the Gospel of Christ and which was established and forged by the blood of Jesus. Our differences in terms of style and approach only brings us closer and serves to make our friendship stronger. And despite his regular displays of strong emotions, what a profoundly good and insightful man he is.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Joe Igbokwe’s Unprovoked Mockery Of The Judiciary

By Ebun-olu Adegboruwa
Some few minutes ago, Mr. Joe Igbokwe posted on his Facebook wall, a comment, to the effect that the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, the latter a lawyer and a member of the Body of Benchers, bought his way through the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

I was alarmed at such open declaration, given that I’m part and parcel of the Nigerian judiciary.
Consequently, I urge all lawyers, activists and lovers of the rule of law and due process, to join me to engage Mr. Joe Igbokwe on this rather reckless utterance.
Indeed, it is the height of indignity. By my last reckoning, Mr Joe Igbokwe is still a public servant, in Lagos State, the land of opportunities, being paid thorough our sweat and labour.
How can such a person paint the entire legal system of Nigeria with such conclusion as that one could buy judgment in the Supreme Court?

How To Stop Herdsmen Killings In Nigeria

By Luke Onyekakeyah
President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent statement urging Nigerians to be patient while his security chiefs are racking their brains to tackle the ongoing killings across the country puts the administration at a tight corner. The implication is that government has no strategy yet to deal with a deadly pogrom targeting innocent hapless folks across the country.
The president ought not to have made such statement as that would embolden the killers. How could you tell your enemy who is out to eliminate you that you are still racking brain to know how to tackle him? The statement is self defeatist and totally uncalled for. 

Nigeria: Kemi Adeosun’s Ungolden Silence

By Ray Ekpu
I have admired Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance, from a distance. She speaks English the way the Queen of England speaks even though she seems to add a bit of cockney accent to it. She is good with figures which I am not good at which is one reason I chose the writing craft as my life-long engagement. She shows competence, diligence, substantial eloquence and some level of transparency in her work. So I was thrilled to meet her on May 5, 2016 at the Chinese Restaurant, OPIC Plaza, next door to the Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja. 
*President Buhari and Kemi Adeosun
She was one of the four ministers that came to meet with the media chieftains of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN). They came to explain at a town hall meeting what the Federal Government had been doing – and not doing – since it took over the Aso Villa a year earlier. She displayed a gutsy performance and I thought she was a courageous young lady. I asked her, not entirely jokingly, whether she had a bullet proof vest because of her trenchant and frontal attack on tax evaders and avoiders and her extirpation of thousands of ghosts from the payroll of the Federal Government. Since then my admiration for her has remained high. 

From Buhari To Adeosun: The Ethical Question

By Sufuyan Ojeifo
The resolution of three episodes of corruption between 1999 and 2005 in the federal legislature and the executive arm of government under the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo had initially indicated the seeming gravitas of that administration.  But, to be sure, it was not Obasanjo’s persona or the magnitude of his philosophical swagger that gave fillip to the seriousness attached to the anti-corruption actions, which fatally extinguished the luminous epochs of some politicians and public office holders at the time.
*Kemi Adeosun 
The soberness, in fact, derived from the interplay of the unfortunate tomfoolery in government and the collective appreciation as well as interrogation by Nigerians of the universal concepts of good and bad or right and wrong that defined public perception of governmental interactions in the ecology of the nation’s prevalent cloak-and-dagger politics. The whiff of that political correctness had conferred on the administration a false garb of propriety in official conducts and public finance management.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Swot Analysis Of The Meter Asset Provider Regulation(Part 2)

By Idowu Oyebanjo

The biggest threat to the implementation of the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation is the regulatory inconsistency and policy summersaults for which the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) has come to be known in the eyes of the international community. What if, for socio-political reasons, the MAP regulation is withdrawn and the metering service charge removed some few months down the line post-investment? A related issue is around the ownership of meters to be installed. Will the consumer own the meter and carry it when they leave the property as was possible previously if they relocate within the same DisCo franchise area? 

