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Electricity Tariff Hike in a Pandemic?

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By Timi Olubiyi, Ph.D.

Electricity is essential to the economic and social lives of any nation. However, Nigeria is a country still overwhelmed and plagued with electricity concerns, from low generation, inadequate supply to load shedding and rationing, in fact, with frequent power outages, and this has become the bane of citizenry and entrepreneurs.

Besides, the monopoly structure of the electricity market in Nigeria, consumers are often billed for electricity not consumed in the form of estimated billing.

Power is, therefore, the central infrastructural deficit affecting Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), particularly those in manufacturing, and this is holding back the full economic potential of this critical sector.

Recall, Nigeria’s power sector was previously publicly run but has been privatized since 2005 with the signing of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act which unbundled the old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

The Federal government has since separated Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) into 11 distribution firms, six generating companies, and a transmission company.

But yet, the sector is rattled with political, commercial, market, and consumer-related issues and stakeholder management concerns.

In this article, power and energy are used interchangeably to mean the same thing, kindly note.

Nigeria is the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa ahead of South Africa in the recently released the year 2020 data, but with huge limitations and shortcomings in the power sector.

Currently, Nigeria has the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts (MW) capacity but is operating at a capacity of only 3,500 MW to 5,000MW, which is grossly insufficient.

Arguably, Nigeria is estimated to require about 88,282 megawatts (MW) to meet the demand of its fast-growing economy, according to experts. This figure was arrived at with the consideration of the critical drivers of energy demand, namely population, demography, energy intensities, energy efficiency, and socio-economy activities.

The increase in demand for electric power is evident due to increased population, urbanization, SMEs, and greater need for housing electrification.

SMEs in Nigeria typically the manufacturing companies experience power failure severally per week without any prior notice, which imposes a considerable cost on the value chain, from idle workers, spoiled materials and equipment, lost output, low demand coupled with the costs of providing alternative electricity.

All these could lead to an increase in business uncertainties, an increase in operational costs, reduced competitiveness, and lower return on investment.

The obvious truth is that most SMEs lack the capability and financial wherewithal to provide constant alternative energy supply in the absence of steady electricity, unlike the large firms that can easily budget and secure an alternative source of energy supply, notably the generating sets.

Unlike the micro and small businesses that are vulnerable to the effect of erratic power supply in Nigeria, most of them are undercapitalized and struggling with survival.

Some large firms self-generate their power through independent power plants (IPPs) for self-reliance and steady supply.

Recall, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises are central and critical in every human society, the sector is behind the rapid development of countries like Japan, China, India, and Malaysia, etc.

However, in Nigeria, especially in Lagos State, the SME hub of the country, the cost of power supply has been identified as a significant factor in determining the sustainability or growth of SMEs in the country.

This is because, in the SME sector, electricity is a substantial component of the operating cost, from data gathered, about 86 percent of the SMEs in Nigeria own or share a generator.

More so, the following have been identified as issues resultant from the epileptic power supply in Nigeria: low productivity, high cost of operations, poor customers satisfaction, gross undercapitalization of businesses, corruption, colossal loss of revenue, high cost of providing backup energy, high start-up costs, job loss to outright closure or relocation of companies to other neighbouring countries and it also retard SMEs activities in the long run.

Consequently, the high cost associated with privately generated electricity is one of the most significant obstacles to the growth and development of SMEs in Nigeria. Therefore, having a stable and predictable source of power is essential in growing the sector in Nigeria.

However, the case is different in our country, with businesses having to rely excessively on diesel generators to supplement the erratic power supply. Sometimes the fuel to power the said generator sets are not readily available, or it’s at a high cost, and this further compound the problems.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved an increase in electricity tariff by the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in the country.

Therefore, the anticipated increase in the electricity tariff regime will be a welcome idea if it will come with improved supply and availability. Because the first challenge is the non-availability of the electricity for use, therefore, it is hoped that the increase will come with availability.

