Our Policy Interactions With Businesses Essential For Economic Growth, Says Osinbajo

The Federal Government would continue to support the private sector as it plays an important role and contributes to the growth of the economy, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Thursday when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) led by its Director-General, Mr. Timothy Olawale, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

NECA is the umbrella organization of employers in the organised private sector of Nigeria to provide the forum for the Government to consult with private sector employers, especially on socio-economic and labour policy issues.

The Vice President explained the policy interactions between Government and the organized private sector, describing it as essential.

Prof. Osinbajo further said the Federal Government would keep exploring ways to improve the economy through its policies and reforms.

He said, “Our interaction is a very important one, because it is really part of our policy as a government to ensure private sector participation in the economy. We think that the private sector has a very important role. For us the private sector is essential to the growth of the economy so we must continue to encourage the private sector in every possible way.”

Prof. Osinbajo further assured that matters of concern that require government attention would be decisively tackled through the Ease of Doing Business initiatives to improve the business environment and ensure growth of local businesses.

“We want to continuously engage NECA and the private sector because it is central to what we are doing in respect to the economy,” the Vice President said.

Commending the Vice President for his leadership, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which is chaired by the VP, and the Ease of Doing Business reforms; the NECA DG remarked that the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo was an outcome of their sterling performance in the first term.

In his remarks, the NECA DG said the organization has actively supported and championed government’s efforts at job creation, while he commended “the giant strides made by the Buhari administration in fostering an environment that is hospitable for businesses to thrive through the Ease of Doing Business initiatives.”

He said, “We specifically recognize the passion with which you (VP) have driven the relationship between government and organized businesses in the past four years through your interventions and leadership that you have provided, which have translated into the activities of PEBEC, the ERGP and the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum, which you preside over.

“We have no doubt that the solid foundation that has been laid in the first four years would be built upon and Nigeria would be better for it.”

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
29th August, 2019

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Tradermoni, Marketmoni Beneficiaries Are Paying Back, Doing Well, Says Vice President Osinbajo

Feedback from the field and testimonies from stakeholders including beneficiaries indicate that the TraderMoni and MarketMoni loan schemes are doing very well, and beneficiaries are indeed paying back their loans, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday during an interaction with journalists after his assessment visit to markets in Keffi and Masaka towns of Nasarawa State, where loans under the TraderMoni and MarketMoni schemes are being disbursed to traders.

According to the Vice President “It is going very well, and I am excited to hear the testimonies of the traders who have done so well after getting their first loan. It is also exciting to see that they have repaid their loans very quickly, because as you pay back, you are able to get more; when you get N10, 000, and you pay back, you get N15, 000 and it gets to N20, 000, when you repay, all the way to N100, 000, and it is so exciting to see that these traders are doing so well.

“Everybody is keying in already, what we want to do is to expand it so that more traders can get this facility, so we need to do more because at the moment, we have done close to 2 million but we need to increase the number”.  

The Vice President urged beneficiaries of the loan schemes to continue to pay back their loans so they can get more money and become very successful in business.

Prof. Osinbajo said the target of the Federal Government in the Next Level is to expand the scheme to cover more traders and also increase the amount received to enable beneficiaries expand their businesses.

According to him, “we want to expand the TraderMoni and MarketMoni to include more people in every state, so we have only just started. More of the traders who are here will get the TraderMoni and the MarketMoni.

“So long as you continue to pay back you will continue to get more money. We want to make sure that every petty trader in the market have enough so that they themselves can even employ more people and pay their children’s school fees and also build their own houses. As I told you, we are going to expand the scheme so that more people can benefit.”

Earlier at the palace of the Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Shehu Chindo Yamusa, Prof. Osinbajo said his visit to the State was to assess the disbursement of the TraderMoni and MarketMoni loans to traders in markets across the States.

He said “TraderMoni is the President’s own way of empowering women and men who are traders. For many of them, their inventories are very small, it could be people hawking groundnuts, selling bread and other basic things. Most of them don’t have enough capital to improve their businesses. So, what we do is to empower them through the Bank of Industry.

“So, we want to ensure that people who are trading have an opportunity and that opportunity is provided when we are able to give them capital as part of this TraderMoni scheme. So, that is why we are here.”

On the Emir’s appeal about improving educational standards, the Vice President said President Buhari is determined to improve both access and quality of education to all Nigerians regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.

According to him, “One of the other things that I think you might be happy to hear is the President’s determination to this question of education. On June 20th this year, while speaking to Governors when he inaugurated the National Economic Council, he made the point that the Federal Government will enforce, along with the State governments, the law on free and compulsory education of the first 9 years of the child’s school life.

“It is a very important thing because we all know that education the key to the economic success, the key to self-realization and the key that enables any person live a dignified life. So, we are extremely concerned on how to improve education; Technical education in particular, I think that it is very important.

“As a matter of fact, under our N-Power scheme we already have a number of technical education schemes going on.  We have what we call N-Build which is technical education for persons involved in the building industry (tillers, brick layers etc). We also have training for extension workers, persons who will provide extension service.  There is the one for persons involved in technical training like carpenter, electricians and many others.”

He added that the Federal Government in collaboration with State governments are committed to “doing more in terms of technical education and also in supporting the states for education especially making primary education and first three years of secondary education free and compulsory as well as the education of young women”.

