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This is why Nigerians are angry with the NGO Bill

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Not more than a year ago, the Federal Government set up a committee to review the Orosanye Report. In case you forgot, the Orosanye Report was the outcome of the moves by the previous administration in a bid to reduce the cost of governance by looking into the various government agencies and parastatals to decide which ones were no longer necessary, the ones to be merged and the ones who should be allowed to continue functioning.

It however seems that some members of the Parliament didn’t get the memo on that. Honourable Umar Buba Jibril recently introduced a bill to ‘encourage’ non-governmental organizations in Nigeria and also promote accountability and transparency in these not-for-profit agencies all over the country.

A mere perusal of the bill without any serious deep analysis would give an insight as to outrage exhibited by major stakeholders. Not only does the bill beg for standard human reasoning, it contravenes the spirit of the law and creates a duplicity of functions.

Here are some of the focal points in the legislation that raises concerns

  • Objectives and Functions: The bill seeks to create a commission that would be responsible for the ‘regulation’ of NGOs to enable and encourage them in manners that weren’t specified. Also the bill seeks to promote accountability and transparency. One begins to wonder if the propounders of this bill did not understand the ‘non-governmental’ that was inserted just before the organization. NGOs are purely voluntary and as such the government should not interfere. If a group of people can come to together to pull their resources to pick up the shortcomings of the government, the government should be ashamed enough not to interfere. There would be no need for NGOs if the government was firing on all cylinders and living up to it’s economic and social expectations.
  • Registration: Perhaps this is the funniest part of the joke. Taking a cue from the Companies and Allied Matters Act, registration for NGOs is purely voluntary and the whole idea of registration is to only confer it with a legal personality. If Hannatu and her friends decide to feed 500 children in Ibadan, they’re doing it out of the kindness of their hearts and there is no reason to subject such activity to a long line of bureaucratic stress. On the argument that government has the power to regulate the activities of it’s citizens, the argument carries no water as there is already a constitutional and inherent power of the government to regulate the affairs of it’s citizens with a caveat being ‘protection of public policy’. The idea to create another body to reinforce this is not only wasteful but also unintelligent. The bill stipulates that NGOs are supposed to submit their budgets, stipulated duration for projects and sources of funding. Basically, you will need the permission of government to raise and spend money. It’s no news that a lot of NGO donors prefer to remain anonymous. Although this reason is debatable, imagine what will become the attitude of donors when government begins to have first hand information of their personal financial details not to talk more of international  donor-agencies. The registration criteria also create a collision course with the Companies and Allied Matters Act under which NGOs are usually registered. The question becomes will registration under the proposed law override the provisions of CAMA or would it preclude registration under CAMA. Perhaps the depth of the joke is that registration can be refused and even when approved, it is subject to renewal every two years.
  • Projects carried out by NGOs: Nobody has the moral or social right to tell another person what to do with their money or time as long as it’s not against public policy. It is therefore very strange that a commission is to be ‘established’ to ‘approve’ the proposed budget and supervise projects of NGOs in Nigeria. A group of people who have common interests cannot come together to raise funds to pick up the slacks of government and yet the government will want to tell them what to do with their money and how to use the money to achieve their goals. The yardstick that the bill seeks to measure projects with is the promotion of national interest. This begs the question, what and how do we quantify national interest? So in a situation where there is a serious humanitarian crisis and a NGO decides to pitch in and help especially in a situation where the government is slacking, would that be the promotion of a national interest or an embarrassment to the government? Looking at the current situation in Kogi State where the governor is owing salaries, if an NGO decides to pick up that responsibility, it would obviously be an embarrassment to the government of Kogi but a relief to the people. Putting in mind the arbitrary nature of government officials in Nigeria, would a government approve such a project?
  • Self Regulation: It is quite amazing that there would be a law to tell people how to spend their money and what type of project to carry out and then the same law comes to mandate NGOs to form an association and create a code of conduct to govern themselves. That is very ironic. First of all, forming an association is as of right which is purely voluntary and no law can make that right compulsory or take it away. Also, there are already existing codes of conduct for NGOs with the most notable one being the one released by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria in 2016.

Should this bill be enacted and passed into law, it would create more problems than it can solve. Not only will there be a lot of cases in court to determine its legality, there would be more burden on the courts to determine the scope of powers conferred on the Commission created in line with other pre-existing laws that have already covered the field as to what the bill seeks to achieve.

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Business

53,460 3G and 4G Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) deployed in Nigeria – Prof. Danbatta

The 3G and 4G base transceiver stations deployed in Nigeria in the last 5 years increased from 30,000 to 53,460.

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Buhari reappoints Danbatta as NCC Vice Chairman/CEO

A total of 53,460 third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) base transceiver stations (BTS) have been deployed in Nigeria in the last five years.

This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta at a briefing session for the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu.

According to Danbatta, the effective regulatory regime put in place by his leadership has created the desired impetus for the increased deployment of infrastructure by various telecoms operators, which in turn, has helped to improve the broadband penetration and other related service delivery in the telecoms industry.

The BTS, fibre optic cables and other related infrastructure are central to the provision of improved service experience for Nigerians by their respective telecoms service providers.

“The licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) are also expected to add 38,296km to optic fibre cables when they commence full operations.