More so, discussions with some SME operators indicate that they do not have issues with tariff reviews but the availability. Therefore, before the new tariff regime, the level of generation should be increased so that availability can be guaranteed. Presently the power demand in Nigeria far outstrips the supply, and the supply is epileptic.

Most of the SME operators currently use generating sets with extremely associated high costs. It is believed that even with the anticipated hike in tariff coupled with the recently increased VAT to 7.5 percent, the cost of running a business in Nigeria will still be lower with access to a steady supply of electricity from the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) compared to the existing investment in generating sets, fuel, and cost of maintenance, which usually impacts negatively on operational cost and performance.

The quality and quantity of electricity supply will determine the ability of these numerous SMEs to create a competitive enterprise with an increase in tariff.

Apart from SMEs possessing the potential for poverty reduction, employment generation, wealth creation, reduce inequalities, and providing value orientation, which can ultimately stimulate industrial growth.

The availability of steady power supply can directly impact on the profit margins and bottom line of these SMEs. Therefore, if the proposed increase in electricity tariffs comes with increased capacity, reliability of service, quality, and efficiency, it will be appreciated.

The multiplier effect will include enhanced operations of the numerous SMEs, sustainable socio-economic, development, encouragement of new investments in the sector and enhanced public-private sector participation. It will also increase productivity and raise the operating standard of all SMEs operators in Nigeria.

Consequently, if the hike in the tariff comes with a steady supply, it will, in no small measure, contribute to employment creation and provide more opportunities for individuals to be self-employed, thereby helping the country to alleviate poverty.

Inference can be drawn from the foregoing that power is the driver of any meaningful economic activities, and SME operators or entrepreneurs should be willing to pay more if it means they will not further rely on the generating sets as a backup.

In conclusion, by all standards, not all manufacturing firms or SMEs would be able to run profitably on power generating sets in a highly competitive and open economy like Nigeria because of the high costs of fuel and maintenance cost.

Therefore, the provision of a steady power supply from the national grid will be preferred due to its cost-effectiveness because the generating set is thrice as costlier. The development of SMEs to a great extent depends mainly on infrastructure, and a steady and reliable power supply is key to this.

However, the ongoing fight with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has already left businesses and individuals around the world, counting losses due to movement restrictions.

Therefore, the planned electricity tariff can be delayed because of the severe impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The outbreak has already affected all economic activities; therefore, a hike at this time will aggravate the despair and frustration of Nigerians.

Dr Timi Olubiyi holds a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. He is a prolific investment coach, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and a financial literacy specialist. He can also be reached on the twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: drtimiolubiyi@gmail.com.

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Itsekiri And Ijaws’ Creation of Hyper-Modern Path to Peace Via Football Tournament

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By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Benikrukru Community field, Gbaramtu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, the kickoff venue of the Ijaw/Itsekiri peace and unity football competition initiated by Chief Sheriff Mulade, Ibe-sorimawei of Gbaramatu kingdom and National Coordinator/CEO, Centre for Peace & Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), was on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, filled to capacity and moderately dotted with imposing banner conspicuously positioned with screaming but familiar inscriptions that emphasise on the importance of peace and unity to humanity.

The ambience at the venue was refreshing as merrily dressed guests strolled in. Community members of Ijaw and Itsekiri origins were relaxed in their sitting positions. They were entertained to the rhythms from the stable of Ijaw and Itsekiri traditional dancing maestros.

Their humble and friendly dispositions complimented each other and made it very easy for non-indigenes to be at ease in their presence, even as that was the maiden visit to the community.

Aside from having in attendance former Super Eagles players, Christian Obodo and Sam Sodje, among others, the event was also graced by courageous Niger Deltans, who have met resistance from their own government in the past but refused to give up in their quest to build a better Niger Delta region and Nigeria by extension.

But of all that I observed, the gathering acknowledged what has been on the mind of Nigerians.