Will the consumer pay for meters owned by others as well as pay for the electricity consumed (a service) and metering service rendered (another service) in the procurement of same service? Consumers may see this as a case of double-dipping! As the regulation makes provisions for consumers who wish to make an upfront full payment for meters, will such a consumer continue to pay for similar charges if they relocate elsewhere within the NESI? The best way around these and allied issues will be to decouple the consumer from the asset by means of a metering point administration number (MPAN) unique to every property to which electricity is supplied and metered. Theretofore, every consumer will pay a service charge for metering and this component can be included in the MYTO tariff structure. Also, the issues around customers who have paid for meters and are yet to receive them under the CAPMI scheme have to be resolved. There is the risk around sustainability of policies made in this regard and generally, within the regulated electricity supply industry in Nigeria.

The major stakeholders in the implementation of MAP are the consumers, the DisCos, the MASPs and the financial organizations who will provide funding for the investment required. To succeed, the process has to have a line of sight and be seen to be transparent. The monies due to each party has to be handled by an independent and dedicated system or body which escrows the payments made by consumers and distributes to relevant parties based on a previously agreed sharing formula. The implementation has to be such that investors and financiers can have consistent cash flow and recoup their investment in reasonable time. To this end, there is a need for a clear financial or capital structure in the implementation (debt and or equity) for MAP and financiers who will provide long-term loans at single-digit interest rates. Sadly, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that has been in the fore-front of the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilization Aid, currently has a limited budget available to provide finance for Meter Asset Service Providers (MASPs). That said, the CBN is only prepared to provide funding in the form of re-financing for MASPs that can demonstrate viability and sustainability of their business model.

The time deadline provided for DisCos to procure the services of MAPS is one hundred and twenty (120) days following the 3rd of April, 2018 date of declaring the regulation. In comparison to the level of activities to be carried out for a competitively tendered procurement process and the number of certified MASPs for the entire country (22), this time is insufficient and need increasing. MASPs should also not be limited by the number of permits they have to obtain to accelerate the delivery of meters to cover the sure-to-increase metering gap. Also, economy of scale should be encouraged to ensure the warranty on installed meters are up to the shelf life, ten (10) years say, of installed meters.

For the general implementation of the MAP regulation to be a success, there is need for the proper monitoring and development of a competitive MAP procurement process. Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tenders’ auditors will ensure transparency and review the procurement process. Both pre and post-installation audits are imperative. MASPs must have the technical competence and financial capacity to carry out the intended services and the procurement process must ensure this is the case. We need to have genuine investors who will be willing to put money into investing in infrastructure, which in this case are the durable and fit-for-the purpose electricity meters for the NESI. This will also mean the power system will have a much desired enforcement system devoid of the corruption-ridden judicial system we have to day. The special court for the NESI will rely on the efforts of specially trained enforcement officers who will render swift services up to adjudication based on laid down procedures.

According to the regulation, consumers will have to pay a metering service charge (a lease charge) for the services provided by a MAP. In view of the level of consumer apathy today, and more so, as many consumers have paid for meters previously under the CAPMI scheme and are yet to receive the meters, there is an urgent need for an extensive enlightenment and sensitization campaign to be championed by NERC to seek the understanding of consumers nationwide. It is best to involve consumer advocacy and civil society groups, consumer protection council, and other affiliate organizations during the communication efforts to make this campaign a success. Yet, there is still the issue of consumers who reject the offer to have meters installed in their property. Thus, a robust enlightenment campaign for market participants and customer re-orientation to be championed by the DisCos and NERC is apt.
The absence of robust data and communication systems on which the stakeholders including the MASPs can leverage is another area of need. For the NESI to function optimally, and by extension for the implementation of the MAP regulation to be a success, there is a dire need for customer enumeration, consolidated with asset information systems. 

