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SERAP Tackles World Bank over $500m for Electricity in Nigeria

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SERAP

By Adedapo Adesanya

In its latest round of seeking accountability, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the World Bank President, Mr David Malpass, to publish details of electricity projects funded by the lender in Nigeria since 1999.

According to an application dated February 6, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation called for the release of archival records and documents relating to spending on all approved funds to improve access to electricity in Nigeria between 1999 and 2020.

It demanded to know the bank’s role in the implementation of any funded electricity projects and to identify and name any executed projects, and Nigerian officials, ministries, departments and agencies involved in the execution of such projects.

This is coming after the World Bank board of directors last week approved $500 million to help boost access to electricity in Nigeria and improve the performance of the electricity distribution companies in the country.

SERAP urged the bank to “explain the rationale for the approval of $500 million to implement electricity projects in the country, despite reports of widespread and systemic corruption in the sector, and the failure of the authorities to enforce a court judgment ordering the release of details of payments to allegedly corrupt electricity contractors who failed to execute any projects.”

SERAP said: “This application is brought pursuant to the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy, which aims to maximize access to information and promote the public good.

“There is a public interest in Nigerians knowing about the bank’s supervisory role and specifically its involvement in the implementation of electricity projects, which it has so far funded.”

According to SERAP, the $500 million is part of the over $1 billion available to Nigeria under the project titled Nigeria Distribution Sector Recovery Program.

“We would be grateful for details of any transparency and accountability mechanisms under the agreement for the release of funds, including whether there is any provision that would allow Nigerians and civil society to monitor the spending of the money by the government, its agencies, and electricity distribution companies,” it said.

SERAP noted that should the Bretton Wood Institution fail and/or refuse to release the information and documents as requested, it would file an appeal to the Secretariat of the Bank’s Access to Information Committee to challenge any such decision, and if it becomes necessary, to the Access to Information Appeals Board.

SERAP added that it may also consider other legal options outside the bank’s Access to Information framework.

The letter copied to Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, read in part: “SERAP believes that releasing the information and documents would enable Nigerians and civil society to meaningfully engage in the implementation of electricity projects funded by the Bank, contribute to the greater public good, and enhance the Bank’s oft-stated commitment to transparency and accountability.

“The World Bank has been and continues to be involved in overseeing the transfer, disbursement, spending of funds on electricity projects in Nigeria. The Bank also reportedly approved a $750 million loan for Nigeria’s electricity sector in June 2020 to cut tariff shortfalls, protect the poor from price adjustments, and increase power supply to the grid. As such, the World Bank is not a neutral party in this matter.

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the funds approved by the Bank are vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. The World Bank has a responsibility to ensure that the Nigerian authorities and their agencies are transparent and accountable to Nigerians in how they spend the approved funds for electricity projects in the country, and to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.

“SERAP also believes that the release of the requested information and documents is of paramount importance to the public interest in preserving the legitimacy, credibility, and relevance of the Bank as a leading international development institution. The Bank ought to lead by example in issues such as transparency and public disclosure raised in this request.

“It would also demonstrate that the Bank is willing to put people first in the implementation of its development and governance policies and mandates, as well as remove any suspicion of the Bank’s complicity in the alleged mismanagement of electricity projects-related funds.

“The information is also being sought to improve the ongoing fight against corruption in the country and the provision of regular and uninterrupted electricity supply to Nigerians as a fundamental human right.

“The information requested is not affected by the “deliberative” “corporate administrative matters” or “security and safety” exceptions under the Policy. The information requested is crucially required for Nigerians to know how the funds released to the authorities to improve electricity supply in the country have been spent, and monitor how the funds are being used.

It contended that it was necessary to do this as the country had not benefit as it should from the financing, it cited its report titled: From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are paying the price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector which documents widespread and systemic corruption in the electricity sector, and reveals how about N11 trillion electricity fund was squandered by successive administrations in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999.

“This report raises specific questions of public interest, and the World Bank ought to be concerned about how Nigerian authorities are addressing reports of widespread and systemic corruption in the electricity sector, and to seek some answers from the authorities on the problems.

“However, as the report shows, the Bank’s funding of the electricity sector has not resulted in corresponding access of Nigerians to the regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. Successive governments have failed to provide access to regular and reliable electricity supply to millions of the citizens despite budgeting trillions of naira for the power sector.

