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FG May Place The “Free Four Million Meters” Distribution On Hold

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The Federal Government-funded Phase 1 of the National Mass Metering Programme, NMMP, slated to commence in August appears to have been mired in uncertainty, as it had been put on hold following allegations of fraud by the Central Bank of Nigeria against some of the Meter Asset Providers, MAPs.

A source, who pleaded anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said that there was no indication that the Phase 1 meter distribution would commence this month, as power distribution companies were yet to be furnished with meters.

The NMMP is an initiative of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, in conjunction with the Presidential Power Task Force. The initiative was launched in August 2020 to allow the CBN to fund the acquisition of meters on behalf of DisCos by paying directly to the MAPs. The free metering programme commenced with the Phase 0 where one million meters were supposed to have been distributed.

However, the CBN, on July 20, asked the Federal High Court in Lokoja, Kogi State, to freeze accounts belonging to 157 MAPs for allegedly diverting funds meant for the procurement of prepaid meters.

The apex bank, in a suit, requested commercial banks to restrict the account of 10 companies that received power sector intervention funds under the NMMP for 180 days pending the outcome of its investigation.

Report has it that the free mass programme had also been put on hold until further notice, following the ongoing court case.

One of our sources said that the DisCos had accused some MAPs of not supplying them with enough meters during the last visits by the CBN to the DisCos’ offices.

“The CBN visited the DisCos to audit their books and see what they used the intervention funds given to them for. It was during the visits that it was discovered that some of the MAPs had failed to deliver enough meters for distribution. Before the NMMP commenced; what we were told by the MAPs was that they had enough local capacity to meet demands. But after the CBN signed the contract with them and disbursed money to them, they failed to meet their target. They saw free money,” one of our sources had hinted.

The CBN, in the suit said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria reviewed the activities of 12, including the defendants herein Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) alleged to have diverted the Central Bank of Nigeria’s power sector intervention funds under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).

“The review was aimed at ascertaining the flow of the funds made available to the MAPs, covering the period between January 1, 2020, to March 15, 2022. The preliminary review revealed that the defendants diverted a substantial portion of the funds for other uses through related entities and individuals/companies connected to the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN),” the suit partly said.

Nigeria’s central bank has invested heavily into the power sector through its intervention support programmes. According to the bank, it had disbursed over N254.4 billion through its Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilization Facility – Phase 2, NEMSF-2.

At the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the Central Bank, Governor Godwin Emefiele revealed it disbursed about N47.8 billion for about 865,956 meters across the country.

“Under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), the Bank disbursed N47.82 billion for the procurement and installation of 865,956 meters across the country.”

Spokesperson for CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, declined commenting on the matter when contacted.

The NERC, on its part, said it created the initiative in response to President Buhari’s order that Nigerians must be metered. “The President has directed that there should be a nationwide mass-metering program in an effort by the Federal Government to put a stop to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity.”

The Commission had recently spoken of the success of Phase 0, and revealed it had shortlisted 45 companies for the next phase. It added that; “We are hoping that before the end of August, we will begin to see meters from our local manufacturers going to the electricity Distribution Companies and then to end-user customers.”

Both calls and messages put through to the General Manager/Head of Public Affairs Department, NERC, Usman Abba Arabi, were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.

One of the accused MAPs, Mojec Meter Asset Management Company Ltd, said that it fully discharged its obligations of manufacturing, supplies, and installation of meters for all eight DisCos it was assigned to. The company also pointed out that it was issued certificates of completion by all the eight DisCo clients as proof of execution of its contractual obligations on the initiative, according to Corporate Communications Manager, MOJEC International Group, Olufunso Adeolu.

“Mojec is ready to release all meter serial numbers produced in its factories, together with records of waybills of all in-Country volumes of meters it delivered to the various DisCos under the initiative,” Adeolu added.

Other accused MAPs were yet to make any comments on the matter as at the time when this report was filled.

Metering Expert, Okunade Sesan, said that it was better for the NMMP to be scrapped so that citizens would be allowed to buy their own meters.

