The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the current realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated the House to review its Legislative Agenda launched last October and come up with an updated version.
The Speaker said the House took into cognizance the fact that COVID-19 came with a lot of challenges that could not be addressed by the first Legislative Agenda, which was prepared long before the outbreak of the pandemic.
In a keynote address at the retreat for the leadership and members of the House on the updated Legislative Agenda on Saturday in Abuja, tagged ‘Our Contract with Nigerians,’ the Speaker said the House would ensure it follows the objectives of the updated Legislative Agenda logically so as to achieve success.
Gbajabiamila said though the House came up with the last Legislative Agenda a year ago, “However, in all our planning and imagining, we did not know that the world will soon change drastically, in ways we could not then conceive of, and with consequences beyond our wildest imagination.
“Before now, the extent of our difficulties was well known to us. We have population growth that far outpaces the rate of economic growth. Insecurity has made vast swathes of our country uninhabitable for citizens and unattractive to investment.
“We are at war, fighting insurgents in the North East who want to remake our world in the image of a medieval theocracy. Our education system is producing graduates who cannot compete in the 21st-century knowledge economy.
“At the same time, economic and social inequity exacerbates our age-old conflicts, making cooperation and progress difficult, and often impossible.
“As a consequence of the new realities imposed on us by the Covid-19 pandemic, the question then is, how do you achieve your ambitions in a world where the signposts of certainty have moved so far that we can barely even see them, or recognise where they used to be?
“This is the reality from which the Nigerian people are looking to us for lasting solutions. Are we able to rise to the challenges of our times? I believe that we are. This updated Legislative Agenda, and the implementation plan which we have tagged ‘Our Contract with Nigerians’ sets out the new priorities of this 9th House of Representatives and commits us to a plan of action over the next year, and for the rest of our tenure.
“We have called this document a contract because that is what it is: a written account of what we owe the people and how we intend to meet our obligations within the shortest possible time. These documents represent our intention to be held accountable based on what we have freely committed to achieving, and which I am confident we will realize, to the glory of God and the edification of our people.”
Gbajabiamila said the retreat was an opportunity to empower members “with the confidence to dare and the skills to deliver.
“I encourage all of us to use the time here today to learn from the speakers and each other, exchange ideas and develop individual roadmaps that would guide our interactions as we work together to deliver a House of Representatives that meets the highest expectations of its citizens.
“I want you to remember today as always what our mission is: to protect those who need us, to shield them, to empower through opportunity, to decide what future we want and then to build it.
“This is our mandate, and we will deliver because we must, because there is no alternative. I pray for God’s guidance on all our endeavours and I wish journey mercies to all those who will be travelling today and the days ahead.”
In a goodwill message, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Bar. Boss Mustapha, said the retreat could not have come at a better time “because our nation and indeed the entire world is facing the most important emergency of our generation in the form of COVID-19 pandemic.”
He said the impact of the pandemic has disrupted all global systems, including governance, economy, lawmaking, food production, transportation, education and health systems to mention, which was why the legislature needed to recalibrate and reposition itself on the delivery of the expected outcomes of its contract with Nigerians “because the next three years will be very critical to our nation.”
The SGF, who is also the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), said the mutual relationship that currently exists between the Executive and the Legislature has made governance more result-orientated and development driven.
“The list of examples of mutual respect and understanding range from the respect for the principle of separation of powers, constant consultations, promptness in dealing with requests from the Executive, thorough and timely passage of the budget and a host of other positives steps taken by the legislature.
“There is no doubt that we are laying a sound foundation for future generations of Nigerians to build upon in governance, accountability and behaviour, all pointing in the direction of convergence of our determination to develop a peaceful, strong and virile nation.”
The updated Legislative Agenda is divided into three components: immediate legislative action, intermediate legislative action and long term legislative action so that the lawmakers would have the opportunity to propose laws and take actions that would fit in the current realities.
Electricity Tariff Increase: NLC Threatens ‘Industrial Resistance’
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened industrial resistance following the increase in electricity tariffs by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
The Congress, in a statement released late on Tuesday night and signed by the President, Ayuba Wabba, said the Federal Government should reverse the increase immediately or face an “unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers.”
They condemned the action of the Federal Government noting that the new increase will affect manufactures and producers of “Made-in-Nigeria” goods and services who will find it greatly difficult to cope.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that this tariff hike would sound the death knell for many manufacturing outfits in Nigeria as many of them would resort to either mass lay-off of workers and or direct importation of finished goods.
