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Customers pressure Multichoice on pay as you go tariff

By Tanko Mohammed

Nigerian subscribers have intensified their pressure on Mutichoice Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) and other service providers to introduce the Pay as You Go Tariff (PAYG).

A cross section of subscribers said it was time the providers introduce PAYE in Nigeria.

Mrs Jumai Aliyu, a subscriber in Maitama said it was wrong for the service providers to stick to the fixed monthly tariff, unlike what was obtainable in other countries.

“Nigeria constitutes about 40 per cent of DSTV’s global market share, yet the company refused to adopt the pay as you go tariff by sticking to the fixed monthly tariff which is exploitative.

“Over 40 per cent of the Nigerian subscribers do not use a greater part of their monthly tariff due to engagements that take them from one location to the other on a daily basis.

“Most subscribers cannot access the services upon expiration, whether or not they use their previous subscriptions until they renew it for another month,” Aliyu said.

She was reacting to the recent hike in tariff by the providers.

“The DSTV operates pay as you go tariff in other countries but chose to exploit Nigerians through a fixed monthly tariff,” Aliyu said, adding that the recent tariff hike was uncalled for.

She noted that the development can make the company loose subscribers while forcing some to downgrade to lower packages.

“I think that the increase in subscription tariff was ill- timed .The sad part of this development is that the company decided to hike the tariff even with the COVID-19 pandemic which has a devastating effect on the economy of the country.

“The DSTV and other service providers like GOtv should either bring down their tariff, adopt the pay as you go tariff or risk losing their large patronage in the country,” she said.

Mr Kenny Ayodeji, a subscriber in Nyanya corroborated Aliyu ‘s claim calling on the Federal Government to intervene in the matter.

” I think government has a duty in ensuring that Nigerians are protected against unnecessary exploration by foreign companies like DSTV.

“I remember that the National Assembly promised to ensure that the DSTV and other service providers adopt the pay as you go tariff and reduce their subscription fees, but I don’t know what happened eventually.

“The lawmakers even promised to summon them for a meeting to discuss the issue but I don’t really know the outcome.

” I think the time has come for both the executive and the legislature to join hands and safe Nigerians from the exploration of these companies,” he said.

Mr Uche Chukwuma, a subscriber in Wuse, said that the service providers had never compensated subscribers for poor services especially during rain season when the services were always poor.

He said that the present increase was coming too soon, after the last one was effected in June.

“They effected a tariff hike in June and just three months after, another one,” he said.

Responding, an official of Multichoice, who spoke on anonymous condition, said several factors were considered by the company before adopting the fixed monthly tariff in Nigeria.

” The operating environment in Nigeria is much different from what is obtainable in other countries, even in Niger Republic here the environment is different.

“In Nigeria most companies have to provide their own infrastructure and this contribute to the cost of production,” he said.

The official also said that the recent hike in tariff was caused by the same factors calling for understanding from subscribers.

AU’s committee assist Nigeria to solve economic problems

By Moses Uwagbale

The African Union (AU) Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) has resolved to work closely with Nigeria and the organised private sector, to address economic challenges in the country..

ECOSOCC is an advisory body of the AU, designed to give Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) a voice within AU institutions and decision-making processes.

Mr Aziemethe Omoh, Head of Economic Affairs Cluster Committee of the AU-ECOSOCC, disclosed this in an interview with NAN, on the sidelines of the committee’s inauguration on Saturday in Abuja.

According to him, there are always economic challenges in every nation, just like Nigeria, but the committee will review the organisation’s measures to tackle such.

“Our idea is to build on the blocks that the preceding generations have built, but our approach will be different.

“Our goal is to think out of the box, in terms of reviewing the way things have been done, which unfortunately has impacted on most parts of Africa.

“We want to review economic challenges with a private sector eye and to do things differently and, even more professionally, we will also partner with government and bring our private sector`s experience to bear,’’ Omoh said.

According to him, AU-ECOSOCC will work closely with the government and try to make more appreciable impacts on society within a short period.

“This appointment will not be forever.

“Therefore, within the stipulated period, we want to progress by moving the agenda of Africa forward and impacting positively on Nigeria economy.’’

He said that the committee would partner with many local and international private sector economic consultants to explore best practices.

Omoh said the committee decried a situation whereby Nigeria is portrayed as a poor country in the world, adding that more would be done to deviate from the past.

“India used to have more population, five or six times the size of our population, yet they were able to lift the majority of their people out of poverty.

“We will seek collaborative support from relevant sectors of the economy; we will look at the agenda of government seriously.

“We know government means well, so we will find ways to work with them because Nigerian government is also a signatory to all the AU treaties,’’ NAN quotes Omoh as saying.

