Ondo State House of Assembly Ad hoc Committee on Utilities and Transportation has held public hearing on the new electricity bill in the state.
The new bill is expected to repeal the old Ondo State Electricity Board law, was put together to provide enabling laws to guarantee private sector participation in power generation, transmission and distribution in the state.
The bill will also provide legal framework for investors to participate in electricity provisions in areas not covered by the national grid system in Ondo State.
The Speaker Rt. Hon. Bamidele Oleyeloogun who led other principal members of the House to declare the event opened said the bill would introduce novel consumer protection clauses to mainstream electric power or electron transfer as a basic market commodity or product for which values exchange hands.
He said “The major focus of the bill is to ensure sustainability of private sector participation, provide guidelines for areas not covered by the national grid, entrech local regulatory framework towards improved economic wellbeing of the people in areas outside the national grid and protect the interest of residents as consumers.”
Some of the memoranda submitted and presented before the House Committee-led by Mr. Kuti Towase Oluwasegunota were presented by stakeholders that included the Chairman of the Nigeria Institution of Power Engineers, Engr Bolawole Stephen Alaga, the state Chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) represented by Bar. Wole Otetubi, the state Chapter of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, the Owa of Ogbagi Akoko Oba Victor Adetona, the General Manager of the Ondo State Property Development Corporation, Bar. Nasiru Sunny Oseni, President Owo Professionals in Oil and Gas, Engr. Olubunmi Ijaware and the Chairman, Governing Council, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, who all supported the new bill.
Members of Nigerian Bar Association called upon all states of the federation to come together and chart a similar course so as to fully take advantage of constitutional provisions that empower states’ house of assemblies to legislate on areas that are not receiving electric energy from the national grid.
Other traditional rulers who attended the public hearing and supportted the bill include the Akapinsa of Ipinsa, the Olu of Isafirin and the Olu of Ala Elefosan who commended the state government for the ongoing 200kwH hybrid mini-grid project in his town. They, described the new bill as a welcome development.
The monarchs, lamented what they and their people have been going through due to unsavoury operations of BEDC particularly in area of extension of services to their communities, bulk metering of communities and seeming irresponsible preference for estimated billing.
The Special Adviser to the state governor on Energy, Engineer Tunji Ariyomo, while speaking during the public hearing said that with the proposed state electricity law, communities which are totally outside the grid shall be electrified with guranteed exclusivity period for the investors.
He explained that the success of the state sponsored mini-grid projects in Gbagira, Ugbonla, Lomileju being handled by a state certified provider and Obejedo are convincing evidences that when people are metered and genuinely served, they will pay.
He noted that other upcoming mini grid systems in Awoye, Molutehin and Odofado have attained 30% while Ala Elefosan has reached 95% completion and will be energized in January 2021.
He commended members of the House of Assembly for prioritizing the bill and also commended officers of the state ministry of Justice and the external experts that were engaged and that extensive consultation had gone on for over two years on the bill in order for the proposed law to serve the need of the people of Ondo State.
Ariyomo emphasised that the embedded power regulations in the new law will ensure that the state government can also have productive relationship with the operators of the national grid for the benefit of the communities.
The provisions of the new bill would reduce wastage in terms of fund expended by MDAs on power consumption as it would be centralised.
If the new bill is passed and assented to, there would be job opportunities in the power sector in the state as more engineers and support staff would be engaged by the Ondo State Power Company.
The state Attorney General, Charles Titiloye in his presentation, declared that “to industrialise the state, we must harmonise all sub-sectors of electricity in a single bill.”
He explained that Nigeria is suffering from a constitution that is unitary in tone and that for there to be accelerated progress in critical areas, states of the federation must take advantage of clever workarounds such as being proposed in the new law for the benefit of suffering masses.
He explained that “the proposed law adequately gives the state power to intervene where the consumer rights of the people are being violated.”
However, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Utilities and Transportation, Mr. Kuti Towase Oluwasegunota, assured the people of the state that it would look into the bill and ensure all necessary legislative amendments are done to make the new state electricity law worthwhile.
Other people present at the public hearing are the newly appointed Managing Director of Ondo State Power Company, Engr. Williams Abe, State Director of Legal Drafting, Bar. (Mrs.) Stella Adegoke, State Director of IPP, Engr. Olumayowa Ajumobi, General Manager, Ondo State Electricity Board (OSEB), former General Manager (OSEB 1981-1991) Permanent Secretary supervising OSEB 1917, Dr. (Mrs) Tolulope Pius-Fadipe, members of professional organisations including NBA, Nigeria Society of Electrical Electronics Engineers, Nigeria Society of Engineers, among others.