Ahead of possible concurrence by the House of Representatives, Federal Lawmaker, Ben Igbakpa and Energy Expert, Emmanuel Roberts analyse prospects and implications of the recently-passed Electricity Bill 2022
The poor state of Nigeria’s energy sector, resulting in erratic electricity supply and frequent grid collapse has for long been seen by citizens as evidence of the ineffectiveness of successive governments.
In a renewed effort to resolve the challenges in the power sector, the Senate on 20th July 2022 passed the Electricity Bill, 2022; to allow states and individuals to generate and distribute and possibly sell electricity.
The bill if assented to will give the Federal Government power to license investors who intend to operate mini-grid within the States as against the initial situation where electricity exists on the exclusive legislative list in the Constitution.
The implications of the bill’s passage for the electricity sector and how it affects the ordinary Nigerians formed the agenda at the fourth episode of the OrderPaper Parliament Engagement Nigeria (OPEN Space); a citizen parliament meet-up hosted by OrderPaper Nigeria.
Moderated by Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq, OrderPaper’s Senior Programme Executive, the show had Rep. Ben Igbakpa representing Ethiope Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, and Emmanuel Roberts, Executive Director at the Society for Energy Efficiency and Conservation as panelists.
Taiwo-Sidiq in his introductory remarks noted the opposition of the Nigeria Governors Forum to the proposed bill. He asked the panelists to throw light on possible reasons for the development, especially their tag on it as unconstitutional.
Rep. Igbakpa in his response noted that it was pertinent to, first of all, remove the legislation from the Exclusive List and make it domiciled in the Concurrent List of the constitution.
“You know that in our constitutional provision for distribution of activities, in the Concurrent List, power production, generation, and distribution was not one of those items, it was left in the Exclusive List.
So if you’re bringing any bill up, on the power generation without taking care of the constitutional provision, you know it cannot fly. So long as our Constitution remains the ground norm of our essence as a nation. that is why the governors felt no matter what you’re doing here, if the Constitution does not allow it, it won’t work.
And in the mind of the parliament, it decided to say let’s give states power and even individuals that can produce electricity, distribute, and possibly sell electricity, which is not what the Constitution spells out. So, that is why the governor said, this is ultra vires, it is unconstitutional,” he explained.
Speaking on the prospects of the proposed legislation, Robert Emmanuel explained that a provision in the bill that makes room for individuals to “generate electricity not exceeding one megawatt (MW) in aggregate at a site or an undertaking for distribution for electricity with a capacity not exceeding 100 kilowatts (KW) in aggregate at a site,” holds benefit for the sector.
“I believe that this provision will go well for the energy sector. It means well for the energy sector because it’s a viable channel for energy generation and consumption. It encourages investors and other operators with different capacities and funding capabilities to venture into electricity generation and distribution.
Without necessarily focusing on the challenges and bottlenecks usually associated with licensing. We have had a lot of engagement with several companies who want to come in and but they will cite the challenges associated with getting a license from the NERC and the challenge is also associated with the Nigerian Factor, like kickbacks here and there. I believe that this bill when it comes into law will mean well for the energy sector.”
Highlighting current efforts by the Ninth National Assembly via the ongoing constitutional amendment to move electricity to the concurrent legislative list, he expressed optimism that the bill will scale through the voting stage by the 36 State Houses of Assembly.
“I don’t see why the federal government should be interested in education. I don’t see why they should be interested in roads, agriculture, and, power. These are things that private individuals should go in to generate power and sell and pay whatever it is that government. And if state can do it let them do it.
There are so many things that shouldn’t be at the centre that are at the centre today and there are just putting it on the Concurrent List when the regions and individuals can do it. The regions are totally excluded by virtue of the crafting of the Constitution.
So I think it was a welcome development when it came up in our meeting and everybody voted in favour, I am very sure that the states will follow suit,” he added.
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OrderPaper Parliament Engagement Nigeria (OPEN Space) is hosted by OrderPaper Nigeria on Twitter Spaces to educate and serve as an engagement channel for citizens, lawmakers, and other stakeholders on topical issues connected with parliament and democracy.
The fourth episode of the bi-monthly show held on Thursday, 28th July 2022 had the “Passage of the Electricity Bill 2022: Prospects and Implications” as its focus.
The series also serves as a channel through which OrderPaper engages its readers and followers across platforms.