In his remarks, the Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Shehu Chindo Yamusa who commended the Vice President for his show of concern and interest in the welfare of the people of Nasarawa State and Keffi in particular, appealed to the Federal Government to review the nation’s education curriculum to integrate vocational and technical education to address youth unemployment.

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Osinbajo Decries High Port Charges

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has decried the imposition of arbitrary high charges by shipping lines in West and Central African countries.

He also urged the Union of African Shippers Council to adopt common political and diplomatic strategies to check the operations of shipping lines servicing the ports in the sub-region.

Prof Osinbajo who spoke yesterday in Abuja while declaring open the sub-regional summit on unfair shipping surcharges and high local shipping charges at the ports of West African sub-region, said some of the charges were unnecessary.

He listed the charges to include bunker adjustment factor, currency adjustment factor, war risk surcharge, confession sub charges, peak season surcharges, extra risk insurance sub charge, freight rate surcharge, and port operation recovery surcharge.

He said the surcharges amounted to huge sums of illegal capital flight from the countries of the sub-region and has been depleting the countries foreign reserves. He also said data obtained from the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) showed that about N2billion is repatriated by multi-national shipping firms from reasonable of demurrage charges for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in each quarter of the year.

Attributing the poor transport infrastructure development to one of the reasons for the high port charges, he urged AU member-states to prioritise the development of transport infrastructure for the work-ability of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, also condemned the unilateral manner in which service providers introduce and increase freight rates in the sub-region through various surcharges.

He said the Federal Government, through its partnership with the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), has started checking claims of terrorism, piracy, armed attacks on ships and other negative activities in the Gulf of Guinea to increase charges and introduce more surcharges in Nigeria

The Nation

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Nigeria, US Partnership Vital For Development – Osinbajo

The partnership between Nigeria and the United States is one that would continue to produce mutually desirable results for both countries, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received the Administrator of the US Agency on International Development (USAID), Mr Mark Green who is currently on a visit to Nigeria.

Noting that the US is one of Nigeria’s most dependable development partners, the Vice President said the Nigerian government was grateful for the interventions in the areas of health, humanitarian issues and education.

While stating the commitment of the Buhari administration to improve the country’s education sector, and the President’s resolve to enforce free and compulsory basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age; Prof. Osinbajo noted that a lot more can be done with cooperation between both countries.

He said, “This is an area where Mr. President particularly has a personal commitment. On June 20th, in a meeting with State Governors, he made the point that we are going to enforce a nine-year free and compulsory basic education for children. He felt that this was not just a moral obligation, but, of course, to educate and develop future generations, especially female children.

The Vice President said there could be more cooperation in the area of teacher training, skills development, child education, especially girl-child education, among other interventions in the education sector.

Prof. Osinbajo also highlighted the need for more development partnerships in the areas of improving the country’s power sector and security, noting that the Federal Government has been putting a significant amount of work in developing renewable energy and providing solar power in rural areas and other parts of the country.

According to him, “In the power sector, we find that renewable energy is an area we want to do more in. And in many parts of the country, we find that solar power would be advantageous for us, and we’re trying to do a lot in that area. The Power grid itself has had various challenges. We think the fastest growth, especially in rural areas is solar power. In that respect, we’ve done a fair amount of work.”

While acknowledging US military assistance, the VP noted that the Federal Government would also welcome more cooperation in tackling humanitarian challenges in the North East of the country.

In his remarks, Green; who was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, said the US and Nigeria have a deep friendship based on shared values and shared priorities. He described as admirable President Muhammadu Buhari’s personal commitment to ensuring compulsory free education for Nigerian children, stating the US looks forward to working with the Nigerian government on developing its education sector, tackling security challenges and improving economic indices.

He said, “We have particular interest in continuing our very strong partnership in providing humanitarian assistance, particularly in areas in the North; working together on economic opportunities, particularly in rural areas; creating strong sustainable futures for farmers and herders; and looking for ways to tackle some of the challenges that we both see in building lives and communities.”

Earlier in the day, the Vice President also received a delegation from the Andrew J. Young Foundation, led by civil rights activist and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew J. Young.

The Vice President described Young as one of the major icons in the US civil rights movement.
The VP noted that Young has played “very important roles in the life of our nation and influencing positively many of our leaders.”

In his remarks, Young commended the Buhari administration for “being able to hold this country together in spite of the differences” and ensuring democracy prevailed.

Young, who worked with the late Martin Luther King Jnr., was accompanied by Ambassador Howard Jeter, Sir Emeka Offor and Senator Ken Nnamani.


Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
23rd August, 2019

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Osinbajo: Of Federal Appointments, Near Death Experience And The Trumpet Of Mischief, By Abdullahi Haruna

There is a piece circulating in the media space mocking the vice president Yomi Osinbajo of losing out in the recent ministerial list inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari. Nothing is more mischievous than the antics of meddlesome interlopers creating bad blood even where exist wonderful relationships.
To start with, the author of the above is nameless. The only inference from the silly anonymity is that he or she is unsure of the concoction passed off as an article.

It would have been needless reacting to a bilious article with an anonymous author but for the simple fact that the article which is a figment of the arid imagination of the author is capable of misleading some unsuspecting members of the public who may consider it an article of wholesale truth.

That said, it is a known fact that both Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Muhammadu Buhari ran on a joint ticket in the 2019 presidential election as vice presidential and presidential candidates on the platform of the All Progressives Congress(APC). Therefore, whatever electoral input the Vice President must have made in the course of the tortuous campaign was his own contribution to the election from which he and Buhari emerged as victors. And it was not in vain.

