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Trade and Industry

NDPHC moves to boost power supply

By Chris Ndibe 

Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) on Wednesday said it was intensifying efforts to increase power supply to industrial clusters in Lagos and Ogun States through its Eligible Customer drive. 

Mr Chiedu Ugbo, Managing Director, NDPHC, made this known while speaking with  newsmen after an inspection visit to Olorunsogo Power Generation Company in Ogun. 

Ugbo said the management of NDPHC had recently met with Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and his Ogun counterpart, Mr Dapo Abiodun, to solicit their support and cooperation in furtherance of the objective. 

He said the company, which had 10 power generation plants across the country, had signed an agreement with Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company for reliable power supply to industrial clusters in areas under its network. 

Ugbo said the Olorunsogo Power Plant had a capacity of 750MW, but had a limited off take from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) which lead to energy losses. 

He said: “We came here with IBDC that is in charge of most of the South West States to discuss with them in terms of distribution to end users. 

“Our distribution essentially is how we can work together under bilateral agreement that will see us supply the electricity to them and they will distribute to eligible customers. 

“This will include industrial clusters and even residential clusters.” 

According to him, the assets of NDPHC were established by monies belonging to Nigerians by the government and should therefore be utilised for the benefit of the people. 

He noted that the transmission network presently cannot allow Nigerians to take electricity directly from generation companies. 

Ugbo said: “The electricity is there,  however, the transmission company is unable to take all that is being generated. 

“So we came with Ibadan DisCo to see what the challenges are, what the network bottlenecks are and how we can work with them and do an end-to-end from the power plant to the end users.” 

Nigerians calls for full deregulation of oil, gas sector

By Chris Ndibe 

As the nation clocks 60, key players in the oil and gas industry say full deregulation of the sector and deepening of gas utilisation will help Nigeria actualise her full potentialities. 

The stakeholders also called for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and increased Public-Private Partnership (PPP) toward repositioning the sector. 

Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) said the removal of petrol subsidy and the full deregulation of the industry was needed to attract investors. 

Okoronkwo commended the Federal Government’s courage in removing subsidy on petrol, noting that this had encouraged investment in modular refineries. 

“Subsidy is one of the things holding the industry down and it is obvious that the country does not have the funds to continue to subsidise petrol. 

“What has happened is that a lot of people are now coming into refining. 

“A few weeks ago, we saw that Walter Smith refinery in Imo was almost ready; another one is coming up in Bayelsa while Dangote Refinery in Lagos is nearing completion. 

“Also, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started the move to bring in private investors so that they can help in reviving the four moribund refineries. 

“I see a situation that rather than importing petroleum, we will be a net exporter in a few years’ time,’’ the IPMAN president said. 

He lauded the government’s plan to increase domestic gas utilisation, which he said was also vital to make-up for the lost years that the country had focused mainly on petroleum. 

“Moving forward, I think the country is beginning to get things right. 

“We are developing the gas sector, which I think will be the anchor that will help this country regain its economic direction,” he said. 

With such step, he said a lot of things would happen, both in terms of pharmaceutical, agriculture, textile and other industries that would begin to blossom again. 

“We have abundant gas to turn things around and government has started working on that. 

“They have been meeting stakeholders and have prepared the ground on how gas can now be utilised for vehicles, generators and other domestic uses. 

“Gas is cheaper and environmentally friendly. So, the future will be very bright if we as a nation are able to access cheaper energy,’’ Okoronkwo said. 

Also dwelling on the removal of petrol subsidy, Mr Tunji Oyebanji, Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), said it was one of the steps that industry stakeholders had been clamouring for. 

Oyebanji said that the country was broke and could no longer afford subsidy and there was no provision for it in the budget. 

With this, the incentive for smuggling will be reduced, while more funds will be available to the government for investment in infrastructure, roads, health, education and power,’’ he said. 

He also commended the government for creating the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP), which according to him, had already began the implementation of reforms and policies to deepen the domestic gas market. 

Oyebanji said MOMAN was in support of the autogas policy of the government because it was a cheaper alternative to petrol and would also create a lot of jobs for Nigerians. 

Mr Wilson Opuwei, the Chief Executive Officer, Dateline Energy Services Limited, spoke in line with Oyebanji’s view, saying that the removal of petrol subsidy was inevitable because it only favoured a few Nigerian elites. 

Opuwei noted that what government was trying to do was to take those funds to other sectors and help develop infrastructure. 

According to him it also frees government from trying to balance the price fluctuation of crude oil at the international market. 

“Ultimately, that is going to happen,’’ he said. 

He, however, urged the government to create an enabling environment through legislation and policies such as the Petroleum Industry Bill to encourage investments, particularly in the exploration and production areas of the sector. 

Opuwei said: “Government should learn to enter into Public-Private Partnerships with both local and international entities who have the capacity and are ready to invest in our oil and gas sector. 