“Millions of Nigerians still lack access to free pre-paid meters. Authorities continue to use patently illegal and inordinate estimated billing across the country, increasing consumer costs, and marginalizing Nigerians living in extreme poverty, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly.”

It reiterated that the World Bank leadership has to disclose information on agreements and the mechanisms the bank is putting in place to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of all funds on electricity projects in Nigeria.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Ogun Promises Proper Use of World Bank $300m

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Ogun State Security Trust Fund

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Ogun State government has made plans to utilize a financing partnership agreement worth over $300 million signed with World Bank to fund Ogun Economic Transformation projects.

This was disclosed by Governor Dapo Abiodun when the 56th Governing Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), led by its President, Mrs Onome Adewuyi, paid him a courtesy visit at his Oke-Mosan office, Abeokuta.

The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Finance and Chief Economic Adviser, Mr Dapo Okubadejo, said the project, when completed, would further place the state as one of the fastest-growing economies in Nigeria.

On her part, the President of ICAN lauded the state Governor for receiving the delegation, noting that the visit would enable the government and other stakeholders to champion ways of sustaining growth and development of the State and the country at large.

The project development objective (Project ID: P164031) is to increase the participation of the private sector in the economy of Ogun State, with a focus on improving the business-enabling environment, strengthening agri-food value-chains and upgrading skills.

The credit from the multilateral lender has a maturity period of 30 years with a grace of five years.

In support of Ogun State’s development objectives, the project has three core areas of implementation, which are the creation of enabling business environment, strategic technical and vocational skills and development as well as agricultural value chain development. These will all rest on a pillar of strengthened governance capabilities as areas such as statistics, procurement, monitoring & evaluation and planning are bolstered through the program.

Efforts were first advanced during the outgoing tenure of Senator Ibikunle Amosun in April 2019, he, however, noted that then the incoming Dapo Abiodun-led administration already has a ready-made support to enhance the delivery and good governance of the project.

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Nigeria Determined to Eradicate Malnutrition—Minister

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children malnutrition

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown a strong commitment to eradicate malnutrition in the country.

She said this was why the government has come up with various policies to drive massive investment in agriculture and boost food security in Nigeria.

“In recent years, Nigeria has shown a clear commitment to the eradication of malnutrition. This is happening through the adoption and domestication of policies and costed strategic plans, which emphasise increased reliance on domestic funding; and a well-coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach (comprising government, CSOs, private sector and donors); backed by sustained high-level political commitment,” Mrs Ahmed at the dialogue on the United Nations (UN) food systems summit held recently.

She further said the government has also put in place “the national strategic plan of action for nutrition, the national policy on food and nutrition, the innovative national social investment programme (which includes the home-grown school feeding programme), the basic health care provision fund, and the National Council on Nutrition, and the development of various food and nutrition sector plans.”

According to her, the implementation of the National Food Summit Dialogues is critical to the achievement of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) and the Nigeria Agenda 2050.

The Minister further said that the outputs of the various food summit dialogues would form a critical component for the conclusion of the MTNDP and the Nigeria Agenda 2050, and would, as well, contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.

“The NNFSD is required to improve nutrition security, reduce hunger and prevalence of malnutrition in line with the national food and nutrition policy for Nigeria.

“It is envisioned to create more inclusive, healthier food systems and encourage a collaborative approach towards building a sustainable food system,” she added.

“We in Nigeria are at a critical crossroads. While we have seen some improvements in recent years, particularly in the areas of child nutrition and breastfeeding, we know that in order for these improvements to yield results, malnutrition (and other public health issues) must be addressed through the implementation of innovative policies and strategies,” she said further.

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Apapa Gridlock: NPA e-Call-up System Thrills Sanwo-Olu

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NPA e-Call-up System

By Ahmed Rahma

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has commended the management of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) for using technology to address the traffic logjam at the Apapa area of the state.

Mr Sanwo-Olu, who spoke when the Managing Director of the NPA, Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman, paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House in Alausa, Ikeja, on Tuesday, said he was excited with the introduction of an electronic call-up system.

The system, according to the NPA, would ensure that trucks are allowed on the Apapa corridor via a booking system. The initiative would be launched this Saturday and it is one of the ways put in place to tackle the perennial gridlock in the area.

Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism on the transparent electronic call-up system, saying the move was the beginning of the end of Apapa gridlock.

He said the call-up platform would be complemented with virtual dashboards that will be placed in strategic locations around the seaports, where all stakeholders will monitor the scheduling of container movement.

