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Abuja Update

NG-CARES: LASG sensitises 1,716 new beneficiaries, says programme improving livelihood in vulnerable households

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The Lagos State Government (LASG) has described the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) initiative as a transformative scheme, serving as a catalyst for empowerment that addresses not only immediate needs, but creates a pathway for sustained prosperity.

Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Oreoluwa Finnih, made the assertion at a-one day sensitisation programme held Ikeja, the State Capital.

The event was organised for the new 1,716 beneficiaries admitted into the NG-CARES Labour Intensive Public Workfare (LIPW) DLI 1.2 across 20 Local Government Areas of the State.

Explaining the social intervention programme as a support system, Dr. Oreoluwa noted the scheme is providing opportunities for meaningful engagement and breaking the cycle of poverty acoss the State.

According to her, “Under the unwavering commitment of this administration to shared prosperity, the NG-CARES social impact initiative has become one of the driving forces in realizing the vision of the T.H.E.M.E.S Plus Development Agenda, standing as a testament to our dedication to alleviating poverty and fostering sustainable livelihoods.”

Speaking on the essence of the sensitization exercise, Dr. Oreoluwa stated that beneficiaries need to be enlightened about the myriad opportunities and benefits associated with their participation in the programme, maintaining that beneficiaries must understand the profound impact their dedication to the project can have in the life of the larger community.

“As beneficiaries, you are not just workers; you are integral members of a larger community working towards a common goal. We believe in your ability to make a positive impact. Your commitment to self-improvement and community betterment is commendable and serves as an inspiration to us all,” she enthused.

While maintaining that the transformative initiative which is being midwifed by the Office of the SDGs has achieved a significant milestone with the graduation of over 1,700 beneficiaries in the first phase, Dr. Oreoluwa explained that the inclusion of new set of beneficiaries underscores the programme’s scalability and its potential to reach an even larger audience.

“This expansion reflects our dedication to inclusivity and our firm belief that the benefits of sustainable development should be extended to as many individuals as possible. This platform has already graduated over 1,700 beneficiaries from various communities, working with organizations like LAWMA, Public Works, Ministry of Transportation, LASPARK, Primary Health Cares, and other intervention agencies,” she noted.

She disclosed further that as the state continues to navigate emerging challenges, the government remains steadfast in its dedication to the well-being of every Lagosians, laying the groundwork for lasting positive change in the lives of our people at the grassroots level.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Tolani Oshodi affirmed that enrollment of the new beneficiaries into the Labour-Intensive Public Workforce is an essential step to extend the benefits of the social intervention and involve more vulnerable Lagosians in the project.

Represented by the Director, Administrative and Human Resources, Office of SDGs, Mrs. Nike Akanji, the Permanent Secretary revealed that the delivery platform plays a pivotal role in the overall implementation of the NG-CARE project, adding that the scheme has significantly enhance the socio-economic well-being of vulnerable members of our society and alleviate their challenges.

“The administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is responsive to the necessities of the people and we are dedicated to providing opportunities to achieve a state of well-being and socially acceptable standards of living for all our citizens,” she stated.

The sensitisation exercise featured enlightenment sessions from officials of Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA,) LASPARK, Public Works Corporations and Ministry of Transportation, including the Head of the State Care Coordinating Unit, Mr. Basit Baruwa.

Abuja Update

Escalating rivalry among Zamfara bandits, organisations threatens peace efforts

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In the heart of Zamfara State’s ongoing security crisis, a disturbing escalation in tensions between rival bandit groups has brought the region to the brink of further violence.

The standoff, marked by dire warnings and threats of lethal reprisals, underscores the complex and volatile dynamics at play within the criminal underworld of the state.

According to intelligence sources obtained by Zagazola, a platform specialising in regional security updates, four of the most feared bandit gangs have emerged as central players in the escalating conflict. These groups, each vying for dominance and control over lucrative criminal enterprises, have demonstrated a steadfast rejection of peaceful coexistence, opting instead for a combative stance against one another.

The latest chapter in this saga unfolded on Saturday, April 14 when representatives from three of the four factions convened at Usu village in Birnin-Magaji Local Government Area to explore the possibility of a peace agreement. Notably absent from the gathering was the Bello Turji faction, signaling a clear defiance of the reconciliation efforts.

