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Federation advocates establishment of solid minerals community development fund 

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Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities  have called for the establishment of Solid Minerals Community Development Fund for mining host communities.

The Federation  made the call at a news conference  at the end of its two-day National Convention on Thursday in Abuja wih the  theme: “Strengthening Social Safeguards, Environmental and Socio-economic Sustainability of Mining Host Communities in Nigeria”.

Mr Habibu Wushishi, Member National Steering Committee,  said the call became imperative to enable communities to benefit more from mining activities in their area .

Wushishi said Gobla Rights in 2019 catalysed the formation of the  Federation, an  amalgamation of mining host communities in Nigeria with the aim of articulating common struggles and demands.

“This is because it realised the need for a citizens-led initiative to demand accountability and promote safeguards for the sustainability of mining host communities in Nigeria.

It is to also  protect the rights of mining host communities in ensuring that the benefits of mineral resources  trickles down to the communities from which they are harnessed.

“The economic returns from mining in Nigeria is huge and often incalculable because of poor oversight and obsolete legislation which does not adequately deal with emerging trends in the extractive sector.

The economic returns from mining in Nigeria is huge and often incalculable because of poor oversight and obsolete legislation which does not adequately deal with emerging trends in the extractive sector.

“Nigeria has in recent times witnessed aggravated security challenges, most of which are resource control-oriented and mining host communities are the ones that often bear the brunt of this menace.”

Wushishi said in recent times, violent incidents leading to multiple casualties occurred in mining host communities across Nigeria.

He said it was on this notion that the Federation was being tasked to strengthen its position as a vanguard for demanding accountability from all stakeholders, both government and private actors, in the extractive industry.

He added that the Federation would therefore continue to amplify the voice of vulnerable host communities through critical conversations and a formidable structure.

“With the inauguration of the new Steering Committee today to lead its affairs for the next two years, the Federation has galvanised several communities across the six  geopolitical zones in Nigeria and will actively pursue its objectives and demands.

“Some of these demands include but are not limited to strengthening of the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) in each state and the swift fulfilment of its core mandate as provided by law.

“This will include demands for the immediate constitution of MIREMCO by states without existing committees.

“The enforcement of all the rights of Mining Host Communities in Nigeria as enshrined in the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act (2007).”

Wushishi said that  the Federation  was also calling for the comprehensive review of the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007 to address emerging trends and global best practices on the rights of host communities.

He said it was also necessary  to strengthen the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPADEC),  to properly carry out its interventions in host communities affected by the activities of hydro-power dams.

He said the Federation would,  among other things, partner with regulatory agencies in the mining sector in its bid to achieve the broad objective of strengthening social safeguards, environmental and socio-economic sustainability of Mining Host Communities.

The  Steering Committee of the Federation thanked Global Rights for the initiative of facilitating the creation of the platform that enabled the voice of the mining host communities to be included in the discourse.The group also thanked the various government stakeholders that continued to partner with the Federation.

Wushishi  said the  Federation would commit to working collaboratively with the government agencies to strengthen safeguards for the sustainability of mining host communities in Nigeria.

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Energy

Nigeria has no business with energy poverty — Minister

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By Matthew Denis, Abuja

The Minister of State Gas Resources, Ekperikpe Ekpo has emphasised that Nigeria has no business with Gas poverty.

The Minister made the disclosure while delivering his speech at the Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) held in Abuja on Thursday.

He said, “Today we’re talking about gas which is the direction to flow and I believe with the faces I’m seeing today you will really articulate what we need to move the gas sector forward.

“Nigeria has no business with  energy poverty and if you’re to verify it you will see that it’s the truth. So I called on all the stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the session.”

The Minister stressed that the global call for energy transition is a wake up call for Nigeria as a nation with abundant resources that we’ll raise up to take our position in energy and develop the sector where it’s supposed to be.

“When we’re able to meet the local demands as well as exports for revenue generation we need the country. I believe we have competent people that are manning the sector.”

Mr. Ekpo appealed to all the critical stakeholders to collaborate together with the government to fix the gas industry and take Nigeria to greater heights for generations to come.

“We are always on ground 24/7 to sort your problems.  We will ensure that whoever is not doing the right things is made to do what is right,” he added.

“We thank our colleagues in the process of resolving these issues, the NERC, NEMSA, and the DISCOs themselves for finding time to come here.

“We give you the reassurances that we will do whatever that is within our power to resolve your issues and whatever that is not resolved please report to us.

“We are here for customers, so feel free to let us know your problems, and we will resolve them,” he emphasised.

In his remarks,  Area Inspecting Engineer, Ikeja Network, NEMSA, Mr Salami Afeez assured FCCPC of the agency’s continued collaboration with the commission in delivering on its mandate as a technical enforcement agency for the energy sector.

Salami also said the agency had alway and would continue to go round Ikeja Disco’s network to monitor the defects in its network.

“As consumers, if you see any threatening points in this network, please do not hesitate to call us.”

Also, NERC representative, Mr Chukwunonso Okwuosah commended FCCPC for putting the customers’ complaints forum together.