Perhaps if Osinbajo had not campaigned vigorously across the length and breadth of the country, selling the Next Level agenda to Nigerians while also restating the modest successes of the administration between 2015 and 2019 to the electorates, the election outcome might have gone the other way which implies that he won’t be the number two man in the country today!

Besides, the near air mishap the VP and his entourage encountered in Kogi State while on a visit to campaign was part of the risks involved in any hustle. It is only those who dare to take risks who win. Osinbajo understands this aspect of life clearly and that was why he still went ahead, unencumbered by the near death experience, to carry out with the activities slated for that day. Thank goodness he did not die. He is living to enjoy the fruits of the risks he took. So let the author bury his unwanted sympathy for Osinbajo does not need the sympathy of cynics.

In case the nameless author does not know, those who are familiar with the political trajectory of the cerebral Professor of Law know that he is not a typical Nigerian politician who sees politics as a means to personal aggrandizement and thus will begin to count imaginary losses when the game is only just unravelling.

Elections are over. It’s time for governance. And that exactly is what Osinbajo is doing. He has a lot on his plate already. The management of the economy virtually rests on his shoulders in addition to superintending the all-important Social Investment Policy of the Buhari administration.

If the hooded writer wants to lament because Senator Ibikunle Amosun is believed to be getting political jobs meant for Ogun State where the VP hails from for his cronies, what about the 500,000 otherwise unemployed Nigerian youth who are engaged today across the country via the N-Power Scheme which the office of the VP is driving?

What about the over 2 million petty traders and small scale business owners who are receiving collateral free, interest free loans? Is it not the same Osinbajo who is driving the programs impacting their lives? The public-spirited person that he is, the VP is not motivated to serve because of perks or largesse of office which explains why he has chosen to touch the lives of the mass majority of Nigerians through the instrumentality of the FG-driven social programs that can impact positively on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

For the education of the masked author, all federal appointments are at the mercy of the President who dispenses to whomever he is pleased with. Osinbajo is not the President and will never do anything to drag leadership and patronage distribution with his principal. A former VP who tried to take the shine off his boss is still struggling today to redeem his once illustrious political career.

By the way, as afar as Ogun State and its people are concerned, the most important political position that has a direct bearing on the lives of the citizenry is that of the Governor. It is on record that VP Osinbajo contributed significantly to the election that brought His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun to power in the state.

Osinbajo has not lost anything and is not losing anything. Just yesterday, the President ratified the appointments of those who worked with the VP between 2015 and 2019. A President who does not like his VP would have imposed unknown persons on him.

Abdullahi O Haruna Haruspice

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President Buhari Approves Re-Appointment Of Ade Ipaye As Deputy Chief Of Staff, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the re-appointment of Mr. Ade Ipaye as Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. Mr Ipaye who was former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State works from the Office of the Vice President.

The President has also approved the re-appointment of Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, Special Adviser to President on Economic Matters; Mrs Maryam Uwais who retains her position as Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programme as well as Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters.

Also, re-appointed is Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, who will now serve as the Special Adviser to the President on Ease Of Doing Business.

Equally, President Buhari has also appointed Mr. Ahmad Rufai Zakari as Special Adviser on Infrastructure, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, as Senior Special Assistant on Education Interventions, Mr. Louis Odion as Senior Technical Assistant on Print Media, and Mr. Ajuri Ngelale as Senior Special Assistant for Public Affairs in the Presidency.

All appointees are to serve in the Office of the Vice President.

Except for Zakari, Bank-Olemoh, Odion and Ngelale, all the other appointments take retrospective effect from May 29, 2019.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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Meet Prof. Yemi Osinbajo: A Man Driven By Passion, Honesty, Integrity And Commitment To The Masses, By Oladele Peter

Ever since 1992 gave us a good idea of what true leadership and politicking was, I have never met a leader more committed to the entity Nigeria than Professor Yemi Osinbajo (PYO), a man with so much commitment, dedication, Confidence, Passion and such a good Communicator he almost rivals Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO) and Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

Professor Yemi Osinabjo is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a Professor of Law and the current Vice President of Nigeria since 29 May 2015.

As vice president, his roles and constitutional powers include; participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, vice chairmanship of the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council.

Although the vice president may take an active role in establishing policies in the Executive Branch by serving on such committees and councils, the relative power of the Nigerian vice president’s office depends much upon the duties delegated by the president.

With the above limited executive functions accorded a vice president of Nigeria, Osinbajo has established policies that are more masses oriented and beneficial to the general public.

Unlike past vice presidents, Prof. Osinbajo has won the trust of the President and the masses alike with his integrity and passion for a better nation.

Osinbajo’s poverty and hunger fighting policy (NSIPs) have earned him accolades from far and near including President Muhammadu Buhari, who on the 8th march, 2019, described Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as a “very dependable deputy” with whom he had established a special bond.
The president further said that professor Osinbajo has in the past four years diligently championed the values of setting the foundation for peace, progress, and stability of Nigeria, by working very hard to build a resilient economy while promoting transparency and accountability.

Prof. Osinbajo has shown he is not only a VP for Christians, APC or Yoruba’s alone but also, a VP for all religions, political parties, tribes and all geo-political zones in Nigeria.