This provides an opportunity for DisCos to sponsor an energy networks association (ENA) to be saddled with delving into core technical problems within the NESI for and on behalf of the stakeholders. Issues to be looked at include but not limited to cost-reflectivity of tariffs, customer charging methodology, consolidated and centralized high-fidelity data capture of consumers and assets, technical policies for the successful operation of power assets and systems, specifications for plants, components and devices, research and development (R&D), investigation into failures and recommendations etc.

As metering services have hitherto been in the jurisdiction of DisCos, there will be cases of existing contracts with certain metering services providers that need to ultimately operate based on the MAP regulatory framework. While a process to ensure the sacrosanctity of such contracts has to be put in place, a cut-off date for migrating all such legacy metering services contracts to operate in line with the MAP regulation has to be determined. Such existing contracts between DisCos and their current metering service providers have to be declared to NERC now to preserve the integrity of the new regulatory regime. Also, it is possible for a DisCo to frustrate the process of implementing the MAP regulation if for example additional mundane and impeding requirements are placed on MASPs in the procurement of their services as the regulator has only provided minimum requirements for MASPs with Discos at liberty to demand further requirements in conformance with their asset management policies. 

This has the potential to slow down the implementation of the MAP regulation. The antidote to this is the separation of the “wire” business of DisCos from the energy supply business to be provided by separate legal entities, owned by existing DisCos, MASPs or others. In addition, as MASPs have to procure 30% of meters from certified local manufacturers, a system has to be worked out to ensure that MASPs patronise local manufacturers of meters and if possible tracked by the regulator. Also, the percentage of local content involvement can be increased (or flipped) to make original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to open shop in Nigeria which brings with it attendant employment opportunities and allied economic benefits that impact positively on the country’s GDP.

The absence of technical specification and standards of electricity meters to which MASPs must adhere leaves room for sub-standard meters to be installed within the NESI. This threatens the sustainability of the business for MASPs and may ultimately lead the consumers back to status quo. The required specifications will include requirements for technology, data management and communication systems. There is also the issue of collaboration between NERC and Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA).

The MAP regulation is a step in the right direction towards entrenching full retail competition in the NESI as envisioned by the Electric Power Supply Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005 which has to be updated to reflect the changes brought about by the declaration of the eligible customer and meter asset provider regulations. Its implementation is only a part of the solutions to the myriads of problems bedevilling the power sector. Closing the metering gap does not in itself remove the problems associated with ATC&C losses, cases of electricity theft and meter bypass, low morale and deficiency in human capital resources within the NESI.

The next step in the direction of full-scale competition in the distribution system within the NESI will involve the separation of the “wire” services from the energy supply services to allow DisCos to carry lower risks and focus on the required investment in the operation and maintenance of the weak network infrastructure while reducing the aggregate technical and non-technical losses in the distribution network.

A Swot Analysis Of The Meter Asset Provider Regulation (Part 1)

By Idowu Oyebanjo
The recently released Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulation by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in attempting to close the metering gap in the power sector has become inevitable because DisCos have failed to provide meters to consumers within the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) as anticipated by metering targets set in the performance agreements between Federal Government and Distribution Companies (DisCos).
As a result of this failure, estimated billing, electricity theft, meter bypass, illiquidity in the power sector, increased aggregate technical, commercial and collection losses (ATC&C) and consumer apathy towards the power sector reform have been some of the undesirable consequences. Lately, the National Assembly has determined to criminalise estimated billing in response to the cries of consumers nationwide who have in the last five (5) years remained unmetered, let-down and unprotected in the current regulatory environment. By this regulation, NERC aims to achieve revenue assurance within the NESI, reduce illiquidity, close the current metering gap of over 4.7 million meters within the next three years and eliminate estimated billing. It is therefore imperative to consider the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats associated with the implementation of the MAP regulation.

