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JUST IN: Revoke Lincences Of Non-performing DisCos, FG Orders NERC

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The Federal Government on Monday issued marching orders to its agencies regulating the power sector, directing the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to withdraw lincences of non-performing electricity distribution companies, DisCos.

The government accused the DisCos of not doing enough to improve supply despite the availability of power on the national grid.

The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu who stated this during a meeting with the head of the agencies in Abuja said the distribution segment remains the weakest link in the electricity supply value chain.

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Chief Adelabu stressed that NERC must look for creative ways of getting the DisCos to improve supply including the imposition of stiff sanctions on utilities which fail to pick their allocations and outright cancellation of lincences.

He insisted that the franchise areas covered by the DisCos were too large, adding the government would pursue a restructuring that would create smaller DisCos with companies restricted to one state each.

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“Distribution is our weakest point and it is the closest to the consumers. If we don’t get distribution right, to Nigerians, we’re not doing anything. So, efforts need to be put on this. In fact, we must intensify our efforts in ensuring that we address all issues relating to distribution.

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“It is true that the distribution companies are in the hands of the private sector. We don’t have direct control. But we need to compel them for performance. They must perform. If they do not perform, all our effort in generation, in transmission is zero. I’ve also had a meeting with the Chairman of NERC on how we’re going to address these performance issues of the electricity distribution companies across the nation.

“Why we have new policies in our power sector policy framework, which we’re going to finalize to address long-term issues in distribution, we must proffer short-term solutions to the lingering crisis. Before we get to that, we’re talking about the issue of the capitalization of the discourse, for them to inject funds, to improve infrastructure.

“We are talking about issues of restructuring the DisCos along state lines, to make them manageable in size. Also, issuing new franchises to smaller DisCos to take over areas not being served by the existing ones or that have been underserved by the existing ones.

READ ALSO: Estimated Bills: NERC Fines BEDC, Others, Deducts N10.5bn From Discos Revenue

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“I’ve said it before now that non performance of DisCos in terms of epileptic power supply qualifies as a basis for revocation of license. Any DisCo that is found-wanting will be severely dealt with because their actions or inactions directly affect the performance of the sector”.

The Minister pointed out that wilful refusal by any DisCo to take up available power “is a qualified basis for the revocation of lincences too”, adding that the distribution companies must be ready to pick up 90-99 percent of load allocated to them.”

He described the ongoing electricity rationing across the country as unacceptable, disclosing the government plans to improve power generation from the present 4,000MW to 6,000MW in the next six months.

This, he said, would be achieved by paying off substantial debts owed to power generation companies and gas suppliers. “So what we are looking at is to have an agreement to ramp up to a minimum of 6,000 megawatts within the next three to six months. I know that the highest we ever generated was 5,700, about three years ago. That was specifically November, 2021.

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“And this 5,700 was also distributed. If we could achieve 5,700 at that time, I believe we still have infrastructure to generate between 6,000 and 6,500. In terms of the generating companies, I have no doubt in my mind that the existing capacity can give us 6,500 once there is stability in supply of gas.

READ ALSO: FG Summons TCN, IBDC, AEDC, Exempts BEDC Despite Abysmal Power Supply To Edo, Ondo, Delta

“I’ve been to a number of the generating companies and I confirmed that they have this installed capacity. And a large percentage of this installed capacity is operational, but they are not available because of low or shortage in gas supply. Once there is gas supply, we want to ramp up generation to a minimum 6,000MW”.

He noted that while the Federal Government would continue to pay electricity subsidies in the short-term, it plans to gradually phase it out in the next three years and return the sector to a commercially driven tariff.

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Speaking to journalists after the meeting, the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Engr. Sule Abdulaziz explained that the fire that engulfed its substation in Kano happened while its engineers were trying to fix a leakage from one of its transformers.

He disclosed that power has been restored to most parts of the commercial city, adding that the remaining feeders would be restored before the end of Monday.

“The transformer involved was having some leakages. So our engineering team went there to work on it. They took an outage, followed all the requirements to do a maintenance job and they did it successfully.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Gunmen Kill 5 Police Officers, 16 Others In Ebonyi, Benue

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“Now as they were putting back the transformer oil on the transformer, unfortunately, the filtering machine they were using caught fire.

“And before they could do anything, the fire had spread even to the second transformer. But thank God, with the help of the fire brigade, we were able to quench the fire”, he added.

Vanguard had reported how the minister of Power, Mr Adebayo Adelabu had summoned chief executive officers of two Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to a meeting over worsening supply situations in their regions.

Those invited to the meeting are chief executive officers of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBDC).

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Also summoned to the meeting is Mr Sule Abdulazeez, Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

READ ALSO: Electricity: TCN Restores Supply Kaduna, Kano, Aba After FG’s Intervention

The summon is contained in a letter signed by Mr B.U Mustapha, Director, Distribution Services, Ministry of Power.

The management of other non-performing distribution companies would also be queried over non-performance as reports continue to filter in on the situation in their regions.

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The two DisCos have been summoned due to the worsening power supply situation in their regions in spite of improved supply from TCN.