Fundamentally, it frontally demonstrated a strong conviction that non-discrimination, justice and fairness are the foundation for peace, unity, stability and economic prosperity of any nation. From the love that existed among the two ethnic groups on that day, at that time and in that place, it was obvious that building a nation where all citizens of the country shall not be discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, birth or other status is possible.

Essentially also, from the way the two teams entered the field with a stride of confidence and fair play, the competition provided Ijaw/Itsekiri with an opportunity for introspection by the two ethnic groups on the journey so far. Some gave the ‘union’ kudos for the tremendous progress it has made in forging unity and peace and riding the area of hatred and hostility, while others felt that the new challenge before the two ethnic nationalities is to transform into a strong economic bloc in order to position for the challenges of the 21st century as it patterns Niger Delta region.

To assist readers in appreciating this current journey to sustainable peace by the two ethnic groups via football tournament, it is important to underline that the district of Warri in Delta State, going by reports, has been the scene of ethnic and territorial conflicts between the Itsekeri and the Ijaws since March 1997, when ethnic violence broke out between the Ijaws and the Itsekeris following a government decision to relocate the headquarters of the Warri south local government council from an Ijaw community to a community belonging to the Itsekeris.

Though the hostility was overtly arrested and brought under control, covertly, it has remained a zone where fierce war has been raging between ethnic and social forces in Nigeria over the ownership and control of oil resources. And as a direct result, a long dark shadow has been cast on efforts to improve the well-being and economic development of the region’s individuals, peoples, and communities.

Without a doubt, the Ijaw/Itsekiri hostility is not only telling evidence of the numerous problems facing the people of the Niger Delta region, but largely an expose of unwillingness by the government over the years to address problems which possess the potent capability to affect the stability of Niger Delta as a region.

The above claim, in my view, becomes more telling after listening to Mulade, who spoke on the sidelines in the kick-off match, where he stated that ‘’The essence of this tournament is to try and reduce the hostility among us. Some years ago, we had some misunderstandings. That led to what is known as the Warri crisis. So, what we are doing is building the relationship. So, for you to join us is to support this celebration of peaceful co-existence.”

Certainly, there are grains of truth in the above position. The tournament has not only brought out something different and fundamentally new that will help shape the relationship between the two ethnic groups. Rather, it has assisted in providing health and vitality of peaceful co-existence, rededicating commitment to peace, promoting unity and intensifying harmonious development of the Niger Delta region.

The facts are there and speak for it.

On Monday, November 7, 2022, it was reported that the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, while playing host to Chief Mulade Sheriff and members of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) who paid him a courtesy visit in his palace, gave his endorsement and royal blessings to the peace and unity football event. The Olu applauded Chief Comrade Sheriff Mulade for initiating such a laudable programme and promised to liaise with Mr Amaju Pinnick to bring his wealth of experience in football management to support the process.

In a similar style, members of the LOC, on November 11, 2022, were received by Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba of Gbaramatu Kingdom in his palace at Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of the kingdom.

In his response, the monarch appreciated the organizer’s initiative and implored him to continue preaching and spreading the need for peaceful coexistence because peace is not negotiable. He also enlightened the LOC team on the importance of peace to attract development to Delta, particularly Warri and its environs. He encouraged the untiring contribution of the LOC towards uniting Ijaw/Itsekiri, the importance of which is crucial to harnessing the dividend of development and opportunities to our people.

While this piece celebrates the feat, there are, however, accompanying beliefs in my views that the Ijaws are a truly peaceful set of people.

The first such example is a recent statement by an Ogbe Ijoh-based political pressure group, the Independent GrassRoots Liberators (IGL), where the group, among other comments, pleaded with the Senator Ifeanyi Okowa’s led Delta State Government to immediately settle the communal disputes between Ogbe-Ijoh, Ijaw ethnic nationality of Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta state and Aladja, an Urhobo community in Udu Local Government Area of the state, adding that they want to live in unity as they have been living before. “We don’t want to be killing ourselves anymore,” they said.