“The CBN refusing to disburse funds for the next phase of the metering is going to cause a setback. It would even be better for electricity consumers to take their fate into their hands and buy their meters. Then, NERC can arrange for monthly refunds through electricity units,” he said.

BIG STORY

Boom, App That Helps You Send Money Without A Bank App Goes Live In Nigeria

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Boom is on a mission to enable financial inclusion for all Nigerians by taking its e-commerce without banking solution to the masses.

  According to Mr. Peter Alfred-Adekeye, Boom Founder and CEO., the founder of Boom, the app is now live. ‘Our app, Boom that is a blockchain powered e-commerce without banking application, is now live and available to all Nigerians from the 1st of October 2022. The Boom application can be downloaded for free in both IOS and Android in the Apple Appstore and Google Play store respectively. Boom is available in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba in addition to English, French and Spanish’.

In a signed statement by Brooksrock Media, Boom has four ecosystem that makes it such an important app for day-to-day life of a Nigerian. ‘Boom’s eco-system consist of the following:

  • Boom Marketplace, where consumers discover products and services from local, national and global brands and merchants. On Boom, we are all merchants;
  • Boom Wallet, for sending, receiving and storing money, as well as paying for goods and services, locally, nationally and internationally;
  • Boom Chats for ultra-secure text, audio and video communication;
  • Boom Social for community building and management.’

Speaking further, Peter Alfred-Adekeye, Boom Founder and CEO.  assures all that Boom is safe to use as all users are required to go through, KYC before completing registeration, ‘To ensure compliance with local and international regulations, all Boom users must go through KYC at signup, by taking a selfie with either a Government-issued identity card, driver’s license or passport after which their Boom account is activated’.

As a free and open eco-system, Boom can be used for consumer-to-consumer (C2C) money transfers, business-to-consumer (B2C) payments, business-to-business (B2B) transactions and also Government-to-Government (G2G) financial exchanges, especially intra-African, cross border settlements.

There are no fees of any kind on all transactions within Boom, and neither are there any advertising.

Boom’s native utility digital token that transmits value between transacting parties within the Boom ecosystem is the Multicoin (MTCN). It is an ERC-20 token that resides within the Ethereum blockchain. The Multicoin processes all transactions within Boom by automatically converting fiat currencies between transacting parties. This way, a merchant or consumer in Nigeria can purchase goods and services internationally by simply converting the Naira into Multicoins via Boom certified resellers nationwide. On Boom, everybody can be a Multicoin reseller.

“Thanks to Boom, financial inclusion for all Nigerians and all Africans, is now a reality” states Peter Alfred-Adekeye, Boom Founder and CEO.

Boom can be downloaded in the app stores by searching for “Boom commerce” or via the links below:

About Boom

Our mission at Boom is to provide the world’s 1.7 billion unbanked consumers, as well as those seeking a safe alternative to traditional commerce, with the unprecedented ability to buy, sell and pay for everything online without a bank account, fostering financial and business inclusion for all, thanks to the power of blockchain and a native token called the Multicoin (MTCN). To ensure a safe and secure ecosystem, all users on Boom are KYC’d at signup. Boom is maintained by Boom Foundation.

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BIG STORY

Firstbank Commemorates 2022 Customer Service Week

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider has announced its commemoration of the 2022 edition of the Customer Service Week scheduled to be globally celebrated on 3 – 7 October 2022.

The event themed: “Celebrating Service” will be marked across its FBNBank subsidiaries in over half a dozen countries which include FBNBank UK, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Senegal, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank DRC and FBNBank Sierra Leone.

Customer Service Week is an international celebration that highlights the importance of customer service and staff who serve and support customers daily to deliver exceptional service to customers.

The Bank’s celebration of the 2022 Customer Service Week will include several activities considered integral to promoting a relaxed atmosphere whilst extending its participation to everyone, irrespective of where they are. The activities include virtual engagement of customers on its social media handles: firstbanknigeria on Instagram; First Bank of Nigeria Limited on Facebook; First Bank of Nigeria Limited on LinkedIn and @FirstBankngr on Twitter.

Others are a video booth and photo frame funfair, then a Virtual Party on the Friday of the weeklong event and a movie date for staff.