The Cry For Rescue From Abused African Ladies In Saudi Arabia

By Farouk Martins Aresa
News about domestic helps abuse in Saudi have been around for a while but they are mostly from Philipino house helps. There was a report about abuse of Kenyan women as far back as 2015 that was reported locally and on BBC. The bad news we get from Saudi Arabia are from Africans on pilgrimage and some abusing their visa conditions to commit deplorable crimes, especially Nigerians despite the severe punishment of beheading. 
Nigerians young ladies and other Africans are crying out from Saudi Arabia! These are young women that neither had any desire to sell their bodies by taking oath nor did they swear at the shrine in order to become prostitutes. They paid agents good money with the hope of securing decent jobs in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, ladies include very young girls let go by unscrupulous parents. There are African agents in many cities including Abuja, Accra and Nairobi recruiting domestic helps into Saudi Arabia as slaves.

Killings: Blame Buhari Not Service Chiefs!

By Richard Maduku
Despite a presidential appointee’s numerous enviable privileges, there are persons who don’t wish to become one today under President Muhammadu Buhari. A few even pity his aides. This is not because contractors will not build houses or buy cars for them because of the anti-corruption stance of the man. It is also not because they detest being referred to as usurpers, hyenas or jackals by the first lady whose outspokenness could sometimes be more critical of the government than that of a spokesperson of the rival political party. Neither are those who feel this way nursing presidential ambition come 2019 general elections. Rather it is because of the shortcomings of the government for which, whether out of fear or reverence for the President, the aides are always being blamed. 
For instance, the exasperating ineptitude if not sleaze that plagues the Ministry of Petroleum Resources which the President has appropriated for himself despite his enormous responsibilities are never attributed to him. It is the Junior Minister and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company that always take the flak for everything including the frequent scarcity of petrol all over the country especially at Christmas/New year periods.

Buhari 2019: The Audacity Of Buharideens

By Martins-Hassan Eze
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance  and an conscientious stupidity” — Dr. Martin-Lurther King Jnr.
Walahi! This thing called shame some Dudu’s just don’t have it. How can a man with conscience and human heart refuse to acknowledge the regrettable fact the GMB is a disaster; a ticking time bomb. Is it not now clear that GMB is the worst thing to happen to Nigeria since the return of civilian rule in 1999? Yet, some mugus are not just shameful enough to stop selling the candidature of this Mobutu in the social media. And, I ask. Is the protection of lives and properties no longer the primary responsibility of government? Have PBM and APC not failed woefully in this regard? Perhaps, for Elrufai; the petit Kaduna tyrant and Dean, college of Buharideens, good governance is all about ethnic cleaning and political jihad. 
President Buhari 
Who should we blame? Did KONGI the noble laureate not bemoan the fact that social media is a vomitorium some years back?  Some folks think that the social media is their village stream. They just jump into the square with rotten and stinking narratives: fighting corruption is the reason why we should become slaves in our country. Fighting corruption is also the reason why all ancestral lands of non-Muslims in the north should become a mass grave and grazing land for Fulani herdsmen.

Nigeria: Before Bad Politics Relegates Good Policies

By Martins Oloja
Combined effects of bad politics within governing party (APC), president’s aloofness and strange executive procrastination appear to have stolen some thunder from two good governance policies that would have shaped good public opinion for the Buhari administration last week.
*President Buhari 
In other words, curious focus on do-or-die politics in Ekiti and the implications of incipient implosion within the governing party where some born-‘again(st) reformers’ are scrambling for new platforms seem to have taken the steam out of what would have been reported last week as the Buhari government’s special focus on building institutions for strengthening democracy and the economy.

Why Good Journalism Truly Matters

By Adewale Kupoluyi
Media, democracy and development are tripartite partners that could drive any modern society. These critical issues formed discussions at the just-concluded 67th General Assembly and 2018 IPI World Congress of the International Press Institute, held in Abuja for the very first time in the history of Nigeria and attended by some 330 participants, 65 speakers from 37 countries. Themed, Why Good Journalism Matters: Quality Journalism for Strong Societies, the congress coincided with when IPI would hold its flagship global press freedom event in West Africa
Welcoming all, IPI Executive Board Vice-Chair, Dawn Thomas, said the hosting was an acknowledgement of the country’s historical importance to the institute and that Nigeria became a key focus of IPI’s Africa programme in the 1960s and 1970s, when it established the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). The IPI Executive Director, Barbara Trionfi disclosed that the congress was a reminder of the power of solidarity in the global media.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Igbo Independence And Biafran Identity

