Electricity consumers in the country can now have their prepaid metres immediately after payment, the Commissoner, Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Dr. Moses Arigu has said.
Arigu asked Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and Meter Assets Providers (MAPs) to intensify effort in supplying meters to electricity consumers within their operational areas as soon as payment were made.
Arigu made this known at a Discos and Customers Care Forum, yesterday during an interactive session with consumers in Ikeja, according to Agency reports.
Arigu said that the goal of NERC was to ensure that all electricity consumers in the country were metered to curb arbitrary estimated billings by the Discos, and also increase the revenue of the electricity value chain.
He also reiterated that electricity customers across the country could either pay fully for their meters or pay in installments for a period of 10 years.
“It is the Discos that introduced MAPs to the regulatory authority; hence the effectiveness of the MAPs remains their responsibility.
“A customer does not have a contract with the MAPs. It is the responsibility of the Disco to ensure that all customers are metered.
“Payment for the meter is either through upfront payment or instalment payment of up to 10 years,” he said, stressing that it depended on the option chosen by the customer.
NERC Commissioner said that the forum was initiated to hear complaints from customers regarding the MAPs and how they could be addressed, toward fast-tracking the metering processes.
He, however, cautioned customers against engaging in unauthorised access to electricity, tampering and by-passing of meters, noting that such customers were liable to be punished.
The commissioner said that the punishment for unauthorised access includes payment of administrative charges, reconnection charges and loss of revenue charges, which range from N50,000 to N115,000. Two of the customers, Alhaji Bola Awosika, on the Ikeja Electric Distribution Company network, and Mr Uche Ejide, on the Eko Electric Distribution Company network, said they had paid for their meters for months but were still waiting for installation.
November auction oversubscribed– DMO
The Federal Government’s bond auction for the month of November was oversubscribed by 168.23 per cent, Debt Management Office (DMO) confirmed in a statement last night.
The DMO offered N150 billion from three Instruments (5-Year, 10-Year and 30-Year Bonds) for N50 billion each, to investors at the auction.
It confirmed total subscriptions via competitive bids at N252.35 billion, indicating a subscription level of 168.23%.
“The trend of investors’ appetite for the longer tenored instruments continued with subscription of N115.09 billion or 230.18% for the 30-year bond,” DMO said.
Successful bids were allotted at the rate of 12.0000% for the 5-Year, 12.9300% for the 10-Year and 13.3900% for the 30-Year bonds.
The allotment rates indicate a significant decline from the rates at which the bonds were issued at the October 2019 FGN bond auction.
The total amount allotted for Competitive Bids was N157.93 billion across the three tenors. In addition, the sum of N95 billion was allotted through non-competitive bids for all the tenors at the same rates as the competitive bids.
“Overall, the sum of N252.93 billion was allotted to investors at the auction through both competitive and non-competitive bids,” DMO said.
HIV/AIDS: FG approves N2.5bn for drugs, others
The Federal Government has approved the sum of N2.5 billion for the procurement of drugs and other related things necessary for the healthy living of persons living with HIV in the country.
Director General, National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, made the disclosure yesterday in Abuja at a press conference to herald commemorative activities for the 2019 World AIDSs Day with the theme, ‘Communities Make the Difference.’
While noting that the Federal Government has taken up the treatment burden of an additional 50, 000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the country bringing the total number of those on treatment by government to 100, 000, the DG said NACA has taken proactive steps to reach out to people with its campaign messages by establishing six new zonal offices across Nigeria to aid the Agency’s activities.
Aliyu, who called for community participation in the national response to HIV/AIDS, insisted that the cure for HIV/AIDS have not been found but strongly encouraged Nigerians to ignore the claim by one Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka, who has been calling out he has the cure for the disease.
In his words: “When Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka treatment started few years ago, we handed over 30 HIV patients to him to treat. 29 of the patients died of complications from the treatment. Only one of the patients handed over to survived. That’s enough point to show that his claims are untrue.”
National Coordinator, Network of People Living With HlV/AIDS in Nigeria, (NEPWHAN), Abdulkadir Ibrahim, urged government to prioritize key and vulnerable population who are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic.
