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We’re working to make estimated billing unattractive – Irukera

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Mr Babatunde Irukera - EVC, FCCPC
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Mr Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said that the Commission is working towards making estimated billing unattractive for power holding companies so as to enable them make prepaid meters available for consumers.

Irukera who said this during an interaction with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, wondered why power distribution companies should issue exorbitant estimated billings to consumers when they have not given light for a while.

He lamented the difficulties in procuring pre-paid meters, describing some billings as arbitrary.

He said, “How can you be billing people who you have not given light for a while?

“We are working towards making estimated billing unattractive for Discos to enable them to see reasons to make prepaid meters available for consumers”.

Speaking on the recent raids on loan sharks, Irukera, said no fewer than 30 bank accounts operated by illegal loan organisations.

He said that the Commission was currently engaging some major loan companies affected by the Commission’s raid, saying that the move is to ensure sanity in the sector and prevent abuse of consumer rights.

Irukera said: “The day we conducted the raid, we have some limited information about the bank accounts that some of the loan companies operated.

“All the bank accounts that were provided were immediately blocked but these companies operate multiple bank accounts with multiple names.

“Between the time we raided and now, we have discovered additional 30 accounts and all have been frozen and we will continue to freeze as we discover them.

“I am certain that with the actions that we have taken and the nature of the engagement we are having with the loan companies, at least three of the major ones that their businesses have been severely affected by either our search or the account closure, they are modifying.

“It will take some time but I can assure you that the space is changing now”.

He said that the Commission had engaged Google and Apple Stores to take down some loan applications from their stores, noting that there were certain processes required for that to happen.

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IPMAN lament as Illegal consultant truncate loading process in depots

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The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has raised the alarm over some persons allegedly parading themselves as consultants to the association.

Alhaji Debo Ahmed, the National President of the IPMAN, in a statement obtained by BEN on Thursday, stated that these persons are going around the association’s loading depots and highways to harass and intimidate members to pay illegal levy to them on behalf of the association.

The IPMAN President, therefore, called on members to ignore them and warned it members to not pays any money in whatever guise to them as no authorization has been issued to that effect.

The statement reads: “The attention of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has been drawn to some people parading themselves as Consultants going round our loading depots & highways to harass and intimidate members to pay an illegal levy to them on behalf of IPMAN.

“Kindly ignore them and DO NOT pay any money in whatever guise to them as no authorization has been issued to this effect.

“Moreover, IPMAN is not known to be using Consultants to harass & intimidate its own members. The association is to protect the interests of members, business & welfare. The Consultants are illegal & be treated as such.

“Security agencies are hereby placed on alert to avert any crisis that may likely lead to a breakdown of law and order which is capable of causing scarcity of petroleum products across the country.”

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FG inaugurates inter-ministerial committee to curtail unfair trade malpractices, exploitation of farmers by foreigners

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Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo - Minister of Industry Trade and Investment
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In an effort to curtail unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners, the Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated an inter-ministerial standing committee to oversee the implementation of a memo on the Promotion of Agri-Business in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban of Foreigners from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates.

The document was jointly presented by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on March 9, 2022 and was approved by the Federal Executive Council.

At the inauguration in Abuja, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, said that the move was part of government’s efforts to provide the enabling environment for the commodity subsector to thrive.

Adebayo, noted that the memo is “aimed at addressing the challenges impeding the development of the agricultural commodity subsector of the economy, curtailing unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners and promoting competitive premium pricing as impetus for increased productivity in the commodity subsector amongst others.”

He decried the exploitation of farmers by foreigners who come to Nigeria to mop up agricultural commodities at the farm gates and in turn offer farmers prices below market value.

He said: This situation has indeed led to the failure of many contractual agreements between farmers and indigenous off-takers. It has also affected the production capacity of our local factories due to the fact that foreigners buy off supplies and deprive the factories of required stocks.

“The current practice of direct purchases of agricultural commodities at unfair prices by foreigners at our farm-gates poses serious dangers which include: reduction in farmers’ income, declining productivity in the agricultural sector, unemployment and insecurity.”

