The leadership of the National Assembly has convinced the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in the country to defer the hike in electricity tariffs scheduled to take effect from July 1, 2020.
This is according to a statement on Monday by the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media, Ola Awoniyi.
He revealed that the lawmakers met with the Chief Executives of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the DISCOs and succeeded in persuading them to postpone the planned increase of tariffs until the first quarter of 2021.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as other principal officers and chairmen of the Committees on Power of the two chambers, attended the meeting.
Awoniyi said the National Assembly leaders were emphatic that the timing of the planned hike was wrong, although they do not have issues with the need to introduce cost-reflective tariffs for the power sector to attract the much-needed investment.
He added that the DISCOs, on their part, admitted that they were not well prepared for the planned hike in tariffs despite the so much desire for the increase.
The Wrong Time
The meeting, according to the Senate President’s aide, agreed to defer the planned hike until the first quarter of next year while the leadership of the National Assembly promised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue.
“The agreement here is that there is not going to be any increase in the tariffs on July 1st,” Lawan was quoted as saying at the end of the meeting.
He added, “The Speaker and I; we are going to take appropriate action and meet with the President. We are in agreement here that there is no question on the justification of the increase, but the time is simply not right and appropriate measures need to be put in place
“So, between now and the first quarter of next year, our task will be to work together with you to ensure that we put those blocks in place to support the eventual increase in tariffs.”
The Senate President stated that the Federal Government has been doing a lot as part of its obligations to provide some form of intervention.
He noted that over N600 billion was earmarked to improve the power sector, stressing that the potential increase in the tariffs would be of concern to the National Assembly.
“There is too much stress in the lives of Nigerians today, and indeed, across the world because of the challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic and even before then, we had issues that would always make it tough for our people to effectively pay the tariffs.
“One way or the other, for this business to flourish, for this sector to be appropriately fixed, for it to attract investment; something has to give way, there is no doubt about that but it is also crucial that we look at the timing for any of our actions,” the lawmaker pleaded.
Do The Right Thing
In his remarks, Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly was on the same page with the DISCOs on the issue of cost-reflective tariffs.
He, however, stated that there was time for everything, and a well-intended programme or policy of government could fall flat on the face and never recover if such was implemented at the wrong time.
“There cannot be a time as bad as this for us to increase anything. Forget about electricity, anything. Whereas, even in time of decreasing revenue, we are even reducing the pump price. I don’t know how we can justify an increase in the cost of electricity at this time in Nigeria,” the Speaker said.
He asked the DISCOs and NERC how they arrived at the tariffs, the role of the National Assembly, and if the President was aware of their decision.
Gbajabiamila added, “Whatever will affect his (Buhari’s) government is something that should concern all of us. I think this will affect his government.
“This timing, not the increase; the timing. I think it will affect his government and if it is going to affect his government, we should all rally around our people, our President, and the government to make sure we do the right thing.”
On their part, the DISCOs representatives told the lawmakers that if the planned hike was eventually deferred till next year, the government should continue to bear the difference in the present tariff and what was considered as the appropriate tariff.
Those in attendance included representatives of NERC, Kano Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, and Eko Electricity Distribution Company.
“Yesterday (Thursday) I had a good and constructive discussion with His Excellency Rt. Hon. Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament. He reassured me of the respect and regard the people of Ghana have for Nigeria.
“He stated the Ghanaian government is taking the demolishment with all seriousness and has taken the following actions: 1) Perpetrators have been arrested and investigation is ongoing; 2) the Property will be ceded and all documents handed over to Nigeria under the Compulsory Acquisition Act of Ghana; 3) the destroyed High Commission quarters will be rebuilt by the government of Ghana,” he said.
Gbajabiamila’s comments come three days after the country’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, called President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his sincere apology over the demolition.
The Ghana leader assured President Buhari that he has directed a full investigation into the matter, assuring that justice will be served.
Meanwhile, some suspects linked to the demolition have been arrested and will be arraigned in court.
The leadership of the National Assembly has mourned the former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who died of COVID-19 complications.
In a statement on Friday by his media adviser, Ola Awoniyi, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said Ajimobi, who once represented Oyo South Senatorial District before he was elected to two consecutive terms as governor, would be missed by the people of his state and the progressives political family across the country.
According to him, the people of Oyo will always remember Ajimobi for his numerous achievements over which the people rewarded him as the first governor to be re-elected in the history of the state.
Lawan added that the former governor’s death would also be felt by the All Progressives Congress (APC), especially at a time the party has called all hands to the deck to steady its sail.
