Etomi: Anti-graft Agencies Need To Be More Strategic

Etomi: Anti-graft Agencies Need To Be More StrategicA legal practitioner, Mr George Etomi, has asked the Federal Government to train the anti-graft agencies to be strategic and coordinated, so as to ensure success of the whistle-blower policy in Nigeria.

Mr Etomi told Channels Television that the recent recoveries made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have proven that a lot of cash has been moving around in the country.

He observed that most politicians fund their activities by means of cash, stressing the need to strengthen the whistle-blower policy.

Also read: Presidency Seeks To Strengthen Whistle-blower Policy

“One thing that is not in doubt is that so much cash has been moving around, especially in a political atmosphere in Nigeria. The means by which politicians fund their activities is largely done in cash.

“So it is quite clear that there is plenty of cash sitting in various forms in different places that can be traced to the doorsteps of politicians. But if it’s going to be a whistle-blowing policy that should work, then nobody should be protected,” the lawyer said.

He further expressed optimism that with proper training and coordination, the anti-graft agencies would eliminate the speculations that have trailed the recovery of cash in recent times.

Also Read: EFCC Discovers Huge Sums Of Money In Ikoyi Apartment

Mr Etomi pointed out that the anti-corruption agencies lacked adequate fact-finding strategies that would establish evidences strong enough to convince a judge to rule in their favour.

“Critically, we also need to train the anti-graft agencies because in some of these cases, many of these things could end up in prosecutions, and the scorecard we’ve had from EFCC about so many failed prosecutions is suggestive of the fact that the anti-graft agencies are struggling with investigative tactics that will enable them produce the sort of evidence of convictable quality.

“Apart from all the hype we get, apart from all the leaks to the social media, when it comes to the main issues, you’ve got to convince a judge, a third party who was not there to convict somebody.

“When you are talking about the liberty of somebody, it’s going to be a bit more than just rumours, guess or deductions; you are going to produce hard evidence,” he said.

Outrageous Electricity Tariff Rate Is Illegal – NLC

Vice President of NLCThe Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed dissatisfaction  in the increase in  electricity tariff rate by the Distribution Companies (DISCOs).

On Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, Mr Asugbuni Amaechi said “the NLC through its supreme organ will today (Monday), Pickett the DISCOs as regards the outrageous increase in tariff. We are doing that nationwide.

“We regard it as illegal, an increase that didn’t bear in mind, the stakeholders involved, that didn’t consider Nigerians and we believe that there was no consultation to this effect.

“The increase itself, is unacceptable because it affects majority of Nigerians – we can’t talk about increasing the tariff when there is no availability of power,” he stressed.

“Ungodly Policy”

The Vice President of the NLC further gave reasons for the nationwide protest.

“We proceeded with this action because they wanted to know what the NLC would do.

“This is a mild approach because we have shut down the nation as a response to this ungodly policy.

“We believe that by picketing the DISCOs,  there should be a reverse to that action before the end of today (Monday), otherwise, we may have to take some other drastic steps.

“This protest is to ensure that we occupy their premises with the intention of giving them the serious message on behalf of Nigerians that they cannot go ahead with the decision to increase the tariff because whatever we are doing today, as we speak, is to implement integrity”, he maintained.

Robust Metering Plan

George Etomi
George Etomi says metering everyone in Nigeria within 18 months is not feasible

In response to the NLC’s demands, the Director of Eko DISCO, George Etomi, who was also a guest on Sunrise Daily, said that the increase in tariff was a function of the entire electricity chain.

“It is not just the DISCOs, it is a chain that started with gas, generation, transmission and distribution. The entire system is in liquid – so, it is not a bankable proposition,” he explained.

Mr Etomi further said: “I don’t think anyone would argue the fact that metering is out of this business.

“We have argued several times that the priority should be for everyone to be metered.

“But when you want to do a robust metering plan, it must be a plan that works for everybody.

“Let’s not forget that this industry has been in existence close to 100 years, and if everybody could not be metered in 100 years, I don’t know why in 18 months, they expect metering to happen”.

Smart Metering Platform

The Eko DISCOs’  boss said that the type of meters were important in determining the tariff.

“When we came on board, we met the Credited Advanced Metering Implementation Programme by which, consumers were supposed to pay for their meters which is deducted over a period of time.

“Most of these meters are pre-paid. They are completely unreliable – there is really no need to continue with the pre-paid meters.

“We decided to move onto the Smart Metering Platform which would eliminate, almost completely, issues to do with the amount you consume,” he added.

 

Buhari Picks APC Presidential Form

BuhariNigeria’s  former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd), has become the second presidential aspirant to pick the expression of interest and nomination forms of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

General Buhari, who paid the required 27.5million Naira in Abuja, was handed the forms by the party’s National Chairman, Mr John Oyegun.

