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NCAA to demolish Globacom masts nationwide over ₦5.9bn debt

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has concluded plans to start dismantling some telecommunication masts belonging to Globacom Ltd, a Global Sattelite Mobile (GSM) telecommunications provider, in various locations across the country over failure to pay N5.9 billion renewal fees for height clearance to the agency.

The development followed a directive from the Nigerian government to some of its agencies and parastatals to go after debtors and defaulters and recover all the outstanding for the government.

SaharaReporters learnt that the matter came to a head following exchange of correspondence between Globacom and NCAA and scheduled meetings designed to ensure payment of the said accumulated fees by the telecommunication network which failed.

In a letter dated October 4, 2021, titled: “Re: Illegal Erection of High Structures and Refusal to Renew Expired Aviation Height Clearance Certificates by Globacom Limited” and addressed to the Managing Director, Globacom, obtained by SaharaReporters, it was affirmed that following the failure by Globacom to pay the the required fees amounting to N5.9 billion, the regulatory agency had no choice but to commence the dismantling of the its masts across the country.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions, including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

The letter signed by Legal Adviser/Head, Compliance and Enforcement, Mr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, recalled that, “The meeting to discuss the above subject-matter, was fixed for September 23, 2021, at your instance.

“You may wish to recall that you had on August, 25, 2021, requested that the meeting, earlier rescheduled, at your instance, from Monday, July 26, 2021 to Thursday, August 26, 2021, be further rescheduled to Thursday, September 23, 2021, to enable your Chief Operating Officer/COO to attend.

“It is unfortunate that despite our concurrence to a further rescheduling of the meeting to the requested date, and so informing you through our letter of 13th September, 2021, you failed to turn up for the meeting”, it said.

The letter noted that the Director-General of the NCAA had to abort an official assignment in Europe and return to Nigeria in order to be able to attend the meeting.

“Globacom only wrote the letter under reference three days after, asking that the meeting be rescheduled, without any explanation for the failure of any management staff to show up.

“I am directed to inform you that the NCAA is not disposed to granting this latest (fourth) request to reschedule the meeting, particularly, as no reason was given for your non-attendance on the last date.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

In an earlier communication with Globacom, NCAA listed the indebtedness of globacom to include application fee for 2006 to 2007 at N100,000 per mast, totalling N689,800,000, annual renewal fee for 2007-2022 (15years), N50,000 per mast amounting to N6,898 and inspection fee covering N6,898 masts across the nation all totalling N6,064,230,000.

SaharaReporters learnt that Globacom paid the sum of N100 million on July 31, 2019 and had not made any further payment.

An earlier letter from NCCA to Global said total application fee for the period under review stood at N604,800,000 while cost of inspection amounted to N190,930,000.

The letter also stated the position of NCAA in law with regard to regulation of masts.

“Please be reminded that Section 30(3)() of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 empowers the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by law to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure (including telecommunication mast), which by virtue of its ‘height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation,” it said.

This is coming two years after the agency asked Globacom and other Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators to remove their over 7, 000 masts or risk seeing them demolished.

The NCAA had claimed the masts, erected at different locations within the country close to the nation’s airports, are obstructing flight safety and could cause accidents if not removed.

SaharaReporters

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Despite FG’s Plea, Electricity Workers Cripple Power Supply in Abuja, Environs

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Despite a federal government statement pleading with the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) not to embark on an industrial action, the workers yesterday made good their threat, crippling power supply in parts of Abuja and environs.

The affected areas under the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) franchise included Abuja, Nasarawa, Kogi, parts of Edo, Niger and Kaduna states.

Specifically, the protesters attached to the AEDC said they were embarked on the industrial action over the non-payment of their entitlements for over 20 months.

The federal government at the weekend through the ministry of power had cautioned workers against the action, as a consequence of the impact of the ownership tussle in the Distribution Company (Disco).

Minister of State, Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, had urged members of the labour union to follow due process in airing their grievances, stressing that going contrary to established rules will run against extant laws which may have unintended consequences.

