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Reps Probe N3.45bn Abandoned Solar Power Project

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled plans to investigate the N3.45 billion approved for Solar Powered Grid Project in the six geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in 2013.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Honourable Aniekan Umanah who called for the intervention of the House.

In his lead debate, Umanah stressed the need for Federal Ministry of Power to account for the roll out an Off Grid Renewable Solar Energy Project code named Operation Light up Rural Nigeria (OLRN) with a budget of N3.446 billion for four years, from 2013 to 2016.

According to him, the project was targeted at four communities of Durumi-Mpape, Waru, Shape in the FCT as pilot scheme with plans to expand the scope later to other states of the federation.

“The House observes that with the coming of the present administration in 2015, the solar power project was rechristened Renewable Energy (Solar) Micro Utility (REMU) by the then Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and was expanded to provide additional 18 mini grids with three in each geopolitical zone.

“The House is aware that the sum of N1.4 billion was released in 2014 to fund the pilot projects, where N40.6 billion was earmarked for periodic maintenance in 2015, and another N40.1 billion for maintenance of each of the 18 grids.

“The House is also aware that Messrs Schneider Electric Nigeria Ltd was awarded the Durumi grid in the sum of N228.4 million in 2014; Mesers Lordzetech got Waru grid for N228.4 million and also won Shape grid, all in the FCT for N218.9 million, according to records at the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

“The House is further aware that the sum of N382.6 million was fully released in 2015 to fund the 18 mini grids, while another N305.3 million meant to construct a grid in Pakau, Kaduna State was also fully released.

“The House is worried that the sum of N625.5 million has been expended on OLRN alone, while N687.9 million has also gone into funding REMU as at 2017 according to budget records.

EFCC re-arraigns ex-Lagos speaker, Ikuforiji for allegedly laundering…
“The House is also concerned that despite the huge investments on the projects, most of them were found, shortly after their commissioning in 2014 not to have been properly implemented while others were outrightly abandoned till date with some of the equipment already vandalised.

“The House is further concerned that the overall intention of government to power up the rural areas in order to create jobs and assist in the springing up of small businesses for the local populace, thereby bringing development closer to the people and checkmating rural-urban migration has been defeated by the inefficient handling of the projects since inception,” he noted.

To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the abandonment of the projects by the Federal Ministry of Power since 2018 despite the huge amounts of money expended and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

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NAICOM Licences Seven New Insurance Firms 

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Commissioner for insurance, Sunday Thomas and representatives of the newly licensed insurance outfits in Abuja on Friday.

By Sola Alabadan

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) issued operational licences to seven insurance companies in Abuja today, in line with Market Conduct & Business Practice Guidelines.

The new insurance firms are Heirs Insurance Limited (General), Heirs Life Assurance Limited, Stanbic IBTC Insurance Limited (life), Enterprise Life Assurance Company, FBS Reinsurance Limited, Salam Takaful and Cornerstone Takaful Insurance Company Limited.

The Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, who gave the operational licences to the five firms at NAICOM Head Office, said the Commission has issued operational licences to the firms to operate insurance business.
According to him: “The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) received applications from the under listed companies for registration as Insurance and reinsurance Companies to transact insurance and reinsurance business in Nigeria.
“In fulfillment of the statutory provisions of extant laws for the registration/licensing of insurance Companies, the general public is hereby informed that the Commission has commenced the process of registering the companies.
Consequently:” Heir Insurance Limited (General) has picked, Olaniyi Stephen Onifade as its Managing Director, Stanbic IBTC Insurance Limited, picked, Akinjide Orimolade as Managing Director; Heirs Life Assurance Limited picked Abah Okoriko and Enterprise Life Assurance Company Nigeria Limited picked Fumilayo Abimbola Omo.