“In light of the heightened burden that this hike in electricity tariff imposes on Nigerian workers and people, we urge the Federal Government to quickly withdraw this uncanny New Year Gift or face an unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers,” Wabba said in the statement.
The increase in electricity tariff was announced on Wednesday following an adjustment of tariff by the NERC.
The approval was given in a Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) signed by the new NERC Chairman, Sanusi Garba, and obtained by Channels Television on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today denied the increase. He noted that what was done was to adjust certain bands and to ensure that certain persons who are supposed to be on some bands are not wrongly put on some other bands.
See NLC’s full statement below…
While Nigerians were trying to embrace the warmth of the New Year, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in its ‘wisdom’ decided to slam the country with the cold hug of yet another astronomical increase in electricity tariff. This increase would be the umpteenth time in a space of less than one year.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) vehemently condemns this attempt to start the Year 2021 for Nigerians on the grinding stone. It is even colder that this tariff increase was announced without recourse to the negotiation process that the government and Organized Labour in Nigeria signed up to about three months ago.
The representatives of Organized Labour in the committees set up during negotiation with the government to engage on issues in our electricity and petroleum sectors heard of this insensitive hike from the media like other Nigerians. This is indeed a stellar performance in negotiation in bad faith by the Federal Government. This is completely unacceptable to the working people of Nigeria.
It is very awful and indeed cruel for government to introduce yet another killer electricity tariff amidst the soaring inflation and poverty rates in the country. This hike also comes in the face of the renewed onslaught of COVID-19 where workers and citizens expend their meagre resources on healthcare both for preventive and therapeutic response to the renewed COVID-19 challenge.
We really fear for the impact of this new increase on manufacturing in Nigeria. Certainly, the producers of “Made-in-Nigeria” goods and services will find it greatly difficult to cope with this new tariff. Before now, many manufacturing concerns and Small to Medium Enterprises were already reeling in the great strain as a result of the negative growth occasioned by the first wave of the COVID pandemic in 2020.
There is no gainsaying the fact that this tariff hike would sound the death knell for many manufacturing outfits in Nigeria as many of them would resort to either mass lay-off of workers and or direct importation of finished goods.
Finally, we are bothered by the doublespeak in the NERC communique announcing this hike in tariff. In one breath, NERC denied any new increase in tariff. In another breath, it announced that electricity tariff would be adjusted from N2 per kilowatt/hour to N4 per kilowatt/hour – a 100% tariff increase. The statement in quick reversals also lumped consumers in Band D and E under the new tariff. This volte-face is contrary to our agreement with the government which excluded Band D and E from further increases in electricity tariff. This clearly paints a picture of the deliberate mission by the government to hoodwink and take Nigerians for a ride.
Overall, this increase in electricity tariff apart from negating the agreement we reached with the government in September 2020 will further imperil our local economy, lead to the loss of millions of jobs by Nigerian workers and trigger wider social discomfitures.
In light of the heightened burden that this hike in electricity tariff imposes on Nigerian workers and people, we urge the Federal Government to quickly withdraw this uncanny New Year Gift or face an unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers. Nigerians have bled enough already. We will bleed no more!
Comrade Ayuba Wabba
Federal Government Didn’t Increase Electricity Tariffs – Keyamo
Festus Keyamo, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, on Tuesday, noted that the Federal Government did not increase electricity tariffs but adjusted some bands for users to pay what they are supposed to pay.
Keyamo disclosed this while speaking on Channels TV’s Politics Today programme, on Tuesday night.
The Minister further stated that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission did not consult him or other members of the committee working on the new electricity tariffs before announcing the development
Earlier, it was reported that NERC increased electricity tariffs. The commission while giving the reason for the increment said it considered the 14.9 per cent inflation rate rise in November 2020 and foreign exchange of N379.4/$1 as of December 29, 2020.
When asked whether the electricity distribution companies have the approval of the government to increase tariffs following the NERC directive, Keyamo said,
I am the chairman of the sub-committee consisting of the Federal Government side and Labour side that has been mandated to go round the country to interact and consult with stakeholders and the discos to find an acceptable and cost-reflective tariff that should be paid by Nigerians. We are still in the process of carrying out our assignment, we have not finished it.”
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