“We are constantly appealing that customers should come with an open mind and understand that Ikeja Electric will act as guided by the regulation.”

A representative of Ikeja Electric, Mrs Jolaoluwa Adewale, also thanked customers for their patience and cooperation.

She applauded FCCPC for arranging the forum that brings stakeholders closer to our customers.

“We have noted your complaints and feedback and will continue to work hard to resolve them.

“What you have today is our commitment and resolve to ensure that we will continue to be fair to our customers and also align and cooperate with the laws of the land.

“One of things I would like to encourage our customers is with the issue of accountability and collaborating with us when it comes to energy theft. that is becoming more and more rampant in our society.

“This is by ensuring that those in your communities that steal energy are held accountable,” he said.

One of the customers, Mr Anthony Iteghete, said, “We are very happy and pleased to see this kind of forum.

“We wish it would go around the nation, so that we can have time to ask them some questions and tell them our needs.

“I am here because I paid for meter since August 2023 and I have not seen it.

“I sleep without light. I want you to address this because IKEDC said that they have no meter. But, they are having my money,” he said.

Mr Samuel Ogidan, a customer, also said, “We have been paying close to N1.5 million every month and all of a sudden they jack it up by about 100 percent. They keep changing every three months in order to meet their own target.

“We have been asking them what their target has to do with our own billing? They blocked us from having a meter, a pre-paid meter, and from moving on with our business.

“They do not want us to have access to a prepaid meter. The FCCPC is handling it at the moment. Initially, we are at the court, but the court asks us to settle amicably,” he said.

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Energy

FCCPC tasks Discos on quick response to customers’ complaints

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has advised distribution companies to design a quick response mechanism in addressing customers’ complaints within their networks.

Acting Executive Chairman, FCCPC, Mr Adamu Abdullahi gave the advice during the weekend in Lagos at the end of a four-day one-stop-shop for addressing billing, metering, transformer, connection, disconnection, customer service and other electricity consumer issues in Ikeja Disco coverage areas.

The forum was organised by FCCPC.

Abdullahi said that the highest number of complaints received by the commission was in the power sector, which created more concerns to call for the forum.

Abdullahi said that this also enables FCCPC, with the support of MacArthur Foundation, to embark on a nationwide tour to meet the consumers and hear their complaints.

According to him, the forum is an intervention to bring all the stakeholders together to listen to consumers’ complaints and resolve them.

The executive chairman added that FCCPC would also get commitment from Discos on a time-frame within which such complaints have to be resolved.

According to him, the commission also ensured that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) joined in the forum.

“The major complaints received from all over the country is on over billing, community transformer problems, disregard of metering and regulations from NERC with respect to disconnection, energy tapping, tariff band classification

“Other issues also had to do with account reconciliation, adjustment bottlenecks, disconnection without notice, and billing before connection of the billed property with electricity.

“These are issues that are very serious for consumers, and when they request reconciliation most of the time the DISCOs are not forthcoming.

“That is why complaints are brought to the NERC and FCCPC, which is the last resort apart from the court,” he said.

The FCCPC boss, however, advised Discos to be more forthcoming in addressing customers’ complaints quickly, adding, “this is not our core competence.”

“They have the primary responsibility of offering services to their consumers and resolving these complaints.

“The consumers should have confidence in their service providers and feel free to complain to them first because that is what the law says.

“We appeal to the complainants not to take the law into their own hands but ensure that they lodge their complaints in the right manner.

“We are here to resolve the issues. To sit down with complainers and the people who would normally resolve these complaints.

“Our resolution is to resolve all these problems in these few days we are here or give a timeline to dispose of the complaints. If they fail, you are free to report to our Lagos office.

“We give you the assurance that specifically we are here for you. Please feel free to use our services.

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Energy

Minister summons DisCos, TCN over worsening power situation

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Minister of Power, Mr Adebayo Adelabu has summoned chief executive officers of two Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to a meeting to hold in the coming week 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).

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

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.

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

Special Adviser, Strategic Communication and Media Relations at the ministry, Mr Bolaji Tunji 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.

He quoted the minister as saying that wilful non-performance by any DisCo could suffice as reason for severe punishment or outright license revocation.

“The minister also directed TCN to immediately begin repair works on damaged transmission towers and power lines to improve power supply in affected regions,” Tunji stated.

He recalled that the minister embarked on supervisory visits to some of the power generating plants in the last few months.

“He was in Kainji Hydropower Plant which will soon embark on an expansion plan to boost its existing 560mw operational capacity.

“He also visited Benue and Taraba to assess infrastructure being constructed to evacuate an additional 30mw from the Kashimbila Hydropower Station to the national grid,’’ he stated.

Only 10mw is currently being evacuated from the Kashimbilla Hydropower Station to the national grid.

The minister was also at Olorunsogo and Omotosho thermal plants in Ogun and Ondo states, respectively and was at Ihvobor and Azura power plants in Edo.

During the visits, he assured that the Federal Government planned to pay part of the outstanding debts owed electricity Generation Companies (GenCos) and gas supply companies.

Tunji stated also that with efforts being made there should soon be succour for electricity consumers nationwide.

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