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PDP, Others Condemn Increase in Electricity Tariff as NERC Denies Increment

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other stakeholders have rejected the alleged rise in electricity tariff, even as the regulatory agency denied approving any increase.

There were reports at the weekend indicating that electricity consumers in the country would pay more tariff from April this year, based on a minor review of the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2015 and the Minimum Remittance Order (MRO) for 2020 published by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

NERC has the mandate to implement the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005, especially Section 32, which allows it to ensure prices charged by licensees (distribution companies) are fair to customers and sufficient to allow the licensees finance their activities and make reasonable profit for efficient operations.

In August last year, NERC published a minor review of tariff order indicating that from 2020 consumers would pay a maximum N14 addition for every kilowatt-hour of energy, depending on their status and their distribution companies.

While the increase was expected to start from this month, the new order has suspended the directive till April, stating that “the Federal Government’s updated Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSPRP) does not envisage an immediate increase in end-users tariffs until 1st April 2020 and a transition to full cost reflectivity by end of 2021.”

In its reaction yesterday, the PDP described the planned increase as draconian and completely against the interest and wellbeing of Nigerians.

The party charged the Federal Government to immediately rescind what it called “the obnoxious and provocative policy and consult further with Nigerians before any such tariff hike.” It also urged the National Assembly to rescue Nigerians from such a draconian policy by deploying its statutory legislative instruments to call the Federal Government to order in the interest of the nation.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the alleged increase in electricity tariff as an attempt to worsen “the fleecing of Nigerians, who are already overburdened and groaning under the weight of high costs, economic repression and heavy taxes foisted by the insensitive APC administration.”

According to the opposition party, “It is lamentable that Nigerians, who are already suffering the devastating negative impact of the recent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 by the APC administration, are now being further suppressed with increased electricity tariff.

“Our party holds that the increase in electricity tariff, under the prevailing harsh economic conditions, is injurious to the wellbeing of Nigerians as it will further stress the productive sector and lead to an upsurge in the cost of regular and essential goods and services, including food, medicine, housing, education and other critical needs.”

It declared that “the APC policy, if allowed, will worsen the suffering of Nigerians as it will put more stress on already overburdened families, cripple businesses, result in job losses and exacerbate the prevailing frightening unemployment rate under the Buhari administration.”

The National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, said the focus of the Federal Government in the beginning phase of the year should not be to impose grave hardship on the populace just coming out of the seasonal festivities of Christmas and New Year but on how quality education could be delivered to millions of the children of Nigerian suffering families that would be returning to schools in the next few days.

“The government should be focused in this New Year on how to improve health care and on how to curb the internal corruption that has destroyed the so-called schools feeding programme instead of President Muhammadu Buhari working day and night to unleash devastating economic strangulation through unsustainable reviewed electricity power tariffs on millions of Nigerians most of whom are unemployed, hungry, sick and poor.

“The Buhari-led administration should be focused on restoring security of lives and property which is the primary duty of government and for which it has failed to discharge instead of rushing to introduce the wicked policy of electricity power hike in January of a fresh decade.”

But the Coordinator of Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, AbdulHakim Balogun, said that the increase was expected, as provision had been made for such under the law. He, however, stated that the timing might not be appropriate, considering the state of the economy, increase in VAT and pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes.

The Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said the power sector problem was multifaceted, adding that the approach to addressing it should be holistic, otherwise the consumers would be vulnerable.

“The tariff question is no doubt one of the problems. But what is NERC doing about the issues of the capacity of the Discos, estimated billing, technical and commercial losses, metering problem, quality and adequacy of investment by the Discos, transmission, proposal on the decentralisation of the sector, promotion of off grid solutions and incentives for renewable energy solutions? All of these need to be addressed in order to inspire the confidence of consumers.

“NERC should protect the interests of consumers as well as those of the investors. There is also the social dimension of electricity provision to those at the bottom of the pyramid. It is also critical to disaggregate and interrogate the components of cost being claimed by the Discos. Already, many small businesses have complained about prohibitive tariffs by Discos following the last review. What is needed is a holistic reform rather than the simplistic solution of tariff review,” he stated.

But the regulatory agency, NERC, said it had not approved any tariff increase yet.

The General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Usman Arabi, made the clarification in a statement issued on the agency’s website and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday.

Arabi said: “The attention of the NERC has been drawn to the publication in several electronic and print media that end-user electricity tariffs have been increased following the approval of the minor review (2016 – 2018) of the 2015 Multi Year Tariff Order on August 21, 2019.

“We wish to provide guidance that the minor review implemented by the commission was a retrospective adjustment of the tariff regime released in 2015.

“This is to account for changes in macro-economic indices for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 thus providing certainty about revenue shortfall that may have arisen due to the differential between tariffs approved by the regulator and actual end-user tariffs.

“The commission therefore wishes to notify the general public that no tariff increase has been approved vide the order.”

He said, however, NERC, in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities enshrined under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, would continue to undertake periodic reviews of electricity tariffs in accordance with the prevailing tariff methodology.

According to him, in all instances of such reviews and rule making, the commission will widely consult with stakeholders and a final decision will take due regard of all contributions.

The Guardian

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Business

FirstBank Upgrades Mobile Banking Application, Puts Customers Ahead in Electronic Banking

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that its mobile banking application, FirstMobile has been upgraded with new and improved features to promote safe and convenient Mobile Banking experience for customers.

The Bank’s award-winning and dynamic mobile banking application has been redesigned with improved security and self-service features to ease the navigation capability and proficiency of customers. Its unique cool blue colour background gives it a more appealing interface for customers to enjoy a unified and streamlined banking experience whilst going about their day to day activities.