When you think he is most popular in the south south, a video of him visiting States in the south east will appear, then the argument immediately becomes that he is more popular in that region. In the north and south west, it’s the same level of euphoria.

This earned the VP respect of all past governors of the last administration, given that, he is the chairman of the National Economic Council, NEC.

The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed (a PDP governor), noted that, Chairman (VP Osinbajo) led a strong team through various areas requiring attention in the economy. He made robust efforts in security giving direction, confidence and comfort.

In the same vein, the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, said “Osinbajo provided leadership and in the past 4 years, exhibited humility, giving everyone a sense of belonging.”

The 36 governors said the vice president treated everybody equally regardless of their political parties.

Professor Osinbajo has been nicknamed the Star Boy by the public especially by those on social media yet his popularity has not come without its negative sides.

Some people have sponsored lots of hate and false news campaigns against a man committed to fighting poverty and hunger in Nigeria with his National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs).

Ask me or any other non-partisan Nigerian of a hardworking and committed political leader and we would all point to Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

It gives me great joy that he is a Nigerian and one that has stood out in all his ways.

Oladele Peter, a psychologist and social commentator

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Is Nigeria Is On Its Way To Becoming A Global Food Basket? By Richard Ogundiya

Nigeria is a nation with several endowments, but yet there is still the threat of hunger and extreme poverty which requires urgent attention. In terms of quality and quantity, Nigeria is known worldwide for the production of several agricultural goods such as Cashew nuts, Cassava, Cocoa Beans, Ground Nuts, Gum Arabic, Kola nut, Melon, Millet, Palm kernels, Palm Oil, Plantain, Rice, Rubber, Sorghum, Soybeans, amongst others. The list abounds.

Yet our farmlands perform below expectations due to factors ranging from low fertiliser usage to poor farm management, insufficient financial access and market access. A strong and efficient agricultural sector would enable Nigeria to feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw materials for industries.

The good news is this: the strategy of using Agro- based industries for accelerated economic growth is slowly beginning to take shape and the Nigerian government, through private sector partnerships and investments is working to enable a strong and efficient agricultural sector to feed its growing population, generate employment and provide raw materials for industries. 

The Agro-allied industry is a collection of companies engaged in a high-scale 
production, processing, and packaging of food with the use of modern equipment and methods aimed at achieving these goals. Just like any other industry, the agro-allied industry has a positive relationship to economic development in 
Nigeria. Several million metric tonnes of agricultural products are exported every year; after a bumper harvest, reasonable amounts of these products get bad each year. A shortage in supply of these agricultural products is created, and the remaining products are sold at low prices in the international market, we then import these products back in a processed format but at higher prices. This practice is not economical, thereby depriving Nigerians of creativity and innovation in adding value to our agricultural products. It has discouraged economic growth and development as well as generated high unemployment rate by empowering foreign based agro-industries.

Nigeria’s ambitions for accelerated and inclusive economic growth are contingent on achieving a vibrant Agriculture sector that can support extensive down-the-line enterprise development and employment. Alongside job creation, Agro-industrial enterprises often provide crucial inputs and services to the farm sector for those with no access to such inputs, inducing productivity and product quality improvements and stimulating market induced innovation through chains and networks, facilitating linkages and allowing domestic and export markets to become mutually supportive.

During a meeting with a delegation of Chinese investors and other officials from the African Development Bank (AfDB) on August 6 2019, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN stated that ‘In line with its commitment to develop a thriving agro-industrial sector, the Federal Government will welcome partnerships and initiatives that would make Nigeria actualize its potential of being the food basket of the world’. Through the African Development Bank, the Chinese investors hope to commence the processes of investing in Nigeria’s agricultural sector under an initiative known as the Agro-Industrial initiative with focus on crop production, forestry, fishery, and livestock production.  

Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka of the AfFB said the framework of the initiative is to develop a programme that leverages Nigeria’s comparative advantage in key areas of agricultural production. According to him, ‘the overall investment, under the initiative, amounts to between $16 billion to $25 billion over a period of four years with a strong government support and private sector leadership.’

The challenge of feeding Nigeria’s growing population, which is expected to reach 402 million people in 2050, requires new strategies and new multicultural and multisectorial rethinking, capable of generating new forms of dialogue, at different specialist levels, towards a more sustainable use of the available natural and human resources, to ensure food and nutrition security. Agro-industrial development can contribute to improved health and food security for the poor by increasing the overall availability, variety and nutritional value of food products, and enabling food to be stored as a reserve against times of shortage, ensuring that sufficient food is available and that essential nutrients are consumed throughout the year. This new development if implemented well will have a direct impact on the livelihoods of the poor both through increased employment in agro-industrial activities, and through increased demand for primary agricultural produce.

Vice-President Osinbajo believes that the proposed partnership, especially the agro-allied aspect of it will help deliver the kind of growth needed in Nigeria’s agricultural ecosystem. According to him, the FG and AfDB will ensure that the investors have no troubles in setting up and operating their businesses efficiently.

Agro opportunities abound in Nigeria. We have the 9th largest arable land in the world and most of that is still largely untouched. Nigeria’s potentials in this sector are limitless, thus becoming the food basket of the world may sound like a tall order, but it is not surmountable. That lofty goal will depend on how we are able to get high quality inputs, seedling and others, and how we are able to use technology especially the benefits of industrial agriculture to our advantage. Moves seen in the Buhari administration – from its revolutionary Anchor Borrower’s Programme, to other massive unprecedented investments from the likes of Olam to Friesland Campina WAMCO among others – show that Nigeria has left the realm of potential as it makes it way to reality, that indeed we have the capacity to be a global food basket. Consistency of policy and determination is however key to this ambition, else, all would be mere bark, no bite.