The Governor praised NPA for the innovative approach towards tackling the truck menace around ports, pledging that the state government would sustain the effort with strict enforcement of traffic regulations along the Apapa corridor.

He said, “This is the beginning of a better journey time for our citizens within the Apapa seaports and environ.

“This electronic system has a limited interface with security operatives and unions, which usually cause the gridlock problem.

“It will be a simple case of possessing electronic clearance. If you don’t have it, you don’t have any reason to be around the seaports.

“In enforcing the new regulations, we are deploying more than enough towing vehicles to impound erring trucks.

“The huge amount to be paid as fine for flouting the call-up system will be a deterrent for drivers not to repeat it.

“The stakeholders need to understand we are serious about ridding Apapa of the menace that has brought pains to our citizens living and doing businesses along the corridor.”

Mr Sanwo-Olu said the state government would be deploying 500 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to work collaboratively with NPA and enforce the new call-up regulation, directing the state’s agency not to spare any effort in achieving free flow of traffic in Apapa.

On her part, Mrs Usman reaffirmed that from Saturday, February 27, 2021, the movement of trucks in and out of the Lagos seaports will now be organised through a transparent electronic call-up system that will be based on first-come-first-serve basis.

With the new system, no container-laden truck is expected to go on Apapa corridor without clearance from the call-up platform. Any truck that flouts the electronic roster and park along Apapa corridor will be impounded by the taskforce.

Mrs. Bala Usman said the visit to the State House was to brief the Governor on the status of the electronic call-up platform before it would be fully launched.

The NPA boss said the electronic system had addressed the excuses usually given by truck drivers for parking their vehicles on the highways, stressing that any truck found around the ports without electronic clearance would be impounded.

“The deadline for the commencement of the electronic call-up system is February 27, 2021 and we are here to strengthen collaboration with the Lagos State government on implementation and compliance as we commence the process.

“The new system will be done in collaboration with the State. We have worked seamlessly to ensure Apapa is rid of the menace of trucks,” she said.

“All truck owners and stakeholders have been briefed about the new development over the past months. Any truck found in Apapa corridor without call-up clearance will be impounded and Lagos Government will provide the platform with which any fine payment will be collected,” she added.

Mrs Bala Usman said the era of individuals depositing empty containers in the seaports was over, noting that empty containers must now be deposited with the shipping companies, which are expected to keep the containers in their holding bays at no cost to individuals who own the shipment.

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MSMEs Expert Seye Olurotimi to Speak at THC’s Unscripted Live

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Seye Olurotimi unscripted live

By Dipo Olowookere

An expert in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space in Africa, Mr Seye Olurotimi, has been invited to speak at the flagship midweek event organised by The Harvestworld Church (THC) tagged Unscripted Live.

THC is a church led by Pastors Yinka and Nike Adesanya. The place of worship, which is located around Charly Boy Bus-Stop on the popular Anthony-Gbagada Expressway, Lagos, is a church for the 21st-century urban dwellers, with the sole purpose of making you a person of influence in our world.

Every last Wednesday of the month, the church brings notable business-oriented persons to inspire its youthful members and others for the Unscripted Live programme.

The event was specially designed to dissect everyday real people, real issues and real solutions of young people in the urban areas in an interactive manner to boost their daily living, elicit wholesomeness (spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, etc.) and get direction critical to their aspirations in the market place.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Mr Olurotimi, who is also a notable business coach and the CEO/Founder of MSME Africa, has been invited to speak on Managing Your Business for Profit from 6pm.

A statement from the organisations disclosed that this edition is intended to share with the young participants, emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs the basics of how to overcome the challenges in the current business space with the sole aim of achieving profitability amidst the changes occasioned by the global pandemic.

Unscripted Live started on July 5, 2017, with the most sought-after Mr Tonye Cole, the co-founder and executive director of Sahara Group.

Since then, several personalities have graced the platform including ace Sports Analyst and former Super Eagles Media Manager, Mr Toyin Ibitoye; the CEO of BudgeIT, Mr Seun Onigbinde; the publisher of The CableNG, Mr Simon Kolawole; the CEO Africa Operations for Inlaks Ltd, Mr Femi Adeoti; gospel singer, Tope Alabi; author, speaker and CEO 5th Gear, Mr Niyi Adesanya, amongst others.

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IITA, SANO Foods Promote Cultivation of Improved Cassava Varieties

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Improved Cassava Varieties

By Ahmed Rahma

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with SANO Foods Limited on Monday began a public-private sector initiative to promote the cultivation of improved cassava varieties in Nigeria.