“Government should identify such entities and create a mutually beneficial working relationship with them. 

“They will, in turn, bring their international experience, expertise and technology transfer to the nation.’’ 

Meanwhile, Mr Justice Derefaka, Technical Adviser on Gas Business and Policy Implementation to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources said the government’s focus on gas was deliberate and in line with national development. 

Derefaka told NAN that this was the rationale behind the declaration of the year 2020 as the ‘Year of Gas’. 

He stressed that various policies and programmes were being implemented towards achieving that objective. 

The technical adviser said the programmes include the inauguration of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) committee, the National Gas Transportation Network Code, ongoing Marginal Field Bid Round and the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline. 

“Nigeria needs to use gas and invest in critical sectors of our economy like education, health, infrastructure and agriculture to provide a solid base for industrialisation, local value addition, economic development and sustainable growth.’’ 

Nigerians call for review of revenue sharing formula

By Chris Ndibe 

Participants of Nationwide Sensitisation and Advocacy on Data Gathering and Management, have called for the review of the current vertical revenue sharing formula in the country in the favour of States and Local Government Councils (LGCs). 

The programme was organised by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). 

They made the call in a communique jointly signed Mr Lawal Attihiru, a director in the state Ministry for Local Governments, and RMAFC team leader, Mr Ibrahim Bako, respectively issued at the end of the programme on Wednesday in Katsina. 

“That in recognition of the enormous responsibilities of States and Local Government Councils, the current vertical revenue allocation sharing formula should be reviewed in favour of States and LGCs,” the communique said. 

They urged the state government to intensify efforts in making policies and strategies that would increase schools enrollment by mainstreaming the ‘Almajirai’ system into the conventional school system. 

They said that the state-funded community schools should be considered in the enrolment figure of schools since the state provides schools’ funds through the payment of teachers and intervention in infrastructure. 

It said that the state should establish Bureau for Statistics that would be providing credible data base whenever needed. 

The participants also called for setting up Joint Revenue Committee for state and LGCs to harmonise strategies for enhanced revenue collections. 

They urged the state government to step-up strategies to access Stabilisation Funds for the purpose of ameliorating the impact of insecurity challenge on the socio-economic development of the state. 

The communique further said that the state government should demonstrate political will and support to collect taxes from all eligible tax payers irrespective of their status. 

Public interest forces Nigeria to suspend electricity tariff hike

By Tanko Mohammed

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) has ordered the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to suspend the Sept. 1 tariff increase for 14 days in the interest of the public.

The commission’s suspension order of the Multi Year Tariff  Order (MYTO) 2020  signed by Prof James Momoh, NERC’s Chairman  was released on its web site on Wednesday.

NERC suspension followed a joint communique issued by the Federal Government and the labour unions.

The Federal Government agreed that the recent review in electricity tariffs would be suspended by the commission for a period of 14 days to further consultations and finalisation of negotiations between the parties.

The order by NERC said that from Sept 28  to Oct 11 the DisCos must revert all charges to the tariff existing as of Aug 31.

“This means that  for the next two weeks, electricity consumers having power above 12 hours who were affected by the over 100 per cent tariff hike would revert to their old charges.

It said as empowered by Section 33 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, EPSRA 2005, the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman can issue such directive to NERC.

Also Mr Dafe Akpeneye, Commissioner, Legal Licensing and Compliance, NERC, said the suspension was in the interest of the public and would be implemented by Discos.

He said on Wednesday at  the virtual 2020 Businessday Energy Series – Fuel of the Future (Gas) Summit – with the theme: “Nigeria at 60: Harnessing Nigeria’s Energy Potential for the Future”.

Akpeneye said the suspension would enable further consultations and finalisation of negotiations between the Federal Government and Labour unions who had kicked against the tariff hike.

 “The gesture was done in good faith by the government and NERC as a regulator is bound by  Section 33 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 to comply with general policy directions concerning electricity from the Minister.

” It says the commission shall take into consideration in discharging its functions under section 32(2), provided that such directions are not on conflict with this Act or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Looking at the overriding public interest on this issue, we saw that this a valid policy directive and we issued the order to suspend the tariffs review from Sept. 28 to Oct. 11 to enable parties continue with their negotiations.”

Akpeneye said the DisCos would comply with the new order because the government had always cover for the short fall caused by the absence of a cost reflective tariff in the past five years.

According to him, the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2020 was approved by NERC for the DisCos with effect from Sept. 1 after series of dialogue with all stakeholders in the industry.

He noted that the last MYTO was done in 2015 but became effective in 2016, adding that the new review was done to ensure that rates charged by DisCos were fair to customers.

Akpeneye said it was also to ensure that DisCos operate efficiently to recover

the full cost of their activities, including a reasonable return on the capital invested in the business.

Buhari inaugurates rail line, directs linking rails to all ports

By Tanko Mohammed

After more than three decades delay, President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the 326 KM Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line for commercial operation and directed that all ports be linked to rails.

