Nigeria’s President, Muhamadu Buhari, has ordered an immediate forensic audit of the accounts of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. As he explained in a series of tweets issued via his official Twitter page, yesterday, this move has become imperative for the sake of accountability and probity.
The President further explained that the Nigerian people would like to know how all the billions of naira that were allocated to the NDDC between 2001 and 2019 have been utilized.
The projects that are said to have been done must be verifiable. One cannot just say billions have been spent and when the sites are visited, there is nothing to be seen as proof of work done. The forensic audit will cover the NDDC’s operations from 2001 to 2019.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 17, 2019
The NDDC was established in 2000 by the Federal Government under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Its major responsibility is to facilitate developmental goals in the Niger Delta region which, for years, was left underdeveloped even though the majority of the country’s national wealth (I.e., oil money) comes from there.
Heads could roll: Without a doubt, a lot of money has been allocated to the region throughout the near two decades it has been in existence. Interestingly, many Nigerians have always felt that the rate of development is not commensurate with the amount of money allocated. Unfortunately, no President has ever felt the need to probe the NDDC until now. It is highly possible that instances of corruption and financial mismanagement will be uncovered at the end of this probe. And President Buhari’s government may not hesitate to prosecute those found to have played a part in committing fraud.
Nigerians agree: In the meantime, Nigerians are here for this development. Many of them commended President Buhari for this gesture, even as Tunji Tunde Ayeni opined that a lot of people could end up being jailed if the probe is properly conducted.
If thoroughly carried out,all those that have headed that agency should be on their way to jail. How I wish President @MBuhari didn't say anything to the public because hearing this news all of them will become sick overnight and will be carrying neck bandage like Mesut ozil
— TUNJI CLIMATE 🌍 🌦 (@TunjiClimate) October 17, 2019
Jide Otitoju also noted that the government should, indeed, periodically subject all government agencies/parastatals to this kind of forensic audit. This way, accountability in public administration/service can be guaranteed.
This is the way to go. All agencies and parastatals of government should be subjected to periodic forensic auditing. Former and present NDDC bosses must be sweating now.
— Jide Otitoju (@jide_otitoju) October 17, 2019
Meanwhile, even though Gabriel M God believes this is a necessary step to take, he is highly doubtful that it will accomplish anything. This is because there is a high level of corruption in the NDDC which may eventually end up being covered by the powers that be. The government should, perhaps, prove him wrong by ensuring that those who have perpetuated corruption in the Commission get exposed and prosecuted.
Necessary step, will it achieve the needed results. There is extreme corruption in NDDC. But, who is even clean to do a clean job? It's all on a loop. It's a quagmire. It's complicated.
— Riel One (@Gabrielapogee) October 17, 2019
Can't be so sure. Links in the Federal Agencies will tell you no one is upright. There are kick backs that still happen till now.
But nothing is hidden under the sun.
Someone should at least pretend to be Ok, oversee a real auditing, and show to the world.
— Riel One (@Gabrielapogee) October 17, 2019
SpaceX says it’s pursuing necessary licenses to bring Starlink to Nigeria
Broadband penetration of 70% which covers 90% of the population is the FG’s target in its National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.
American private space exploration company founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX says it is working to pursue all necessary licenses needed to bring the Starlink Satellite internet services to Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Mr Ryan Goodnight, SpaceX’s Starlink Market Access Director for Africa in a meeting with NCC’s Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta on Friday in Abuja.
What SpaceX is saying about Starlink in Nigeria
“SpaceX has been in discussion with NCC virtually over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licences to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services, to Nigeria.
Having made substantial progress in the discussion, the commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects,” they said.
The NCC stated that it has listened to SpaceX’s presentation and will review it vis-à-vis its regulatory direction of ensuring an effective and sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees.
“As the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest,” they said.
NCC added that broadband penetration of 70% which covers 90% of the population is the FG’s target in its National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025. This is also in line with its National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.
What you should know
Starlink is an internet service launched by SpaceX to improve internet coverage in rural and underserved areas globally. Starlink satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet.
Nairametrics also reported this month that the Federal Government announced a deal with Microsoft through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy for the development of high-speed internet infrastructure across the six regions in the country.
What FGN Free Meter Program means for the power sector
Without effective penalties for erring DisCos and consumers, progress may still remain very slow.
According to news reports, the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh on Wednesday said the distribution of the four million free electricity prepaid meters pledged by the Central Bank of Nigeria would soon begin across the country.
According to him, the government is wrapping up the distribution of its initial one million meters, which he labelled phase zero, and would soon begin the distribution of the four million sponsored by CBN, which he tagged phase two. He also noted that the Federal Executive Council approved N3bn for the execution of six major electricity projects in the country to upgrade Nigeria’s electricity facilities and improve power supply across the country.
Ineffective metering remains a major drawback to the success of power sector reforms in Nigeria. While some consumers avoid paying for power consumed through meter bypass, some other consumers are made to pay for what they have not consumed through estimated billing by DisCos.
DisCos have been largely unsuccessful with metering their customers.
As far as inadequate metering is concerned, DisCos over time, have used this situation to their advantage via estimated billings. It appears that fully metering customers are currently being viewed as a disincentive, given that estimated bills can easily be manipulated.
According to a report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), only 4,234,759 (40.27%) of the total customer population of 10,516,090 were metered as of 30 June 2020. Clearly, this validates the widely held view that there are a wide number of customers on estimated billing which gives room for illegal connection to the networks and in turn corrupt practices. NERC further revealed that only three out of 11 Electricity Distribution Companies in the country had metered more than 50% of electricity customers under their coverage areas as of June 2020.
Effective metering in our view is one step ahead in solving the myriad of problems embattling the Nigerian power sector. Though supposed to be unpaid for, many customers in a bid to avoid the bureaucracy associated with getting meters have paid to get their own meters. We believe the provision of meters to all end-use customers will go a long way in ameliorating the liquidity squeeze in the power sector whilst also providing cashflow to the DisCos for investment in equipment needed to evacuate unused electricity to consumers nationwide.
We laud the FG’s efforts at distributing meters freely to end-users, but we note that without effective penalties for erring DisCos and consumers, progress may still remain very slow.
CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
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