Reps probes nationwide blackout, queries power minister

• Senate to debate court ruling on Section 84 (12) of Electoral Act
• Lawmakers seek recovery of N3tr debt owed by oil, gas firms

House of Representatives, yesterday, began probe into the recent nationwide power outage, directing the Ministry of Power to take measures that would immediately address the challenge.

Chairman, House Committee on Power, Magaji Da’u Aliyu, lamented the nonchalant attitude of the ministry whenever there is a national emergency.

Minister for Power, Abubakar Aliyu, had appeared before the lawmakers to shed light on the blackout.

Aliyu enumerated challenges facing the sector, including low gas supply, low hydro levels, high cost of gas, as well as disequilibrium between power generation, transmission and distribution.

The minister, who was represented by Permanent Secretary Nebolisa Anoka, said all measures were been put in place to fix the problem.

Reacting, however, the committee chairman said: “There is nothing to show in this presentation that you are trying to resolve the problems; it is mere speech and thesis.”

The chairman had earlier explained that the interactive session was necessitated by the fact that Nigerians were facing the worst energy crisis in recent times.

The committee directed the minister to return on Friday with more practical evidence of planned interventions.

MEANWHILE, Senate has indicated it will debate the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abia State, which nullified the controversial Section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act.

This was sequel to a point of order raised by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), who drew the attention of his colleagues to the court verdict.

The section requires ministers, head of agencies and other political appointees to resign before participating in primaries, conventions and other electoral activities.

However, the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, on Friday, nullified the section, saying it was a violation of provisions of the Constitution.

The judge specifically asked the attorney general to delete the said section.

Sekibo, while invoking Senate Order 10 and 11, said the electoral law emanated from the National Assembly. Therefore, the parliament should be joined as a party in the suit.

He, therefore, moved that the issue be discussed during plenary today to avoid setting a bad precedent on laws enacted by the federal parliament.

In another development, the House said the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries owe the Federal Government N3 trillion in crude oil sales and taxes, since 2021.

This was disclosed by the House committee on recovery of debts owed by oil and gas companies, chaired by Nkeiruka Onyejeocha.

Consequently, the committee summoned NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance and other agencies, with a view to getting information on recovery of the funds.


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