“We will also explore the policies, treaties and vision of AU with Nigeria government, but with a private sector eye to achieve targets.’’

Adesina of AfDB, others task Nigerians in Diaspora on national development

By Tanko Mohammed

Some notable Nigerians, including President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, have urged their compatriots in the Diaspora to key into efforts by the Federal Government to harness resources directly for national development.

Another notable Nigerian who appealed to the Diaspora people was  Mr Innocent Chukwuma, CEO of Innoson Group, and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada, Amb. Adeyinka Asekun.

The advice came at the just concluded 20th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, Americas (NIDOA) with the theme, “Harnessing Diaspora Capital for Sustainable Development in Nigeria.

According to them, Nigeria’s emigrant communities are critical national assets mostly needed now to drive their country’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.

However, they called for a conducive environment and formal structures back home to leverage the capitals, influence and connections of the Nigerian Diaspora.

In a pre-recorded video message, Adesina highlighted the strong financial power of Nigerians abroad as shown in their remittances averaging $22 billion (N8 trillion) annually.

“Think of it. What this means is that Nigeria’s value added Diaspora is a significant net gain rather than a brain drain.

“The Diaspora, however, is more than money of course. The Diaspora represents knowledge, strategic influence and networks.

“In a world of hyper change, Nigeria needs its best and brightest to tackle the most challenging issues of our time, and to ensure its rightful place in the League of Nations.

“Together, let us inspire a greater Nigeria, a developed, prosperous and dynamic country bursting with energy and hope,’’ he said.

The AfDB president lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s foresight in setting up the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) to properly harness their “brains, innovation and entrepreneurial capacities’’.

He called for the right policy and political engagement to attract Nigerians abroad and properly tap their huge capitals for national development.

In a keynote address, Innoson noted that the huge remittances of the Diaspora to Nigeria is an indication that they are interested in the wellbeing of their fatherland.

“But remittances are not enough. We need them back to the country. We need the strength from abroad to power our economy.

“We need the Diaspora human capital to come back and contribute to our GDP. This is the way forward to achieve our greatness.

“If Innoson Vehicles after 10 years is still waxing strong in spite of the challenges, I believe that you too can succeed in Nigeria, because whatever that is wrong in Nigeria can be corrected with what is right in Nigeria,’’ he said.

The automaker also stressed the need for government to create the right environment for Nigerians to return home and contribute their quota.

For his part, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada said the quantum of financial flows from the Diaspora was capable of sustaining Nigeria’s development if properly channeled.

Asekun said: “I believe it is commendable and worthwhile to send in money for day-to-day living and for consumption.

“But I also believe that the whole impact of these flows will be felt upon the development process when a structure is brought to bear in the process.

“Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa made very valuable points in terms of all the various initiatives in place such as the opportunities for mortgages,’’ he said.

Turning to Nigerians, home and abroad, he noted that the nation’s development is in their hands, adding that the creation of an enabling environment in Nigeria is also their collective responsibility.

The Chairperson of NiDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, highlighted some programmes the commission has initiated, including a Diaspora trust fund.

“Recently we put in place the Nigerians in Diaspora Trust Fund Committee to work out modalities so that we can have a proper structure for Nigerians who want to invest at home.

“The committee was inaugurated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs not long ago and will soon report back to us.

“We are also working with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria for what we call Diaspora Mortgage Programme where you can sit in the comfort of your home and be able to get a mortgage and then a home in Nigeria.

“There is no excuse any more. You now have NIDCOM to work with and we are determined that the Diaspora will never be ignored again in the annals of our country,’’ she said.

All the speakers lauded the “tremendous achievements’’ of NIDOA in the last 20 years, especially its influence on government’s policies that led to the establishment of NIDCOM.

Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of NIDOA, Mr Obed Monago, said the organisation had sustained its mission, including promoting patriotism, networking and cooperation among Nigerians in the Diaspora since its creation in 2000.

Monago said the theme of this year’s AGM was apt coming at a time Nigeria needs all the resources it could muster to recover from COVID-19.

“The impact of COVID-19 has shown that time is now for the Diaspora to think inwards and homewards and act in the most definite ways to help bring about the socio-economic development that is so much needed in our country.

“However, we will passionately ask the federal government to provide that enabling environment for us to build our country.

“This includes corruption eradication, rule of law, transparency, checks and balances, infrastructure, constant power supply, accountability, favourable monetary policies, ease of doing business, among others,’’ he said.

Osinbajo unveils concern for people as economy bites harder

By Tanko Mohammed

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reported plans of the federal government to ease the burden of Nigerians in a depleting revenue economy.

