The House of Representatives, through its committee on power has directed the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission to suspend its planned electricity increment. The electricity regulatory body had earlier announced the planned hike which will take effect from 1 April this year. The Aliyu Magaji chaired committee made the announcement Tuesday during a meeting with NERC and other stakeholders. Reacting to the statement by the chairman of the committee, the General Manager of NERC, Sharffudeen Mahmoud told the committee that 50 percent of Nigerians already have billing meters. But the Chairman asked the representatives of the Minister to send a memo to all concerned agencies to ensure compliance. The committee chairman added that the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company remains under the ministry of power contrary to a presidential directive which moved it to the ministry of finance. NBET, which was created through the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, has been operating under the ministry of power until recently when President Buhari moved it to the finance ministry. Addressing the committee, Abdul said the ministry of power was informed of the presidential directive, and that NBET is now being supervised by the finance ministry. Magaji, however, opposed the move which he said is illegal.

Commercial banks in Nigeria are set to begin the recovery of ₦6.125 trillion borrowed by oil firms to braze themselves amidst the sector’s recapitalisation fears. The banks have issued correspondences to oil firms, marginal filed operators and downstream operators. Debts in the financial sector, according to a 2018 CBN financial stability report, increased by ₦1.235 trillion. The sector’s debt profile since 2016 stood at ₦4.89 trillion. A management staff of one the marginal field oil firms said Banks are beginning to takeover collateral tied to the loans, following the correspondence sent. The banks’ exposure in terms of loan facilities to the oil sector is, according to the CBN document, stands at about ₦6.1 trillion debts. The banks’ non-performing loans have been on the decline and a huge part was attributed to the oil sector. CBN had announced last year, the immediate suspension of interests on non-performing loans to oil marketers, similarly granting Deposit Money Banks the approval to directly debit bank accounts belonging to loan defaulters across all banks in the country. Analyst, however, said that CBN’s planned recapitalisation programme might trigger fresh waves of mergers and acquisitions in the banking industry adding that though the country’s banking industry had grown strong, as Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) increased from 10.2 percent in December 2017 to 15.5 percent in September 2019 and the percentage of Non- Performing Loans declined from its high of 14.7 percent in January 2017 to under 7 percent as at October 2019.

The implementation of planned common currency for 15 West African countries will become more difficult once France’s former colonies in the region follow through on an announcement to reform their single payment unit. Historically, there has been a contention on whether the single currency for the Economic Community of West African States should be free-floating or have a fixed value. France’s commitment to back up the payment unit is also a concern. The West African Economic and Monetary Union bloc of eight mostly French-speaking countries late last month, agreed to start phasing out the seven-decade-old common CFA franc, including the removal of requirements to keep half their reserves in France and to give the country a seat on the union’s board. France will, however, guarantee the new currency’s peg to the euro as it did for the CFA franc, which means at the moment, there’s little chance that Nigeria and Ghana, the two biggest economies in Ecowas, will join in. West African countries have committed to establishing a common currency for more than two decades to help remove trade barriers, ease the cost of business and boost economic growth in a region of more than 380 million people. Last year, the countries agreed that 2020 will be the implementation date for the a common currency. Countries have to meet economic convergence criteria that include keeping public debt below 70 percent of GDP and single-digit inflation. Nigeria’s Finance Minister Zainab Ahmedahad said only Togo, one of the bloc’s smallest, has met all of the conditions. That’s even as the International Monetary Fund estimated gross government debt at 72.6 percent of GDP last year. Nigeria said it was “studying” the Francophone proposal and would respond at a later stage while Ghana is keen to become part of a common currency arrangement, but insists that last year’s declaration allows for a flexible rate regime only.

The FG says the newly launched South-West security outfit code-named, Amotekun is illegal. The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said security remains the exclusive preserve of the FG. Spokesman to the AGF, Umar Gwandu, said the paramilitary organisation runs contrary to the provisions of the law as the Constitution has established the army, navy and air force, including the police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.