Fashola, DisCos buck-passing, Jerry Uwah

Sunday Oduntan has prophesied that Nigeria cannot have uninterrupted power supply in the next five years.
Oduntan, spokesman for the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of the electricity distribution companies (DisCos), is not a prophet of doom.
His prediction is based on what is on the ground in Nigeria’s power sector.
Oduntan is a thorn in the flesh of Babatunde Fashola, Nigeria’s minister of power, works and housing.
The minister recently walked Oduntan out of a meeting of stakeholders in the power sector.
No one wants to hear bad news, especially when one is the regulator of a failed industry.
Oduntan, with his employer, is bad news for the minister.
Fashola’s hostility to the operators is a surprise u-turn after years of pampering failed to reverse Nigeria’s eternal darkness.
Ironically, Oduntan’s doomsday prediction cannot be dismissed apathetically.
It is informed by the parlous state of the power industry.
The ANED spokesman believes that with a population of 198 million, Nigeria needs to raise power generation capability to 20, 000megawatts (mw).
He argues that even if Nigeria starts now to build power plants to meet that projection, it would need a minimum of three to five years to complete the new plants.
Besides, pipelines that would haul gas from the oil fields to the new plants would need to be built over considerable time.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) would need years of massive upgrading to handle such upsurge in power generation.
The DisCos would equally need massive investment in poles, cables and transformers to be able to distribute such quantity of power.
No one is planning for what Oduntan hopes could end Nigeria’s eternal darkness in the next five years.
It is therefore safe to assume that Africa’s largest economy would remain in darkness for a pretty long time.
What is rocking the industry at the moment is a senseless blame game that has succeeded in diverting attention from the low generation, transmission and distribution that has kept millions out of job.
Two weeks ago, Fashola at a press briefing in his office in Abuja highlighted the gains made in the power sector in the last three years and blamed the persistent darkness in the land on DisCos’ inability to upgrade their equipment to distribute the power wheeled into the national grid by the power generation companies (GenCos) and transmitted to the DisCos by TCN.
The minister argued that the deficiency of the DisCos has resulted in some 2,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity being stranded or redundant.
Fashola portrayed the DisCos as the weakest link in the power supply chain.
The DisCos fought back last week with a 28-page press statement refuting 14 of Fashola’s claims and implicitly branding him a liar.
They contested the minister’s claim that power generation and transmission have risen from 4,000mw in 2015 to 7,000mw in 2018.
They also denied the existence of 2,000mw of stranded and unused power.
Oduntan argued that as at January 28, 2015, the Nigerian Electricity Commission’s (NERC) daily energy watch put available power generation at 6,421mw.
He stressed that Fashola’s claim of raising available power generation from 4,000mw in 2015 to 7, 000mw in 2018 was inaccurate.
Contrary to Fashola’s claim that the DisCos could only distribute 5,000mw, Oduntan argued that the distribution companies have capacity for 6,288mw.
Fashola had stridently blamed DisCos for the stranded 2,000mw of power and announced the federal government’s plan to invest N37 billion on distribution facilities that would enable manufacturers and other big power consumers to access the redundant 2,000mw of electricity directly without recourse to the DisCos.
Fashola and Oduntan have so complicated the situation in the power sector that no one knows who to believe.
Consumers have been sufficiently confused to doubt both the minister and the warring DisCos.
For instance, the DisCos claim that insufficient gas supply reduces capability of the GenCos by 1, 500mw daily.
That in the view of the DisCos, explains why there is no redundant power.
One therefore wonders why the federal government would vote a colossal sum of N37 billion for investment in distribution facilities that would enable manufacturers to use the redundant power directly.
That is a project which the DisCos claim would rob them of the patronage of customers on high tariff who were used to cushion the dismal returns from millions of low tariff residential consumers.
They are bent on halting the project.
The DisCos again argue that power generation only managed to reach 5, 074mw for 24 hours and never got back to that point since then.
The DisCos have put Fashola in a tight corner.
With power supply situation deteriorating perilously close to the days in 2016 when Niger Delta militants blew up gas pipelines in protest against federal government decision to scrap the amnesty programme, the minister owes the nation an explanation on why darkness envelops the land, if power generation stands at 7,000mw and the DisCos can distribute 5,000mw.
The raging war of words between Fashola and ANED is a big boost for generator dealers.
It diverts attention from the problem.
From all indications, Oduntan’s prediction is very conservative.
Nigeria may actually not attain uninterrupted power supply in the next 10 years.


‘Life after retirement has been interesting’

Two years after retiring from the Civil Service, Mrs.
Grace Udoma, now engages in outdoor cooking including selling of snacks.
Through this she has been able to assist her family, ADEOLA TUKURU writes.

