The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), has warned the Federal Government that Nigerians are increasingly losing confidence in the electoral system which is full of all forms of malpractice, manipulation, violence, commercialization and privatization of political parties and political offices for self-centred interests.
This is even as accused the Federal Government and military of treating the issue of national security with levity while all geopolitical zones continue to bleed in a manner that portends grave danger to the nation’s hard-earned democracy.
The Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, stated this, yesterday, at press conference on the state of the electoral process in Nigeria and the unveiling of group’s agenda for the next four years.
He assured that the Board and members of TMG that will do their best to advocate for electoral transparency and accountability by mobilizing Nigerians to demand positive change in our electoral process.
According to him, the appreciation of TMG and what it represents in Nigeria is an attestation of the confidence reposed on the leadership and the trust on the group as a flagship organization in the electoral system.
Rafsanjani added that the new leadership of the group will build on the gains of the former leadership and acknowledged the need for fundamental reforms within the group.
He added that group will also resuscitate the TMG Newsletter, ‘Democracy Watch’ to maintain constant communication with the members on the activities of the group as well as sustained relationship the group enjoys with the media.
Rafsanjani listed some of TMG’s agenda for the next four years, agenda setting, advocacy to reform and institutionalize internal democracy in Nigeria’s political parties, engage in massive voters’ education, continuous voters’ registration, engage in observing conducts of security personnel, politicians and political parties during elections and observation of election litigations/tribunals in Nigeria.
On the state of the nation, he said TMG is compelled to react to several unsavoury developments in the polity.
He said the group the recent attack on Nigeria Defence Academy as unacceptable.
He said, “We expect that government would nip the security issue in the bud and tow an acceptable and less divisive path of bringing a lasting end to the security challenges that presently bedevil the country. We, however, note with concern that the Federal Government and military have been treating the issue of our national security with levity while all geopolitical zones continue to bleed in a manner that portends grave danger to our hard-earned democracy.
“The electoral processes have had their share of violence with the secessionist movement calling for a boycott of the election with threats to disrupt the poll, thugs razing down electoral management offices, killing of security personnel, burning of police stations and kidnapping of election officials.
“There is a pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty as to when the government will address the cases of banditry and kidnapping that have engulfed the country. TMG calls on the government to urgently address our multifaceted security challenges before the conduct of the 2023 election to prevent voter apathy that may arise due to the inability of voters to travel to exercise their civic rights, the safety of electoral materials and election officials and the credibility of election results.
“Corruption in Nigeria’s electoral processes is showing no signs of leaving soon as politicians continue to flaunt unaccounted campaign spending and party financing by using illegitimate funds as the sole means of winning voters over. INEC and other relevant agencies need to tackle the menace to allow voters to form a more objective opinion of the people they are to vote for.
“Since 1999, credible local government elections in Nigeria have been illusory, the processes and outcome of the LGA elections have remained the will of the state and ruling party rather than reflecting the consent and aspirations of the people as the electorate.
“The political interference from the state government and partisanship of the state independent electoral commission has led to a lack of trust in local elections and the increasing cases of voter apathy with inconsistency in the application of electoral guidelines and poor communication channels between state electoral commissions and electoral stakeholders.
“TMG sees this as rape of local governance that portends grave danger for participatory democracy, accountability and rural development. We call on the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, political parties and relevant stakeholders to join voices in ensuring that credible LGA elections are prioritized and conducted as at when due and reforms should be put in place for local institutional strengthening and framework for local government development.
“It is also of great concern that the autonomy of states judiciaries and Houses of Assembly are yet to take effect. This has continued to fuel disregard for the rule of law and court orders. Without the autonomy, separation of powers and checks and balances in Nigeria will remain only on paper as the executive continues to technically wield the powers of the other two arms of government.
“TMG condemns the ongoing attempts to use agencies that are paid from the taxpayer’s funds of Nigerians to intimidate the citizenry. The barbaric use of security forces to intimidate fellow citizens is unacceptable. We, therefore, call on the government to immediately bring to a halt the ongoing intimidation of citizens who are expressing their fundamental rights of opinion on national issues across the country.
“We make bold to say that the government is further eroding its legitimacy as long as it continues to use the military and other security agencies to intimidate and harass fellow Nigerians. This brazen infringement on the fundamental rights and civil liberties of Nigerians is a recipe for chaos and anarchy.
“This is an unfortunate return to those despicable days of the military when the goons of state were used to attempt a rollback of civil liberties and freedom. Thankfully, the forces of history were on the side of the Nigerian people.
“The heroic sacrifices of courageous Nigerians ensured that the military was chased out of the political space to the barracks, where they rightfully belong under full civilian control. The result is the current democracy that Nigerians enjoy today, despite all its many flaws.”