Leading the negotiations were the leaders of the Alhaji Shingi gang, represented by Ado Aleru, the Kachalla Halilu faction, represented by Bello Tagoje, and the Gwaska group, represented by a coalition including Ardo Na-shawari, Alhaji Ali, Alhaji Shamago, and the youngest son of Dan Karami Gwaska. The absence of Bello Turji, however, cast a shadow of doubt over the prospects of achieving a comprehensive peace deal.

The deliberations were punctuated by stern warnings and ultimatums, with the Shingi gang, led by Ado Aleru, issuing a chilling threat to the Gwaska group. They forbade the Gwaska faction from setting foot in any village other than Tsanu and Rukudawa in Zurmi Local Government Area, accompanied by a stern warning of lethal consequences should they defy this directive.

To fortify their position, the three bandit leaders strategically deployed their forces in the north of Tsafe, signaling readiness for potential hostilities. In addition to territorial demands, the Shingi gang presented a list of conditions for peace, including the restitution of stolen livestock and firearms, as well as compensation for damages inflicted upon rival factions.

Despite the Gwaska group’s tentative agreement to the terms proposed by the Shingi gang, the obstinate stance of Bello Turji cast a pall over the prospects of lasting peace. Disregarding the overtures of reconciliation, Bello Turji reaffirmed his commitment to pursuing Dan Karami Gwaska, signaling a continuation of the cycle of violence that has plagued the region.

As Zamfara State hangs on the brink of further bloodshed, the efficacy of peace negotiations remains uncertain. With the specter of armed conflict looming large, the fate of countless innocent lives hangs in the balance, underscoring the urgent need for a concerted effort to quell the rising tide of violence and instability in the region.

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Abuja Update

Matters arising from new electricity tariff in Nigeria

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By Tolu Ogunlesi

Quite sad (but not surprising) that it’s the ‘freezer’ comment that totally dominated the headlines from yesterday’s Electricity press briefing. There was a lot more that was said, that’s useful to know, as background and basis for conversation and debate.

If you want to know what else HM Bayo Adelabu said, I took some notes – the comments below are attributable to him (and to the NERC Vice Chair, who also spoke).

[The important background to all this is that for now it’s ONLY Band A consumers who are affected by the 3-fold Tariff Increase rolled out this week. There are 5 Tariff Bands in all, A to E. Band A are the ones guaranteed a minimum of 20 hours of supply per day]

  1. Prior to tariff change, the Federal Government was subsidising 67 percent of the total cost of generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity in Nigeria.

Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Vice Chair added: If you isolate Generation, that 67 percent figure rises considerably. For example, in January 2024, the total power generation invoice issued to DisCos was 240 Billion Naira, but the Discos were asked to pay only 24 Billion of this = 10 percent, which means 90 percent of the generation cost was being borne by FGN, as a subsidy.

  1. Total estimated electricity subsidy cost (on FGN) for 2024, without tariff adjustment: ~2.9 Trillion Naira (~240 Billion per month)
  2. Total estimated subsidy cost for 2024, after tariff adjustment: ~1.4 Trillion Naira (~113 Billion per month)
  3. The Tariff increase has also been accompanied by a reduction in the number of Band A “feeders” — i.e. feeders guaranteed to supply a minimum of 20 hours per day — across the country. There were previously over 1,000 Band A feeders; now, only 481 are classified as Band A.
  4. There are about 12 million electricity “customers” in Nigeria (please try and understand this carefully before jumping to make comments. It doesn’t mean 12 million ‘people’, it means 12m ‘meter-able’ consumption points, e.g households, businesses, etc).
  5. Band A accounts for = 15% of the 12 million electricity customers = approx 1.8m. The remaining >10m customers will continue to enjoy government subsidies on electricity consumption.

(Related to this, I’ve seen data elsewhere that suggests that 70 percent of the revenues collected in 2023 came from Band A – worth confirming that figure).

