By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has said it will sanction any electricity distribution company or its representatives selling meters or asking Nigerians to pay money to get the item.
The Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Mr Ahmed Zakari, gave the warning at a stakeholders’ engagement on electricity tariff organised by the FGN/NLC-TUC Ad-hoc Committee.
Mr Zakari said, “We have made it clear through the regulator’s direct order as well as the intervention from the Ministry of Power that these meters are to be provided to Nigerians at no cost.
“Even for meters that will be paid for through the MAP, there is a directive from the regulator to the discos that they need to find a way to reimburse citizens over time.
“If we find any disco or its representatives selling these meters or exploiting Nigerians to be able to get them, we will sanction such disco.”
According to him, the presidential directive is that meters should be made available to Nigeria free of charge and that they must be produced locally in order to create jobs and revive the electricity industry.
“Though it is our belief that everyone will be obliged to do the right thing, we will still be vigilant and monitor developments,” Mr Zakari said.
In his address, the Minister of State for Power, Mr Festus Keyamo, said that the committee had been working to achieve an equilibrium figure that would reflect the true price and value for the service of the electricity consumed.
“We are not working from an answer to a question but from the question to an answer.
“To ask if there will be an increase or a decrease is premature. What we are doing is an honest and open fact-finding. We want to question the rationale for the service reflective tariff,” he said.
According to Mr Keyamo, the aim is to ensure that consumers are not strangulated by unnecessary exploitative tendencies of the discos and that the discos are also kept afloat so that they can employ more workers and deliver quality service to Nigerians.
“We are not saying service delivery will automatically mean a price increase. We are only saying there should be an acceptable equilibrium figure that everybody will be happy about.
“And that means that the discos can be kept afloat to deliver services without having to go and look for money to subsidise their operations.
“It is also to ensure that the ordinary consumer is not cheated but is made to pay the actual price for the service being rendered and that is why it is called service reflective tariff,” he said.
The minister further said that whatever consensus reached at the end of the day would form the agreement between the government and labour as far as electricity was concerned.
Also speaking, the representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Messrs Oroho’omhen Ebhommhen and Joe Ajaero respectively, said that the committee would address issues raised by the consumers and ensure that issues on electricity tariff were resolved amicably.
In his remarks, Mr John Ayodele, the acting Managing Director of IBEDC, said that the issue of banding was being fine-tuned, notwithstanding the current challenges.
Some of the electricity consumers, who spoke at the event, identified estimated billings and lack of meters as part of the major challenges facing the sector.
We’re Yet to Receive Formal Report of Sylvester Oromoni’s Death—Police
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Lagos State Police Command on Saturday night said it was yet to receive a formal report of the death of one Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos.
The death of Master Oromoni has been trending online for the past few days and the video of his painful death sparked reactions after it was reported that he was bullied in school and allegedly forced to swallow substances believed to have eventually killed.
The incident forced the Lagos State government to shut down the school indefinitely for investigation.
On Saturday night, the spokesman for the Lagos Police Command, Mr Adekunle Ajisebutu, a chief superintendent police (CSP), said though none of the parents or the school has formally filed a report on the matter, the command has swung into action to get to the root of the matter.
According to him, “the Commissioner of Police, upon hearing about it instantly, directed the Divisional Police Officer, Maroko Division under whose jurisdiction the place of incident is to immediately visit the school to carry out an initial investigation into the incident.”
“This directive has been carried out as an investigation into the case has since commenced. However, in view of the seriousness of the case, the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, has also been directed to take over the investigation of the case immediately,” he added.
“Members of the public, particularly the deceased’s bereaved parents, friends and relatives, are assured that the Lagos State Police Command has deployed all available human and material resources at its disposal to unravel the circumstances surrounding the sad and unfortunate incident,” the police image-maker for the command stated.
“While a diligent investigation is ongoing, members of the public are advised against taking the law into their own hands. They are also enjoined to refrain from comments that could jeopardize the investigation,” he appealed.
Concluding, Mr Ajisebutu said, “The Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, while commiserating with the bereaved family, has equally assured that the outcome of police investigation would be made public in due course.”
Adisa Receives Media Friendly State Lawmaker Award
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
For his contributions to the infrastructural development of his constituency and outstanding achievements as a lawmaker, the member representing Afijio constituency in the Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr Seyi Adisa, has been given the Media Friendly State Lawmaker Award.
The award was conferred on the state legislator by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council during its press week at the Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan.
Chairman of the NUJ Oyo chapter, Mr Demola Babalola, disclosed that the award was in recognition of Mr Adisa’s outstanding performance as a lawmaker, who has excelled in his calling as well contributed to the development of society.
He said his contributions to the development of his people, communities in his constituency and his senatorial district of Oyo North are laudable.
“You are given this special award of exemplary performance and also awarded as the Media-Friendly State Lawmaker of the Year in Oyo state because we believe you deserve it,” he said.
While receiving the award, Mr Adisa declared his appreciation of the gesture, saying “big thanks to the Oyo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for this special recognition and Award of Exemplary Performance that also doubled as an Award for the Media-Friendly State Lawmaker of the Year.
“I do not take this for granted.”
We Will Defend Free Press in Nigeria—US Government Assures
By Adedapo Adesanya
The United States government has promised to do everything possible to defend free press in Nigeria, which it said remains vital to democracy and good governance.
The American government expressed this with a partnership, through its Embassy, with the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) for the first of the six media-focused Town Halls and Workshops in Lagos on Thursday.
The event will also take place across the country in the next several months.
The capacity-building programme will provide a forum for over 200 participating Nigerian editors and leaders of the independent press to discuss and share best practices and to also hear from the United States government.
Experts on topics such as journalistic standards, identifying bias, and conducting fact-based investigative reporting to better inform the Nigerian public will be provided.
Delivering keynote remarks at the opening programme in Lagos, the US Ambassador, Mrs Mary Beth Leonard discussed the challenges faced by Nigeria and other democracies across the world and highlighted democracy’s greatest strength: the ability to improve upon and reinvent itself.
She quipped that when belief in democracy, good governance and elections are restored, Nigerians will want to be a part of that system and will defend it.
Ambassador Leonard noted, “Our hope is that in this forum today is that you will lead and serve as catalysts for further discussions on countering disinformation; increasing transparency; solution building; and encouraging media literacy and their contribution to a democracy that is accountable to its people.”
The US government is committed to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria, she added.
According to her, for years, the US Mission has funded partnerships that promote Nigeria’s democratic governance, unity and stability by improving government transparency and accountability, the rule of law, free and professional media, as well as civil society capacity and engagement.
On his part, the General Secretary of NGE, Mr Iyobosa Uwugiaren, said, “At the end of the project, we expect to see a pool of Nigerian editors, senior journalists and media managers, who will be galvanised and committed to the highest ethical standard and to take robust actions towards this.
“Editors who will be committed to the promotion and protection of the right to an independent press, freedom of expression and deepening democratic space; and constantly projecting issue-based governance in defence of the mass of the Nigerian people.”
The Town Halls and editor workshops are supported through a grant from the US Embassy’s Public Affairs Section in Abuja to the NGE.
In addition to Lagos, the programmes will take place in Kano in January 2022, then Yola, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Enugu will follow in subsequent months.
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