By Folasade Adeniran
Lagos – Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Thursday signed seven bills into law, among which is the law to facilitate 24-hour power supply in the state.
This is in line with the vision to attain a 24-hour economy and make the state globally competitive.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the new Laws include the Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law, Amended Land Use Charge Law, School of Nursing Law and Cooperative College Law.
Others are the Cancer Research Institute Law, Amended Customary Court Law and the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law.
Giving details shortly after the governor signed the bills, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Olawale Oluwo, said that the Power Sector Reform Law would allow the State Government to intervene in major areas of the power value chain.
This, he said, is to the overall benefit of the people.
“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.
“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.
“That is how we can attain the 24-hour power supply,” he said.
Oluwo said the law would also enable the State Government to collaborate with the distribution companies to collect tariff from customers efficiently.
He said it would be in a way that the said guarantee will not crystallise, while in the area of enforcement, the law will prevent power theft.
”What has happened today is that the first power theft law in Nigeria has been signed 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,” Oluwo explained.
Also, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, said the signing of the laws aptly confirmed the commitment of Gov. Ambode to institutionalise 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,” Bamigbetan said.
He said that with this revision, the Customary Court in Local Government would spring back to life.
According to him, many of the activities in the Local Government which require arbitration and dispute resolution which had been in abeyance so far would 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.
“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 the state prides Yoruba language as the cultural vehicle for us to be able to articulate our position.
“It also shows that Lagos has further recognised the importance of language as a vehicle for development,” Bamigbetan said.
Speaking on the import of the new laws, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, described the development as a great one for the state.
He said it signposts the commencement of the journey to further advance the dividends of democracy to the people.(NAN)