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FG Guarantees 540mw Kano-QIPP Power Purchase Agreement

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The Federal Ministry of Finance has provided counter-guarantees for a power purchase agreement (PPA) to Kano State for the purchase of electricity to be generated by the 540 megawatts (MW) Qua Iboe Power Plant (QIPP) in Akwa Ibom State.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who conveyed the government’s approval, said: “We are looking at this as a pilot project as this will help mitigate the federal government’s plan.”

According to a statement by her media aide, Paul Ella Abechi, the ability to provide a counter guarantee would go a long way to reduce the burden on the federal government.
While soliciting the federal government’s guarantee, the Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had in a proposal to the minister dated January 7, 2019, highlighted the understanding reached with other partners in the project.

According him, QIPP has secured the firm commitment of equity funding of $350 million from Globeleq and project finance of $850 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Development Bank (AfDB) for the construction of a thermal power plant located in Qua Iboe in Akwa Ibom State with a capacity of 540MW.
He said, “This funding is conditional upon the guarantee of your Ministry for a power purchase agreement (PPA) to be executed between QIPP and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) and further backs by a Partial Risk Guarantee issued by the World Bank.

“Exxon-Mobil is also prepared to commit about $500 million to build a gas pipeline from its deep off-shore platforms to supply the gas needed for QIPP to operate, thus bringing total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for this project alone to $1.7 billion. QIPP has also assumed completion risk of a transmission line from Ikot-Abasi to Ikot-Ekpene in order to ensure supply of power to the national grid.

“The Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has given a firm assurance that once power is delivered to Ikot Ekpene, TCN will be able to deliver an equivalent amount of power to Kano on a binding contractual basis for a fee. TCN will assume full liability for power delivered to the grid and not transmitted as contracted,” he said.
The TCN chief executive, Ganduje said, has further confirmed that, based on already approved funding from development partners, TCN will be technically competent to do this before QIPP starts generating power, adding that the transmission lines from Shiroro to Kaduna “and from Kaduna to Kano will be fully operational with enhanced capacity within two years from commencement of project.”

“We further understand that, the country is at risk of losing this huge investment of $1.7billion because of the reluctance of the federal government to assume additional unhedged financial risk on the power sector given the current experience with Azure and other players,” Ganduje added in the January 7, 2019 letter to the minister.

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INEC advocates for ‘women and disabled first’ during elections

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Independent National Electoral Commission has called for easy access to vote for women and disabled persons during the upcoming elections.  

Professor James Apam, the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, has appealed to the electorate to allow women and those with disabilities unhindered access to cast their votes at the polling units.

Apam said it is necessary in view of the strategic position of women at home front and in the society.

He spoke on Tuesday in Lokoja at a one-day workshop on “Mitigating Violence Against Women” organised by the Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission.

He said that women as the weaker sex and in view of the strategic position women occupied both at the home front and in the society, it is necessary to allow them to cast their votes first on the day of the election.

“This will reduce their exposure to the risk of violence that might happen at the polls,” Professor Apam said.

“Whatever happened during and after elections, women, and children were always at the receiving end and so should be allowed to cast their votes first so that they can be free to attend to other important issues on that day,” he added.

He also expressed disappointment at the level of participation of women in politics both at the state and national level.

“It is disheartening to note that in spite of numerous actions aimed at encouraging women participation in politics, we are yet to see more women at the forefront of political participation.

“For instance, in Kogi State, only seven senatorial candidates are contesting out of 70 male candidates while three are in the House of Representatives category,” he said.

Professor Apam called on women to join hands to wage wars against vote buying and selling and other electoral malpractices that might hinder the delivery of free, fair and credible election next month.

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2019 Elections: Over 23,000 candidates are contesting 1558 seats – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given a breakdown of the statistics of candidates contesting different positions in the February 16 and March 2 general elections.

According the electoral umpire, over 23,000 candidates are contesting 1558 seats across the country.

The Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave this information on Tuesday at the Police Headquarters in Abuja when he led other members of the commission to brief the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu on its plan for the election.

Mahmood said there were a total of 119, 973 polling units for the election while 73 candidates are contesting the only position in the presidential constituency.

1,904 candidates will be contesting for 109 Senatorial seats; with over 4,600 candidates contesting for 360 Federal Constituency seats; and over 14,600 candidates will compete for 991 State Constituencies.

He said, “There will be governorship elections in 29 states, for which we have 1,068 candidates vying for 29 governorship seats at state level and then in the FCT, we have 68 constituencies made up of 6 Area Council Chairmen, and 62 councils.