Rafsanjani also urged the media to “take a deep study of the political environment, take a continuing interest in the political affairs of this great country, understand and suggest areas you feel are in need of further engagements by the TMG so that we can all move into the field to succeed.”
Rivers LG To Give Grants To 80 Post-Graduate Candidates
The Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, has concluded process of giving grants to 80 indigenes of the area to pursue Masters and Doctorate degree programmes in universities in the state.
The council Chairman, Barrister George Ariolu, disclosed this, yesterday, when the leadership of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) visited him in his office at Rumuodomaya, near Port Harcourt.
Ariolu stated that grants will be given to 50 candidates to pursue Masters degree programme and another 30 to those pursuing Doctorate degree programmes in University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.
He said: “Our main focus as we promised our people is the area of human capacity development. Not that we don’t have interest in infrastructures, we do.
“As it stands today, we are giving grants to our people, those who are interested in advancing their academic qualifications by taking up Ph.D and Masters degree programmes.
“For Masters degree, we have grants for 50 while Ph.D is 30 for now. But because of pressure, we will likely take it up to 50. We set up a committee made up three professors, an academic doctor, who is a senior lecturer and a lawyer. Today, they are conducting interviews for the applicants at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
“Our catchment areas are University of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education. Those are universities in Rivers State so that little money we will give will be of immense benefit to them.”
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the NUJ, Amaechi Okonkwo, assured the Council Chairman of the support of journalists throughout duration of his tenure in office.
Okonkwo said: “We have had a relationship with you before now and we are happy with that relationship because we were getting quality service and advise from you.
“So, we deemed it fit and necessary to come to say congratulations to you and to assure you of our support through your stay as Chairman of Council.”
Insecurity: Address Nigeria’s Descent Into Chaos, Nigerians Tell UN Assembly
The Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance (NINAS), yesterday, urged the United Nations General Assembly to take urgent steps to address the country’s alleged descent into chaos, saying that Nigeria has failed as a state.
This was contained in a letter addressed to United Nations Security Council, the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly by NINAS at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The letter was signed by Chairman of NINAS and Ilana Omo Oodua, Prof Banji Akintoye; Prof Yusuf Turaki of Middle-Belt Movement; and Secretary-General, NINAS and Lower Niger Congress, Tony Nnadi.
The letter reads, “We, the Indigenous Peoples of Nigeria at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York to alert the United Nations, and the rest of the global community that the union of Nigeria has failed irredeemably; and is now at the verge of a violent disintegration with catastrophic consequences for global peace, and security as our population of over 200million would become an instant global refugee nightmare.
“Amidst the extraordinary difficulties inflicted by the imposition and enforcement of Sharia by a section of Nigeria in a supposedly secular union, the immediate reason for this looming catastrophe is the cocktail of mass killing, kidnapping and general banditry being orchestrated against the indigenous peoples of Nigeria by an invading Fulani militia masquerading as herdsmen in an undisguised ethnic cleansing campaign that progressively demonstrate the complicity of the Federal Government of Nigeria headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, who as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is also the Life Grand Patron of the notorious Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), that proudly takes responsibility for the murderous exploits of the Fulani herdsmen militia designated the fourth most deadly terror group.
“Compounding their impunity, the same Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association at a recent press conference organised to mock the planned NINAS million-man freedom march to the UN boasted to be in control of the UN through their daughter, the Deputy Secretary-General at the UN, Amina Mohammed.
“An indication that (Amina Mohammed) nominated to that exalted UN position by President of Buhari, is in some way a part of the grand protection design for the Fulani herdsmen in their bloody, onslaught against the indigenous peoples of Nigeria.
“It will be recalled that following widespread extrajudicial killings in Nigeria, the UN in August of 2019, dispatched a Special Rapporteur Mission to Nigeria led by Agnes Callamard. The damning verdict of that Rapporteur Mission was that the widespread extrajudicial killings were flowing from the unitary constitutional arrangements of Nigeria, which operates as a pressure-cooker for injustice and that Nigeria under that Constitution is a danger to global peace and security.
“The report warned that unless something is done urgently, Nigeria would snap, plunging its 200million population into turmoil that will trigger a large-scale refugee crisis of unprecedented magnitude at a time the global terror networks, ISIS, ISWAP and AL-Qaeda are already converging in Nigeria.
“That Nigeria has failed as a State is no longer a subject for debate, having emerged the global poverty capital, and playing host to two of the world’s top four most deadly terrorists’ organisation, with three-quarters of the constituent components (South and Middle-Belt), seeking urgent extrication by way of referendums from what has become a union of death.
“Looking back at the recent turn of events in Afghanistan, this freedom march to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, is to alert the global community of the rapidly degenerating situation of Nigeria, and to invite United Nations, particularly the Security Council, and Trusteeship Council, to initiate urgent steps to arrest Nigeria’s descent into chaos, as besieged communities drift dangerously to self-help.”