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The minister had advised the union members to be, “cautious and responsible to avoid endangering the fragile state of our electricity infrastructure which the present government is working hard to strengthen.”

But in defiance, members of staff of the company who are demanding the payment of their 2020 bonus and other entitlements and remittance of pensions allegedly deducted by the company to their pension fund administrators, shut down some the of facilities belonging to the AEDC.

“Enough is Enough! Pay us our outstanding pension remittances, thrift/corporative deductions, 2020 productivity bonus, bulk rent and union check off bonus,” some of the banners in a number of the AEDC’s offices in Abuja read.

In its reaction, management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) informed that though it had available bulk power for delivery to the distribution load centres of the AEDC to offtake for its customers, power evacuation from injection substations across the franchise area had been disrupted.

“TCN regrets this disruption and assures Nigerians that normal bulk power delivery to AEDC will be restored as soon as the injection substations are opened for onward electricity supply to consumers,” a statement by TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Ndidi Mbah, stated.

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Also, a statement from the AEDC signed by its Public Affairs Manager, Oyebode Fadipe urged the distribution company’s customers to be calm as all the pending issues were being resolved.

“Following the industrial action embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees, power supply to some of our areas of operation, especially those on the 11kV network, may be affected.

“We would like to assure all our customers that all hands are on deck to resolve the issues that prompted this action. We would also like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience and disruption,” the Disco stated.

Thisday

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How to halt N1t electricity subsidy, CBN’s N1.5t interventions

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Electricity stakeholders in the country, yesterday, insisted that removal of subsidy in the power sector was feasible if the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could streamline interventions in the sector to mitigate the negative impact on the masses.

Last week, the Federal Government alerted that the gap between the Cost Reflective Tariff (CRT), and Allowable Tariff (AT) peaking at N28 per unit of electricity supplied to consumers, this year stands at about N1t.

Coming at a time that it is also considering subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari, had disclosed at the 12th edition of PwC Nigeria’s Annual Power and Utilities Roundtable, that the nation needs to optimise the potential in the power sector through a cost-reflective tariff regime.

Since the sector was privatised in 2013, perpetual interventions through the CBN have served as lifelines to the sector. They include Power and Aviation Intervention Fund (PAIF), hovering at about N300b, Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF), which is about N213b, an N140b Solar Connection Intervention Facility, an over N600b tariff shortfall intervention, as well as a recent N120b intervention designed for mass metering among others.

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In March 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved an N701b CBN facility as Power Assurance Guarantee, just as the Federal Government, in 2019, also signed the release of another N600b to bridge the shortfall in the payment of monthly invoices by key stakeholders in the sector.

Fueled by tariff shortfall, receivable collection, technical, commercial and collection losses, financial liquidity in the power sector hovers around N4t as the apex bank, alongside the Federal Government has continued to initiate a series of interventions to douse tension and avert a collapse of the 2013 electricity privatisation exercise.

In about eight years, the CBN would have spent over N1.5t to keep the nation’s power sector afloat although the sector was privatised to survive by itself.

Although most stakeholders insisted that the interventions remained critical, especially in easing the liquidity crisis and attracting further interventions, they maintained that tweaking the interventions in manners that would ease further the masses’ burden and halt arbitrary billing of consumers was very important.

Renowned energy expert, Prof. Wunmi Iledare, noted that interventions by the CBN as a payable loan was understandable, even if it is a forgivable loan.

He insisted that the current structure of the electricity market in the country could mar the interventions, stressing that there must be a decentralised energy planning system.

According to him, while it is good that banks are targeting spending, subsidy may be a political expediency instrument, not economic efficiency hence “it should be disavowed. By the way, estimated billing now termed electronic billing is fraudulent! A quick way to bring subsidy to an end is metering and decentralisation of power management and services. Nearly everything centralised in the fashion of militarism has failed woefully, education, health, energy services road infrastructure, name it,” Iledare said.

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An energy expert, Eseosa Lloyd Onaghinon, stated that the energy sector must be rid of inefficiencies, which is usually passed on to consumers, adding that there are about 40 per cent inefficient losses between transmission and distribution.

