Nigerians may have to brace up for nationwide blackout as electricity workers in the country began indefinite strike this morning.
The decision to embark on the indefinite strike became necessary after the Federal Government failed to dialogue with the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) to resolve the lingering industrial crisis in the sector.
The details: Nairametrics learnt that some of the unresolved issues that led to the strike were the illegal transfer of union properties to power investors, alleged refusal by some Distribution Companies (DisCos) to remit deducted contributory pension of staff to pension managers and improved conditions of service.
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According to a statement issued by Assistant Secretary-General of NUEE, Anthony Sule, the 21-day ultimatum given to the Minister of Power Saleh Mamman expired at midnight on Tuesday.
The statement partly read: “The strike letter was sent to the Ministry of Power and there was one letter they wrote, saying the minister is not in the country and that he is still studying the situation. They said the minister would look into everything, that is all.
“The ministry of power has failed to resolve some issues affecting members of the union since 2013 when the power sector was privatised especially issues that with the over 2,000 disengaged former PHCN workers and their pay off.
“It is our action that will show if we are ready or not. We can’t continue to issue threats without action.”
FG keeps mum as some DisCos comply: Nairametrics confirmed that the strike has indeed begun across all DisCos in the country. According to a source, efforts to contact the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to comment on the issues raised by the electricity workers failed.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that some DisCos such as Eko and Ikeja Electric have partially complied with some of the demands of the workers, while others are yet.
Notwithstanding the efforts of some of the DisCos to partially meet the demand of the workers, the services of all distribution companies would still be affected as the strike action also affects the power generation companies supplying electricity to the DisCos.
COVID-19: WHO reverses itself based on new discovery about the virus
This admission is coming on the heels of criticisms from experts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided an update on the modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from infected people, based on new scientific evidence.
The WHO on Thursday, formally recognized that the coronavirus can be transmitted indoors by droplets in the air, marking a reversal for the United Nation’s agency.
In a scientific brief, the WHO said that people who spend time in crowded places with poor ventilation are at risk of being infected by the coronavirus as the droplets circulate throughout the air in indoor gatherings.
This admission is coming on the heels of criticisms from experts who have been putting pressure on the UN health agency to update its description of the spread of the virus to include the possibility of airborne infections.
The WHO now admits that transmissions through aerosols, or tiny air droplets, could have been behind outbreaks of COVID-19 that have been reported in some closed environments such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking or singing.
Apart from refraining from having close contact with infected people and frequent hand-washing, the WHO pointed out that people should avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
However, the WHO still focuses more on the spread of the virus by larger droplets that are discharged through coughing, sneezing and singing or from contact with a contaminated surface.
The WHO in its statement said, “Respiratory droplet transmission can occur when a person is in close contact (within 1 metre) with an infected person who has respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing or sneezing) or who is talking or singing; in these circumstances, respiratory droplets that include virus can reach the mouth, nose or eyes of a susceptible person and can result in infection.”
It also revealed that based on what is currently known, the transmission of COVID-19 primarily occurs from people when they have symptoms and can also occur just before they develop symptoms when they are in close proximity to others for prolonged periods of time. While someone who never develops symptoms can also pass the virus to others, it is still not clear to what extent this occurs and more research is needed in this area.
The UN health agency had previously advised that the spread of the virus through the air is only common when people, mostly health care workers, were involved in medical procedures that produced aerosols, though a lot of evidence has surfaced suggesting that the virus can stay in the air for hours and infect a person when inhaled.
DisCos seek CBN funding for massive roll-out of meters to consumers
This, it was said will help DisCos meet the 2024 deadline which they had committed to.
A Central Bank-funded massive roll-out of meters would expedite the efforts to achieve the full take-off of the proposed Service Reflective Tariff (SRT), Electricity distribution companies (Discos) have suggested.
According to Mr Sunday Oduntan, the Executive Director in charge of research and advocacy at the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), such funding would help ensure that all electricity customers are adequately metered under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation.