By Osita Ebiem 
In this essay we will take time to clarify some areas that seem to confuse some people in the on-going Biafra separatist movement in Nigeria. Over the years, as will be expected, the move for the independence of Biafra has undergone some transformations. These changes seem to have created a sort of mixed messages in the minds of both observers and participants. So, at this point it is really important that we try to clarify some of the seemingly ambiguous aspects of the movement.
It is a fact that for some of the participants, those involved in the struggle, many are finding it difficult to come to terms and accept the obvious realities of these changes when they seem to go against some of their assumed or preconceived notions of what the struggle should be about. This is understandable. But in spite of the genuine appreciation of the position of these colleagues it will be foolish if we should ignore the prevailing obvious new realities and facts as they concern the movement. We can only ask that such individuals will be humble enough to find the sincerity and courage to acknowledge these truths and incontestable facts when they are revealed to them. 

Burning Questions On Abacha’s Returned Loot

By Ayibakuro Matthew
Over the last week or so, there has been heightened interest amongst Nigerians about the use of the most recently repatriated $322.5 million Abacha loot.  The questions raised around the issue include the choice of using the money for the conditional cash transfer programme of the Federal Government, the choice of states benefitting from the programme, the usefulness of a monthly transfer of N5, 000 to poor Nigerians and concerns about the re-looting of the funds.
*Gen Sani Abacha 
It is significant to note at the onset that the concerns of most Nigerians about the use of the $322.5 million for the conditional cash transfer programme, instead of a legacy project with more visibility and impact, is both valid and understandable. However, the use of the funds for cash transfers is an outcome of months of negotiation that enabled the repatriation of the funds in the first place.

Ekiti Election: Test For Our Democracy

By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
The Ekiti State governorship election is around the corner and all eyes from far and wide are on the state because of its cruciality to determining the level of the people’s preparedness for the 2019 general elections. Its importance to the permutations of the ruling parties at the federal and state levels respectively cannot be overemphasized. Presently, Ekiti is the only state in the South West that is not under the control of the (APC) and it is the only state that the main opposition party is holding on to and hoping to build on in its quest to have a major breakthrough into the region. 
*Fmr Gov Fayemi and Gov Fayose of Ekiti State 
Consequently, you will agree with me that it is going to be an interesting contest in all ramifications. The situation is further embroidered with curious expectations as a result of the caliber and personalities of the candidates that are been thrown into the contest. The popularity, political acumen and the wherewithal at the disposal of these candidates and their party platforms have made it look very unpredictable.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

President Buhari, End These Killings Now!

By Folaranmi Adegbite
“My father, my mother, my wife, our four children were shot, killed and burnt.”
This cry of horror by a survivor of the Fulani herdsmen massacre of innocent people in Plateau State calls to question the sincerity or competence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to provide security for Nigerians. President Buhari during his campaign for 2015 Presidential Election promises to improve on fragile security in the land then among other campaign promises. 
*President Buhari 
However, since his coming to power, we cannot say that the nation has had a relief from insecurity. All his efforts and that of his service chiefs are like taken one step forward and two backward which leads to nowhere in particular.
In fairness to Buhari, the killings in Nigeria predated his administration. Whether killings by Boko Haram, insurgents, Fulani herdsmen, or ethic militants all these have been happening before Buhari came to power.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Carnage And Poverty As National Tragedies

By Sufuyan Ojeifo
Two existential issues – security and poverty- that bear great relevance to the assessment of performance of governments globally reared their heads back-to-back, last week, in NigeriaBoth issues were so tangible that they could not escape essential appraisal and indictment.

While the carnage in Bakin Ladi local government area of Plateau State on June 23, 2018 was so self-evident such that it could not be denied by the Federal Government, the Brookings report that Nigeria has overtaken India as the global poverty capital has been rebutted by government through the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah. 

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