Richard Ogundiya is a journalist and researcher resident in Lagos.

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There Is So Much To Do Turning Power Supply Around; And We Shall Do It – Osinbajo

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE COMMISSIONING OF NDPHC PROJECTS IN ABEOKUTA AND ITS ENVIRONS ON THE 15TH OF AUGUST, 2019.

PROTOCOLS

I am honoured to commission today, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) reinforcement projects around the Abeokuta environs and also the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) projects.

This commissioning is an important part of the Federal Government’s efforts to improve the supply and quality of power to homes and businesses in Nigeria.

Indeed, in the past few years, resolving the power supply problem has been top priority for the Federal Government of Nigeria. Permit me to give a brief update on the state of the power sector today and a glimpse into the very near future.

Today, we have about 13,427MW of installed capacity, and an available capacity of about 8,342MW. This was achieved through the efforts of government and its private sector partners in the rehabilitation and commissioning of turbines in Shiroro, Egbin, Delta Power, Sapele and Gbarain.

Before the end of the year, new generation is expected from Gbarain and an extra 115 MW; Kashimbilla (40 MW); Afam III Fast Power (240 MW); Gurara (30 MW); Dadin Kowa (29 MW); and Kaduna (215 MW).

In the long term, several solar plants will come on stream. The national grid already has the capacity to transmit 7,000MW, an increase from less than about 5,000MW in 2015 and this is due to the completion and improvement of several transmission projects. We have been told by the MD of NDPHC, Mr Chiedu Ugbo, the completion of projects already done by TCN, like the Ikot Ekpene switching station and the completion of the Ikot Ekpene-Ugwuaji-Makurdi-Jos loop, which was done by the NDPHC in 2017. But distribution capacity in the 11 DisCos are significantly low, hovering at around 4,000MW on average with a peak of about 5,400MW.

So, despite the availability of 8,000MW of generation and 7,000MW of transmission capacity, the lack of DisCos’ infrastructure to absorb and deliver grid power to end users has largely restricted generation to an average of about 4,000MW and sometimes falling below 4,000MW.

Apart from the lack of infrastructure is the inability of DisCos, first, to provide distribution assets generally and also metering, and you have heard what the MD of TCN said about the unavailability of distribution assets, there is also the unavailability to provide metering to consumers. In resolving this issue, the Federal Government stepped in through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (NERC) Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulation of 2018. This is essentially regulation to provide metering, through independent or third parties to consumers all across Nigeria.

On May 1 2019, MAPs, commenced meter rollout; over 250,000 applications have been received and processed by DisCos to date and of course, that is then supposed to be forwarded to MAPs for installation. This figure is expected to quadruple by the end of 2019, and double by the end of 2020, largely closing the current metering gap of about 5.3million consumers.

But it is evident, despite all the efforts that has been put into trying to expand the national grid and do a lot more, and of course, we have also heard that there is need to recapitalize the Discos, but despite all the efforts so far, it is evident that the structure of the market today cannot deliver on the government’s promises to give power for domestic and industrial use. A substantial change of strategy is necessary. What we have done in the past has taken us to a point but clearly, there is a need for change of strategy.

At the heart of that strategy is the recapitalization of DisCos. We have to simply come up with more resources. Part of that recapitalization process is in the Siemens Phased Electrification Roadmap which was commissioned by the President recently. 

Now the whole idea of the Siemens Electrification Roadmap is to deploy financing and technology on commercial terms agreed with transmission and distribution companies in partnership with the German Government and Siemens to: [in Phase 1] increase transmission and distribution capacity to enable power delivery of at least 7,000MW to consumers; [in Phase 2] eliminate bottlenecks in transmission and distribution, to enable full utilization of existing generation for power deliver of 11,000MW to consumers; and [in Phase 3], upgrade and expand generation, transmission and distribution for end-to-end power delivery of 25,000MW.

The Siemens Electrification Project must not be seen as all there is to enhancing transmission and distribution. the TCN still has a major role to play in all the various projects that the TCN itself has dedicated itself to doing. At the same time, the DisCos must come up with more capacity and resources to upgrade what they have been doing and ensure distribution assets are available including metering.

Second is the opening up of the market to new investors in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, transacting directly with each other to serve willing customers, including deploying off-grid power and using micro-grids, especially for deployment of solar power.

We must ensure that we open up the space for other investors or end-to-end generation to distribution. We cannot restrict the space that we currently occupy, we must ensure that we open up the space. 

Now we have successfully done this in Sabongari market, Kano; Ariaria market in Aba and recently, we launched the first of several solar power plants in Universities with the 2.8MW plant at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Ebonyi State. Over the course of the next few months, the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effrun Delta and Bayero University in Kano will have their off-grid Solar Hybrid Systems commissioned.

In each of these places, a private power provider is licensed to provide end-to-end power for a particular community or cluster, usually on a willing-buyer-willing-seller basis.

The policies and regulations to empower customers to get the services they want at prices they agree to, are largely in places because we already have the law that allows willing-seller-willing-buyer arrangement and the different categories of those laws. 

