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No recruitment scandal In ECOWAS  Parliament, says member

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has debunked the allegation by some Nigerian lawmakers on recruitment irregularities at the institution.

Sen. Edwin Snowe, Leader of the Liberian Delegation at the Parliament, said this while speaking with the Parliamentary correspondents on Sunday in Abuja.

Snowe was reacting to the outrage that erupted over the alleged recruitment irregularities process on ECOWAS.

Nigeria NewsDirect reports that Nigerians Lawmakers had threatened to pull out of the Parliament alleging that Nigerians were being shortchanged in its recruitment exercise.

The Nigerian delegation also  threatened to withdraw the country’s  membership of the regional  bloc if it refused to suspend the ongoing recruitment exercise as recently directed in the 2022 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.

Snowe, however, refuted the allegation describing it as “ a misrepresentation” of the real issues by the Nigerian delegation, stressing that the recruitment process at the Parliament was competitive.

He also said that the Nigeria delegation that raised the alleged scandal were filibustering to impress Nigerians so as to canvass for votes ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.

“Recruitment into the ECOWAS institutions is very competitive and cannot shortchange any country let alone Nigeria that has made invaluable contributions to the development of the community.

“There was no resolution reached at the plenary to suspend recruitment into the P5 positions as is being insinuated by Nigerian legislators. Nigerians are adequately represented in ECOWAS Parliament and other institutions of the community,” Snowe said.

Regarding the recruitment, Snowe insisted that the report of a resolution to suspend the recruitment process was  not true.

He explained that a motion was entertained by the First Deputy Speaker who was the presiding officer on the issues raised by Nigerian MPs on Nigerians being shortchanged.

Snowe said the issue of recruitment was being handled by a Nigerian firm contracted by the Community to take applications and shortlist successful citizens of the sub-region for interview and wondered why Nigerian lawmakers are crying foul.

He added that the matter was referred to the Bureau for further action, adding that it does not constitutes a resolution to suspend the process as the whole community activities could not be stopped because some lawmakers from a member country raised issues.

“There was no vote taken on this matter, two Nigerian lawmakers raised the issue about the recruitment process.

“There was this staff skill audit that was done at ECOWAS and the results came out not too favorable to some of the staff occupying certain positions. So, the lawmakers linked the staff skill audit debate to the recruitment process.

“But the Deputy Speaker asked the Bureau to take seize of the matter and investigate it and get back to the Parliament’s Plenary at the earliest possible time.

“There was no vote taken because resolution at Parliament is based on vote,” Snowe further explained.

Snowe said that apart from the P1 to P3 positions which were junior cadre, there was no record of recruitment into the P5 positions, which was the bone of contention, as no decision had been reached on it.

He further explained that the recruitment for the P5 position  was within the jurisdiction of the Management Succession Committee( MSC) of the ECOWAS Commission which was chaired by the President of the Commission.

He pointed out that the regional bloc recognised the immense contributions of Nigeria and had taken steps to give Nigeria adequate representation in ECOWAS institutions.

“At the Parliament as I speak to you, there are 73 staff members and 35 of them are Nigerians.

“We breached the Rule of Procedure, we breached the Supplementary Act and gave Nigeria a deserving platform at the Parliament.

“This consideration made is not out of weakness, it is out of our own appreciation for the role Nigeria has played in our sub-region.

“For Example at the Authority of Heads of State and Government the chairmanship is rotational. At the Parliament, the Speakership is rotational on alphabetical order.

“But on our own, outside the Protocol – the Supplementary Act of the Parliament, outside our standing rule, we have agreed that when Nigeria is not chairing as Speaker, Nigeria should always serve as First Deputy Speaker even when there is no rule that supports that.

“Each country has a committee chair at the Parliament currently with the exception of Guinea Bissau.

“We also said that because of Nigeria’s magnanimity we have given Nigeria two  committee chairmen positions because of our respect for what tax payers money has done for the region.

“Nigeria permanently chairs the Finance Committee and  and another committee in addition to the  First Deputy Speaker when Nigeria is not serving as Speaker,” Snowe noted.

He cautioned the Nigerian lawmakers not to cast unnecessary  aspersions on the Parliament and its Speaker Sidie Tunis by misrepresenting of facts.

“ECOWAS was founded on solidarity, there is nothing that makes might right in the community. The Nigerian delegation questioning the recruitment process is misrepresenting the decisions that emanate from the plenary.

“I understand that our brothers are going for election and sometimes they filibustering because they want the vote and support of their constituencies to feel that they represent Nigeria’s interest at the Parliament.

“But we will not allow the Parliament to be used as a stepping stone  for the reelection of politicians,” Snowe added.

Nigerian representatives at the parliament issued the threat when some principal officers in the regional bloc allegedly defied the directives and embarked on the illegal process of recruiting their relatives and cronies.

The lawmakers cite the huge financial commitments which Nigeria makes to the body amid its internal security challenges.

They alleged that there was no commensurate return on investment for Nigeria in ECOWAS for all the country has done and is doing for the region from its inception in 1975.