Grace Udoma prefers to work hard because she considers it degrading for her to sit at home and for the money stipend from the government.
According to her she will render herself redundant doing nothing on the pretext that she is a retired civil servant.
In a chat with Business Starter, she explained how she started the business and at the same time save money to meet her family’s need.
According to her, after her retirement she decided to start making an selling of snacks such pofpof, meat pie, fried meat, fish and egg rolls business among others so as to assist her husband and her family financially.
Madam Grace lamented that though some of her customers owe her prompting her to use her proceed to buy ingredient for her snacks.
The retiree, who resides in Masaka, Nasarawa State but does her business in Abuja has resigned herself to sleeping for just few hours as she has to wake up very early to prepare fresh snacks particularly for her customers in her former office.
Regarding her earnings, the very hard working woman saves up to N 15,000 monthly with which she is now able to assist her family particularly her husband financially.
“I don’t have to sit down idle after retirement and expect my husband to be doing everything.” “I learnt this business far back in year 2000 and after retirement I have been practising other snacks to get better and to also make ends meet.
“I also do outdoor cooking for occasions such as Afang soup, Edikaikan, White soup, Oha soup, Vegetables and any other soup you can mention and my price is very affordable and tasty.” “I have enough women I hire to assist in cooking for special occasion,” she said.
When asked to give advice to her fellow retirees experiencing hardships, madam Grace recommended them to understand the value of dignity in labour and create legal job opportunities for themselves.
She also called on the federal government to engage youth, women and girls in vocational skill acquisition that will make them independent in life.
She also called on federal government to assist petty traders by making shops at cheaper rates accessible to petty traders and small business owners, at the same time providing soft loans for them in expanding their business.
It would be recalled that The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), has expressed its readiness to collaborate with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to train youths in the territory on necessary entrepreneurial and vocational skills.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, said this when the Two years after retiring from the Civil Service, Mrs.
Grace Udoma, now engages in outdoor cooking including selling of snacks.
Through this she has been able to assist her family, ADEOLA TUKURU writes.
Udoma Director-General of ITF, Sir Joseph Ari paid him in his office.
According to him, they are ready to partner with ITF to reduce unemployment in the Territory by ensuring that “our youths acquire the necessary skills that would make them self-employed and employers of labour.
“This is especially very important now that there is so much influx of people from every part of the country into the Territory,’’ he said.
According to him, this is in a bid to curtail the rate of unemployment in the territory and the country in general.
The minister lauded the enormous contributions of the ITF in repositioning the nation’s economy on the path of sustainable growth and development.
“We know that ITF is one of the foremost institutions that have helped Nigeria’s economy tremendously.
“In fact, your role is even more critical now that we are having unemployment issues,’’ he added.
Earlier, Ari, explained that given the position of FCT as the gateway of Nigeria, the agency believes partnership with the FCTA would further project the federal government’s drive to improve the skill set of Nigerians.
“This partnership particularly in the area of skills acquisition will assist immensely to achieve the dream of President Muhammadu Buhari, to empower young people with requisite skills.
“We are here to synergize with FCTA being the gateway of Nigeria to achieve the dream of Buhari which is hinged on empowering people with skills in different areas,’’ he explained.
The ITF boss further said that the agency had keyed into the policy of Federal Government on the “Ease of Doing Business and other international trends”.
How to start Snacks business Acquiring knowledge: You don’t come into what you don’t know anything about, it very necessary you seek and learn about the process of producing this particular product.
If you don’t have money to go for training, you can find someone that can teach you at their own will and it is something you can easily get with proper teaching not hard to handle and learn.
Get a good location This is a very crucial and important part of any business that is intended to grow and you don’t just start a business where there is no good market for it.
In choosing this you need to really know your market, set your target.
Locations like schools area be it in a university, secondary/primary schools, garage, market area, where a lot of people come to always, are a very good point for this kind of market.
And if at all you don’t get a particular location in school area, or anywhere else you see, you can just get your location very close to that area, where you can easily transport your goods down to such areas.
Getting necessary equipment This is the machine that help you in producing the popcorn.
Buying one for a start is advisable, you can buy more as you grow in the business.
There are varieties of this particular machine, the price ranges from N20,000 upwards, depending on how much you have.
It is advisable to buy the one that is usable in the absence of electricity, there is one that uses both electricity and gas, so that you can easily switch if there’s no electricity.
To also allow varieties in your business you can get the type that produces both sugar and salt popcorn because you will be having different customers with different taste.
Needed raw materials and ingredient Corn is the major raw material for producing popcorn.
It is advisable to do bulk purchase in order to maximize profit.
Sugar, honey, salt, butter, container mixer and others are ingredients that will be needed in producing the popcorn.
Endeavour to always purchase your ingredient in bulk.
Having a good marketing strategy This will also enhance your sale, be kind of unique don’t go as everyone goes, if you desire to sell more than everyone, brand your stuff, have well designed label, choose a unique and easy to pronounce name on your label.
If your branding is attractive enough you will be surprised at the increase in your sale.
Request for feedbacks from customers so that you will do what suit them and not you, so as not to be the one to always be eating your stuffs.
When you’ve got all this done, seek for what and what is require from the government to start this in any area or location.
And make sure you register your business to be on a safer side, especially when the Business begins to grow.
With Good planning, you can grow it into a very big business, especially when you brand the name and make varieties, you can also put effective marketing system into place, like transporting it to a lot more commercial centers, market square, busy roads, shopping malls, viewing centers, football field, cinema, where a lot of people will come around, adding cold soft drinks too can be a major way to go and increase profits realized.

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