The first is the Independent Electricity Distribution Networks (IEDN) 2012. This allows for the installation of an independent distribution network with the minimum capacity of 1MW where there is currently no distribution network, or where existing distribution network is not sufficient to serve existing customers. That is the first regulation that we have. 

The second is the Mini-Grid Regulation, 2016, which was issued on the 24th of May 2017. This allows for unserved or underserved customers of a distribution company to be supplied power on agreed terms by a developer of a grid-connected or an independent electricity distribution system, with an embedded power station of up to 1MW. 

Then we have Eligible Customer Regulation issued on the 1st of November, 2017. This allows for unserved or underserved consumers of more than 2MW of power, to buy power on agreed terms, directly from generating companies who have contracted with providers and operators of transmission and distribution infrastructure for its delivery.

The last is the Electricity Distribution Franchising Regulation, which is still in public consultation and preparatory to its issuance of regulations that will govern it. The whole idea is that it sets out the rules for a distribution company to appoint, or be compelled to cede consumers who will be connected to a 33kV or 11kV feeder, or a designated area to an agent or third party, willing to make investments in lines, metering, transformers and other equipment to serve the customers better at a mutually agreed tariff.

Now with a lot of these policies, the whole idea of it is to create a regime whereby there can be more willing-buyer-willing seller arrangements. It is in my view completely impossible, to satisfy Nigeria’s power demands from the national grid alone. There must be independent power suppliers and this why we have all these regulations for micro-grid and other willing-buyer-willing-seller arrangements and that is the way by which we can go forward and ensure that we are able to serve many of the unserved and underserved communities that we have today.

These polices when fully implemented, will enable the opening up of the market to new investors in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure, transacting directly with each other, to serve willing customers and this is the way which the Federal Government will proceed to ensure that we increase some more opportunities to existing DisCos and to other investors who may wish to serve Nigeria’s huge power market, which of course, at the moment is terribly underserved. 

But back to today’s land mark event. Electricity supply to Ogun state, especially along the axis of Otta right up to Abeokuta the State capital, was initially via a Double Circuit 132kV line into Otta. It was supplied from a 330/132/33kV Grid Transformer Substation at Ikeja West, which serves as a marshalling station for several power plant inflows into Lagos.

A 130MVA capacity substation was built at this Otta location for supply to Otta and environs. Out of Otta, a single circuit lower capacity 132kV line was built to connect Abeokuta via an intermediate 132/33kV Substation at Papalanto within the premises of Lafarge Cement Company. The Abeokuta Substation was also equipped with 2X40MVA 132/33kV transformers for suppling Abeokuta and its environs.

Over time, all these facilities became overloaded and lacking capacity to cater to growing demand in these locations. So, this is why government felt the need, through the NDPHC, to design a set of transmission projects to resolve this problem and with various segments which we have heard today. Particularly today we have:

· A 1X60MVA 132/33kV transformer addition to Otta with associated switching bays and a dedicated 33kV Substation to facilitate Four (4) extra 33kV feeders into Otta environs.

· A 70.5km long higher capacity 132kV Double Circuit line to replace the old low capacity 132kV Single Circuit line connecting Abeokuta. This new line (carrying two circuits in place of the pre-existing single circuit) was designed with switching facilities (bays) at Otta, Lafarge and Abeokuta, to accommodate the extra high capacity circuits that now exist along this route.

· A new 2X60MVA 132/33kV Substation was built here at Kobape in Abeokuta and named New Abeokuta with facilities for six (6) 33kV feeders offtake for improved supply to the growing Ogun State Capital and its environs.

· A new 7kmhigher capacity 132kV Double Circuit line to connect old Abeokuta Substation to this New Abeokuta Substation was also built to complete improved power flow from Otta to New Abeokuta through Papalanto and Old Abeokuta.

We expect that these reinforcements of existing transmission and distribution infrastructure will substantially improve power supply in the Abeokuta axis.

We know that with all the work that is being done, and what we have also heard, the various ideas that our very dynamic governor has laid out in Ogun State, we are sure that power supply in Ogun State is bound to grow in leaps and bound. And so, in the next few weeks we will be commissioning and formally declare open the NDPHC Intervention on all the projects in Abeokuta and environs.

I want to say that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that we have adequate power supply both in our home and also in our various places of business. Power supply is the life blood of any economy and we will remain committed to ensuring that power supply is adequate everywhere. Just as you heard, it is certainly not going to be a short walk, but as we have seen, from all what we have heard so far, there so much to be done and we are committed to doing it.

I want to thank you very much for making the time to attend this event and to thank the NDPHC and TCN, for the very hard work and our host governor, Dapo Abiodun, for ensuring that we are well accommodated and we are very hospitably treated. 

Thank you very much. God bless you.

Released by:
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
17th August, 2019

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How Buhari’s Social Investment Programmes Are Tackling Poverty, By Richard Ogundiya

Nigeria’s population swells at an annual increase rate of 3.75%, indicating a doubling of the population every 22 years. The World Poverty Index estimates that 46.7% of 197 million Nigerians live in acute poverty and the numbers are still on the rise. Improving quality of life for those under the extreme poverty line, while at the same time caring for peculiar problems of vulnerable groups, particularly children, women, the elderly and youths are challenges which require effective policies as well as focus on sectors that drive development such as health, education, agriculture and entrepreneurship.