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Tinubu directs education officials to conduct census of all schools, teachers

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President Bola Tinubu has ordered the conduct of an extensive census to ascertain the fault lines and aid proper planning.

The presidential directive handed down on Thursday, is expected to produce data on all schools in Nigeria from primary to tertiary level, their present conditions and live-in facilities, proximity to one another and infrastructure.

It will also ascertain the number of teachers in the country, their qualifications, training support received, number of pupils and students in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, gender, and exam grades, among others.

The Federal Ministry of Education, currently under Mamman Tahir’s purview, will partly spearhead the process by hosting a portal or dashboard where the critical information will be dropped.

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity noted that the policy DOTS, an acronym for Data Repository, Out-of-School Children Education, Teacher Training and Development, and Skill Development and Acquisition will comprehensively overhaul the education sector to improve learning and skill development, increase enrolment, and ensure the academic security of the nation’s children.

The presidency said the information that will be derived from the exercise will guide federal and state interventions for teachers’ training and development as well as overall support.

“It will also provide data on gender ratio (boys and girls), their specific learning needs, and who is in school or who has dropped out based on daily monitoring with year-by-year reporting.

“There will be a dedicated portal/dashboard in the Federal Ministry of Education, offices of state governors, and local government chairpersons, which will host and disseminate this information for the federal government, states, and local governments to monitor in real time.

“This new data tracking architecture will enable the government to track the progress of students, thus having a clear data-driven mechanism for interventions, especially concerning out-of-school children, [especially] girls, and those with specific learning disabilities, among others,” the presidential spokesman added.

On the challenges of out-of-school children’s education and training, the Federal Ministry of Education said it is already implementing the government’s policy through the activities of four of its agencies, with about two million beneficiaries already recorded.

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Enugu Govt cautions NERC, EEDC against overcharging electricity consumers

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The Enugu State Government says it will not condone any act of overcharge or extortion of electricity consumers in the state by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC).

Gov. Peter Mbah gave the warning on Thursday while declaring open a three-day Customer Complaints Resolution Meeting organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) in Enugu.

Mbah, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Chidiebere Onyia, identified electricity as a product, adding that it should have cost implications which should be fair and reflective of economic realities to all stakeholders.

“I urge NERC not to derail on the steady and quality power supply according to the band classifications,”

According to him, the state government is committed to ensuring that people have access to electricity services in the state.

The governor said that the government was currently studying underserved and unserved communities and would soon constitute the management of the newly established Enugu State Electrification Agency.

“Enugu State is poised to catalyze the economic growth of the South-East through a cost effective and efficient power supply to grow our Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and industries among others,”.

While commending NERC for organising this event, the governor charged the regulatory body to endeavour to resolve most of the challenges faced by customers as complained by them.

He said that the government had started engaging with developers and investors interested in setting up power generation plants under the willing-buyer and willing-seller commercial agreement.

Mbah said that when completed, it would catalyze economic and industrial growth of the state and South-East.

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FG will require N3.2trn to subsidise electricity in 2024 – Official

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The Federal Government says it will require about N3.2 trillion to subsidise electricity in 2024, if the current tarrif increase has to be reversed.
Mr Sanusi Garba, the Chairman, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said this at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the House of Representatives committee on Power in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that the investments in the sector was not enough to guarantee steady power supply nationwide.

He added that if nothing was done to address foreign exchange fluctuation and non payment for gas, the sector would collapse.

He said that prior to the tarrif review, Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) were only obligated to pay 10 per cent of their energy invoices, adding that lack of cash backing for subsidy had created liquidity challenge for the sector.

He added that as a result of the non payment of subsidy, gas supply and power generation had continued to dip.

He said that the continued decline in the generation and system collapse were largely linked to liquidity challenge.

He said from January 2020 to 2023, the tariff was increased from 55 per cent to 94 per cent of cost recovery.

He added that “the unification of FX and current inflatinary pressurws were pushing cost reflective tarrif to N184/kwh”

“If seating back and doing nothing is the way to go, it will mean that the National Assembly and the Executive would have to provide about N3.2 trillion to pay for subsidy in 2024,” he said.

Garba said that only N185 billion out of the N645 billion subsidy in 2023 was cash backed, leaving a funding gap of N459. 5 billion.
The Vice-Chairman of NERC, Mr Musiliu Oseni also justified the recent tarrif increase, saying the increment was needed to save the sector from total collapse.

Rep. Victor Nwokolo, the Chairman of the Committee said the essence of the meeting was to address the increase in tarrif and the issue of band A and others.

Nwokolo said the officials of NERC and DISCOS had provided useful Information to the committee.

“We have not concluded with them because the Transmission Company of Nigeria is not here and the Generation Companies too.

“From what they have said which is true, is that without the change in tarrif, which was due since 2022, the industry lacks the capital to bring the needed change.

“Of course, the population explosion in Nigeria, is beyond what they have estimated in the past and because they need to expand their own network, they also needed more money, ” he said.

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