“We, at the Senate, mourn Senator Ajimobi who also served with merit at the upper legislative chamber between 2003 and 2007 during which time he was the Deputy Senate Minority Leader,” he said.
The Senate President condoled with the family, friends, and political associates of the late former governor and prayed for the repose of Ajimobi’s soul.
In his tribute, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, described the demise of the former governor as a painful loss.
He added that Ajimobi was a peace-loving man that promoted same among his people and beyond, saying Oyo State and Nigeria have lost a patriotic leader.
In a statement by his media adviser, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker stated that Ajimobi lived a fulfilled life and had served the people of Oyo State diligently and patriotically.
He said he was personally touched and deeply saddened by the death, saying the former governor was the architect of modern Oyo whose legacy would last long in the heart of many Nigerians.
Gbajabiamila said, “My thoughts and prayers are with his family, the people and government of Oyo State, and the country as a whole, especially the larger APC family.
“Late Abiola Ajimobi was a strong pillar in the APC fold. Not only that, he was a dedicated leader that left his footprints in the sand of time in Oyo State when he served as governor for eight years, making him the longest-serving governor of the state to date.”
“I pray that God Almighty will grant him a peaceful resting place and give his family the fortitude to bear the loss,” he added.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over its planned industrial action.
This is according to a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi.
The statement indicates that the speaker held a meeting with the association and officials of the Federal Ministry of Health at the National Assembly to resolve all pending issues.
At the end of the three-hour meeting, Gbajabiamila said the leadership of the House would not fold its arms while resident doctors embark on strike at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
The union had issued an ultimatum to embark on strike next week Monday following what it said was government’s inability to fulfil certain obligations as agreed in a memorandum of understanding.
Part of the issues in contention as narrated by the chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Tanko Sununu, were outstanding payments on hazard allowance, arbitrary disengagement of 23 doctors at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital.
Others include the non-provision of life insurance despite the death of some doctors from COVID-19, non-provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs), reduction of doctors’ salary by the Kaduna State Government, doctors’ residency training, among others.
The Speaker begged the union to “tarry a while as government was working assiduously to meet their entitlements, but noted that the House could not intervene in the issue of doctors in Kaduna State as it is not under its jurisdiction.”
Gbajabiamila said that if need be, the House would come up with a law that would not only back the payment of hazard allowance but would also define same for clarity.
“As a House, we’ll keep taking steps to avoid strikes. This meeting will give us the opportunity to holistically address the issues at stake.
“Let us agree on one thing: that at this time, we can’t afford to allow our doctors go on strike. Let us agree that their welfare is a priority,” he said.
According to him, the issues of hazard allowance was captured in the supplementary budget before the House.
While assuring the resident doctors of the Federal Government’s commitment in resolving the issues raised, the Speaker said: “I want you to understand that government is doing its best to meet your entitlement.”
Gbajabiamila also assured that the resident doctors’ training would be captured in the 2021 budget whether it is included in the ministry’s budget.
On his part, NERD President, Dr Sokomba Aliyu said he would get back to the national executive of the association and relate the Speaker’s intervention to them.
Although Aliyu did not give a direct commitment on the suspension of the planned strike, he however maintained that he would communicate their decision to the House.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has commiserated with the former Inspector General of Police and Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith, over the death of his wife, Alhaja Ariat Aderoju Smith.
Gbajabiamila in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, described Aderoju as a selfless woman who gave her life to the service for humanity.
According to him, the deceased who passed away at 69 would be missed not only by members of her immediate family but also by residents of Lagos State in general.
While praying for the repose of her soul, Gbajabiamila asked God to give the ex-IGP as well as other members of his family the fortitude to bear the loss.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that the House will stop at nothing to ensure the provision of quality education to Nigerian children.
He also stated that all efforts would be made to reduce the number of Out-of-school children in the country.
The Speaker was quoted to have said this in a statement issued on Tuesday by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, ahead of the 2020 Children’s Day Celebration.
“Nigerian children must be given all the necessary care and attention, especially quality education, that they require to attain their goals in life,” the Speaker said.
He also noted that in support of the age-long maxim that children are the leaders of tomorrow, concerted efforts must be done by all well-meaning Nigerians to achieve a better tomorrow for Nigerian children.
While celebrating them, he said he would always champion the cause of the Nigerian child both in Parliament and outside, to ensure that their potentials are carefully harnessed through good education and training.