  1. Of the 12 million customers, only a little over 5 million are currently metered. Which means a metering gap of over 6 million.
  2. The subsidised pricing regime will continue in the short term, with a “transition plan” to attain full “cost-reflective” pricing over the next 3 years.
  3. The restricting of the Tariff increase to Band A is meant to serve as a “proof of concept”; i.e. kicking off with a Band that has the “capacity and willingness” to pay for 20 to 24 hours of daily supply.
  4. The pricing change will help address some of the liquidity issues in the industry; restore a “line of sight” for recovery of investment, and make it more “bankable.”
  5. There is a huge infrastructure deficit in the power sector; obsolete equipment at all levels (this is where the Minister cited the example of some equipment still carrying ECN branding; ECN has been defunct for more than 50 years now)—and vandalisation of everything from gas pipelines to grid towers etc.
  6. If DisCos supply less than 20 hours to Band A consumers, there must be sanctions and consequences. “We will not shy away from our responsibilities…”

(On this note, NERC Vice Chair added that under the old Power Sector Reform Act, the powers of NERC to sanction were limited, and fines for DisCos were outdated (he cited fines as low as N10,000 per day). But with the new Act signed by PBAT—see No. 15 below—NERC now has expanded regulatory and sanctions powers. Vice Chair cited example of 2018 when NERC suspended IBEDC Board, and Board went to Court and got the suspension set aside, vs 2024 when NERC was able to successfully dissolve the Board of KEDC).

  1. The new Tariff Regime for Band A means there’s now an incentive for DisCos to work to migrate other Bands to Band A, so that they can supply them Band A threshold, and charge Band A tariffs.
  2. Energy consumption management by consumers has to become a priority. This is where the ‘freezer’ example (that has gone viral) was cited. Yeah, def not the best example to use, as we’ve seen from the distracting fallout, but the larger point about more responsible usage stands.
  3. Minister mentioned ongoing efforts to improve electricity supply:

—The new Electricity Act signed by PBAT (which repealed the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005) has now fully decentralised the sector, and empowers subnational governments for regulation and licensing.

—Renewable energy investments, led by REA

—New power plants like recently-completed Zungeru Hydropower (700MW)

—Investments in new lines, new injection substations, new transformers

—Closing the metering gap.

—Communications and advocacy

  1. “The journey of a thousand miles stand with a single step, in the right direction. This one is in the right direction.” — Bayo Adelabu

Ogunlesi is a Policy Communication Expert and former Special Assistant on Digital Communication to President Buhari

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Abuja Update

Banks drive stock market performance with N147bn gain

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The Nigerian stock market witnessed a significant boost in performance on Friday, propelled by gains in tier-one banks such as Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), Access Corporation, Zenith Bank and FBN Holdings, among others.

Investors gained a total of N147 billion or 0.25 percent, leading the market capitalisation to rise from N59.021 trillion to close at N59.168 trillion.

The All-Share Index also saw an increase of 0.25 percent or 260 points, closing at 104,647.37 compared to the previous day’s figure of 104,387.47.

Consequently, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 39.95 percent.

Market breadth remained positive with 34 gainers and 14 losers recorded during the trading session.

Secured Electronic Technology Plc (NSLTECH) emerged as the top gainer, rising by 10 percent to close at 55 kobo per share.

Juli Pharma followed with a gain of 9.93 percent to close at N7.86 per share.

Other notable gainers include Daar Communications, which added 9.84 percent, The Initiative Plc (TIP) rose by 9.72 percent, and NEM Insurance grew by 9.66 percent.

However, Ikeja Hotel and PZ Cussons Nigeria led the losers’ table, each declining by 10 percent to close at N4.48 and N36 per share, respectively.

Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc declined by 9.84 percent, Sovereign Trust shed 6.38 percent, and International Energy Insurance dropped by 5.66 percent.

Analysis of market activities revealed a higher trade turnover compared to the previous session, with the value of transactions increasing by 53.32 percent.

A total of 505.19 million shares valued at N14.24 billion were exchanged in 9,574 deals, with Access Corporation leading in volume and GTCO leading in value.

Access Corporation traded 75.78 million shares valued at N1.82 billion, followed closely by FBN Holdings with 75.09 million shares worth N2.99 billion.

GTCO also sold 64.12 million shares valued at N3.12 billion, Zenith Bank transacted 47.66 million shares worth N1.92 billion, and Fidelity Bank traded 37.53 million shares worth N377.05 million.

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