Group sues Buhari, others over tenure elongation of Perm Secs
A group, the Registered Trustees of Advocacy for Human rights and equal Opportunity (AHREO) yesterday sued President Muhammadu Buhari and three others before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over the extension of tenure of office of 7 retiring Permanent Secretaries.
The group, in an Originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1427/2019 filed through its counsel, Danshitta Shittu Saheed, joined the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and Attorney General of the Federation as Defendants.
Some of the affected ministries are; Ministry of Interior, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and General Services Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In the suit, AHREO is praying the court to among other prayers declare that by virtue Section 171 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), President Buhari has no power or discretion to elongate or extend the term of office of the seven retiring Permanent Secretaries.
AHREO is equally asking the court to declare that the act of President Buhari by extending the tenure of the retiring Permanent Secretaries is ultra-vires, null and void, illegal and of no consequence.
The plaintiff is praying for a declaration that the continuance being in office of the retiring Permanent Secretaries from the date they were due for retirement was illegal, unconstitutional and is against the spirit and later of Section 8 of Chapter 2, Rule 020810 of the Public Service Rules, 2008.
It also wants a declaration that all acts or functions performed by the retiring Permanent Secretaries from the dates of their respective retirement be declared illegal, null and void.
The group is asking the court for an injunction restraining the retiring Permanent Secretaries from performing any act or functions of their respective offices.
The case has been assigned to Justice Folasade Giwa.
AI slams FG over continued detention of Sowore, Bakare, Jalingo
Amnesty International yesterday slammed the Federal Government of the continued detention of Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Bakare and Agba Jalingo.
The group however categorised the three Nigerians as prisoners of conscience, describing their incarceration as politically motivated.
It consequently demanded their immediate release.
AI made its position known through its Programme Director, Nigeria Office, Seun Bakare in Abuja.
Sowore, Bakare and Jalingo are facing charges of treason and money laundering since August.
Sowore and Bakare had however been in the custody of the DSS, despite the perfection of their bail condition.
Jalingo, who is community newspaper publisher in Cross River State, has been repeatedly handcuffed from prison to court and denied bail on grounds that civic groups said were unjustifiable.
According to the group: “We consider Sowore, Jalingo and Bakare to be prisoners of conscience detained solely for exercising their human rights.
“The Nigerian authorities must drop all charges against them and release them immediately and unconditionally.
“Their cases show just how far the authorities in Nigeria can go to silence their critics.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari needs to stop filing bogus and politically motivated charges against critics, and start listening to what they have to say.
“The flawed charges and sham trials of Sowore, Jalingo and Bakare expose the inadequacies and bizarre manipulation of the Nigerian criminal justice system and an unacceptable contempt for the rule of law and human rights”.
Sagay to Buhari: Re-submit Magu’s name to Senate
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, has commended the loot-recovery efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in the last four years. He said it was now difficult to steal public funds and get away with same.
Accordingly, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria has charged President Muhammadu Buhari on the compelling need to re-submit the name of the Acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu to the Senate, for confirmation as substantive head of the anti-graft agency.
New Telegraph recalls that efforts to get the 8th Senate to confirm Magu’s appointment were not successful, as the lawmakers had rejected the presidency’s request in that regard.
However, Sagay, who led other members of PACAC on a “solidarity visit” to the EFCC’s headquarters in Abuja yesterday, said since assuming office in late 2015, Magu had continued to demonstrate firmness and courage in the fight against corruption.
He claimed that prior to the coming on board of the current leadership, the anti-graft agency “was like every other parastatal” of government.
“The EFCC (under Magu) is a body that has surpassed every other organisation, past and present, in the fight against corruption”, Sagay said.
While accusing critics of the commission of acting in “bad faith”, the professor of law maintained that the agency’s performance had been “outstanding”.
Asked to make a categorical statement on when Magu’s name will be re-forwarded to the Green Chamber for legislative action, Sagay explained that it was the prerogative of the President to decide on that.