Mr Bolaji Tunji, Special Adviser, Strategic Communication and Media Relations at the ministry stated on Saturday in Abuja that gas shortage notwithstanding, electricity generation had been ramped up to more than 4000mw in recent days.

“The ministry expects power supply to have improved across the country, as opposed to current experience in some regions.

“Findings revealed that some distribution companies were deliberately not taking up power supply from TCN, while some power lines were also damaged by vandals in Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt and Ibadan regions,’’ he stated.

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[JUST IN] Alleged N33.8b Fraud: Court Grants Bail To Ex-power Minister

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to a former minister of power, Saleh Mamman at the sum of N10 billion.

In a ruling on Friday, July 12, Justice James Omotosho ordered Mamman to produce two sureties in like sum.

Justice Omotosho said each of the sureties must own a landed property worth N750 million within the jurisdiction of the court.

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The judge said he needed not to produce sureties if he could provide a bank guarantee or bond to cover the N10b.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Ex-Power Minister Collapses Outside Courtroom, Proceeding Stalled

According to the judge, the sureties are to provide evidence of tax payment for three years, while the defendant is to deposit his travel passport with the court.

The judge ordered that Mamman is to be further remanded in Kuje prison pe ding when he meets the bail conditions.

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Mamman was arraigned on Thursday on a 12-count charge, in which he was among others, accused of laundering about N33.8billion.

In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/273/2024 filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the ex-Minister is also alleged to have acquired property, through proxies, with looted funds.

The prosecution is scheduled to commence trial on September 25.

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OPINION: How I Quit Smoking (1)

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Tunde Odesola

Now that my father and mother are dead and have gone to where the elderly go to rest their bones in death, I can confess my cigarette addiction. Not that either could put their hands on a Bible and vow that their firstborn was a nicotine-free teetotaler, but both card-carrying Christians thought my cigarette and alcohol use was a fleeting adolescence misstep when Satan took me up to the mountain and showed me the world, and said, “Is it not written that the earth is of the Lord and the fullness thereof; eat, smoke, drink and enjoy, son.”

My father and mother were certain their ceaseless fire-for-fire prayers and biri-biri fasting round the clock were responsible for my repentance before ‘iji aye’, the world’s whirlwind, could sweep me off in my early teenage years.

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We had a cassava plantation in our Lagos backyard back in the day when I was in secondary school. One sunny afternoon, the Devil knocked on my door and I opened it. He grabbed me by my left hand and led me to the green pasture downstairs. If you ever had a cassava plantation, you would know the canopy of tranquil neatness the tall-growing slender stalks provide underneath to nourish nature.

The evil that men do to the Devil lives in their hearts. Uhm! In his irresolvable confusion, Man contemplated the whip of chastisement eternally held by the Conscience and called it the devil. Yes, the devil. Remove the definite article ‘the’ from ‘the devil’, what do you have? Devil, yes. Put a dash between ‘D’ and evil. You’ll get D-evil aka The-evil.

A global Nigerian musical star bears DBanj. The Seruabwon of Osun politics, the late Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke, was popularly called D Gov.

So, what man calls the devil is d-evil that he does. The image of a black and ugly fire-spitting creature with a long tail and a spear is a figment of the imagination.

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I’m not saying there are no powers in heaven and on earth. I’m not saying there’s no God. There’s God, the Maker of heaven and the earth, and I believe in Him. I’m only saying the devil, as concocted by man, is an explanation of the force that wrestles with the truth inside the conscience. But isn’t it written that ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set ye free?

As I was saying, the fall guy we all call the devil grabbed my hand and led me to the cassava pasture backyard. He brought out a stick of Consulate cigarette, lit and gave it to me, just like it gave Eve the apple. I took a military drag. In the cigarette smoking parlance of my time, military drag was the one-time l-o-n-g drag that burns a quarter of the cancer stick called cigarette, filling your lungs fully with smoke.

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As I was enjoying the cigarette the devil gave to me and was feeling giddy, I saw my mother right from where I was seated under the canopy of cassava. She couldn’t see me unless she bent to look beneath the green mat of cassava leaves. But she had perceived the smell of burning tobacco and was gearing to know where it was coming from.

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I crawled further back into the plantation and sat, my unblinking gaze watching her advancing towards the cassava farm. I quickly buried the cigarette and the lighter. I couldn’t see her face which was screened off by the cassava leaves above. I could only see her lower limbs. As she got to the edge of the farm, she bent to see below the foliage and she saw her begotten son seated like Oba Efon – the Lord of the Flies.

Mo ku, mo gbe, mo dara is the lamentation of the condemned. “Kilo n se ni be yen?” she ‘innocently’ asked to know what I was doing in the underworld. “Mo n gba ategun ni; I’m resting,” I answered in a tired voice, trying to yawn.

Then I committed a forced error. I sidestepped her and went upstairs. By the time she got upstairs, the acrid smell of cigarette had overwhelmed the household on the sunny day. “Tunde!” she called out. I was in the bathroom, washing mouth and body. “Did you bring your cigarette upstairs to rest?” she inquired, adding the death sentence, “When your father comes back from work, you will explain when you started smoking to him.”