The partnership under the Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) began with a joint public exhibition of fortified foods and cassava varietal display in IITA, Ibadan.

The IITA Deputy Director-General (Partnerships for Delivery), Dr Kenton Dashiell, noted that the partnership was to promote consumption of locally produced products in Nigeria.

He said part of the deal was to create awareness on the newly released cassava varieties as a means of bridging the current cassava productivity gap on the continent, adding that it was also to draw consumers’ attention to the availability of locally made and nutritious foods designed to tackle malnutrition.

Mr Dashiell said breeders were making great progress in the development of crop varieties but needed the inputs of other stakeholders like the government and processors, who would add value to the research products.

According to him, the final development needed partnerships and collaborations with the private sector to add value to these crops.

“I believe that is what SANO is doing and I’m sure we’ll get to learn more from them,” he said.

On the part of the Director of Development and Delivery Office of IITA, Dr Alfred Dixon, he described the SANO-BASICS-II partnership as a “win-win collaboration.”

Dr Dixon stressed that private sector-led cassava development in Nigeria was essential for the transformational change of cassava in the country.

“Together, we will create an economically sustainable cassava value chain where every actor will have a space and benefit from cassava.

“We will raise awareness and trigger the adoption of these varieties by farmers,” he said.

He harped on the need to harness the potentials of cassava as a poverty fighter to create jobs, fight food insecurity and boost the nation’s economy.

Similarly, Prof. Lateef Sanni, IITA BASICS-II Project Manager, said the collaboration with Sano Foods would advance the Cassava value chain.

In his remarks, the Acting General Manager of Sano Foods, Mr Solomon Ojeleye, pointed out that SANO’s vision was to provide foods that are healthy and rich in vitamins.

He identified Turmeric garri (cassava flakes) and OSFP garri as two products the company developed through research to add nutritional value to cassava.

“We have over 39 products in the market and all of them are organic because we put the health of our consumers first.

“We use puree, flour and roots of yellow cassava, Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, yellow maize and other crops for the production of several confectioneries which includes varieties of bread, cookies, cakes, and baby food,” he said.

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NDPHC to Export 70MW Power to Togo

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NDPHC

By Ahmed Rahma

The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) is working to export 70 Megawatts (MW) of power to the Republic of Togo.

The executive director of the organisation, Mr Kassim Abdullahi, disclosed this on Monday via a statement signed by the NDPHC’s Head of Communication and Public Relations, Mrs Olufunke Nwankwo.

Mr Abdullahi revealed that the power would be exported through the Calabar Power Plant.

Speaking at an inspection of the Calabar Power Plant in Odukpani, Cross River State recently, the executive director said the company already had a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to supply 70 Megawatt (MW) of power to Togo, a West African nation from the power plant.

While stating that the firm was also in discussion to supply another 100MW to Paradise City in Calabar, he assured Nigerians of improved power supply through the eligible customer framework.

“This is the way to go; we are working tirelessly in getting more eligible customers to ensure that this available stranded power that we have in most of the power stations are dispatched.

“More especially, most of the power stations that we have in NDPHC today are limited in their operations because of the dispatch challenges.

“We are hardly doing the full capacity because of grid constraints but with the eligible customers’ framework we are able to commence some serious drive and engagements with willing buyers of our power,” he said.

The NDPHC boss said that the plant, wholly owned by NDPHC under the Nigerian National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) programme, had five units Gas Turbines with a total designed capacity of about 600MW.

He described the plant as one of the best amongst NDPHC plants with uninterruptible gas availability and a good dispatch network.

The executive director explained that the inspection was part of the routine maintenance done on all power stations.

He said when all three units are firing, the Calabar power plant has a total capacity of 560MW available power for dispatch.

Also speaking, Mr John Oyewale, Chief Operating Officer of Calabar Power Plant explained that the plant had remained the best through the support of NDPHC management and the operation and maintenance team.

“Even though there are lots of challenges, we are able to surmount them because of the cooperation between NDPHC and us.

“With the experience, we have gained over time from other power plants, we are able to keep the plant going because of the existing cooperation in the Operations and Maintenance team,” he said.

He thanked the company’s management for supporting the team, saying “each time we want something from them they quickly get it to us and allow us to progress”.

Mr Oyewale said that at the time of the inspection when two units were working, the plant was sending 225MW to the national grid due to frequency control.

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