He said: “When something is good, when you see merit, dedication, courage…I think it’s (not fair) to say you are looking for something else.
“In our view, the acting chairman deserves everything, including being given a substantive appointment. Magu is an uncompromising person, as far as corruption is concerned. We (PACAC) are solidly behind Magu and the EFCC.”
Buhari: Worker’s welfare, interest a top priority
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to make the welfare and interest of workers in the country a top priority for his administration.
Buhari, who spoke at the 4th Ordinary Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) with the theme ‘Unite and Make a Difference’ yesterday in Abuja, stressed that his government was worker friendly, and have shown a strong understanding and empathy in dealing with issues and challenges confronting workers.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, he noted that although his administration in 2015 inherited huge arrears of unpaid salaries, allowances of civil servants and pensioners, most states were currently free of the inherited accumulation.
Delivering the President’s address on behalf of the SGF, Permanent Secretary, General Services Office of the SGF, Olusegun Olakunle, urged the workers’ representative organizations to continuously defend the interest of workers, demonstrate a greater zeal in defending the interest of the society by showing greater dedication, integrity and commitment to their duties at work.
In his words: “When this administration came on board in 2015, we inherited a huge arrears of unpaid salary and allowances of civil servants and public sector workers especially those working for sub-national and local or municipal government. We asked our state governors how do you manage to sleep at night when you are owing workers?
“We followed up on this concern by advancing credit facilities to our sub national governments to enable them offset huge salary arrears. Today, we can confidently say that most states in Nigeria are free of accumulated arrears of salary indebtedness. We did not only stop with those still in active service. We energized the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) to offset the pension indebtedness owed by successive government.
“Those of us who are conversant with Abuja will confirm that our reforms have put to an end the sufferings of military retirees, who were forced to put up in shanties close to military pension offices while they waited endlessly for an elusive pension. Today, all that is history.
“A few months ago, we approved the release of required funds to settle the severance claims of workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways. They were owed for nearly 20 years. Since Mr. President was a salary earner as a military man and also now a pensioner, he understands perfectly well the truth that worker deserves their wages.
He has therefore vowed that workers welfare and interest would be at the top of his priority.
“More recently, our government through a collective bargaining process increased the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000. Just a few weeks ago, we also worked very hard with the leadership of organized labour in Nigeria to negotiate for adjustments in the salary of public workers consequent upon the new national minimum wage.
“I doubt if we need further proof to show that this government is a worker-friendly government. Our receptive disposition to workers issue stems from the fact that we believe that workers and government are partners in progress. We know that the best intentions and policies of government would fail if workers do not play their part to implement.”
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, called on the ITUC to reposition Africa by uniting against poor governance, decadent public institutions cum services, corruption, oppression, inequality, poverty, hunger, illiteracy, wars, violence, gender discrimination, and desperate journeys.
According to him, fair trade was the only way Africa could attract genuine investments, accumulate capital, industrialize, create decent jobs, bring peace, stop forced migration and beat poverty, disease and untimely death.
While stressing on the need to make a difference in the continent by putting up a united front, he demanded improved working and living conditions, real democracy, real social progress through the creation and sustenance of decent jobs.
Healthy diet could reduce risk of hearing loss
Researchers in the United States (US) have found that eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss.
According to the findings of the new study published in the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology,’ women whose eating patterns more closely adhered to commonly recommended healthful dietary, patterns, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, the Alternate Mediterranean (AMED) diet, and the Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), had substantially lower risk of decline in hearing sensitivity.
The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats while the AHEI-2010 is based on evidence-based recommendations that incorporate additional components that focus on foods and nutrients to predict the risk of chronic disease.
On its part, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet Score (aMed) includes vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, grains (only whole grain), red and processed meat, fish, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)-to-SFA ratio, and alcohol intake.
Previous studies suggested that higher intake of specific nutrients and certain foods, such as the carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin (found in squash, carrots, oranges and other fruits and vegetables), folate (found in legumes, leafy greens, and other foods), long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (found in seafood and fish), were associated with lower risk of hearing loss.
These findings revealed that dietary intake could influence the risk of developing hearing loss.