Led by Maryam Uwais and Ismaeel Ahmed, the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), which is strategically hosted within the Office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo provides a sustainable, long-term foundation and responsive national social security system for at-risk population with the purpose of delivering inclusive, pro-poor growth across the country. Since it’s establishment in 2015, the initiative has made significant investments for children, seniors, lower-wage workers and other resistless Nigerians. The rationale is that if families invest money they receive from the government, they will gradually build the capacity to fund petty businesses, farming and attend to other basic needs.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) released a report in 2016 that showed direct transfer payments of money to eligible people, can show direct growth in the economy, school attendance, health care and dietary diversity. The ODI concluded that cash transfers, when invested correctly, can lead to an increased amount of income in the future and achieve both social welfare and livelihood promotion objectives. There is also a sense of loss of an opportunity to prove something bigger: the radical notion that poverty, long viewed as an intractable policy problem, can be solved by putting money in the pockets of those who have the least. This is what the Conditional Cash Transfer seeks to do.

For some, N5,000 may not seem too exciting but to many Nigerians under the poverty line, it is a great sum of money to keep things moving. The National Cash Transfer Programme is designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households and build their capacities for sustainable livelihood. This scheme is predicated on the idea that poor people, not governments or nonprofits, know what they need best. Rather than enrolling them in complicated social assistance programs that presume the kind of help they need, basic income trusts people to make their own financial decisions.

To ensure beneficiaries establish a sustainable means of livelihood before graduating the programmes, they are continuously supported and mentored to form savings groups and cooperatives by trained Cash Transfer Facilitators in every local government ward, who pay them weekly visits to provide capacity building on life skills and basic financial knowledge. Since January 2016, 394,430 vulnerable households have been paid in 25 states, including households in Internally Displaced Camps in Borno.

The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) is a government-led school feeding programme that aims to improve the health and educational outcomes of public primary school pupils. It uses farm produce locally grown by smallholder farmers to provide children nutritious mid-day meals on every school day. The program aims to improve the enrollments in primary schools and reduce the current dropout rates estimated at 30% and also address the poor nutrition and health status of many children who have been affected as a result of poverty; it has also affected the learning outcomes of the children. At the start, the federal government set out to feed 5.5 million pupils but its successful implementation has broadened the vision and the numbers are currently at 9,817,568 pupils. As part of the value chain, NHGSFP also empowers 106,074 cooks and provides sustainable income for small holder farmers, thereby stimulating growth and productivity around the communities in 32 states.

Of all the initiatives under the NSIO umbrella, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is the most fascinating because of the role it plays in stimulating the economy from the grassroots. Under the Bank of Industry (BOI) supervision, the Programme aims to provide micro-lending to 2.5 million small traders including farmers, women cooperatives, market women, agricultural workers and entrepreneurs. MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni loans range between N10,000 and N350,000 with a 6 month loan tenor and a moratorium of two weeks. In many cases, the tenor can be extended depending on the nature of the business. What makes it more captivating is that no collaterals are involved but BOI charges a 2.5% and 5% administrative fee which is used to finance recruited agents and aggregators who make sure that all loans are recovered when due. MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni has funded 330,568 women, 1,712 farmers and 1,805,171 traders respectively, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 2,136,911 Nigerians.

The overall success of the government’s social investment scheme is still very much dependent on the collection and use of data to improve the target structure and effectiveness. The National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) uses ‘Poverty mapping’, ‘Community based Targeting’ and ‘Proxy Means Test’ as methods of validating payment basis for grantees. These techniques provide authentic data that helps the government identify the poorest in local governments and rank households according to their means, thereby eliminating the more affluent in the actual payment exercise. As of now, 1,132,675 households comprising of 4,531,118 individuals from 32 states have been documented and paid, with women leading the curve at 50.8% engagement.

When poverty strikes, it must be met with an equal strike at the very least. At the very best a counter-strike must double the dose. The strength of its blow is when it is left unmatched. India bragged once as the world’s poorest country. That status is no more today. Why? Because the Indian government put in place, structures, programmes and targeted policies that were aimed at tackling the menace of extreme poverty facing its population. They worked. Now Nigeria stands atop the list – not because it did anything, but largely because it did nothing. Now an ambitious Buhari administration seeks a reversal of this shameful status through its Social Investment Programmes.

With over 40 Million Nigerians who have benefitted in one way or the other, and two million Nigerians who have ben lifted from the claws of extreme poverty, Buhari’s social investment programmes have taken on the fight to poverty’s doorstep. Victory is in the offing.

Richard Ogundiya is a journalist and researcher resident in Lagos.

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Why Nigerians should beware of Fani Kayode’s obsession with Osinbajo

It is no longer news that for Femi Fani-Kayode to remain relevant in Nigeria he has resorted to insulting Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and this has given him the illusion of the relevance he sought especially at a time even members of his own party see no more value in him. 

Femi has been following his father’s footsteps by fighting against the real Yoruba interest and  person of Prof Osinbajo, who many see as one of the shining lights and a beacon of hope in this present government. What cannot be doubted is that Yemi Osinbajo is everywhere going about his national duties, working tirelessly for the good of the nation even with his limited constitutional powers as the vice president.

The main grouse of people like FFK is that the VP has a trustworthy and cordial relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari. And for this reason he is saddled with the responsibilities that are deemed by many as beyond his constitutional powers.

