The Bill to guarantee 24-hour power supply in line with the vision to attain a non-stop economy and make the Lagos globally competitive was one of the seven bills signed into Law yesterday by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
It is the Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law.
Also signed were: 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 Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, said the laws would further take 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 Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Olawale Oluwo, said the law would allow the government to intervene in major areas of the power value chain to the overall benefit of Lagosians.
Oluwo 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, it 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.”
The commissioner further said that the law would also enable the 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.
He said: “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 criminalises 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.”
Also speaking on the other laws, Commissioner for Information & Strategy Kehinde Bamigbetan said the signing of the laws confirmed the governor’s commitment to institutionalise and enshrine good governance.
Bangbetan said: “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 council areas 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 Language Preservation & Promotion Law 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.”