Ossiomo Power Project: Delayed Agreement Signing Due To Non-Agreement Of Oprational Processes-BEDC
The Management of Benin Electricty Distribution Company (BEDC) PLC, yesterday, January 31, explained that the its delay in signing the bilateral agreement on Edo State owned Ossiomo Power project was due to Ossiomo’s non agreement to process of operations, maintenance and management of the line being constructed in line with licensing and safety standard in order to ensure safety of lives and property.
The Management, however, affirmed it ready to partner Edo State government on the project, stressing that this is evidenced in its constant efforts at ensuring that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) clearance letter is properly and safely implemented.
BEDC Chief Head, Edo State, Mr. Abel Enechaziam, while disclosing the company’s position to newsmen in Benin, said procurement process for the proposed new line, expected to be based on open & competitive procurement that is in line with prudency requirement by the regulators has not been agreed to by Ossiomo.
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Enechaziam, who addressed the press on behalf of the Managing Director of BEDC, Funke Osibodu, noted that when combined with proposal by Ossiomo, the valuation methodology for pricing of purchase in 10years time should be agreed to in future, stressing that these can lead to tariff costs that may not conform with regulatory approval.
“As you are aware, we operate in a regulated sector andsector and would require the sign off of the relevant sector regulators such as NERC and NEMSA before executing the proposed agreement, in order to ensure that we remain within the permitted regulatory parameters”, he stressed further.
According to him, two grey areas that were in contention in the bilateral agreement on Ossiomo bordered on the need for valuation of the line being used for power evacuation through open, competitive and transparency tendering process to ensure that only prudent cost are passed to the customers.
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The other area of dispute he said was the company’s insistence that joint operation and maintenance of the Ossiomo line was not allowed and that a sub contactor could be appointed by Ossiomo to work under BEDC supervision for accountability and safety sake in its network.
He stated, “The recent electrocution of two persons occasioned by Ossiomo’s ongoing construction which interfaced with our distribution line thereby causing supply interruption to the community in the area as well as alleged death of one of the parties involved, indeed emphasizes the need for the project to be undertaken in line with applicable regulatory and safety standards.”
He further noted that in addition, there were also other unresolved matters such as valuation methodology for line construction, as well as the issue of procurement of 33KV line, and the operation and maintenance of the constructed distribution line.
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The Management therefore requested for the release of the draft agreement for its review and clearance by the regulator; considerations for safety of the lives of people and public costs so that there is need for proper alignment of key stakeholders and regulatory sign off on the agreement before execution.
NLC Protests: CBN To Flood Banks With Old Naira Notes
The Central Bank of Nigeria has finally concluded plans to release all N1,000, N500 and N200 notes in its custody to Deposit Money Banks.
This decision is expected to end months of hardships and pains Nigerians have been going through following a controversial CBN naira redesign policy that has caused a severe shortage of old and new naira notes across the country.
The CBN’s latest decision came several weeks after the Supreme Court ordered that old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes should remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.
On Wednesday night, top officials of the CBN and commercial banks confirmed to The PUNCH that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had directed DMBs to begin the disbursement of old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to members of the public effective Thursday (today).
According to him, the CBN will also start releasing old notes to commercial banks from Thursday.
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According to The PUNCH, Emefiele met with the chief executive officers of DMBs on Wednesday evening where he told them that the central bank would start releasing all old notes in its custody to commercial banks effective Thursday (today).
Sources at the meeting said the CBN would also be cancelling all the controversial cash withdrawal limits it put in place in recent months.
Also, it was learnt the CBN would start by releasing crisp old notes to DMBS after which the ones deposited by commercial banks will also be released.
Furthermore, the CBN stated at the meeting that bank customers would no longer be required to generate any code before depositing their old notes.
One of the bank CEOs at the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The CBN governor met with bank CEOs this evening virtually. It was a short meeting that lasted for just about 15 minutes. The governor said all old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes will be released to commercial banks beginning from Thursday. The CBN will start with crisp old notes after which the ones deposited by DMBs will be returned. The plan is to flood the economy with cash and ameliorate the challenges Nigerians have been passing through.“
Top bank chief
The top bank chief added, “Also, the CBN will be cancelling cash withdrawal limits it put in place recently. This means that individuals can now withdraw up to N500,000 across the counter while corporate bodies can do N5m. The CBN is expected to release a circular to this effect later tonight or tomorrow morning (today). But effectively, things should be back to normal as far the cashless policy is concerned.”
Further findings by The PUNCH confirmed the CBN would begin to release the old notes into circulation by Thursday. It was also gathered that banks would begin to pay their customers the old notes immediately to ensure the cash circulate across the country.
According to reliable sources in the CBN, banks have been also been directed to report to the old offices to collect the old naira notes they deposited with the apex bank.
They noted that before the end of the week, the country would be awash with naira notes.