Mr Oyegun handed over the forms to the former military Head of State after former Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva, handed over a cheque of N27.5million on behalf of the presidential aspirant to the National Organising Secretary of the party, Senator Osita Izunaso.

The former Nigerian Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, had on Wednesday, declared his intention to contest in the presidential election of 2015.

He made the official declaration before a large gathering of APC members at the Eagle Square in Abuja, where he promised to restore Nigeria’s honour if elected as President in 2015.

The former Head of State has promised to tackle issues of insecurity, corruption, unemployment and power generation, among others, if elected.

Atiku/Buhari Declaration: Contest To Show Off Politicial Clout – Etomi

Buhari and AtikuA legal practitioner, George Etomi, has described the declaration to contest for Presidency, of both Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari, as a show of political muscle, noting that the Party should have opted for a consensus candidate ahead of the 2015 elections.

Etomi, who on Thursday appeared on Sunrise Daily, said the polity was in reset mode as many politicians were working to position themselves ahead of the general elections.

“We are in the reset button mode, so you can expect that everyone is going back to the starting line,” he said.

He further described the recent political events including the resignation of seven ministers from President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet as “a flurry of activities in which people are posturing”, however, while some have good chances of victory, others are “posturing so that from any fall out, they still get some sort of advantage”.

He noted that everything was part of democracy.

About the battle for who becomes President in 2015, Etomi said “everyone was expecting this consensus arrangement to come from the APC” and there were speculations that the delay in aspirants coming forward was because of the consensus plan.

“It would appear that new factors coming into the APC” including the governors who decamped from the PDP, have caused “a gravitational shift”

“So, I think those who expected that it would have been an easy ride for General Buhari would be disappointed. He would have to go and make a case to be the flag-bearer” Etomi said, noting that other APC aspirants would have to do the same.

He, also berated the party for not finding a consensus candidate as the opposition needs that more than the ruling party.

The competition is expected to be stiff as “healthy and robust” cases would be made by aspirants.

Commenting on the activities of the PDP, Etomi said it is “very unusual” for a sitting president to be challenged under the Presidential system, adding that “I’m not too surprised that the PDP is endorsing Mr President but whatever the case , in another 2 or 3 weeks, it would be very clear who the two candidates will be”.

The lawyer opined that the internal debates over endorsements for the President and those by the governors who also want to be endorsed, was the real election.

“I can assure you, the more important fight going on is the fight behind the scene,” he noted, adding that whether the practice was democratic or representative of the people’s will was a matter of conjecture.

On the issues concerning the Ekiti governorship election, Etomi said the voice of the people should not be over-ridden by the Court.

“The people have spoken. Let them live with their choice and if in four years they find that they made a mistake, they have an opportunity to correct it.

Business Incorporated: Etomi Speaks On Progress Made In 15 Democratic Years

Business incorporatedNigeria’s economic development after 15 years of democracy has been described with mixed feelings. While some think the economy has done well, others think there are still a lot to be done.

However, the general consensus is that it’s better than going back to the days of the military.

A business lawyer and the former chairman, Section on Business Law of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr George Etomi who was our guest on Business Incorporated, said a lot has been achieved in terms of the reforms in the various sectors of the economy, particularly the telecom sector.

He also believes that Nigeria still has a long way to go particularly in the area of infrastructure development.

He maintained that Nigeria’s economy will be better if both the leaders and the led play their role selflessly.

Business Incorporated: Etomi Advocates For Nigeria Without Oil

Business incorporatedSince the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) alerted Nigeria and other members, that Shale Gas and Oil Production will have significant impact on crude oil production in the near term, which will adversely affect the economies of those that heavily depend on crude as their main source of revenue earnings, the Nigerian government and indeed the citizens have been exploring ways of diversifying the economy.

Discussions in many fora have been focused on how the country can diversify the economy in order to develop herself and her people away from oil.

On this edition of Business Incorporated, an oil and gas lawyer, George Etomi insists a better life with oil is possible in Nigeria, adding that the nation has great potentials to diversify its economy.

2013 Review: Power Privatisation Is A Dream Come True

The reforms in the power sector in 2013 has been described as  a dream come true.

While reviewing the power sector performance in 2013, an Oil and Gas Lawyer, George Etomi, said that the sector had done well from the point of view of the reforms that are intended.

“The year saw the realisation of the dream to privatise the sector on November 1, a process that was the most transparent processes in the entire privatisation history not just in Nigeria but in West Africa,” he said.

He also looked at the issue of labour.

“Practically, all of them have gotten their severance payment.