Through the last 128 years of its operations, FirstBank has played a leading role in utilizing its robust customer service network and digital banking architecture to support its customers – cutting across diverse cultures, tribes and races beyond the shores of Nigeria – in meeting their individual and business needs. The Bank achieves this through its innovative, interactive, self-service banking platforms like *894# Quick Banking mobile solution, FirstMobile banking application, Firstmonie Agents, FirstOnline internet banking, WhatsApp banking, and ATM amongst many others. The Bank’s electronic banking channels are constantly updated with new and exciting features to expose customers to exemplary services and experience to put them at an advantage in the industry.

According to Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank “for us at FirstBank, celebrating service, the theme of the 2022 edition of the Customer Service Week is a reflection of our brand mantra “You First”. This reiterates the essence of our existence since 1894, centred on putting You, our customers First as we continue to support individuals and businesses to impact the economy.

With our dynamic and vibrant human-led and digital-led customer services operations, we remain committed to rendering the gold standard of services to our customers and stakeholders regardless of where they may be across the globe” she concluded.

About FirstBank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading financial inclusion services provider in Nigeria for over 128 years.

With over 750 business locations and over 189,000 Banking Agents spread across 99% of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services to serve its over 30 million customers. The Bank has an international presence through its subsidiaries, FBNBank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

The Bank has been handy at promoting digital payment in the country and has issued over 10million cards, the first bank to achieve such a milestone in the country. FirstBank’s cashless transaction drive extends to having more than 12million people on its USSD Quick Banking service through the nationally renowned *894# Banking code and over 4.5 million people on FirstMobile platform.

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is always to put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of the first choice in building your future”. Our brand promise is always to deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

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BIG STORY

Police To Sanction Atiku Wife’s Orderly For Carrying Her Bag At Event

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The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has vowed to sanction the police orderly of Titi Abubakar, wife of Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, for carrying her handbag at an event in Abuja, recently.

Prince Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Police Public Relations Officer, made the vow in a tweet on Thursday, in response to a Twitter user who expressed reservations about the policewoman seen carrying Mrs. Abubakar’s handbag while she was delivering a speech at the event in Abuja on Wednesday.

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has vowed to sanction the police orderly of Titi Abubakar, wife of Atiku Abubakar, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, for carrying her handbag at an event in Abuja, recently.

Prince Olumuyiwa Adejobi, Police Public Relations Officer, made the vow in a tweet on Thursday, in response to a Twitter user who expressed reservations about the policewoman seen carrying Mrs. Abubakar’s handbag while she was delivering a speech at the event in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mrs. Abubakar had apparently handed her handbag to the police orderly while delivering her address at the unveiling of the SHE Campaign, which she organised to rally the support of the women folk for her husband’s 2023 presidential bid.

The picture of the police orderly carrying her bag trended on social media after it was shared by a Twitter user, Ifeoma, @Fifi_Ify, who expressed reservations about the officer “being turned into a maid.”

She had noted, “When a private citizen can turn our uniform force member into her maid, why won’t the police forget their primary duty and only dance to the tune of the elites? @BenHundeyin is this how it’s supposed to be?”

Responding to her tweet, Prince Adejobi said the police have commenced necessary action against the orderly, and would also reach out to her principal, Mrs. Abubakar.

“This is not acceptable. We have commenced necessary action on this. We will fish her out and get across to the principal. The AIG Special Protection Unit has been contacted to assist us get the woman police. Gradually, we will sanitise the system,” he said.

“How can an orderly be carrying bag for her madam, i am sure the madam will have a PA, and that is the PAs job, its an absurdity and this is condemned in its totality.”

This is not the first time a police officer carrying out the job of a personal assistant is raising eyebrows.

In March, Dr. Nimota Nihinlola Akanbi, chairman of the governing board of National Secondary School Education, stirred up similar controversy when her police orderly, Yahaya Abubakar, was captured in a video carrying a plate of food for her.

Abubakar was subsequently summoned by the police authority, but Mrs. Akanbi later claimed that the plate of food was meant for the officer.

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