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PH To Face Blackout,August …As Afam Power Plant Shuts Down

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Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and its environs will experience a major blackout that would last for one month, beginning from August 1, 2011.

The new business Manager, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Diobu Business Unit, Engr Festus A. Nmegbu, who dropped this hint yesterday in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, said the interruption in electricity supply would be as a result of a reconstruction job on PHCN’s 132 KV Line from Afam to Port Harcourt.

“This is to enable contractors handling the reconstruction of the line  to conclude their job. On conclusion, power export to Rivers State from Afam is expected to improve”, Engr Nmegbu explained.

According to the Business Manager, the interruption, which would affect all classes of the company’s customers, will last from 8am till 6pm daily.

He said only the areas covered by Rivers State Power Station, Omoku and Ahoada, which are fed from Owerri 132 KV line would have their normal supply.

Engr Nmegbu, who appealed to numerous customers of PHCN to bear with it while the job lasts, stressed that the reconstruction was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to improve on the existing power supply in the country.

Diobu Business Unit, he further disclosed, intends to hold a meeting next week with customers to properly discuss the development to enable them adjust while the interruption period lasts.

Meanwhile,  some electricity consumers in Lagos have threatened to sue the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for approving an increase in tariff without resolving the nation’s epileptic power supply.

The consumers told newsmen yesterday in separate interviews that it was inconceivable for the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to increase electricity tariff when the citizens were battling the effects of power outages.

Alhaji Salami Badru, Chairman, Bariga Community Development Area, warned that if NERC failed to reverse the tariff increase, the association would not have any choice than to seek legal redress.

Badru said the PHCN should provide adequate electricity supply before increasing tariff.

“We are tired of the whole billing system of PHCN; despite inadequate electricity supply, they still enforce increase in tariff”.

“We will not hesitate to take legal action against PHCN and NERC over arbitrary charges of various forms included in the electricity payment on pre-paid metres payment vouchers,’’ he said.

Mr Jola Ogunlusi, Chairman, Festac Town Residents Association (FTRA), criticised the tariff increase, saying it was wrong for NERC to have endorsed the hike.

Ogunlusi said that the government should have addressed the national electricity supply problem and other ancillary issues such as estimated billing and non-availability of prepaid metres before increasing the tariff.

“While we appreciate the current reforms in the power sector by NERC, we are really concerned about the increase in electricity tariff. Consumers cannot just continue to pay for what they don’t consume”.

“Power should be made available first before NERC thinks of tariff increase. We are concerned about this issue because any increase in tariff should be matched with increased power supply,’’ he said.

Another consumer, Mr Andrew Johnson, Managing Director, Ocean Sea Pure Water in Ikorodu, urged the government to critically evaluate the new electricity tariff in the face of economic constraints.

Johnson said that his factory depended on generator for production though it pays about N2,400 monthly as metre maintenance charges outside the usual electricity consumption bill.

He said a critical study of current PHCN billing system would show the level of “illegality within the national electricity company”.

“Government should see reason to respond to the yearnings of the people and urgently address those abnormalities in the bill for justice to prevail; customers should not be left to suffer.”

In her contribution, Mrs Abimbola Talabi, a banker, said the tariff increase was a mockery of the Federal Government’s avowed commitment to the welfare of the citizenry, stressing that the new tariff was another effort to compound the woes of the masses.

“How can they increase tariff at this point in time when there is no electricity? We are still in darkness and they want to make us pay more. It is really a shame. If their argument is that it is part of reforming the power sector, then they should have first made the power available before asking the people to pay more,” she said.

Our correspondent  recalls that PHCN had from July 1, 2011 increased electricity tariff to N10 per kilowatt from N5.90, while the tariff for commercial concerns rose from N11.20 to N22 per kilowatt under the Multi-Year Tariff Order Act of 2008.

Chris Oluoh

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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