“FBS Reinsurance Limited is led by the former Commissioner of Insurance, Fola Daniel. FBS is bringing together professionals with proven experience from the brokerage and underwriting units of the industry including Bala Zakariyau, the former managing director of Niger Insurance who currently plays in a support unit of the Nigerian aviation industry, Ahmed Olaniyi Salawu of the Standard Insurance Consultants, and Wole Oshin Bankole of the Custodian Investment Plc that has just taken a plunge into the property sector by taking a large chunk of the United Property Development Company, a subsidiary of the UACN Plc.
“These crops of professionals represent those with firm beliefs that there is a big insurance potential in Nigeria and indeed, the African continent. Others are Ebele Ofunneamaka Okeke, from Nnewi North, Anambra who rose to the position of the Head of Nigerian Civil Service before her retirement, and also, Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, a lawyer, and an accomplished administrator and businessman with vast experience at the senior executive level in power and communication sectors.
“The reinsurance firm is required to pay the new N20 billion capitalisation stipulated by the commission under the reform exercise for it to start a business in the industry.”

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Power: FG Ready To Support DisCos’ Initiatives – Minister

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Mr Saleh Mamman, Minister of Power, says the Federal Government is ready to support any initiative by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) aimed at addressing the challenges facing the power sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mamman spoke at the inauguration of Eko Electric Distribution Company’s (EKEDC) Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) System on Thursday in Lagos.
Mamman said : “I felicitate with and commend the EKEDC’s Board of Directors and management for this milestone.
“SCADA is one of the most advanced technologies in the power distribution business globally and I am optimistic that this event will translate to improved service delivery within EKEDC’s network.
“The inauguration of this SCADA system will help EKEDC monitor and respond quicker to faults and reduce the outage durations which would improve quality of service delivery to customers.”
According to him, the SCADA project will help the DisCo meet its set objectives under the recently executed Service Level Agreements with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
He said the project would provide access to real time data that enables distribution system operators to make informed decisions that improve reliability and availability, consistent with the targets of the Service Based Tariff (SBT) regime.
Mamman said the FG was working assiduously to address the challenges of the power sector through initiatives such as the National Mass Metering Programme, the Siemens AG Power Project and upgrade of power infrastructure across the country.
Earlier, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, Managing Director, EKEDC, thanked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its support to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry which paved way for the SCADA project.
Fadeyibi said : “SCADA is a centralised computer system which represents the evolution of our network operations from the present physical monitoring, remote coverage and relay of network information.
“By contrast, SCADA innovatively gathers real time information, identifies loopholes or breaches in the network and transfers this data back to a central site where the necessary analysis and control is carried out.
“The result of this analysis is then displayed in a logical and organised fashion. The project involves monitoring, control, fault tracking, data analysis and operations optimisation of our high-tension network.
“As part of Eko DisCo’s effort to improve operational efficiency, revenue generation and reduction of our Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection Losses, we have implemented the SCADA project to automate our electric power distribution network across our franchise coverage area.”
He said the achievement by the DisCo showed that the FG’s Power Sector privatisation programme was a laudable decision, as it had completely transformed the sector and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.

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Emirates Offers Travellers $500,000 Multi-risk Travel Cover 

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Emirates airlines has announced that it will provide travellers a multi- risk travel cover worth $ 500 , 000 on top of its current COVID-19 cover.
The airline stated that the new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover will automatically apply to all Emirates tickets purchased from December 1 , and extend to Emirates codeshare flights operated by partner airlines , as long as the ticket number starts with 176.
Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive , Ahmed bin Al Maktoum was quoted as saying , “ Emirates was the first airline to offer complimentary global COVID -19 cover for travellers back in July , and the response from our customers has been tremendously encouraging.
“ We have not rested on our laurels and instead continued to look at how we can offer our customers an even better proposition. We are very pleased to be able to now provide this new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID – 19 cover , which is another industry first, to all our customers.”
He added, “ We aim to give our customers even more confidence in making their travel plans this winter and moving into 2021 by the launch of this feature .”
Highlights of the coverage include out -of – country emergency medical expenses and evacuation up to $ 500 ,000 , valid for COVID -19 ( contracted during the trip ) and other medical emergencies while travelling abroad.
It also involves trip cancellation up to $ 7 ,500 for non- refundable costs if the traveller or a relative ( as defined in the policy ) is unable to travel because they are diagnosed with COVID- 19 before the scheduled trip departure date , or for other named reasons – similar to other comprehensive travel cover products.

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