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FG Raises Hope Of Electricity Consumers …To Roll Out 3million Prepaid Meters

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More than three million pre-payment meters are to be rolled out under the Federal Government’s intervention programme, Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Power, disclosed in Lagos on Sunday.
The intervention followed the incapacity of Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to meter all the houses of consumers across the country.
Fashola, who is also the Minister of Works and Housing, told newsmen that the government had in 2003 awarded contract for the meters but they were not supplied.
“In 2003, the government awarded a contract for three million meters but they were not supplied.
“I inherited it, they were in court and I am trying to take it out of the court so that we can settle and start the supply,’’ he said.
The former Lagos State Governor said that, metering houses in the country was facing some challenges as there was no accurate database of actual consumers in the country.
Fashola said, “There is a database of six million households; it is a faulty base because we have more than six million households in the country.
“There are four types of consumers – R1 (poorest consumer), R2, R3 and maximum demand consumers — and they are not on the same plan.
“DISCOs need to go into these houses, do an audit to determine the type of meters to install.
“If you have a wrong meter, you will pay wrong price or bill. A meter is both a safety device and a measuring device, it can under read or over read or cause fire if not properly installed.
“But essentially, the DISCOs must provide meters, it is only fair and let the consumer manage his consumption and billing system because he has a meter.’’
On the challenges facing the nation’s power sector, Fashola, who described the problems as man-made, identified planning, way of life and human behavioural problem as some of the intractable issues.
Others are power wastage, building of houses in difficult terrain without approval, lack of conservation culture and energy theft.
“Some people will put on a 70 or 120-watt bulb as security light for 24 hours, including the daytime when they do not need it and it is because they have either stolen the energy or bypassed their meters.
“They are robbing DISCOs of huge sums of money as they may not be able to pay back the energy they bought for distribution,’’ the minister said.
Our source gathered that electricity consumers pay N25,000 (official), N35, 000 (fast-track) for a single phase meter, while the three-phase models go for N50,000 and above.
Consumers have complained of down payment for several months or a year for the meters without being supplied by DISCOs which has exposed consumers to the user-unfriendly estimated billing system or “crazy’’ bills.
In Ghana, prepayment metering was introduced in 1994 and the importation of the meters cost Ghana Government 99.2 million dollars in 2015.

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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