The second has to do with the recent comment credited to Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oboro-Gbaraun II, Aketekpe, Agadagba, at his palace in Oporoza, the ancestral headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom while he played host to Mr Ali Muhammad Zarah, Managing Director, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), on Sunday, November 13, 2022.

The first-class monarch, according to media reports, said; “This is Gbaramatu Kingdom, and we are very peaceful people. If you come closer to the people, you will know the kind of people we have here. Some people can castigate our names or tarnish our image, but we are not like that. We know who we are.”

Waxing philosophically, the Monarch said, “We want to say, if the children are happy, definitely the father is happy too. Recently, I told some senators that instead of staying in Abuja and speculating about what is happening in the Niger Delta region, they should take a trip to the region for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. If they come, they will know how the people are, but staying far from them, you cannot know how they really are. So I am very happy for people like you visiting our Kingdom.”

As the author of this piece, while I commend the efforts of the tournament organisers, the piece, on its part, thinks that there is a lesson government must draw from the above words of the revered traditional monarch.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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Makeup Through the Years

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From a very young age, girls are taught that makeup is a way to enhance their natural beauty. There are endless tutorials and tips on how to apply makeup. The reality is that most women don’t wear makeup for the sake of looking good. In fact, many women wear makeup as a form of self-expression or as a way to boost their confidence. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are certain makeup essentials that every woman should have in her beauty arsenal. These include a good foundation, concealer, powder, blush, mascara, and lipstick.

With these products, you can create various looks, from a natural daytime look to a glamorous evening look. While some women are content with a minimal makeup routine, others enjoy experimenting with different products and looks. If you’re someone who loves experimenting with makeup, then you’ll need a wider range of products, including eyeshadow, eyeliner, and bronzer. No matter what your reasons for wearing makeup are, there’s no denying that it can be a lot of fun. So go ahead and experiment with different products and looks to find what makes you feel your best. When you figure it out, it’s a 22Bet bonus!

Makeup Updates

As the years go by, makeup changes with the trends. In the early 1900s, makeup was used to accentuate the features of the face and was seen as a way to enhance beauty. Women would use rouge on their cheeks, kohl around their eyes, and lipstick to accentuate their lips. This was seen as a way to attract a husband and was seen as being very important for a woman’s social status.

However, in the 1920s, makeup became more about individuality and self-expression. Women would experiment with different colors and looks, and it was seen as a way to be creative. Women were also starting to wear more makeup in public, and it was seen as a way of empowering women.

The start of the “glamorous” look that was popular in Hollywood was in the 1930s. In the 1940s, makeup was used to create a more natural look. Women would use foundation to even out their skin tone, and they would use powder to set their makeup. They would also use rouge on their cheeks and lipstick to accentuate their lips. This was seen as a more sophisticated look, and it was also seen as being more appropriate for work and other public places.

In the 1980s, makeup was used to create a more polished look. Women would use foundation to even out their skin tone, and they would use powder to set their makeup. They would also use eyeliner and mascara to define their eyes. Today, makeup is used to create a variety of different looks. It is up to the individual to decide how they want to use makeup to express themselves.

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Does Nigeria Have a Problem or a Situation?

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By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

In 1845, Karl Marx jotted down some notes for The German Ideology, a book that he wrote with his close friend Friedrich Engels. Engels found these notes in 1888, five years after Marx’s death, and published them under the title Theses on Feuerbach. The eleventh thesis is the most famous: ‘philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it’.

The most widely accepted interpretation of this thesis is that, in it, Marx urges people not only to interpret the world but also to try and change it. However, we do not believe that this captures the meaning of the sentence. What we believe that Marx is saying is that it is those who try to change the world that has a better sense of its constraints and possibilities, for they come upon what Frantz Fanon calls the ‘granite block’ of power, property, and privilege that prevents an easy transition from injustice to justice.

Nigeria is a very strange place. In Nigeria, we debate what is real, and imagined, what is fantasy and what is reality.