FirstMobile is now embedded with a card protection service for customers to enable and disable cards on channels, account switch off as well as second-factor authentication and device registration.  With the upgraded FirstMobile, customers can remotely initiate the request for a new debit card as well as the replacement of a lost or damaged one, whilst managing activities on their card and account, thus balance enquiry and statement, amongst others.  

The biometrics for transactions is another innovative security upgrade on the application to validate transactions. This feature includes fingerprint for transactions, allowing the customer to use his or her fingerprint to consummate all transactions.

Other added features include frequent transaction; dashboard flexibility and personalisation; smoother transaction experience and improved beneficiary management.

With the frequent transaction feature, the user is able to easily access his or her frequently completed transactions – airtime, transfers and bill payments – and reinitiate such with the clicks of a button. This is an additional menu which can easily be accessed from the dashboard.  Airtime top-up and data purchase have also been improved, as customers are able to select phone numbers directly from their phone contacts.

The application has been upgraded with a smoother experience on funds transfer, bill payments and airtime transactions as customers can add and delete beneficiary without having to repeatedly enter the recipients’ details over and over again. Users can also take a photo or select from the Avatar (available icons) to personalize their dashboard and beneficiaries for Transfers, Bills Payment & Airtime Transactions by uploading a picture to associate with their beneficiary, especially the more frequent ones.

The dashboard has been designed to reflect the lifestyle and social pattern of the user as it can be customized by adding any profile picture of choice. The dashboard also enables users to monitor their spending patterns over a period. It shows the inflow and outflow of funds on their account.

In need of a loan to meet that pressing need, FirstMobile has you covered and puts you at an advantage with the FirstAdvance and Nano Loan features.

Keen on watching the next blockbuster in your favourite cinema, with FirstMobile, you can book for movie ticket(s) ahead of time, thereby averting the risk of being told the movie is sold-out upon getting to the movie theatre. You can also book for flights at your earliest convenience on FirstMobile.

“The upgraded FirstMobile is built to reflect FirstBank’s resolve at reinforcing the digitisation of our payment systems, whilst putting our customers at an edge to conveniently meet their everyday needs at any time, irrespective of where they are. Indeed, this upgrade makes the application new, as it is designed to suit the social pattern and lifestyle of our customers.” said Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products.

“With over 3.7million active users on FirstMobile across android and ios devices, we remain steadfast at regularly reinventing our services on the App with dynamic and innovative capabilities to resonate our focus to deliver state of the art digital solutions to all our customers at all times, irrespective of where they are” he concluded.

Only recently, FirstMobile was awarded the “Best Mobile Banking App” in the country at the Global Business Outlook Awards.

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Inaugural Set of FirstBank Management Associates Programme Graduates

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, graduated 28 successful candidates in its inaugural FirstBank Management Associates Programme (FMAP). The virtual exercise was held via the Zoom video conferencing application. The programme which commenced in 2018 had a total of 48 candidates selected from thousands of entries and applications received nationwide.

FMAP is a 24-month fast-track comprehensive developmental programme targeted at young, dynamic, self-motivated and highly driven individuals that possess the right skill set and excellent leadership potential among Junior and entry-level cadre staff. Entries and applications for the programme enrolment was also extended to the public

Speaking about the programme, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank said “It is an intensive skill development programme structured to enhance acute thinking, financial, methodical skills of staff. The bank would continue to reinvest in its human capital to create a kind of leadership needed for future growth and development

“This is part of the Bank’s strategic objectives of infusing and developing leadership at requisite levels across its staff hierarchy, aimed at building the next generation of leaders who will be groomed to drive the Bank’s vision of being Africa’s Bank of first choice”, he concluded.

At the end of the programme, successful candidates are moved to middle management, becoming Management Associates irrespective of their grades at the point of entry.
Cross country postings and secondment opportunities is also offered to such staff to provide them with global exposure and network.

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FirstBank Empowers Women Through FirstGem Online Community

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that its all-female online community www.firstgem.com.ng, offers mentoring, support and capacity building opportunities for all to create a new generation of financially literate women.

With the aim to increase its engagement and reach a wider audience, an online repository for its FirstGem product was created and designed to provide a virtual online community where like-minded women irrespective of where they are in Nigeria and abroad, gather to connect, grow and share knowledge on everything about lifestyle, parenting, career development, entrepreneurship, health, work and family. Financial empowerment and wealth creation ideas are shared to encourage women to play their part in providing financial support for their families.

The portal provides varied contents ranging from Blog stories to Vlogs, Newsletters, Chat rooms which are built on 6 pillars – Health, Wealth and Finance, Food and Recipes, Events, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle and Beauty. The FirstGem online community presently has over 61,634 members drawn from all walks of life sharing ideas, insights and experiences.

According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “FirstGem is suited for the Nigerian woman, and we are using this online community as the ideal opportunity to position the Bank’s gender initiatives to meet the required needs on a wide range of issues affecting women from lifestyle, skills acquisition, finances, wealth acquisition and management, business support, etc.
We encourage all women to join the community by signing up via this link https://firstgem.com.ng/community to enjoy this experience.

FirstGem is a gender specific account designed to meet the needs of women, aged 18 years and above. It is targeted at a broad spectrum of women, working professionals, entrepreneurs and MSMEs with a view to promoting growth via an array of benefits, from free business advisory services, regular information or insights on business opportunities in various sectors and industries, as well as mouth-watering discounts at partnered stores and outlets.

FirstGem has successfully empowered women in states across the geo-political zones in Nigeria and the UK.

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