Oduntan, who said this in a statement to NAN on Friday, also disclosed that it would assist the distribution companies to meet the 2024 deadline which they had committed to, for metering all electricity consumers.
He recalled that Mr Ernest Mupwaya, Managing Director of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), had spoken on behalf of the DisCos at the House of Representatives Public Hearing on the power sector on Thursday.
According to Mupwaya, the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) provision in Nigeria’s electricity tariff was insufficient to cover the cost of metering customers.
“Over the years, there has been insufficient investment in customer metering, due to inadequate Multi Tariff Order (MYTO) CAPEX and uneconomic tariff. The approved CAPEX for DisCos has never been adequate for comprehensive metering,” he said.
He added that the Discos were requesting CBN to provide funds for emergency mass metering projects since they no longer had a provision in their CAPEX for metering. If approved, the project would be completed within a period of 18 months.
Mupwaya added that the funding was even more necessary since no provisions had been made for metering in the event that the MAP regulation failed.
The first quarter of 2020 had seen an average monthly growth of 75,000 new customers every month, moving the number of metered customers in Nigeria above 10 million, and decreasing the metering penetration from 45.5 percent in January 2017 down to 40.3 percent in March 2020.
“Plugging the metering gap that is in excess of six million meters has been slow because even the recently introduced MAP regulations incorporate inappropriate meter pricing and so, it is not working as NERC/DisCos expected.
“The twin effects of the sudden increase in import duties of 35 percent on meter and NERC’s wrong pricing frustrated the good intentions of MAP” he noted.
He appealed to the government to grant full waivers on the 35 percent increased duty surcharged on meters, until mass metering was achieved, and to fix an appropriate and commercial price on meters.
He added that the cap on estimated billing had discouraged consumers from obtaining meters under the MAP regulation, and urged the NERC to allow Discos go ahead with estimated billing, introducing the capping only after the massive meter roll-out after 18 months.
Deals: Dangote Sugar acquires Savannah Sugar Company Limited
Dangote Sugar Refinery will henceforth assume all legal proceedings.
Dangote Sugar Refinery has been authorised to receive all the assets, liabilities and business undertakings, and property rights of Savannah Sugar Company Limited (SSCL).
This was one of the resolutions passed at the court-ordered meeting of the members of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held on Thursday at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
According to the notice of the proceedings sent to the Nigeria Stock Exchange, and seen by Nairametrics, Dangote Sugar Refinery “is hereby authorised to receive all the assets ((including all tax attributes, unutilized capital allowances, tax losses, withholding tax credits and any other tax refunds available subject to the approval of the FIRS), liabilities and business undertakings, including real property and intellectual property rights of Savannah Sugar Company Limited (“SSCL”) transferred by SSCL to the Company (pursuant to the Scheme of Arrangement between SSCL and its shareholders) upon the terms and subject to the conditions set out in the Scheme of Arrangement without any further act or deed”.
Dangote Sugar Refinery will henceforth assume all legal proceedings, claims and litigation matters pending or contemplated by or against Savannah Sugar.
In view of this acquisition, the court also ordered Dangote Sugar Refinery to issue and allot to the shareholders of Savannah sugar, 146,878,241 ordinary shares of N0.50 each in the share capital, for the 162,756,968 ordinary shares held by the Scheme Shareholders in SSCL.
The Scheme Document dated Friday, May 29, 2020, was also approved at the meeting, and Directors of DSR were authorised to consent to any modifications that the Securities and Exchange Commission may deem fit, and give effect to the scheme.
Dangote Sugar Refinery had earlier sent a disclosure notice to the NSE, announcing its plans to acquire Savannah Sugar Company Limited, subject to the approval of both company shareholders.
Dangote industries recently sold its flour subsidiary, and this acquisition is part of an expansion strategy for Dangote Sugar Refinery, and the next stage of its backward integration plan to revolutionize the sugar sub-sector of Nigeria’s economy.