“In all, we have 806 candidates in the FCT. On the whole in 2019, over 23, 000 candidates will be competing for 1,558 seats,” the INEC boss stated.

While speaking, the police IG emphasised the necessity of conducting a credible poll while advising policemen to remain unbiased and neutral during the election.

“This is a crucial election that we are getting into and the election must be free, fair and credible.

“Police official must be seen to be neutral and give every party a level playing field to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.

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Council of States: Buhari, OBJ, Saraki, others certify INEC fit for conduct of election

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The National Council of State on Tuesday in Abuja expressed satisfaction with the level of preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State made the position of the Council known when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House.

Mr Akeredolu said the endorsement of the INEC preparedness for the election followed a presentation made by the Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, at the meeting of the council.

He emphasised that the council was convinced on the level of preparedness of the electoral body.

According to him, the chairman also informed the council that the commission had embarked on training and retraining of staff for the successful conduct of the election.

“He informed the Council of the preparedness of INEC and everybody in the hall was convinced that INEC was ready for this election and a lot of things have been put in place.

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“I think we all concluded that it is important for the chairman to even speak to the nation on the preparedness of INEC for this election – that would convince all of us that this forthcoming election is going to be free and fair.

“Look at it, they have improved card reader, the details of what had been done to improve it was made known.

“It was made known that the process of continuous accreditation and voting system (vote at the same time and you leave) was the best.

“He also told the Council that they are not lacking in terms of finance and that all the monies appropriated have been given to them and that they are ready for the election.

“He went further to inform the Council that all training and retraining of every category of staff that they (INEC) will use, they have already started and they are having consultations with every group of people, religious, artisans and trade unions to let them know (about the election).

“So, everybody was convinced that INEC, as at today, is ready for the elections and questions were asked, he was interrogated and he responded and gave adequate explanation to the satisfaction of all of us,’’ he said.

The National Council of State also endorsed N27,000 as new National Minimum Wage.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who also addressed the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that the council endorsed N27, 000 as new National Minimum Wage.

He, however, said the Federal Government would pay its workers N30,000 as its minimum wage as demanded by organised labour.

The minister revealed that the bill on the new wage of N27,000 would be transmitted to the National Assembly in the next 24 hours for passage into law.

According to him, the N27,000 is the benchmark for all employers of labour with more than 25 workers on their payroll, emphasising that no employer of labour with more 25 workers should pay less than the proposed N27,000.

“On the issue of national minimum wage, we have held series of consultations starting from the inauguration of the tripartite committee in November 2018, to the Federal executive Council, the National Economic Council.

“Finally today, the Council of State and these three organs have permitted the President now to transmit to the National Assembly the new minimum wage bill.

“This is in consonance with the fact that the issue of national minimum wage prescription is in the exclusive list second schedule, item 34 and being on that list, it is not a job that can be done by the executive alone.

“The President has to transmit a bill and the National Assembly will take legislative action and return the bill that has been so treated to the President for assent.

“The bill will now amend the 1981 and 2011 act and the highlights are the figure of N27, 000 monthly has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly, frequency of review of the bill is five years to get in consonance with the pension law of the federation as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

“Exemptions to this act will be the establishments that are not employing people up to 25 (workers) in number and the various fines prescribed have also been altered,’’ he said.

The minister, however, stated that the federal government had resolved to pay its workers N30,000 as the new national minimum wage while the state governments were free to negotiate with their respective staff.

The organised labour had insisted on a N30,000 minimum wage as proposed by the Ama Pepple tripartite committee, while the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) proposed N24,000.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting, which lasted for about three hours, was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Abdulsalami Abubakar and the former Head of the Interim Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Others, who attended the meeting included three former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais, Alfa Belgore and Mahmud Mohammed.

However, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnogen, former military President Ibrahim Babangida and former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon were absent at the meeting.

The council also observed a minute silence for late president Shehu Shagari.

(NAN)

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NLC reacts to N27,000 minimum wage approval

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has rejected the N27,000 new national minimum wage adopted by the National Council of States on Tuesday.

The NLC Secretary-General, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

According to him, the council has no jurisdiction determining another amount after a Tripartite Committee had submitted its report.

“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states,” he said.

However, Ozo-Eson said the NLC has scheduled an emergency National Executive Council meeting for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly.

The NLC scribe added that the Federal Government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action.

“This is because workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday,’’ he said.

(NAN)

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