The FG has approved auditors led by Ernst & Young to examine the finances of a government organisation set up in 2000 to develop the oil-rich but poor Niger Delta region, the minister for Niger Delta Affairs said on Wednesday. Nigerian lawmakers this year launched an investigation into alleged financial mismanagement at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over the last 20 years. An audit of the body was ordered by President Buhari in October. Godswill Akpabio, the minister for Niger Delta Affairs, said the appointment of a team of auditors was approved at a meeting of the ministerial cabinet on Wednesday. He said the auditors would examine projects approved by NDDC over the last 19 years. “Through this exercise, we will know the number of monies that have gone into the region in the last 19 years and whether the value we have received so far are commensurate with the monies that have entered into NDDC,” he told reporters after the meeting. Akpabio said Buhari last year approved around ₦2.5 billion ($6.57 million) to cover the cost of the exercise.
President Buhari approved the implementation of the proposed cost-reflective electricity tariff for the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry. Going by the new tariff, residential areas classified as “poor” will not be affected by the increase. According to the new tariff via a NERC order dated 31 December 2019, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company residential customers R3 that were paying ₦27.20 per unit will now pay ₦47.09 and ₦63.42 by next year while the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company customers, the R3 category paying ₦26.50 per unit will now pay ₦36.49 per unit and later ₦58. NERC had in January announced that there would be an upward review of electricity tariffs across the country from 1 April, but asked the electricity distribution companies to suspend the proposed tariff increase in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in June, the National Assembly persuaded the DisCos to defer the plan till the first quarter of 2021 because of the pandemic. Senate President Ahmad Lawan maintained that consumers should be properly metered before the tariff hike is implemented. Meanwhile, Buhari also approved a one-year waiver of a 35 percent import tax on prepaid meters to facilitate the increased provision to consumers for accurate billing. The new tariff regime since being approved by the President is expected to kick off on 1 September and to be reviewed quarterly. The approval, which was as a result of the request by Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, to fast-track the deployment of prepaid meters under the meter asset providers scheme, is a requirement for the approval of a proposed $1.5 billion World Bank loan for the power sector.
The president of the cocoa association, Mufutau Abolarinwa, said there are indications that the Nigerian cocoa output may drop by at least 20% this season as measures aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus and drier weather increase the chances of a poor harvest. Abolarinwa told Reuters that output for the last 2019/20 season declined to an estimate of 250,000 tonnes, lower than the International Cocoa Organisation’s forecast of 260,000 tonnes. The association previously estimated last season’s output at 305,000 tonnes. The country, the world’s fifth-biggest cocoa grower, has been hurt by lockdown measures put in place to check the spread of COVID-19 outbreak as farmers have been unable to import inputs, while drier weather has hindered pod formation, Abolarinwa said. According to NBS, the pandemic could cause agricultural yields to fall due to the limited access to inputs for crop production. However, the cocoa association president said scant rainfall between April and June helped the bean count to rise to 270 grams from 230 grams, but was not sufficient to boost new pod formation. Cocoa trees need a delicate balance of rain and dry weather. Too little rain and they wither; too much and they become susceptible to insects or fungal black pod disease. Beans can also go mouldy if small farmers are unable to dry them outside. A cocoa analyst, Robo Adhuse, said farmers have started an early harvest for the main crop in anticipation that rainfall might improve before November, the peak of the harvest.
South-West states have disagreed with Nigeria’s Presidency that the Western Nigerian Security Network, codenamed Operation Amotekun, will now be run by the structure defined by the Inspector-General of Police. According to the SW states through the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission, Amotekun is guided by the states’ laws and setting up of community policing should not in any way disturb the operations of Amotekun. Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s spokesman, had said Tuesday on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, that the structure of the security network would be as prescribed by the IG. He said this while speaking on the approval of ₦13 billion by the FG for community policing across the 36 states of the federation. He added that the community policing structure would be the same across the 36 states and whatever would not conform with the national structure would not be “in the scheme of things.” When asked whether the new community policing being introduced by the FG would not conflict with Amotekun, which was created by Houses of Assembly of the six SW states, the President’s spokesman said the conflict would only be in terms of perception as governors were carried along in the process through the National Economic Council, which comprises the 36 governors and headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. However, the Director-General, DAWN, Seye Oyeleye, said the operations of Amotekun are guided by the laws duly passed by the houses of Assembly in the six states in the region and the bills were assented to by the governors. He added that Nigeria is not a unitary state, it runs a federal system, hence, the states are allowed in law to have their security outfits as long as they are backed by law. Similarly, the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Security Matters, Jimoh Dojumo, said the structure of Amotekun was already contained in the law that set up the agency.