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N’Assembly halts planned hike in electricity tariffs

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The leadership of the National Assembly on Monday waded in the controversy on the planned hike in electricity tariffs from July 1st, 2020 and succeeded in convincing the Distribution Companies (DisCos) to defer the plan till the first quarter of 2021.

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and other Principal Officers of the two Chambers met at the National Assembly with the Chief Executives of the government electricity regulatory body and DisCos across the country.

Also in attendance were the Chairmen of the Committees on Power from the Senate and House of Representatives,” according to a statement by the Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Ola Awoniyi, in Abuja.

The National Assembly leaders were emphatic at the meeting that the timing of the planned hike was wrong even though they had not much issue with the need to introduce a cost reflective tariff for the power sector to attract the much needed investment.

In the course of the meeting, the DisCos too admitted that they were not well prepared for the planned hike in tariffs even though they so much desired the increase.

The meeting agreed to defer the planned hike till the first quarter of next year while the leadership of the National Assembly promised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue.

“The agreement here is that there is not going to be any increase in the tariffs on July 1st,” Lawan said at the end of the meeting.

“The Speaker and I, we are going to take appropriate action and meet with the President.

“We are in agreement here that there is no question on the justification of the increase but the time is simply not right and appropriate measures need to be put in place

“So between now and the first quarter of next year, our task will be to work together with you to ensure that we put those blocks in place to support the eventual increase in tariffs,” Lawan said.

Lawan said the government has been doing a lot as part of its obligation to provide some form of Intervention.

“I’m quite aware that for this year, probably starting from last year, over N600 billion was earmarked for this sector to improve.

“The potential increase in the tariffs is definitely something that will be of concern to us in the National Assembly.

“There is too much stress in the lives of Nigerians today and indeed across the world because of the challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic and even before then, we had issues that would always make it tough for our people to effectively pay the tariffs.

“One way or the other, for this business to flourish, for this sector to be appropriately fixed, for it to attract investment, something has to give way, there is no doubt about that but it is also crucial that we look at the timing for any of our actions,” Lawan said.

In the same vein, Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly is on the same page with the DisCos on the issue of cost-reflective tariffs.

“There is time for everything. A well-intended programme or policy of government can fall flat on the face and never recover if you do it at a wrong time. I think we all agree to that.

“There cannot be a time as bad as this for us to increase anything. Forget about electricity, anything. Whereas, even in time of decreasing revenue, we are even reducing the pump price. I don’t know how we can justify an increase in the cost of electricity at this time in Nigeria.

“The good thing is that we have agreed that we need to do something about the cost,” the Speaker said.

Gbajabiamila posed some questions to DisCos and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC):

“How did we arrive at the tariffs or costs. Who were the stakeholders that were present. What was the role of the National Assembly. More importantly, is the President aware of this because the President is perhaps the biggest stakeholder of all, apart from the Nigerian people.

“Whatever will affect his government is something that should concern all of us. I think this will affect his government. This timing. Not the increase. The timing. I think it will affect his government and if it is going to affect his government, we should all rally around our people, our president and the government to make sure we do the right thing,” Gbajabiamila said.

The representatives of the DisCos said if the planned hike is eventually deferred till next year, the government should continue to bear the difference in the present tariff and what was considered as the appropriate tariff.

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In attendance at the meeting were the representatives of NERC, Kano Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company and Eko Electricity Distribution Company.

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I am still in the governorship race -Akeredolu

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Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State says he is still in the State’s Governorship race in the Oct. 10 election.

This follows rumours of his disqualification from participating in the July 20 governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Newsmen reports that the screening, which took place from July 8 to July 10 in Abuja, was for the 12 APC governorship aspirants in the state.

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Mr Ojo Oyewamide, Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Publicity, in a statement on Sunday in Akure, said the rumour was a ploy to distract supporters of Akeredolu.

He explained that it was another distraction “unleashed with the aim of deceiving the unsuspecting public and diverting attention from the self-imposed pains on the part of those behind the story.

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“They are scavengers and will stop at nothing to sustain their trade of deceit. Ignore them, remain firm, be dedicated and prayerful.

“Akeredolu is not just participating at the party primary. He shall be re-elected by the Grace of God, come October 10, 2020.

“The governor, therefore, appeals to all his supporters to ignore the rumour and dedicate this period to God for His continuous grace, favour and protection,” he said.

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Ex-Oyo commissioner, Fatai Abimbola dies in car accident

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Kano: Auto crash injures five, kills five

A former Commissioner in Oyo State, Honorable Fatai Abimbola is dead, Daily Post reports.

It was gathered on Saturday that Abimbola, a native of Ibadan, the state capital died in a road accident on Friday.

Abimbola who is fondly known as Abogun served as a commissioner under the government of the immediate past Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

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A source said that Abimbola died in a road accident along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway on Friday.

A former Special Assistant (Students Matters) to Ajimobi, Mr Afeez Mobolaji, confirmed the death of the former Commissioner in a post on his Facebook page Friday night.

Mobolaji said, “Rest in peace, Mogaji Abogun.”

Another aide of the immediate past Governor, Mr Wale Sadeeq also confirmed the death of the former Commissioner.

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Donald Trump wears mask in public for first time

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Donald Trump

President of the United States of America, Donald Trump wore a mask in public for the first time during a visit to a military hospital a short helicopter ride from the White House on Saturday evening.

The president’s decision to wear a mask came as cases of coronavirus surged to record levels in the US and after aides and experts urged Trump to follow his own government’s guidelines on face coverings.

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Trump flew to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington DC to meet wounded service members and health care providers caring for Covid-19 patients.

Donald Trump was wearing a black mask as he walked down the entryway of Walter Reed medical centre accompanied by hospital staff, marking the first time he has been seen wearing a protective face-covering in public.

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The president did not stop to take questions from the White House pool before turning down a hallway.

His meeting with injured troops and staff is closed to the press.

The only other time Trump was spotted wearing a mask was behind the scenes during a tour of a Ford plant in Michigan back in May.

“I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that in some cases just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump said before boarding Marine One en route to the hospital. “I’ve never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place.”

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