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Adapting to professional codes, standards will ameliorate infrastructural failure in Nigeria — COREN President

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…Calls for capacity building of indeginuous engineering firms

By Gloria Akudoro, Abuja

The President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Engr. Ali Rabiu on Tuesday said that enactment and adaptation of the Nigerian codes and standards will aid to foster a robust engineering practices and proffer solution to the incessant infrastructural failure in the country.

COREN President made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 3-day auspicious occasion of the 30th Engineering Assembly held in Abuja stressing that the adherence to enacted codes and standards would also help reduce the challenges and create better opportunities for practitioners for an enhanced future in the lives and economy of the citizenry.

The biggest gathering of engineers which started on Monday 8th to end on Wednesday 10th , 2022 has its theme ‘Domestication and Development of Codes, Standards and Regulations as a Panacea for Engineering Infrastructure Failures in Nigeria.’

The Engineering Assembly is usually an annual conference organised by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria bringing together Engineers, Technologist, Technicians and Craftsmen Engineering Firms to meet and interact professionally on technical innovations, advancement and issues confronting the sector and to proffer possible ways to the practice and precession forward.

Engr. Rabiu who affirmed that the Assembly will focus its discussion on the initiated theme for this conference, stressed that a lot has been accomplished and there is need for a review and articulation of the issues.

“There has been various contestation on propriety of having the Nigerian Codes and Standards, which is the position of some stakeholders, while others advise that we adopt one of the existing ones.

“The Council after a review of the situation ultimately decided that the most responsible and respectful approach was to hold a detailed discussion of the subject, hence the choice of the theme of this year’s Assembly,” he stated.

While mentioning some of the council’s achievement, Engr. Rabiu said since the last assembly, the council has intensified its efforts in exercising discipline and harmony in the practice and has therefore revised the Engineering codes of conducts to accommodate all cadres of engineering.

“The Code of Conduct seeks to preserve the high ethical standards of the engineering profession, which are the highest priority statutes of COREN. It is also meant to guide COREN registered practitioners in their practices and ethical decision making.”

He also stated that the amended COREN Act instituted Engineering Regulations Monitoring (ERM) as an important mandate of COREN to further deepen professionalism in engineering practice.

He said the Council also established the ERM Department and inaugurated the States Technical Committees (STCs) as well as the State Expatriate Monitoring Committees (SEMCs) with among others responsible for the following mandates, “To ensure the regulation of engineering practitioners (both local and expatriates) and firms with COREN.

“To ensure that engineering is practiced in Nigeria in accordance with the relevant Codes of Engineering Practice. To enforce and maintain discipline and strict standards of ethics in the practice of the Engineering Profession in Nigeria.

“To Foster the speedy acquisition of all relevant Engineering and Technological Skills by ensuring capacity building and monitoring local content development in the Nigerian Engineering Industry and to Minimize and with time, eliminate engineering and technological dependence of Nigeria on other countries by ensuring mandatory attachment of Nigerians to expatriate Engineers on major projects to understudy them from inception.

COREN President, however expressed hope that this unique platform will be concluded on the deliberations on the challenge of incessant engineering failures and their remedies, reflect on the state of engineering and provide vibrant resolutions.

In his opening remark, the Registrar, COREN, Engr. Prof. Adidas Adebola Bello, welcomed all present to the respected engineering gathering. He ceased the opportunity to announce to all categories of engineering practitioners that attendance at the assembly is mandatory as crucial matters will be addressed.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi Olayinka, thanked COREN for choosing the theme for this years’ assembly given the incessant failure of infrastructure in the country particularly on building structure.

He also commended the regulatory council for the fantastic miles achieved over the years to reposition the engineering profession in Nigeria for higher carrier shipping and making ensure adherence to codes, standards and regulations for value for money in engineering task through its regulatory functions which is evidence in the council’s aggressive and effective mandate of Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM).

“I am aware that COREN officials under the new Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM) are moving from one construction site to the other, correcting construction defects and threatening sanctions on quacks.

“Nigerians must be made to know that it can no longer be business-as-usual.

“Offenders within the profession must be adequately sanctioned. COREN must work hard to restore the apparent loss of confidence in the profession.

“We must critically examine ourselves in line with the theme of the assembly. The trend of failed projects must be checked,” he noted.

While frowning at failed infrastructure projects in the country, Dr. Olayinka advocated for promotion of capacity building given the fact that most foreign companies have dominated the space of the construction industry which therefore widened the gap of thousands of young unemployed engineers.

He therefore called on private sectors, State Governors and Federal Government to assist in instituting a deliberate policy of building indigenous engineering capacity by reserving jobs of certain values for indigenous firms.

Meanwhile, in his goodwill message the Hon. Speaker, House of Assembly, Femi Gbajabiamila ably represented by Engr. Mohammed Wudil, said the national assembly is ever ready to render its support to COREN and will ensure that every of its bills experience smooth passage.

Engr. Mohammed Wudil who stood in for the Speaker however encouraged participation of engineers in the National Assembly to fast track deliberations and passage of engineering bills and to promote development of the sector.

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Energy

Marketers advocate ethanol as alternative fuel, plan $7bn yearly savings

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The Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria has stated that ethanol could be adopted as a biofuel to help Nigeria in reducing energy poverty and emissions.

According to MEMAN during a recent quarterly press webinar and engagement, about $7.4 billion could be saved annually by taking advantage of Nigeria’s ethanol resources as a biofuel to support petrol.

Ethanol is a biofuel that is commonly used as a substitute or additive to petrol in vehicles. It is typically produced through the fermentation of plant materials like cassava, corn, sugarcane, and others.