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What they are saying

According to Prof Danbatta:

  • The Commission will continue to put in its best in the discharge of its mandates, especially in facilitating the deployment of broadband, which is central to diversifying the Nigerian economy and national development”
  • “Also, it is our belief that the communications industry, under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, will experience more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space”

In his reaction and comment, the new Perm Sec, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu said:

  • “I want to thank NCC for its contribution to the Nigerian economy so far. I am not exaggerating about the achievements of NCC, in terms of contribution to GDP and how NCC’s effective regulatory role has been helping the economy in so many ways

What you should know

  • The BTS system is part of a GSM network that is responsible for the reception and transmission of radio signals from mobile phones.
  • A Base Transceiver Station is a general description of equipment consisting of the telecommunication technology and the air interface of the mobile network (GSM, UMTS etc.).
  • The deployment of the 3G and 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) increased from 30,000 to 53,460, in the last 5 years
  • While the Fibre Optic Transmission cables expanded from 47,000km to 54,725km
  • As at November, 2020, active telephony subscribers stood at 208 million with tele-density standing at 108.92%
  • Active Internet subscriptions of 154.9 million were achieved with broadband penetration rate of 45.07%
  • The number of subscriptions to DND service hit over 30 million as the service empowers Nigerians to be able to protect themselves from the menace of unsolicited text messages and calls.

Why this matters

Having more Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) is quite imperative for driving an improved broadband/telecoms service delivery to Nigerian subscribers.

The poor services currently experienced by many telephony subscribers, especially in areas not sufficiently covered by Base stations, will now be a thing of the past as even subscribers in the remotest rural areas can conveniently receive and make calls and as well as enjoy other subscription services, without hitches.

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Financial Services

Niger Insurance Plc gets shareholders nod to restructure business

Niger Insurance Plc has announced plans to restructure its insurance business into distinct but mutually dependent business entities.

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Edwin Igbiti

Niger Insurance Plc has obtained shareholders’ approval to restructure its insurance business into general, life and business insurance, with each segment to be structured as a separate legal entity.

This is part of the resolutions passed at the 50th Annual General Meeting of Niger Insurance Plc., held on 20th of January, 2021 at Peninsula Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.

The decision to restructure the company is in a bid to make it more efficient and profitable to stakeholders, especially as efforts are geared towards overturning a loss of about 1,1723.2% Year-on-Year, earlier made by the company in its last reported financial statement, Q2, 2020, as reported by Nairametrics.

Other key decisions reached at the 50th AGM include;

  • The re-appointment of Mr Ebi Enaholo and Mrs. Olufemi Owopetu as Directors of the company.
  • Acceptance of the presented financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2019 and the report of the audit committee, directors and auditors.
  • Directors were authorized to fix the remuneration of the auditors.
  • Directors were authorized to appoint external auditors to replace retiring auditors of the company.
  • The appointment of four individuals as members of the audit committee.
  • A decision to restructure the company’s business capital was also reached.

In case you missed it: The shareholders of Niger Insurance Plc in the 49th Annual General Meeting approved the decision by the company’s board to raise additional capital to the tune of N15 billion, in a bid to meet the revised recapitalization targets for general and life insurance companies.

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What you should know: The House of Representatives had in December 2020 directed NAICOM to suspend the mandatory deadline for the first phase of 50%-60% of the minimum paid-up share capital for insurance and reinsurance firms.

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Energy

Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude exports resume as ExxonMobil lifts force majeure

ExxonMobil has lifted a force majeure on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil exports as production resumes.

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ExxonMobil has lifted a force majeure on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil export terminal, as crude exports resume for the first time in almost six weeks after a fire at the terminal halted operations.

This is according to a company spokesman yesterday, who confirmed the company had lifted force majeure on Qua Iboe crude loadings.

Qua Iboe production started to ramp up to normal levels of 200,000 b/d in the past week, according to sources, with the release of both the February and March loading programs.

The VLCC Dalia was also in the process of loading a 1-million-barrel stem at the Qua terminal since January 21, 2021, according to data intelligence firm Kpler. This will be the first export of Qua Iboe since December 15, 2020, after a fire hit the facility and injured two workers.

The company has been under pressure since the closure and prices have taken a hit as a result of the disruption. S&P Global Platts last assessed the grade at a discount to Dated Brent of 50 cents/b, down from a premium against the benchmark in December.

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Bonny Light, a mainstay Nigerian crude which typically trades at roughly the same level as Qua Iboe, was last assessed 30 cents/b higher.

What they are saying

One trader said: “If you get a cargo of Qua now it could be 50 cents to a dollar below Bonny even – a January cargo is completely out of cycle and the reliability issues mean people won’t touch it.”

Another trader stated that: “[The return of Qua Iboe] is not what West African crude assessments (WAF) differentials needed.”

What you should know

  • Qua Iboe is one of Nigeria’s largest export grades, and is very popular among global refiners, with India, the US, Canada, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, and the Netherlands being key buyers.
  • Qua Iboe is light sweet crude, which has a gravity of 36 API and sulfur content of 0.13%. The crude, produced from fields 20-40 miles off the coast of southeast Nigeria, is brought to shore at the Qua Iboe terminal via a seabed pipeline system.
  • Indian demand has steadied following a buying spree late last year, and European demand has been hit by renewed coronavirus lockdowns in the region.
  • Prices for Nigerian crude have suffered in recent weeks, even with lower supply due to the outage.
  • February and March loading programs have been issued for Qua Iboe averaging 169,643 b/d and 153,226 b/d respectively.
  • Production of this key grade ranged between 180,000-220,000 b/d in 2020, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.

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