By Osagie Otabor, Akure
Ondo State Government has begun move to break monopoly of the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in power generation and distribution in the state.
The move is to ensure electricity gets to many communities in the state that are yet to be connected to national grid system.
It has proposed a new electricity bill to Ondo State House of Assembly to repeal the old Ondo State Electricity Board law.
The new electricity bill was to provide enabling laws to guarantee private sector participation in power generation, transmission and distribution in the state as well as provide legal framework for investors to participate in electricity provisions in areas not covered by the national grid system in Ondo State.
Speaking at the public hearing of the proposed new electricity bill, Speaker of the Ondo Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Oleyeloogun, explained that the bill provided for the state to establish a private power company that would engage in power generation, transmission and distribution as well as protect the historical assets and investment of the state in the sector while also introducing novel consumer protection clauses to mainstream electric power or electron transfer as a basic market commodity or product for which values exchange hands.
Speaker Oloyelegun noted that the major focus of the bill was 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.
Memoranda were presented before the House Committee on Utilities and Transportation such as 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.
Traditional rulers who supported the bill said their subjects have been going through hell 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.
Special Adviser to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Engr Tunji Ariyomo assured that many communities wouldbe 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 would pay.
He noted that other upcoming mini grid systems at Awoye, Molutehin and Odofado have attained 30% while Ala Elefosan would be energized this month
He commended the Ondo lawmakers for prioritizing the bill and stated that the embedded power regulations in the new law would ensure a productive relationship between the state government and operators of the national grid for benefit of the communities.
His words, “Provisions of the new bill will 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 will be job opportunities in the power sector in the state as more engineers and support staff will be engaged by the Ondo State Power Company”.
Ondo Attorney General, Sir Charles Titiloye said there was need to harmonise all sub-sectors of electricity in a single bill if the state wants to industrialize.
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.
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.
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