In Nigeria, we are problem-focused. We always have problems, our politicians, our leaders, the systems, our structure, our past, our present and future, our people, our democracy, and our elections. Everything has a problem. Everything and everyone is a problem.

You leave Plateau state to Bauchi to do an MRI scan because there is a problem with the problem. The prestigious and renowned University College Hospital Ibadan where it was said the Saudi royalty once upon a time came for their healthcare, currently has barely a twenty-bed ICU. See problem!

The governor of Abia has done a lot, including getting an eatery to establish an outlet in the state, the same Abia boasts of Aba, considered one of the dirtiest cities around and also one of the most industrious and neglected by the government. Solution and problem joined together!

Tell me the state and I will show where the people are drinking multidimensional pove-tea from all strata of government. Daura in Katsina hasn’t produced an exceptional student in any exam, even as the president’s homestead and the state continue to be plagued by insecurity.

Fake teachers from Abeokuta, the cradle of knowledge, to Jos, the land of natives and non-natives.

What are we committed to, what are we sacrificing for and to, what does Nigeria mean to us? Let’s break it if that’s a solution, so pedestrian and easy, I will remind us when the arm dealers are sealing and dealing with The Nupe Warlords, Anaguta freedom fighters, Fulani Miyetti and Hausa Aggrieved Warriors or Rare Igbo Union, it won’t be funny.

Welcome to Nigeria, in Nigeria, we don’t have problems because we are the problems, no. We don’t have problems; we have situations. If your wife catches you with a neighbour’s wife, you don’t have a problem, you have a situation. Problems are had to solve; situations can be solved. If your girlfriend is spending more time with another guy, if you don’t have money, all these are situations. Change your girlfriend or change your mindset, your work or something.

Nigeria as a whole, as a country, or nation, as a people have a situation we have gotten to that point on several occasions, we were there, and the civil war broke out, our several ethnographic-ethno religious conflicts have taken us there, the menace of herdsmen and farmers, bandits and politicians keep taking us closer to the precipice.

The powerful not only control social wealth; they also control the public policy discussion — and what counts as intellectually correct. Good ideas are never sufficient. They are not believed or enacted simply because they are right. They become the ideas of our time only when those who come to believe in their own power, which use this power to struggle through institutions and advance their ideas, wield them.

Nigeria is in a situation, will men of a good conscience and patriots stand up to be counted? There’s no structure or system to build upon. Yet we must sit and talk about who we are and how we want to live, our current situation provides yet another opportunity for us to look forward, and understand where we are coming from, and take a leap with understanding what needs to be done according to each peculiarity.

I end with this story.

So, I went to a mental institution and wanted to send one person home. So I am going to ask a simple question. I asked the first person 3×3, and the fellow scratched his head, and he answered 164, I said to him, go back. Then I asked the second person the same question, and he smiled, looked up and then responded after a while Tuesday. Sorry. Wrong answer. Go back to your room

I almost gave up, until I went to the last person and asked the same question, if you can answer this question, I will let you go. He looked back at the other two who had left and smiled and said doctor, it’s 9. Right, and I gave him the release papers, and he started running to the door. But before he ran away, I said I need you to tell me something; your two friends did not come up with the right answer. How did you manage it? He said it’s so simple. I multiplied 164 by Tuesday, and I got 9.

Nigeria may get the right answer, but is the thinking correct? Nigeria finds answers often at the last minute, but truth be told, ‘the country has been interpreted in various ways that only capture problems, without a change in thinking, we won’t solve it, we must see our present circumstances as situations that can change with a different interpretation, and better thinking.

We must, as a people, want to try and change our situation despite the sense of the constraints and possibilities of the ‘granite block’ of power, property, and privilege that prevents an easy transition from injustice to justice. We must want to try, we must want to change, we must want to solve, and must want a new narrative. Are we in trouble or in a situation where there are solutions? Only time will tell.

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