Adebayo, further said: “a number of activities have been outlined for implementation and the Committee is expected to ensure that they are properly articulated and implemented for the growth and development of our economy.”

He charged the committee to come up with appropriate implementation mechanism and guidelines for implementing the approved FEC Memo as well as liaise with States, Local Governments and other relevant stakeholders nation-wide to enforce the ban and compliance.

Other terms of reference for the committee include: “To facilitate establishment of enforcement organs in the States and Local Governments; To facilitate signing of Executive Order by Mr. President, specifying penalties and fines for violators.

“To liaise with the State Governments for establishment of commodity aggregation centres for export in some strategic locations nation-wide and “To carry out periodic assessment (quarterly) on the implementation and Honourable Minister,” he said.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said the committee is saddled with the duty of ensuring 100 per cent implementation of the approved memo.

Ngige, represented by the Director, Human Resource Management in the Ministry, Mr Yisau Adepoju, said that part of the mandate of the ministry is to formulate and implement policies and programmes to attract investment, boost industrialization, increase trade and export, and develop enterprises with a view to promoting economic growth, create jobs and generate wealth.

“As you are aware, the Ministry is passionate about the promotion and development of the non-oil sector having realized the enormous potentials of the sector and its contributions to the national economy.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that wealth from crude oil is not sustainable given the fact that the oil wells will certainly dry up someday. Nigeria is naturally endowed with vast and fertile arable lands suitable for production of many commodities.

“The production, processing and marketing of these commodities not only provide food security but also jobs, income and foreign exchange, amongst others,” she said.

The permanent secretary, further said the ministry has put in place a number of programmes and initiatives to reposition the subsector.

According to Ngige, the initiatives include the campaign on patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products, Nigeria Agri-business and Agro-industry Development Initiative, NAADI, Domestication of lobal GAP, E Commerce and the Commerce 160 Initiative, amongst others.

On his part, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Suleman Audu, expressed the readiness and willingness of the committee to provide the required leadership and coordination to ensure efficient implementation of its mandate.

Audu, said the assignment has come just-in-time when the present administration has reiterated its focus on the development of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

“Indeed, the full implementation of the FEC approval on Promotion of Agribusiness in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban of Foreigners/Representatives from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates will no doubt ensure that farmers get commensurate value for their hard-work, eliminate the threats to sustenance of the nation’s non-oil xport, particularly in the agric-commodity sub-sector and strengthen Government’s efforts at diversifying the economy away from oil and gas.

“We will roll our sleeves and shall hold the inaugural meeting immediately after the successful inauguration. We assure your excellency that we shall work as a team. We shall be guided by the terms of reference and the interest of the nation,” he said.

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SON insist on international best practices, set-up committee to audit, certify education sector

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In ensuring that educational management system in the country deliver on their mandate of impacting knowledge and skills, the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) has inaugurated national technical committee for adoption and certification of education management standards.

At the inauguration in Abuja, Farouk Salim, Director General of SON, said one of the challenges facing Nigeria has been international standards both in products and services delivery, which is why the organisation is aligning to best international practice.

“One of SON mandate is to support all businesses in determining quality of products/services using ; standardization, certifications and quality assurance. As such our decision to adopt this international standard on educational organizations management system ISO 21001:2018 is apt at this time when we have opened our borders to all forms of trade with other African countries.

“It is important that we promote and sustain our learning institutions by ensuring that the services that are provided in our schools meet the needs of learners, promote equal opportunities for all students and earn the confidence and approval of learners’ sponsors in order to contribute their quota to national growth and development,” he said.

Salim, represented by Engr. Timothy Abner, Director Training services at the SON added that although government is doing a lot to upgrade the standard of products and the education sector, he however also noted there should be additional effort of adopting and establishing this international best practice will assist Nigeria to always deliver globally recognized services and products in different sectors of the economy.

The Committee is to draw up requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of educational organizations management systems.

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