One of the plans, he said, is to offer Nigerians an effective option to petrol, the Federal Government will focus on developing Compressed Natural Gas otherwise known as auto gas, which is priced significantly lower than petrol.

He stated this during a virtual interactive session hosted by the Africa Report magazine on Thursday.

He said “we have experienced a severe downturn in our finances over the years, so at 60 percent less revenue, we are in a position where sustaining fuel subsidies is practically impossible simply because we do not have the resources.”

According to him, “what we have decided to do is to focus on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) which is about half the price of petrol today. So, if we use CNG for our cars and for our buses, it will cost between N78 and N80 or so per liter.”

Under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), the Federal Government’s objective is to promote domestic use of CNG and support the creation of 1 million jobs by maximizing the domestic use of CNG while reducing reliance on refined petroleum products like kerosene and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Responding to a question regarding increase in taxes, the Vice President noted that the administration has no plans of increasing taxes, stating that “our position really is that, this is hardly the time to raise taxes”.

According to him, “It is even more difficult for people to pay taxes now than ever before, I mean, given the state of affairs, but this is why we’re doing everything now.

“We are trying to ensure that businesses survive this period by providing as much support as we can, and by relieving them of as much burden as possible and ensuring that they are able to get some moratorium so that they can at least continue to run their businesses and by all the other interventions and support that we are giving, we hope that those interventions will help businesses.

“Our approach is first to ensure that we save jobs. If we save jobs and save businesses, and then do the best we can in agriculture, the housing scheme and all of that, we will actually be able to improve spending and if we are able to improve spending, taxes will definitely improve, and if businesses survive, taxes will improve. So, those are the sort of projections that we are looking at.”

It would be recalled that the 2020 Finance Act exempts businesses generating less than N25 million in annual turnover from Companies Income Tax. Also, businesses with a turnover of between N25m and N100m will only pay 20% Companies Income Tax instead of the 30% which was the former applicable rate.

The Vice President had recently said it is the plan of the Buhari administration to put money in the hands of Nigerians.

Addressing concerns raised about electricity tariffs, the Vice President said the era of subsidizing petrol and electricity was over, noting that government has adopted measures of addressing the situation.

His words: “What we are trying to do is to ensure that we are able to reform the electricity industry. The industry is privatized except for the transmission sector. But what we have seen is that the distribution companies (DisCos) are just not able to meet their targets or to even provide electricity on any kind of stable basis now.

“The DisCos have been hankering all these years for a cost-reflective tariff and government has been paying the subsidy. In fact, in the past few years, we have spent about N1.3 trillion on subsidies for electricity. Again, here is a situation where that is completely unaffordable.

“We want to ensure that new companies come into the market. So, that will be decentralized completely. This way, in several parts of our country, we can have micro-grids, small grids, and all of that. We are doing 5 million solar connections as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan. We think that, with all these, we can electrify our country within a short period of time.”

The Vice President added that the overall target of government in the Economic Sustainability Plan is to save existing jobs and revamp businesses by improving the spending capability of Nigerians through the various initiatives in industry, agriculture, mass housing, and the solar connectivity projects.

Over 1, 200 persons on different platforms across the world, participated in the virtual event tagged by Africa Report, the organisers as Digital Dialogues.

Consumers must get value for money

By Anthony Areh 

The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has charged users of weighing and measuring instruments to ensure that consumers get correct quantity and value for their goods and services. 

The charge was made in Lokoja by the Ministry’s Department of Weighing and Measurement in a statement. 

The statement which was issued at the end of a four-day Post COVID-19 sensitisation exercise in Kogi State also called on the users to meet their obligations to the government. 

The leader of the sensitisation team, Mr Okechukwu Ejiofor, an Assistant Director in the Department signed the statement. 

He said that the objective of the exercise was to enlighten the stakeholders on their rights and responsibilities in the use of weighing and measuring instruments for trade. 

He added that it was also to educate weighing and measuring instruments’ users on the effects of the ministry’s regulatory activities on their businesses. 

“The exercise became necessary considering the fact that businesses will face challenges as they emerge from the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Businesses mostly affected are those that use weighing and measuring instruments for trade. 

“Such businesses include, but are not limited to LPG (domestic gas) retail outlets, manufacturers of pre-packages like cement, bottled water, soft drinks and bread, and petroleum products retail outlets,” he said. 

According to Ejiofor , weighing and measuring instruments’ users must ensure that they have valid certificates of verification and be up-to-date in the payment of necessary statutory fees to government. 

Ejiofor said that it was unlawful to use a weighing or measuring instrument for trade without a valid certificate of verification issued by the Weights and Measures Department.