According to him, the country cannot set aside May 27 every year to celebrate her children without taking decisive action to better their lives.
Consequently, the Speaker said all policies, including legislative framework, must be put in place to give qualitative education to the Nigerian child and ultimately, reduce the number of out-of-school children.
The hearing of a suit filed by a former Senator representing Kogi West at the National Assembly, Dino Melaye, over the Infectious Diseases Bill has suffered a setback.
This was after a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday rejected Melaye’s request to restrain the House of Representatives from continuing the consideration of the bill.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in her ruling, refused to grant the order because the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila who is the third defendant in the suit, had yet to be served with the court documents.
She adjourned the suit till June 1 for further hearing.
Dino, who instituted the suit on May 5, 2020, asked the court to declare that some sections of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, currently being debated on the floor of the House of Representatives are draconian, oppressive and authoritarian.
The former lawmaker also wants the court to rule that the Bill is in breach of his fundamental rights as provided for in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The respondents to the bill are the Clerk of the National Assembly; the Clerk of the House of Representatives; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu.
At the resumed hearing of the suit on Wednesday, lawyer to the House of Representatives, Kayode Ajulo informed the court that he is yet to be served with the processes as he insists that the service is key and fundamental to fair hearing.
Also, clerks of both the National Assembly and the House of Representatives and the AGF were absent from court and not represented by their lawyers.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Okoro Nkemakolam, said the respondents had failed to file any processes to show cause why such restraining order should not be issued by the court.
He urged the court to order parties to maintain the status quo to protect the subject matter and prevent a situation of foisting a “fait accompli” on the court.
The judge declined to grant the plaintiff’s request on the grounds that the May 13, 2020 summons for the defendants to appear in court on Tuesday to show cause why they should not be restrained concerning the bill, was predicated on the service of all the respondents with the required court documents.
She then ordered that the Speaker of the House of Reps be served through his lawyer, Ajulo and adjourned till June 1 for further hearing.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has given the assurance that transparency and accountability will be upheld in the conduct of the public hearing stage of the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020.
He said the public hearing, which is expected to take place in the next few weeks, would be for two days and would be physical and open to submission of memorandum and position papers from members of the public.
Gbajabiamila stated this on Monday when he received some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at his office in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He told them that the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) during and after its outbreak were of paramount concern to the House.
The speaker noted that the House would step up its oversight responsibility on issues and palliative programmes around COVID-19, and the 9th Assembly’s Legislative Agenda would be rejigged to reflect the realities of the pandemic.
While stressing that the House would continue to observe its weekly sitting and add more days where necessary, he insisted that the lawmakers would continue to pass critical legislation during the COVID-19 period.
The lawmaker said, “On the Control of Infectious Disease Bill, we are aware that many of the comments it generated are genuine; some were political and some were clearly based on the misunderstanding of the bill, but we cannot ignore any and that is why we are taking it to the public hearing.
“It is going to be conducted over two days and because we don’t want to endanger anyone’s life, all the COVID-19 protocols would be observed in a hall that is supposed to take 300 people, we will have about 40.”
“Those who could not make it the first day would have the opportunity to be there the second day. The public hearing would be physical because this is all about transparency and accountability.
“We don’t want to endanger the lives of Nigerians. It will be beamed live on TV and radio but those that cannot make it to the public hearing will have the opportunity of sending their memorandum to the House,” he added.
According to the speaker, the bill that will be passed by the House will be the aggregate of the submissions of Nigerians.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Clement Nwankwo of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) commended the lawmakers for rising to the occasion.
The House, according to him, has shown leadership in consultation regarding the pandemic and taken some positive steps to address the issues of concern.
Also at the meeting were the Majority Leader of the House, Hassan Ado-Doguwa; the Chief Whip, Muhammad Monguno; the Deputy Minority Whip, Gideon Gwani; and the House Committee Chairman on Defence, Babajimi Benson.
Others included the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, the Chief Executive Officer of Women Trust Fund, Mufuliat Fijabi; and the Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Samson Itodo.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari and the members of his extended family over the demise of his nephew, Alhaji Mutari Dauda.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker also prayed for the repose of the soul of the late Dauda, who was the younger brother to Mamman Daura.
He equally extended his condolences to the entire people of the Daura Emirate and prayed that Almighty Allah gives the President, members of his extended family and the Daura Emirate the fortitude to bear the loss.
This comes a day after the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, also condoled with the President.
The Senate President said he shared in the grief of the entire Daura community, Government and people of Katsina state over the loss.