NASS Will Prioritize Allocation Of Resources For Youth Development – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday said that the National Assembly will prioritize the allocation of resources for youth development despite the present economic challenges faced by the country owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawan stated this in his remarks which was virtually delivered to flag-off the training of 1000 youths in GSM phone repair, hardware, software, and entrepreneurship development in Yobe State.

According to the Senate President, youth development initiatives serve as one of the ways of empowering and uplifting the wellbeing of the country’s youth population.

“It is most pleasing to flag off this important training for youths in Yobe State. The training of 1000 youths in GSM phone repairs, hardware, software and entrepreneurship development is a landmark in our commitment to uplifting the wellbeing of a key part of the nation’s population.

“It is additionally a reminder of the multiple avenues for empowering youths across Nigeria. We cannot overstate the fact that youths are a crucial category in the nation’s population. They are full of energy and are hopeful for the future,” Lawan said.

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The Senate President while underscoring the importance of synergy in governance, assured that the National Assembly will ensure the allocation of resources specifically for the purpose of youth development across the country.

He added that the gesture of parliamentary support in this direction would be backed by further efforts to engage Nigerian youths on ways of additionally stimulating their creativity and productivity levels, so as to keep them away from getting involved in crime.

“The future may however not make any meaning to them if their present is not productive. It is why we will strive to surmount the challenges of limited resources to fend for this population group. This also requires creativity on how to engage them.

“With a greater level of engagement for the youths, they can contribute to the economy, still in need of better productivity. Productivity is a prelude to growth, which will also lead to improved wellbeing.

“I am happy that earlier remarks have harped on paying attention to the welfare of the youths. Making them a priority takes them away from crime, which is often a result of idleness.

“The need to pay attention to youths has led to this initiative, as supported by the Nigerian Content Development, and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), and the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA).

“The support once more highlights the relevance of synergy in governance. It is the reason the Senate has been consistent in providing legislative impetus for collaborations amongst government agencies, consistent with the mission to deliver on our mandate. We will continue on this path, for the good of Nigerians.

“Training 1000 youths in Yobe State is not just a milestone, but part of a concerted effort at improving living conditions. We urge beneficiaries to be committed, and to complete the training with resounding success,” Lawan said.

The Senate President while expressing appreciation to the Federal University, Gashua; Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu; Atiku Abubakar College of Legal Studies, Nguru; and the Federal College of Education, Potiskum; for their support in having training centres opened for the purpose, charged participants to demonstrate dedication to the Programme.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, in a speech delivered during the virtual flag-off ceremony, expressed the willingness of his Ministry to partner with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy to explore high impact opportunities as well as create jobs for youths in the oil and gas sector.

While extolling the leadership qualities of the Senate President and Chairman of the Ninth Assembly, Ahmad Lawan, the Minister called on him “to sustain the cordial relationship between the executive and legislature.”

Sylva advised beneficiaries of the training to take advantage of the Programme to transform lives and ensure national development.

Listen To Voices, Do Not Resurrect Water Resources Bill, NLC Tells NASS

File: President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the National Assembly to listen to the voices of Nigerians and stop the plan of resurrecting the Water Resources Bill which was rejected in 2018.

The NLC in a statement signed by its President, Ayuba Wabba, on Monday, stated that the bill if passed puts the country’s unity in danger.

Mr Wabba stressed that the National Assembly has the constitutional responsibility to re-introduce any bill that was rejected but urged the lawmakers to avoid any move that will ambush Nigerians.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress joins patriotic voices across the country in calling on the leadership of the National Assembly not to resurrect or cause to be passed into law the Water Bill because of the danger it portends to national unity.

“Although the National Assembly is constitutionally vested with law-making, we warn against the National Assembly ambushing Nigerians,” he added.

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The NLC President also warned “against legislative abuse or betrayal of Nigerians as this is what it will amount to if the bill is passed or caused to be passed without public engagement and scrutiny. Already, the sentiments expressed against this bill are too grave to be brushed off.

“Information in the public domain has it that the National Assembly leadership is working surreptitiously with vested interests outside the Assembly anxious to pass the bill without due legislative process.

“We recall that this bill was rejected in 2018 with very good reasons. Although there is no law against re-presentation of a killed or rejected bill, however, given the strong sentiments expressed against this bill from practically all sections of the country, then and now, we would strongly advise that this bill should not be resurrected,” Mr Wabba maintained.