MEMAN noted that ethanol blended into biofuel as a transformative energy source has the potential to change Nigeria’s energy landscape and pave the way for a sustainable economy.

Experts, who spoke at the webinar, revealed that Nigeria had what it takes to exploit its ethanol to biofuel potential.

Presenting a paper titled ‘Ethanol as a Biofuel,’ a Senior Consultant with Africa Practice, Agwu Ojowu, pointed out that developing the ethanol industry could save the nation about $7.4bn ba year.

“Nigeria’s cassava production, standing at 63 million metric tonnes annually, represents 26 per cent of the global total. However, with 40 percent of this yield lost each year, there is a significant economic loss estimated at $7.4bn. Developing the ethanol industry could mitigate these losses, enhance economic stability, and capitalise on the depreciating currency to reduce costs,” Ojowu stated.

He emphasised that ethanol’s higher octane rating improves fuel quality and helps meet environmental standards by reducing sulphur content and greenhouse gas emissions.

Those attributes, he said, make ethanol a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to petrol, aligning with Nigeria’s climate commitments.

Going down memory lane, Ojowu recalled that Nigeria’s foray into ethanol began with the 2007 biofuels policy, which mandated a 10 percent ethanol blend in fuel.

“Despite initial challenges, including the suspension of the policy in 2008, because of blending inconsistencies, the potential of ethanol remains significant. Ethanol’s cost-effectiveness compared to petrol has historically led to economic arbitrage, suggesting that a well-regulated biofuel market could be economically advantageous,” he said.

Ojowu added that ethanol presents numerous benefits, including economic, environmental, and agricultural advantages, without necessitating vehicle modifications.

The Executive Secretary of MEMAN, Clement Isong, also emphasised the role of renewable energy in addressing Nigeria’s energy poverty.

He highlighted the importance of diverse energy sources, including biofuels, solar, hydroelectricity, and wind energy, to create a balanced and sustainable energy mix.

“MEMAN is committed to engaging with industry stakeholders to advocate for energy solutions that meet Nigeria’s needs,” Isong said.

He expressed optimism about the future of renewable energy in Nigeria and the continued efforts to enhance press engagement and industry collaboration.

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Energy

Abuja DisCo adds 45 new feeders to Band A

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The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, (AEDC) has disclosed it has added 45 new feeders to the Band A category of customers who would enjoy a minimum of 20 hours of electricity as stipulated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The new feeders are majorly in the Asokoro, Wuye, Garki, Suleja, Apo and other areas of the capital city. This was disclosed by the Disco on their official X (formerly Twitter) page where it described the feeder location and specific areas served by the feeder.

Other areas where feeders were upgraded to band A include; Suleja, Garki Area II, Wuse, Anyigba, Mpape, Jabi, Gwagwalada, Gwarimpa etc.

The DisCo noted that the upgrade to band A for the affected feeder location is effective from June 1, 2024.  Similar upgrades across other DisCos

In April, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced a more than 200 percent increase in electricity tariffs for Band A customers.

This move is part of efforts to eliminate electricity subsidies and implement a cost-reflective tariff system in the power sector.

Abuja Disco’s addition of new feeders to Band A is in line with similar actions by other distribution companies like Eko and Ikeja DisCos following the tariff hike.

Band A customers are on specific feeders that receive a minimum of 20 hours of electricity daily. According to NERC, these customers account for approximately 17 percent of all electricity users in the country.

The decision to raise electricity tariffs for Band A customers has sparked public outrage, particularly among trade and labour unions nationwide.

Organised labour members have protested the increase, while the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has advised its members not to pay the new tariff, claiming they were not consulted.

MAN has instructed its members to continue paying the old rate of N66/kWh. The various electricity distribution companies have vowed to disconnect customers who fail to pay the new tariff under their band.

The group has also filed a petition with NERC regarding the tariff hike, which is currently awaiting resolution.

Furthermore, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) comprising all chambers of commerce and trade associations across the country had warned that the new tariff could lead to the shutdown of 65 percent of businesses across the country.  The group stated that the over 200 percent hike in electricity tariff to N220/KWh then made Nigeria’s power cost the highest in the world. It warned that the hike could exacerbate the economic situation in the country and push more people into unemployment and poverty.

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Energy

Settlement agreement: NNPC asks court to discontinue lawsuit against Mobil subsidiaries

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has filed a motion to discontinue its lawsuit against Mobil Nigeria subsidiaries and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The motion is aimed at finalizing a settlement agreement for the divestment of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited for $1.28 billion.

NNPC’s legal counsel, Afe Babalola & Co., presented the motion, requesting the court’s permission to withdraw the suit and strike it off the court’s cause list.

The motion cites legal precedents, including the Supreme Court decision in Adama v. Maigari (2019), which supports the relisting of a discontinued suit if the out-of-court settlement fails.

The lawsuit, originally filed by NNPC on July 5, 2022, was referred to arbitration on August 3, 2022.

Recent negotiations have led to an out-of-court settlement decision, with the Settlement Agreement requiring NNPC to withdraw the lawsuit.

The court is currently considering the motion, which, if granted, would pave the way for the parties to complete the settlement and divestment transaction.

No further details have been released, but sources indicate that the settlement agreement includes clauses designed to align the interests of all parties and finalize the transaction.

The development is seen as a significant step towards resolving the longstanding dispute between NNPC, the Mobil subsidiaries, and NUPRC.

Approval of the motion would allow the parties to focus on finalizing the settlement and completing the divestment transaction.

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