Explaining the link between diet and hearing loss, lead author, Dr. Sharon Curhan, MD, explained that a common perception is that hearing loss was an inevitable part of the ageing process. In effect, the research focused on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors—that is, things that could be changed in diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression.
Curhan, who is a physician and epidemiologist in the Brigham’s Channing Division of Network Medicine, said: “The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss.”
Using over 20 years of dietary intake information that was collected every four years beginning in 1991, the researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US, investigated how closely participants’ long-term diets resembled some well-established and currently recommended dietary patterns, such as the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010).
Greater adherence to these dietary patterns has been associated with a number of important health outcomes, including lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and death as well as healthy ageing.
The researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US used longitudinal data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS) to conduct the research.
Reps order NUC to abolish acceptance fees in universities
The House of Representatives has directed the Federal Ministry of Education and National Universities Commission (NUC) to abrogate the payment of acceptance fees in universities and other tertiary institutions in the country.
The decision was consequent upon the adoption of a motion brought by Hon. Chinedu Emeka, who took serious exception to the practice of exploiting students by charging exorbitant acceptance fees.
In adopting the motion, the House also mandated its committee on tertiary education and services to investigate the admission policies in tertiary institutions in the country, especially as it concerns the collection of acceptance fees.
In his lead debate on the motion, Emeka submitted that the collection of acceptance fees was imposing more financial burdens on students and their parents..
Giving details of what is obtained in different institutions across the country, the lawmaker noted that the University of Ibadan (UI) University of Lagos (Unilag) and the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) currently charges N35,000, N20,000 and N30,000 respectively, while Imo State University (lMSU) and Lagos State University (LASU) collects N70,000 and N20,000 as acceptance fees from new students.
He said it was worrisome that admission seekers were expected to pay the acceptance fees within a short deadline despite having gone through the tortuous process of paying and sitting for the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) and making the cut off mark.
Emeka stated that when they are unable to meet the deadline, the students are surcharged for late payment with the risk of losing the offer of admissions.
Sanusi tasks journalists on ethics, professionalism
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II yesterday tasked journalists on work ethics and professional conduct, urging the pen pushers to at all times adhere strictly to rules of journalism profession in the interest of the country.
The emir gave the call in his place when he received management of The Reporters’ Magazine when they visited the emir to confer him with an award of excellence.
Sanusi II said nothing was expected from journalists in the discharge of their duties other than to uphold the truth at all times.
“The newspapers should not detest from telling the truth and they should always abide by the rules of journalism profession, he said.
Earlier in his speech, Editor-In-Chief of The Reporters’ Magazine, Mallam Abdullahi Sabiu told the emir that the Management of the Magazine had decided to confer him with the award because of his enormous contributions to nation building.
“You have used your position and robust voice to advocate the girl-child education, responsible parenthood and end of the plight of out-of-school children.
“We are giving you this award to encourage you to continue to be there for the masses.
North-East, others canvass afforestation as panacea for climate change
Major stakeholders in North-East and experts on environmental sector have advocated construction of water harvesting structures and increased afforestation programmes as part of measures to address climate change challenges threatening the North-East sub region of the country.
The stakeholders and experts drawn from Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba and Adamawa States also suggested introduction of public awareness campaign in schools and communities by relevant Federal Ministries to mitigate devastating effect of climate change.
The suggestions, they said formed part of the North-East’s position during the National Action Plan on Gender and Climate Change for Nigeria held in Bauchi yesterday as organized by the Federal Ministry of Environment and supported by the Women Environmental Programme.
Speaking with our correspondent, a participant from Bauchi, Hajiya Hauwa Abdullahi of the Development Exchange Centre (DEC) suggested that states in the zone should train communities members on how to engage in raising of tree seedlings to check desertification and rejuvenate the weak soil that had suffered years of being overused.
Hajiya Hauwa stressed that there was the need to mainstream gender into climate change, saying, “climate change today affects everybody, the rich, the poor, men, women, children and the socially disadvantaged and as such, we must all find a way out through Community Mobilization.”
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