He stated that the country is facing a myriad of challenges and having another controversial bill will cause costly controversy.

“Although legislation is one of the three constitutional functions of the National Assembly, it should not be a licence to dictatorship but a representation of the will, aspirations and sensitivities of the populace.

“In light of this, we state unambiguously that the National Assembly should listen to the voice of reason by resting this bill.”

National Assembly Won’t Tolerate Disrespect Anymore, Lawan Warns Buhari’s Appointees

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan, has warned appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari against disrespecting the National Assembly.

He gave the warning on Monday while reacting to the series of disagreements between some lawmakers and presidential appointees, including some ministers and heads of Federal Government agencies.

Senator Lawan was responding to questions from State House correspondents in Abuja shortly after President Buhari inaugurated the Executive, Legislative Party Consultative Council at the Presidential Villa.

“Coming to your second-leg of the question that recently we had some appointees on the executive side walking out or maybe saying things, I believe that that should be the end of it; we believe that we should work together,” the lawmaker stated.

He added, “For us in the National Assembly, I think what has happened has happened and I pray that nobody goes to the National Assembly to do the kind of things that some people did before because that will be disrespecting the President and, of course, abuse of the National Assembly and we are not going to tolerate that.”

 

According to Lawan, even the President made it very clear that he will not accept or tolerate any of his appointees doing things that are not respectable and have no dignity to the National Assembly.

He stressed the need for political officers to ensure the Council produces the desired results and outcomes, that would make Nigeria better in terms of governance.

 

Meeting Nigerians’ Expectations

In his remarks at the inauguration which held earlier as the Council Chamber of the Villa, the Senate President described the event as historic for the APC administration.

He noted that the legislature, executive, and the ruling party have seen the need to bring everybody on board for thorough consultations before major issues were tabled before the citizens of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and APC Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja on August 31, 2020.

 

Senator Lawan explained that the purpose of the inauguration of the Council was to improve the quality of governance and service delivery to Nigerians.

“We have promised Nigerians and Nigerians voted for the All Progressives Congress at all the levels, so it is incumbent upon us at all levels and as a party to ensure we meet the expectations and aspirations of Nigerians.

“Just like Mr President expressed, we believe that the constitution rightly provides for the separation of powers and we believe in that,” he said.

The lawmaker added, “The legislature will always on its own ensure we oversight and we check possible excesses of the executive arm of government.”

Buhari Warns Ministers, MDAs, Others Against Disrespecting National Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Aso Villa in Abuja on July 16, 2020.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has read the riot act to ministers and heads of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) on the relationship with the National Assembly.

This followed a meeting between the President and the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, which held on Thursday at the Aso Villa in Abuja.

In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, highlighted the details of the meeting which lasted almost an hour.

He explained that it was characterised by an engaging discussion on a range of key issues of national importance, particularly the role of the Legislature as a critical component in supporting their common goal and commitment towards improving the lives of the people of Nigeria.

In the course of their conversation, Shehu revealed that the recent events at the National Assembly were highlighted.

He stated that the President re-emphasised his utmost respect for the National Assembly, adding that any disrespect to the institution by any member of the executive branch would not be accepted.

“Ministers and all heads of Departments and Agencies should at all times conduct themselves in ways that will not undermine the National Assembly as an institution, its leadership and members.

“The President and the leaders of the National Assembly recognised and acknowledged that the Executive and Legislative arms of government are essential partners in the fulfillment of their mutually aligned goal of improving the lives of the Nigerian people,” the statement said.

NDDC Fails To Defend 2019 Budget Over Discrepancies In Figures

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, writes on a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The 2019 budget defence of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) has suffered a setback.

This comes as the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, led the agency’s Executive Director (Project), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and other top officials to the National Assembly in Abuja to defend the agency’s budget for the previous year.

The NDDC team appeared before members of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta on Tuesday.

However, they could not successfully defend the agency’s budget as the lawmakers pointed out some discrepancies in the budget.

According to documents presented by Professor Pondei, the NDDC received N305.5 billion for 2019 and spent a total of N122 billion.

While the commission is expected to bring a balance of N183.2 billion forward in the 2020 budget proposal, the report submitted to the lawmakers showed N40 billion.