These are major responsibilities which many a former vice president has never handled. How many times did Atiku had to bear the blame for the perceived errors of Obasanjo while they were in office? Or Jonathan bearing the burden of Yar’Adua’s mistakes? Who ever blamed Namadi Sambo for the many undoings of President Jonathan? Yet for people like FFK, it is the man who is clearly ahead in integrity, character and competence who must be attacked and brought down, even when the buck don’t stop at his desk!

It has been argued that the renewed onslaught against Osinbajo is because of 2023. FFK and such political opportunists and sophists are focused on the VP because his character, integrity and popularity threatens their 2023 aspirations. Who knows tomorrow anyway?

On the kidnapping of clergymen, Femi Fani-Kayode should know that Pastor Adeboye and Prof Osinbajo were as bothered as the rest of Nigerians and as leaders with integrity; they immediately swung into action using their spiritual and political capacity to call for the rescue of the abducted pastors. If Mr. Fani-Kayode did not have an ulterior motive and had he waited even 48 hours he would have been celebrating the rescue of these pastors and other Nigerians that were abducted. Actually the pastors abduction was reported on Friday and by Saturday they were rescued by the Police. But unstable characters FFK were already attacking Osinbajo no sooner the abduction were announced.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye demonstrated a good example as a leader in the body of Christ by asking Nigerians and Christians to pray for their release, even while the security agencies continued their search and rescue operations. Unlike the rabid rabble-rouser utterances we have read from Fani-Kayode on various media platforms.

Femi Fani-Kayode is very crafty in whipping up religious and ethnic sentiments, as he encourages people to behave violently or aggressively, twisting even the meanings of passages in the Holy Scriptures, always for his personal political advantage. He has been out of power and the money that come with it. He is thus on a mission of survival, albeit in a most fatal approach of slandering Osinbajo who is seen by progressives as a true ‘Omoluabi’ and hardworking man.

How do we clearly ascertain those pastors were even kidnapped by Fulani Herdsmen in the first place, when investigation is still on? Just some days ago a four-man Yoruba gang was caught in possession of 10,000 live ammunition in Ibadan.

The same thing was just reported in Osun State where a roberry gang terrorizing Ikire axis in the State met their Waterloo when they were rounded up by local vigilante and were handed over to the Police. Surprisingly, they all dressed like Fulani but they were in fact indigenes of Ondo and Kogi States.

We as positive Nigerians should not continue to point fingers, when we should be working together to overcome our security challenges rather than fuel prejudice and ethnocentrism as a nation with different religions and languages.

Recently, Femi Fani-Kayode had to publicly apologize to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over his  widely publicized allegations, wherein he had blatantly accused the EFCC had raided the home of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. The commission would later threaten to sue him for defamation, describing him as a purveyor of fake news.

However, in a very rare acceptance of the humiliation brought upon himself by his regular unguarded utterances, Fani-Kayode would later apologize for his earlier comment but petulantly insisted that some people actually searched the CJN’s home. Many public analysts agreed the bravado was just a mere face-saving attempt after getting burnt. FFK had also insinuated that Onnoghen’s bank accounts had been frozen by agents of the Federal Government.

Unity in diversity should be Nigeria’s strength. There should unity in every corner of Nigeria which will be our strength. Finally, anyone that has gone through Chief Remi Fani-Kayode’s rascal antecedents in the Nigerian Politics during the NPN, should know by now that Femi Fani-Kayode is a real son of his father. Hence the public should beware of his antics, Femi FaniKayode once said that  President Jonathan’s government is a bad omen to the country, but thereafter he decamped to the PDP to join people from the same bad omen.

Oladele Peter writes from Ile Ife, Osun state

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FG Excited About Nigeria’s Prospect Of Hosting Next FIFA U20 Women World Cup

The Federal Government is excited about the prospect of Nigeria hosting the next FIFA U-20 Women World Cup in 2020.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN dropped the hint today while receiving a delegation of FIFA Inspection Team at the Presidential Villa, adding that the government is actively supporting the bid of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, to host the female soccer competition.

“Going round this country you will have noticed that practically every Nigerian is a football fan. We are excited about the prospect of hosting the competition,” the VP told the FIFA delegation, while also noting that Nigeria has indeed participated in all FIFA’s female competition and that the country has the number to effectively host the sporting event next year.

According to the Vice President, “the Federal Government is backing Nigeria’s bid fully and we are prepared to do all that is required for the adequate comfort of our guests and fans.”

Prof. Osinbajo added that the Federal Government is not just interested in the business of hosting the sporting event satisfying the needs of the people who have over the years, demonstrated uncommon love for football.

“Nigeria’s love for football is a mark of well-being, and it is also culturally important to us. It is a unifying force for the people… We politicians don’t even compete with footballers, they are far more famous than us,” the Vice President stated.

Speaking earlier, the head of the FIFA Inspection team, Mr Kaj Heyral observed that the team was impressed with the facilities they have seen and expressed appreciation for the hospitality shown by Nigeria during their two-week stay.

A decision on Nigeria’s bid to host the event will be taken next month.

Mr Amaju Pinnick, the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, who noted that hosting the competition will further boost Nigeria’s positive image, said the FIFA team inspected six stadia, 13 training sites, nine hospitals and about 10 hotels in the country.

He added that Nigeria’s hosting of the sporting event “is about the future of Nigerian football; it is about the future of our youths; it is about the future of our female players.”

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