Power Sector Revenue Declines By 4.54% In Q2’21
Gross revenue of Nigeria’s electricity market declined by 4.45per cent in the second quarter of 2021, Q2’21, to N176.27billion against N184.27billion generated in the first quarter, Q1’21, latest data from the sector has shown.
The data from the Power Sector Working Group, however, showed that the N360.54billion generated in the first half of this year was 24.57per cent higher than the N271.96billion generated in the last six months of 2020.
A monthly analysis of the power sector financials in the first six months of 2021 showed that revenue has been fluctuating month-on-month.
A total of N64.98billion was generated in January, but revenue, however, fell by 13.30per cent in February to N57.35billion.
Further analysis showed that revenue in March rose by 7.41 per cent to N61.94billion but declined again in April by 8.76 per cent to N56.955billion.
In May, revenue rose by 8.24 per cent to N62.07billion.
It, however fell in June to N57.25billion, a drop of 8.42 per cent.
The Power Sector Working Group blamed poor power supply as well as glitches for the fall in revenue in the second quarter, especially in the month of June.
“June is a bit short due to glitches in the sweep mechanism and a low energy supply (there were gas payment challenges we have been working on).
“Through the collection discipline via CBN there is full visibility to DisCos collections. Collections over the past six months have stabilized at between N57billion to N65billion.
“The regulator and policymakers are focusing in the second half of the year on boosting electricity and rolling out phase 1 of Mass Metering to boost supply to reduce tariff and increase collections.
“Procurement is being completed for most of the CAPEX interventions that will help boost supply”, the group added.
Earlier, the group disclosed that the Federal Government has concluded arrangements for the commencement of the second phase of its metering program tagged National Mass Metering Program which it expects to drastically reduce estimated billing by DisCos, that will ensure consumers are billed appropriately for the electricity they consume by installing meters free of charge in household and business premises that are currently unmetered.
The Federal Government provided funding for the program through loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to DisCos.
“Meters are provided to customers free of charge. This is indeed unprecedented and has so far led to the tremendous success recorded so far”.
Speaking on how to grow the electricity market, a leading power sector expert and Managing Director of Target Energy Ltd, Abdullahi Umar, harped on the need to review some of the policies that may be hampering growth and development in the power sector.
Umar said at the weekend that the new Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, needs to conduct a thorough review of the sector.
“I am part of those stakeholders who are of the view that the declaration of the transitional electricity market (TEM) in February 2015 was too ambitious and premature.
“What should have been was a phased transition into TEM or at the minimum a testing of the market before the full declaration of TEM.
“The errors of such declaration have continued to plague the power sector with a heightened liquidity crisis in 2016 and 2017, that saw a drastic decline of the revenue flows in the power sector, DisCos remittance went from 70 per cent to a sharp decline averaging about 28 per cent – 30 per cent for that period,” he said.
He pointed out that July, 2021, saw the end of Eligible Customer Regulation in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), adding that the decision by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to rescind the ECR, has sent mixed signals across the board.
Umar further stated that “we have seen the accusations and counter-accusations between the generating companies (GenCos) and distribution companies on the issue. The action by NERC has signalled the lack of preparedness of the market to accommodate direct sale between market players.
“It is a case of willing seller, willing buyer and an unwilling infrastructure; the market cannot accommodate any distortion at this time especially as the grid still operates at average capacity.”
The ECR allows GenCos and Independent Power Producers to bypass the Bulk Trader for excess un-contracted capacity within their portfolio and sell directly to eligible customers who can take a minimum of 2MW of power monthly.
“The ECR was issued on the 6th of November, 2017 by the then Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Barrister Babatunde Fashola”, Umar also averred that the “recent repeal of the ECR further demonstrates the weakness in the NESI and the need for more effective and consistent regulation.”
He further advised, “With a new Minister of Power in the saddle, I suggest that a cue is borrowed from the former Minister of Power, Work, and Housing; who commenced his tenure with sector-wide stakeholder consultation and monthly review meetings, it is important that new Minister of Power gets a proper briefing with all market participants in the same room to curtail self-serving suggestions and recommendations.”
“The frequent policy conflict is fast eroding the little gains of the NESI since the declaration of TEM and plunging the sector deeper into uncertainty.
“The new Minister of Power must pursue sector-wide collaboration and effective corporate governance to move the sector forward.
“It is time to go back to the drawing board,” he concluded.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has, however, denied that it has ended or suspended the Eligible Customer Regulations which allowed power generation companies, GenCos, to supply electricity directly to large demand customers.
NERC, in a statement by its General Manager, Public Affairs Department, Dr. Usman Abba Arabi, stated that the Eligible Customer Regulations has not been suspended and at no time has the commission issued a directive for discontinuation of service to any customer.
The commission explained that what it suspended was the unauthorized direct supply by GenCos to big consumers.
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