Aside from being opened to commercial operations, the rail would serve as the ancillary facilities yard, at the recently named Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex in Agbor (Owa-Oyibu), Delta State.

At the virtual opening of the rail line linking Itakpe to Warri on Tuesday, President Buhari directed the Federal Ministry of Transportation to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne, Calabar Ports- to the rail network in order to significantly improve overall   transportation and economic capacities.

The President declared that his administration recognised the importance of the railway mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialization and economic development.

”Accordingly, I have approved the prioritization of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce.

”The Railway Infrastructure that I have the honour to commission today is the rail line from Itakpe via the steel town complex of Ajaokuta to Warri, and is an important link for the country’s economy as the central rail line.

”This Government has also approved to link this line further from Itakpe to Abuja, thereby, connecting the Northern Zone of the country and also extending southwards to link the Warri Ports,” he said.

The President expressed confidence that the project, which serves as a vital link of South-South geopolitical zones of the country to the Northern zones, would be completed during the tenure of this administration.

”It will link people across the cultural divides and expand the frontier of trade and commerce, which will lead to better standards of living for our citizens,” he said.

President Buhari recalled that to further give recognition to Nigerian sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves at nation building and development , 11 railway stations and railway village  were  named after some deserving citizens.

He listed them as follows:  Adamu Attah Station, Itakpe;  Abubakar Olusola Saraki Station, Ajaokuta; Augustus Aikhomu Station, Itogbo; George Innih Station, Agenebode; Anthony Enahoro Station, Uromi; Tom Ikimi Station, Ekehen and Samuel Ogbemudia Station, Igbanke.

Others are Goodluck Jonathan Railway Complex, Agbor, Owa-Oyibu; David Ejoor Station, Abraka; Michael Ibru Station, Opara; Alfred Rewane Station, Ujevwu; and Michael Akhigbe Railway Village, Agbor

The President enjoined all Nigerians in the transportation industry, especially the railway sub-sector, to continue to support Government in its stride to achieve other railway infrastructure projects.

He also enlisted the support of all at realizing this milestone of a functional and full-fledged central railway, after more than 30 years during which the project has suffered several setbacks and false starts.

”I implore those who work on this line to uphold maintenance and safety culture necessary for long-lasting service in this difficult terrain.

”By the same token, I urge other sectors who will be primary beneficiaries of this transportation backbone, including, the iron and steel sector, stakeholders in agricultural and mining sectors on this corridor, as well as the host communities to protect and sustain this infrastructure and maximize the benefits that could be derived from it and which is readily available at their doorsteps.

”This project will increase the volume of their trade and kickstart and resuscitate the iron and steel complexes.

”All these, I hope will improve our industrial potentials and capacities as well as boost employment,’’ he said.

President Buhari said projections indicate that the commencement of operation of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail line  will account for close to one million passengers annually and also unleash approximately 3.5 million tonnes capacity of freight annually that will service all off-takers on the corridor and beyond.

Congratulating the Minister of Transportation Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and his team on successfully completing the project, the President recognized the host communities on this corridor for their patience during the long wait of over 30 years for the realization of the project.

He also commended the host communities for their cooperation during the completion works by the Federal Government.

He assured Nigerians that his administration would continue, within available resources, to judiciously connect commercial and industrial hubs to boost trade, generate wealth and create employment.

In his remarks, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa commended President Buhari’s bi-partisan approach to governance, saying ‘‘it is a thing of pride and joy that this rail line was completed under your watch.’’

”Deltans are excited that this day has come,’’ he said, adding that the Ika nation is glad of the recognition accorded former President Goodluck Jonathan, in naming the railway complex in Agbor after him.

Okowa urged the private sector to take advantage of the historic corridor by establishing investments that will create jobs for locals, curb youth restiveness and stem the tide of criminality.

”It is imperative that the Federal Government in collaboration with the States provide adequate security cover for this rail line corridor,” he said.

In his remarks, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki congratulated the President on the feat of completing the project, saying it is quite fortuitous that few days to the country’s 60th independence celebration,  the President has achieved the completion of this critical infrastructure. 

”For us in Edo State we are excited that we have a few stops that have been completed and we are going to be working with you to utilise this infrastructure,” he said.

The Edo Governor appealed to the minister of transportation to extend the rail line to the industrial park in Benin City to facilitate the movement of goods to the northern part of the country.

In his remarks, Minister Amaechi said the project was fully funded by the Nigerian government, adding that 8 of the 10 stations are in the Niger-Delta/ South South region of the country.

”There is no loan on this project, it was funded from the budget and I had the directive of the President to go and revive it and complete it as soon as possible,’’ he said.

According to the Transportation Minister, the project started under the military era in 1987 but ‘‘underwent protracted hiccups, prolonged abandonment and massive vandalisation,’’ before it was resuscitated by the Buhari administration.