This photo taken on July 14, 2020, shows some lawmakers at the 2019 budget defence of the NDDC held at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Thereafter, Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, queried Professor Pondei on the discrepancies in the 2019 budget report of the commission.

In his response, the NDDC boss quickly requested the withdrawal of 2019 budget details in order to address the issue of discrepancies of N143 billion raised by the lawmakers.

This got the members of the joint committee but the Chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, yielded to the request.

The budget presentation was later adjourned until Tuesday next week.

The NDDC team appeared before the lawmaker four days after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, asked the National Assembly to check against abuses of the budgeting procedures of the agency.

Akpabio had made the request on Friday last week at the continuation of the Senate’s investigative hearing into allegations of financial recklessness by the IMC of the NDDC.

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, reads from a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

At the previous session, investigation revealed that the commission spent N81 billion between October 29, 2019, and May 31, 2020, an expenditure which was confusing to members of the Senate ad-hoc committee.

The minister said there were instances where monies budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund.

But the immediate past Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Joy Nunieh, said N8 billion was spent by the IMC under her leadership between October 29, 2019, and February 28, 2020, out of the N81 billion spent by the agency within the period under review.

Professor Pondei, who was also at the session, threatened to resign if the allegations of corruptions levelled against the IMC under his leadership were proven.

No More Hike In Electricity Tariffs Until 2021, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

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.

Seek Sound Legal Advice On Disease Bill, Falana Tells NASS

A file photo of Mr Femi Falana.

 

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has condemned the National Health Emergency Bill before lawmakers in the Senate.

He faulted the bill on Monday during a special programme ‘A Citizen’s Town Hall’ on Channels Television.

The human rights lawyer described the bill as unnecessary and asked members of the National Assembly to seek the opinion of legal experts before coming up with bills.

He said, “My views on the bill are that the bill is unnecessary, it is unwarranted; it is superfluous and unconstitutional.

“Therefore, it should not be passed because it is going to fail. If it is passed, it is going to be challenged.”

“I will like to suggest that the members of the National Assembly should seek sound legal advice so that we do not waste precious resources and energies on a law that is bound to fail; that is likely to be declared null and void,” Falana added.

The sponsor of the bill and lawmaker representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, however, disagreed with the lawyer.

Senator Utazi, who was also a guest on the show, outlined the benefits of the bill to the nation’s health sector.

He believes there is no better time to come up with such a bill than now when Nigeria is battling the spread of COVID-19.

The lawmaker insisted that there was no going back on the passage of the bill, although the Senate would gladly welcome various contributions to improve its significance.

According to him, lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate chambers of the National Assembly will do everything possible to support the executive to ensure Nigeria overcomes its challenges.

“We are already set on a voyage and all we want is informed input into this bill. There is no better time for any law to come into force.

“It is very necessary and timely for this bill to come into place because there are gaps that are existing that needs to be filled. We need to have a legal framework to guide our activities,” Senator Utazi said.

He added, “We cannot continue depending on executive orders one after the other. It is totally wrong. This is a democracy; we are not in a military regime where the executive will make laws for the people.”

National Assembly Increases Crude Oil Benchmark Price

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

 

The National Assembly has reviewed the benchmark price of crude oil in the amended Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

At separate plenaries in the Senate and House of Assembly chambers on Tuesday in Abuja, the lawmakers increased the price from the proposed $25 to $28.

Senators in the Upper Chamber took the decision in line with the recommendations in the report of the Senate Committee on Finance.

They explained that increasing the benchmark price became necessary because of the upward trend in the price of crude oil in the international market.

The Senate, however, retained the exchange rate of N360 to a dollar proposed by the executive arm of government.

Similarly, lawmakers in the lower chamber considered the report of the House Committee on Finance on the revised MTEF.

In line with the recommendations of the committee, the lawmakers increased the crude oil benchmark price.

They also proposed an oil production output of 1.8 million barrels per day, as against the 1.9 million barrels per day as submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The House, therefore, called on the government to immediately scrap the Excess Crude Account (ECA).

According to them, the ECA has no backing of the law and should be scrapped in accordance with Sections 80 and 81 of the Constitution.