Like Joshua, I prayed for the sun to stand still because I knew if my father came back in the evening, he would beat me like the inedible snake called ejo aije. My prayer wasn’t answered. The sun didn’t stand still, it went back home to rest while my father arrived, ate and rested before giving my brain a factory reset.

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My mother made me fast for seven consecutive days, choosing more than a dozen psalms for me to read each hour of the day. I fasted and prayed but I didn’t stop smoking whenever cigarettes were available. I didn’t stop smoking because I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I wasn’t an everyday, impulsive smoker. I just smoked when my hands were idle and the devil was at his workshop.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: How Oluwo Of Iwo Was Jailed In The US

When I got admitted into the University of Lagos in the 80s to read Chemistry, I discovered on campus that cigarettes were part of most students’ menus. I also began to smoke after each meal. Then I graduated to smoking before each meal, before sleeping, when I woke up, when going to the toilet, when stressed, when drinking, when happy; every time.

Because I never loved the esoteric nature of Chemistry, I changed my course and university the following year. I love writing and I wanted to be a journalist. To free myself from parental control, I chose the Imo State University, now Abia State University. This was where I earned the title, Eruku Jeje, which means Billowing Smoke. It was impossible to see me without a cigarette, day or night. When fellow smoking students were looking for matches or cigarettes, they knew the room to come in Hostel B.

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Under my mattress, there must be matches and cigarettes. There was honour among smokers, nobody dared steal my cigarette but you’re free to use the matches of lighters anytime.

After I finished Youth Service in the Umuopu and Aji communities of Igbo-Eze North, Enugu State, I headed back home to Lagos, and continued smoking regularly; my bird had learnt how to fly without perching, escaping my parents’ stones.

I started life as a classroom teacher. Down the line, I changed jobs and became a journalist in Lagos with PUNCH newspapers. I always had perfumes, roll-ons, and air fresheners in my laptop bag, car, apartment, everywhere. Some of my friends knew I visited in their absence when they arrived at home and perceived my signature perfumes. If you smell my fingers, you won’t perceive cigarette smoke on them because I invented the use of straw as a cigarette holder. I would tie a straw to the butt of my cigarette and I’m good to smoke without leaving a telltale sign on my fingers.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: The god that cut soap for Wizkid (2)

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If by a very rare oversight or error, there were no perfumes at hand in my car or bag, I would open my car bonnet, get to the carburettor, loosen one hose and get some fuel to wash my hands and rub some in my hair to smell like the car broke down and I was at the mechanic’s fixing it.

However, at a time in my bachelor life, I literally looked in the mirror and spoke to myself. “Tunde, you can’t continue this way. Is this the kind of life you want your children to inherit from you?” I asked myself. And I said to myself, “I never saw my father smoke. Why would I be the one to lead my children to smoking?”

I didn’t decide to quit smoking for health reasons. I didn’t care at the time about its health implications. I quit because I didn’t want to be the one my unborn children would see and take to smoking. Smoking is a dirty habit, I tell you.

Quitting smoking was the singular most arduous achievement in my life. It wasn’t going to the university or building a house or buying a car. It was smoking. Quitting was war. I would light a cigarette, puff on it and tears would well up in my eyes. I would throw it away only to repeat the same process hours or a day later.

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Then I lifted my eyes unto the hill. I didn’t go before any pastor or imam. Each day, I spoke to myself and to the hearing of anyone who cared to listen, “I’ll stop smoking.” Many of my friends laughed, saying, “You? Devil dey go retirement?”

To be continued.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola
X: @Tunde_Odesola

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Esan-born Lady Seeks Okpebholo’s Support To Replace Amputated Limb

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An unemployed Esan-born auxiliary nurse and mother of one, Happy Okojie, has cried out to the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Monday Okpebholo to come to her aid in procuring a prosthetic limb to enable her live a normal life.

Okojie, who hails from Udomi clan in Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State, rely on the benevolence of kind-hearted individuals for sustenance.

In an interview, she said she was lucky to be alive after surviving a car accident which led to her leg to be amputated in 2010.

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According to her, she decided to cry out to the APC governorship candidate, whom she calls ‘big brother’, for assistance to seek proper medical attention.

She added that having heard about his philanthropic gestures and support for the needy, she appealed to him to extend his philanthropic gesture to her.

She disclosed that, in 2012 she attended a prosthetic clinic in the United Kingdom, (UK) where she was assessed and provided with a prosthetic leg.

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She, however, lamented that the prosthetic leg had long expired prompting her to seek for support of her kinsman and other public spirited individuals for support.

She recalled that in 2017 and 2021 Governor Godwin Obaseki supported her financially but it wasn’t enough for her to make the trip to seek for medical assistance from her doctors in the UK.

She said, “Since I had the accident that left me incapacitated, life has been difficult for me and that is why I am using this opportunity to reach out to my ‘big brother’ distinguished Senator Monday Okpebholo, (aka Akpakomiza) to enable me get proper treatment by renewing my long expired prosthetic.

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“I have made several attempts to reach out to him all to no avail.”

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