By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday signed seven important bills into law among which is the law to guarantee 24-hour power supply in line with the vision to attain a 24-hour economy and make the State globally competitive.
The Laws are Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law, Amended Land Use Charge Law, School of Nursing Law, Cooperative College Law, Cancer Research Institute Law, Amended Customary Court Law and the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law
Speaking on the import of the new laws, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem said the development was a great day for the State as it signpost the commencement of the journey to further advance the dividends of democracy to the people.
He said: “This is a great day; the Governor has just signed these bills into law and this shows that the House of Assembly is working in tandem with the Executive. It also shows that Lagos is working. These laws are going to benefit the people of Lagos State and this is what the people are looking for in terms of the dividends of democracy.”
Giving details on the benefits of the Power Sector Reform Law, the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Olawale Oluwo said the law would allow the State Government to intervene in major areas of the power value chain to the overall benefit of the people.
He said: “One, the law puts the government in a position to be able to extend our guarantee to private sector participants who will come and generate power for us and by this guarantee, we are putting the balance sheet of our State on the table and assuring investors that as they generate power, they will get paid.
“Second, is to help the distribution companies to upgrade their infrastructure because if they generate the power and their infrastructure is still where it is today, clearly they will not have the capacity to carry the incremental power. The third area of intervention is that it empowers us to be able to open up the gas market in Lagos so that we can have gas on a consistent basis and that is how we can attain the 24-hour power supply.”
Speaking further, Oluwo said the law would also enable the State Government to collaborate with the distribution companies to collect tariff from customers efficiently in a way that the said guarantee would not crystallize, while in the area of enforcement, the law will prevent power theft.
According to him, ”What has happened today is that the first power theft law in Nigeria has been signed today by Governor Ambode and this is the first time any government in Nigeria will institutionalise the power theft law.
“It criminalizes power infraction. What we have seen before is that people tamper with and bypass meters and at the end of the day they are arrested and nothing happens but the new law provides for jail terms as well as fines and all sorts of forbearance such that if you tamper with electrical installations, if you import fake electrical materials into this State, you are liable to be prosecuted,” Oluwo explained.
Speaking on the other laws, the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan said the signing of the laws aptly confirmed the commitment of Governor Ambode to institutionalize and enshrine good governance.
“Among the bills is the Amended Customary Law which is very important because for a long time the Customary Court system in the Local Government has been shut down because of the bill and with this revision, the Customary Court in Local Government will spring back to life and that means that many of the activities in the Local Government which require arbitration and dispute resolution which had been in abeyance so far will now come back in full stream.
“Another one is the Yoruba Promotion bill and for the first time it will become normal for you to be admitted into any of our tertiary institutions with a credit in Yoruba language and Yoruba will now become a major requirement for you to engage in normal business communication in Lagos State. This is a clear and conscious commitment to the position which Lagos State prides Yoruba language as the cultural vehicle for us to be able to articulate our position and it also shows that Lagos has furthered recognised the importance of language as a vehicle for development,” Bamigbetan said.