Meanwhile, a top source close to the CBN said the apex bank took the decision to avert the planned picketing of the CBN offices nationwide by supporters and leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
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Earlier, The PUCH had gathered that the NLC would on Wednesday picket the CBN headquarters and state offices in protest against the lingering naira crisis and fuel scarcity in the country.
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, who disclosed this at a press conference on Wednesday, lamented that people’s hardships over the naira crisis had worsened.
The union had penultimate Monday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to address the scarcity of naira notes and fuel which had compounded the hardships being faced by Nigerians.
Though the CBN said then that it had complied with the Supreme Court judgment which directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes should remain legal tender till December 31, banks have continued to ration the amount of cash issued to customers, indicating that they have not received cash supplies from the apex bank.
The three states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara which sued the Federal Government over the naira redesign policy had threatened to file contempt charges against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN and the CBN governor, Emefiele for not fully complying with the Supreme Court judgment.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, Ajaero said the planned picketing of CBN offices became imperative following the apex bank’s failure to comply with the one-week ultimatum given to it to make cash available for Nigerians.
Ajaero explained that the union took the decision when it noticed that the situation appeared to be getting worse despite the Supreme Court order allowing the old N500 and N1000 notes to circulate with the new notes till December 31.
He directed all NLC’s affiliate unions and their state councils to begin mobilisation on Friday for the nationwide mass action, saying the Federal Government and the CBN have not shown any commitment to address the situation.
Giving an update about the ultimatum at the briefing which was held at Labour House, Ajaero said workers could no longer access cash to pay fares to their respective workplaces or buy food for their families.
He said, “Last week at the end of our CWC (Central Working Committee) meeting, we gave a one-week ultimatum for the Federal Government to address immediately, among other issues, the issue of cash crunch that was caused by the policy. As of this morning when the CWC met again to review the situation, we discovered that not much improvement has been made.
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“The situation is still almost the same. People are still buying our currency with our currencies. People no longer have access to the currency and the government seems to be very adamant about this. No moves have been made to reduce the suffering of Nigerians.
“Consequently, the CWC-in-session resolved to go into the process of actualising the one-week notice. From Friday, there will be a mobilisation of all state councils through a NEC meeting. All unions have already been directed to mobilise all their organs and their branches.
“By Wednesday, next week, all Central Bank of Nigeria offices nationwide will be picketed. All central banks from the CBN headquarters will be shut till further notice. Workers are directed to stay at home and join in the picketing exercise.
“We call on Nigerians to understand the circumstances we are operating in. People will be telling you about the political situation. The political situation is self-inflicted and the economic situation is worse than the political situation because people cannot eat.”
The labour leader described the proposed demonstration as “total”, saying the workers have been pushed to the wall.
He added, “Workers can no longer go to the office and nothing is happening. So, we have been pushed to the wall having given one week (ultimatum) and we thought they could address the situation which is not addressed.
“We have decided to take our destiny into our hands. So, comrades, the mobilisation commences immediately and when we talk of action from Wednesday, it’s total; until further notice.’’
The labour leader explained that the lingering fuel scarcity and cash crunch were important issues for the NLC as they affected every Nigerian.
The Secretary-General of the National Union of Aviation Transport Employees, Ocheme Abah disclosed that the unions would comply with the NLC’s directive on the picketing action.
Responding to inquiries from The PUNCH, he said,” Yes, of course, we will comply as NLC directed. Yes, all the unions in all airports.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications at CBN, Mr Isa Abdulmumin, said he could not immediately comment on whether the CBN would be releasing the old notes to commercial banks.
He said the apex bank would communicate its position on the matter on Thursday.
Naira Appreciates At Investors, Exporters Window
The Naira on Wednesday appreciated against the dollar at the Investors’ and Exporters’ window, exchanging at N461.50.
The rate represented an increase of 0.11 per cent, compared to the N462 for which it exchanged to the dollar on Tuesday.
The open indicative rate closed at N461.59 to the dollar on Wednesday.
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An exchange rate of N544.50 to the dollar was the highest rate recorded within the day’s trading before it settled at N461.50.
The Naira sold for as low as N460 to the dollar within the day’s trading.
A total of US$ 431.77 million was traded at the official Investors’ and Exporters’ window.
JUST IN: CBN Raises Interest Rate To 18%
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 18. per cent, The PUNCH reports.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this while reading the communiqué of the second MPC meeting of the year on Tuesday.
Addressing journalists at the end of the two-day meeting in Abuja, Mr Emefiele, said the committee voted to keep the asymmetric corridor at +100 and -500 basis points around the MPR.
Analysts in the country had predicted the Central Bank of Nigeria and the MPC may not raise the lending rates at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee.
However, the governor stated the slight increase is to mitigate the effect of inflation and other economic issues.
The MPR has been on the rise since April 2022, when it was 11.50 per cent.
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The rate impacts lending and inflation rates, and, when jacked up, consequently affects upward movement of prices of goods and services.
He said, The MPC committee voted to raise the MPR by 50 basis point to 18 per cent, retain asymmetric corridor at +100 and -500 basis points around the MPR.”
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