“The issue of Labour in negotiations, like that of the handing over of the PHCN, is always expected because generally labour does not always trust the employer.

“The government introduced biometrics to ensure that payments were made to the right persons.

He pointed out that the greater concern should be what would be the fate of the same labour going forward.

“The new owner have retained some of the old workers and the culture is different and this could create issues of smooth linear of those relationships considering the fact that the way the new managers would want to handle the service is quite different.

The Nigerian government has said that there were possibilities of increased tariff as the new owners of the distribution companies take over.

This has become a source of worry for Nigerians.

Some have, however, expressed their readiness to pay if power is constant.

The government has blamed the poor supply on low gas supply caused by gas pipeline vandalism.

He appealed to Nigerians to desist from vandalising oil and gas pipelines in Nigeria.

“Protecting infrastructure is not only government’s responsibility but a collective one,” he said.

Mr Etomi called for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.

“If there is no foundational legislation, the investors will not come in to invest in the sector. That is why we have oil theft,” he said.

 

No Plan To Raise Electricity Tariff – NERC

The Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi has said that there is no plan to raise electricity tariff in Nigeria.

Dr Amadi, who was a guest on our business programme, `Business Morning’ said that neither the government, nor the new power firm owners have any plan to increase tariff.

According to him, it is a regulated market with control.

He said that the challenge the NERC is dealing with now is the validation and verification of the technical & collection losses and not tariff increase.

Also on the programme was former Chairman, Section on Business Law at the Nigerian Bar Association, George Etomi.

Etomi, who was representing the Eko Distribution Company, said that the plan for the new owners, working with the regulators is to ensure that everything associated with the infrastructural development and management skills that will help them to provide regular power supply is done.

However, Dr Amadi’s announcement appears a contradiction to an earlier statement by the NERC boss who said that the new tariffs which Nigerians will pay for improved power supply is not a means to rip them off, but will be justifiable.

He made the statement on the November 6 edition of the programme.

Also, the Minister of Power in Nigeria, Professor Chinedu Nebo, had warned citizens to prepare to endure some teething problems (including rise in the tariff) that may arise, after the hand-over of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria to its new owners.

“The rise will not last long. It will reduce to a manageable level over time,” he said.

 

Recurrent Expenditure Escalated Due To Struggle For ‘National Cake’ – Etomi

A former Chairman of the Business Law section of the Nigerian Bar Association, George Etomi on Friday explained that the reason the recurrent expenditure has risen far above the capital expenditure is as a result of the hustle to partake of the ‘national cake’.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Business Morning, Mr Etomi explained that until government reduces its recurrent expenditure, infrastructural development nationwide will continue to be a pipe dream adding that “Nigeria is built on lie” because the indices by which we plan are false.

He averred that statistics of the nation’s population and its distribution are most likely not what they are said to be.

“In this struggle for this national cake, everybody is putting pressure on the federal system so recurrent expenditure has grown from less that 50 percent of the total GDP to nearly 80 or 90 percent,” he said.

Speaking on the state of infrastructure and development since the nation gained independence; he said “if we are going to make an assessment across board, I think it would be fair to say that we have not reached the level of infrastructural development that we could have reached, given where we started from”.

“There was a time actually in this country people had steady supply of electricity and good roads” Although they were not wide and there was no population pressure.

“What any sensible government should do would have been to plan well ahead for population explosion”

The problem now is a lot of these facilities are now overstretched and no sooner do we create new ones, they are instantly over stretched, he added.

In terms of social infrastructure, Mr Etomi said “we’ve become a much wiser people” adding that “everywhere you go in the world, they will tell you that if there is any set of Negroids who are self-confident, who know what they want, it’s Nigerians”.

Citing the entertainment industry he said the youths are doing well adding that “in terms of social development, we’ve done phenomenally well.”

Reiterating the opinion that Nigerians do not have a maintenance culture, Mr Etomi attributed the collapse of the nation’s infrastructure to a lack of ‘forward planning’.

“Forward planning is also not our strength even though we have had several development plans”

He also blamed lack of continuity in government administrations for the break down in infrastructure as new governments fail to continue with what the older government started.

Lawyer says Nigeria’s electoral system has improved

A legal practitioner and the pioneer Chairman, Business section of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), George Etomi on Tuesday said that there are several improvements to make Nigerians celebrate the 52 years Independence from colonial power.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Etomi said the one significant area that has experienced improvement is the electoral process.

“The person at the helm of affairs matters a lot. If you have a president or a governor who decides that the electioneering system does not matter, then people would burn, loot, and generally cause mayhem. But if you have a president such as we have, who is not prepared to stick out his neck for anybody but ensures that the system works, then you will have results,” he said.

Watch the video below for the complete interview.