N’Assembly Won’t Back Down On NDDC Probe – Senate

 

Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Akinola Bashiru, has said that the National Assembly will under no circumstance back down on its probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

This was just as the spokesman dared the Commission to provide evidence of alleged corruption claims against lawmakers of the Senate and House of Representatives to anti-graft agencies for investigation.

Ajibola made the official position of the Upper Chamber known in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday.

According to the lawmaker, no amount of blackmail against lawmakers or the institution of the National Assembly would stop ongoing investigations into the financial transactions of the Commission.

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The statement reads: “The attention of the Senate has been drawn to a statement credited to Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the Executive Director of Projects at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under the Interim Management Committee (IMC).

“Ojuogboh in his statement alleged that Senators and Members of House of Representative are behind the fraud in NDDC.

“Ordinarily, while we are still at a loss as to why Ojougboh has repeatedly made such allegations at a time when the NDDC is under scrutiny of forensic audit and investigation by the National Assembly, the Senate is even more surprised considering the fact that the allegations are baseless and unsubstantiated.

“Apparently, Cairo Ojougboh is ignorant of the constitutional mandate of the National Assembly to carry out oversight function over all agencies expending government resources with a view to exposing and preventing corruption, abuse and inefficiency.

“It stands logic on the head to claim that by invoking its constitutional power of oversight to investigate the activities of the IMC, the National Assembly intends to scuttle forensic audit. The outlandish claim is illogical,” Ajibola said.

Speaking on the Constitutional responsibility of the National Assembly to oversight the Commission, the lawmaker said same was aimed at facilitating rapid and sustainable development in the Niger Delta, as well as ensure the proper application of funds for the region.

“While the National Assembly is committed to reposition the NDDC to address the challenges of the Niger Delta through facilitating the rapid and sustainable development of the Niger Delta however, it is naturally concerned about the allegations of poor management or outright fraud in the management of the funds and operations of the commission.

He added that the probe of the Commission by the National Assembly was not maliciously intended or aimed at victimizing anyone at the NDDC.

“The setting up of the investigation is predicated on the above concern and not to victimise or witch hunt anyone. It was also in this regards that the National Assembly has accorded the executives the necessary cooperation that will facilitate the completion of the forensic audit.”

He stressed that National Assembly in line with carrying out its oversight functions, “will appraise the budget and its operations of the Commission like other agencies to entrench a culture of transparency and accountability.”

Taking a swipe at the Commission over allegations of corruption against lawmakers, Ajibola asked the Commission in view of its recent claims to make same available to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for investigation.

“Therefore, the allegations in respect of the budget clearly smacks of cheap blackmail predicated on falsehood.

“One would have expected an organisation of integrity to have formally made complaints to the anti-corruption agencies of the purported allegations against Senators and Members of House of Representative of the NDDC committees, if there are facts to substantiate same.

“The Senate and indeed the National Assembly is also committed to exercising it constitutional mandate and will not be cowed by spurious allegations of the likes of Dr. Cairo Ojougboh.

“This is a very disturbing trend and the Senate will not tow this path. The proper avenue to challenge exercise of power of the National Assembly is the court of law, not spewing falsehood on pages of newspapers and electronic media.

The National Assembly will not succumb to cheap blackmail from any quarters and is committed to ensuring probity and accountability of all agencies of government, no matter whose ox is gored,” the Spokesman said.

NASS Cuts Short Holiday To Consider Revised Budget

 

Federal lawmkers will have to suspend their recess and reconvene to consider the 2020 revised budget.

The clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, made this announcement in a memo dated May 26, asking the lawmakers to resume sitting on the 28th of May.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had adjourned on the 19th of May till the 2nd of June to allow members celebrate Eid-El-Fitr.

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The Federal Government had in April, cut down the 2020 budget by over N320 billion and proposed a new budget of N10.27 trillion against the N10.59 trillion passed by the National Assembly.

According to the government, this cut is based on the global economic realities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as recent crisis in the oil market.

National Assembly Resumes Plenary After COVID-19 Recess

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

 

Members of the National Assembly have resumed plenary after about five weeks of recess over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers returned to the Assembly complex in Abuja on Tuesday after they went on break as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

In the upper house, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, led the lawmakers into the chamber after which plenary started at about 10:30am as soon as the lawmakers were seated.

