West African countries have agreed to conduct an investigation into the impact of Nigeria’s decision last year to close off its land borders to trade, Nigeria’s presidency said on Monday. Nigeria has banned the import and export of all goods through its land borders since last August as part of what it describes as a campaign to tackle smuggling. Its smaller neighbours, many of whom rely on trade with Africa’s biggest economy, have complained that this has caused severe hardship. Heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States agreed Sunday night to set up a committee “to study and make a full report on Nigeria’s land border closure with her neighbours,” said a statement from a spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. There is no timeline for when the report is due, but it is meant to be completed “as soon as possible,” Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said, according to the statement. The move to shut the borders followed a decision in July to sign Nigeria up to an African Continental Free Trade Area, a project to create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc.
The National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), says 5,433,394 Nigerians are now on the conditional cash transfer programme. According to an infographic shared on its Twitter page, the beneficiaries, who receive ₦5,000 monthly from the government, are drawn from 1,080,240 households across 32 states, as at 31 January 2020. Also, the office said it has captured 9,458,160 individuals across 43,258 communities in 35 states on the national social register of poor and vulnerable households. NASSCO said the national social register would be used to support outreach, registration and determination of potential eligibility for one or more social programs for poor & vulnerable Nigerians. The programme is partly financed by the $320 million Sanni Abacha loot repatriated by Switzerland to Nigeria.
Islamists have killed at least 30 people and abducted women and children in a raid. Most of the victims were travellers who were burnt alive while sleeping in their vehicles during an overnight stop in Auno town on a major highway in Borno State, 25km from Maiduguri. The state government spokesman, Ahmad Bundi, said the Islamist group came in trucks mounted with heavy weapons, before killing, burning, and looting. He also confirmed the abduction of women and children but did not give a number. The military has not yet commented on the incident. It is, however, unclear which faction carried out the attack.
The power distribution companies and the Transmission Company of Nigeria have applied to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for a review of their tariffs. According to the NERC, the rate review request was premised on the need to incorporate changes in macroeconomic parameters and other factors affecting the operational efficiency of Discos and TCN. It said that the extraordinary tariff review filed by the 11 successor electricity distribution licensees and the TCN seeks to achieve and ensure that the utilities recover their full efficient costs with a reasonable return on the assets invested in the business. The commission, in its December 2019 Minor Review of Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and Minimum Remittance Order for the Year 2020 for the 11 Discos, had said on 4 January said that consumers would start to pay more for electricity from 1 April 2020. However, the House of Representatives asked the Federal Government to suspend the planned upward review of the electricity tariff following the criticism that greeted the announcement.