“If we do not address such losses that occur, we might as well get into a trap where it’s an unending discussion of ‘subsidy’ even though it is continuous inefficiencies covered up as subsidies,” Onaghinon stated.

For energy lawyer, Osagie Agbonlahor, most of the woes experienced in the sector were responsible for the poor electricity situation in the country, adding that the development should be blamed on electricity operators, revenue collectors and the powers that be.

“How many army, police, air force, navy barracks in the country that their residents pay electricity bills at all? How many government ministries, army, air force, navy offices pay for the electricity that they consume? Who has ever dared to drive to the barracks and disconnect their source of public power supply the way they do to ordinary Nigerians? For how long has this been going on in this country? If you take away these huge leakages, you will see that the ordinary Nigerians have been sustaining and subsidising the electricity consumption of these people.

Agbonlahor said that the government broached the idea of deducting the huge outstanding electricity bill consumed in barracks and government offices under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He noted that “until we start to do the right things, we are just going to be beating about the bush.”

He asked the government to do a forensic audit of the N1t subsidy to check where the so-called subsidy is coming from.

The Guardian had earlier reported that the failure of federal and state governments, as well as their ministries and agencies to pay over N100b outstanding electricity bills is currently worsening the liquidity crisis in the sector.

The situation has also reportedly led to distribution companies hounding private electricity consumers who pay more through estimated bills and higher tariffs, rather than recover outstanding debts from government agencies.

Guardian

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Range Rover shines as Velar wins 2021 Nigeria luxury SUV

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The 2021 will go down as a year of glory for Range Rover brand as its new model, the Velar, has won multiple awards. The latest is the Luxury SUV of the Year 2021 at the annual Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA) Awards just in Lagos.

The Velar, which is currently on sale in Nigeria via Coscharis Motors, had earlier won the 2021 Business Motoring Award for the Best Large SUV.

A statement by Coscharis Motors said the awards were a follow up to the 2018 World Car Awards for the design of the year.

The auto firm noted that the new Range Rover Velar fought off stiff competition from other brands nominated for the same category.

The editorial team considered the entrants based on a combination of factors such as technology, design and style, adding that the Velar excelled on all fronts.

The Range Rover Velar was said to have been chosen as the outright winner in the luxury car of the year category due to its class-leading technology, exhibiting novel features such as Pivi and Pivi Pro, providing the latest in-car artificial intelligence such as self-learning navigation system for a fully connected journey; the deployable door handles which could retract when not in use, the split armrest and crafted materials throughout.

The organisers praised Land Rover’s cutting-edge lineage, said to be instantly recognisable in the Velar, given its beautifully balanced stance with optimised proportions from the formal, powerful front end, through a flowing, continuous waistline, culminating in a taut and elegantly tapered rear.

The Velar was also commended for its Meridian’s Trifield 3D technology, found to create a truly unique ‘live’ sound experience.

Group General Manager, Marketing and Communications, Abiona Babarinde, who received the award on behalf of the auto firm, said, “For combining the off-road capabilities of a Range Rover and leading technology with the desirability of an electric vehicle, the Range Rover Velar just had to win it for us.”

He also said the NAJA award meant a lot to Coscharis Motors and “it is fantastic for the Velar to win the Luxury SUV of the Year as that is what the vehicle truly represents.

“I am really happy to pick it up on behalf of Coscharis Motors and most especially the Land Rover team who put so much hard work into the design and engineering – it is great to be recognised for leading edge and innovative technology wrapped in such a fantastic design.”

According to the statement, every Land Rover vehicle sold by Coscharis Motors comes with a complementary five-year/100,000km service plan and five-year/150,000km warranty.

 

 

L-R: Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, giving award of Luxury SUV of the year to Mr Abiona Babarinde, GM, Marketing Corporate Communications, Coscharis Group; Mr Felix Mahan, Brand Manager, Coscharis Motors; and Mr Mike Ochonma, Chairman, Nigeria Auto Journalists Association, during the 2021 edition of the association’s award night held in Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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