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Amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, the senators were asked to maintain social distance inside the chamber by giving a space of two seats between themselves.

Shortly after the proceedings began, the Senate went into a closed-door session.

Similarly, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, led the lawmakers into the chamber of the House for plenary.

Free Electricity Supply: Reps, Executive, Stakeholders Raise Joint Implementation Committee

 

The House of Representatives and stakeholders in the power sector on Wednesday agreed to set up a joint implementation committee on the proposed two-month free power supply to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians as part of the stimulus package aimed at alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Speaker of the House, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila said the joint panel’s mandate is to work out modalities for the proposed two-month bill waiver for the most vulnerable people in the country.

According to him, the panel is also expected to identify the group of Nigerians to benefit from the free power supply, the number of households connected to the national grid as well as find the way forward for regular power supply to Nigerians after the COVID-19 crisis.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Gbajabiamila said the essence of the meeting was to proffer means of alleviating the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerians during and after the crisis period through the supply of power.

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At the meeting were the Minister of Power, Mamman Sale; the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), James Momoh; Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), Marilyn Amobi, as well as representatives of Distribution Companies.

Also at the meeting were the Leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Chief Whip, Rep. Mohammed Tahir Monguno; Deputy Leader, Rep. Peter Akpatason; Deputy Chief Whip, Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, and the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Rep. Magaji Da’u Aliyu, among others.

Saying that his previous engagements on the issue with some critical power sector stakeholders have been very encouraging, the Speaker said, “We are here to find out how we go about it. I’m happy that in my previous engagements with the NNPC GMD, he was very interested.”

He said: “Whatever the issues are within the power supply chain, they have to be dealt with and set aside, but how we deal with the issue at stake is why we are here today.

“This is not about technicalities or blaming any part of the power supply value chain; it is just about how we find a solution.

“The objective is very simple: we are asking people to stay at home for several days or weeks, so we need to make their stay at home comfortable. We need to help the poorest of the poorest at this time in Nigeria.

“How we go about it is why we are here today. So, the mandate is very simple with all the stakeholders here. I believe that the best stimulus that we can give our people right now is the supply of electricity to the very vulnerable households.

“Even if we agree that this proposal as an investment scheme according to the power sector stakeholders, I think we need to keep our eyes on the ball. What is that ball? Get to the end-user, who is the beneficiary of that investment scheme

“I wouldn’t want to look at it as the DisCos or GenCos or even the Transmission Company as the beneficiaries. For me, the ultimate beneficiary is the Nigerian people.

“If that is what the investment scheme takes, to supply power, it may not be 100 per cent, but let’s say 70 or 80 per cent, then we would have succeeded.

“So, we set up a group that will look into all the possibilities and implications and come up with a solution, so that the Nigerian poor can be taken care of during this period”.

The Speaker, however, expressed his disappointment over the non-existence of the Power Consumer Assistance Fund by NERC.

He said the Fund would have served the purpose it was meant for, at this point, if it were in existence.

After being informed that the fund has not been set up, the Speaker citing Section 83 of the Electricity Power Sector Act said, “We have broken the law because the law mandated it; it is not optional. It is the Act that mandated its establishment.

“If that had been set up, way back, perhaps we would have had the fund with which to assist this proposal. This is the kind of time that this fund was anticipating.

“I think we should look into setting up this fund because we don’t know when next this kind of issue may come up”.

In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Mamman, said the Executive arm is ready to contribute its part to the success of the proposal, saying, “We will give all the support as well as technical advice toward the realization of this objective. We are ready whenever our input is needed”.

On his part, the NNPC GMD, Kyari, who noted that the issue of gas supply to the GenCos is critical to power supply in the country, said the proposal is workable if the issue of who is to carry the burden of cost and margins in the supply value chain is settled and agreed on by all the parties.

Saying that note had to be taken of the actual beneficiaries of the two-month free supply palliative because not every Nigerian falls into the category of the poorest, Kyari pointed out that the existence of the industrial sector should be of concern at the end of the crisis period.

Kyari said though 100 per cent uninterrupted power supply is impossible because not enough is generated due to the COVID-19 crisis, he assured that gas supply would not be an issue, as 100 per cent supply is guaranteed once the debt issue is addressed.

The DisCos assured that they can deliver the mandate as soon as all the details were worked out and agreed on.