The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has called on the Executive to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in the power sector to overcome the legion of problems stalling steady power supply in Nigeria.
Lawan stated this on Monday while declaring open a one-day round-table discussion with the theme: “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems” organized by the Senate Committee on Power.
The Senate President declared that the privatization of the power sector in 2005 and 2013 was a grand scheme conceived with the intention to defraud Nigeria.
According to him, “For me if there’s any sector of our economy that is so important and yet so challenged, it is the power sector. I believe that this is a sector that needs a declaration of emergency.
“This is an opportunity for us in this round-table to exhaustively discuss not only the problems of the power sector in Nigeria but the solutions and way forward.
“The truth is that we all know what is wrong. What we really need to do is to have the political will to take on the challenges generally.
“From the electricity power reform of 2005 to the privatization of Gencos and Discos and to what is happening today, we know that everything is a fraud. If we play the ostrich, in the next ten years we will be talking about the same things.
“I think the time has come for us to have courage. I want to remind us, that we have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. What will give us an edge is to have a competitive environment.
“Our industries and businesses must be able to produce things that can compete favourably with products produced in other countries in Africa. We are not in that position today, and we all know the consequences of that.
“Even our citizens, who have capital, will rather relocate to Ghana, produce whatever they want and bring to Nigeria to sell. Where does that leave our country? No employment opportunities; Nigeria becomes a dumping ground”, he lamented.
The Senate President, therefore, called for a review of the privatization exercise undertaken by the Goodluck Jonathan administration which led to a takeover of the power sector by private Generating Companies (Gencos) and Distribution Companies (Discos).
Lawan added that the National Assembly would make a significant contribution to the reform of the power sector through enabling legislation required to turn around the fortunes of power generation and distribution in Nigeria.
“If we went wrong with our privatization of Gencos and Discos, the time has come to look into it.
“Whatever we have to do to review these things, we should do. We must do it in the interest of the people of this country. We must admit there was something done wrong.
“This round-table actually is an idea of the Senate, that we should come together to talk among ourselves. Ours is to provide legislative interventions, but we are also part of the government.
“Therefore, whatever that is required to support the executive arm of government to turn-around this sector, in fact we are more than prepared to do so through legislation.
“If we are going to amend the power sector reform, we are prepared to do that, and expeditiously. Tell us where the issues are, because we can’t afford to delay any action to make the power sector of this country perform.
“In the sixties, we were comparing ourselves with Indonesia, Malaysia and the rest, now we started comparing with Ghana, Togo. With all due respect, that tells us we are not making progress where other countries are.
“This round-table is an opportunity to come up with measurable roadmaps because we are not going to leave the implementation to the executive alone. We want to participate in every inch of the way.
“Every bit of what is to be done; we want to be part of it, so that we can contribute meaningfully to take the power sector to the next level.
“It is really disheartening that we are still talking about 4,000 megawatts. I don’t understand this. Other countries within Africa are talking of so much, even Ghana is three times better than what we are doing.”
He also called on the federal government to deploy the political will towards revamping Nigeria’s failing power sector. “We are yet the largest economy in Africa, for how long can we sustain that position?
“I believe that we have to declare a state of emergency on Power, and courageous decisions must be taken by the government”, the Senate President said.
SWEGOP to Governments: ‘Stop Using Fire Brigade Method to Run Health Sector
South West Group of Online Publisher (SWEGOP) on Friday frowned at the fire brigade approach adopted by federal and state governments to fight the pandemic coronavirus.
SWEGOP also called on governments at all level to review their position on provision of primary and secondary healthcare facilities in their domain
In a release signed by the group’s chairman , Mr Olayinka Agboola and Public Relations Officer, Remi Oladoye, SWEGOP noted that the pandemic coronavirus has further exposed the weakness of the government despite the huge budgetary allocations released to run the health sector, year in, year out.
“It is obvious that our governments have not been effective and have been paying lip service to the development of health sector in Nigeria, most states don’t have facilities to tackle any outbreak of viral diseases let alone well-equipped isolation centres where such cases can be treated.”
The group also called on governments at all levels in Nigeria to be more proactive and put in place facilities that can enhance the operations of medical personnel in the country.
The association also commended the medical personnel and relevant agencies for their effort in combating the dreaded Coronal Virus.
Said the group “with the record of just one death and scores of recovery cases recorded, it is evident that our medical personnel are up to the task”.
The group of media professionals, however urged the general public and stakeholders to collaborate with the government in preventing further spread of corona virus and others in the country.
In Italy, Morgues overwhelmed as COVID-19 death toll tops 8,000
An overwhelmed Italian city at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday sent more of its dead to nearby towns for cremation as the country’s world-leading toll topped 8,000.
Officials in Rome reported 662 new deaths and 6,153 infections — largely in line with the figures reported throughout the week.
The rise in daily deaths edged down to the lowest point in the crisis — 8.8 percent — while the infection rate stood at around eight percent for the fourth day running.
But the numbers are not dropping much further and Italians appear to be coming to terms with the realisation that two weeks of life under lockdown have not made the disease go away.
“Until we see this damn rate drop, we will have to continue making very hard sacrifices,” deputy civil protection service chief Agostino Miozzo said in reference to the ever-tightening containment measures.
Italy’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 8,165 — more than that of second-placed Spain and China, where the virus emerged in December, combined.
‘Crematoriums could not cope’
The endless flood of victims forced the city of Bergamo at Italy’s northern epicentre of the pandemic to send still more bodies to less burdened crematoriums in neighbouring towns.
An AFP photographer saw six camouflage green army trucks transporting coffins out of a Bergamo cemetery on Thursday.
“The large number of victims has meant that Bergamo’s crematorium could not cope on its own,” mayor Giorgio Gori said in a statement released to AFP.
The mayor said the city had also received 113 urns with the ashes of bodies that had been sent out for cremation earlier this week.
The bodies in the city of about 120,000 people are literally piling up.
A warehouse in the commune of Ponte San Pietro on Bergamo’s western outskirts held 35 freshly-made wooden coffins Thursday that were destined for cremation at a later date.
Still more coffins filled a barren church hall in the Seriate commune to Bergamo’s east.
A priest said a quiet prayer over the rows of coffins and a single red rose rested atop one in the otherwise empty room.
Yet the Italian government is just as anxious about the northern crisis spilling over into the far less developed south.
The head of the Campania region that includes Naples warned of a “dramatic explosion” of infections based on this week’s trends.
“The next 10
days will be hell for us,” governor Vincenzo De Luca said in an open letter to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The number of officially registered deaths in Campania — Italy’s third-most-populous with nearly six million people — rose from 29 on Sunday to 83 on Thursday.
But no southern region has recorded more than 100 coronavirus fatalities to date.
Italy’s latest figures confirm that COVID-19 overwhelmingly kills the elderly and the sick.
Data from Italy’s first 5,542 fatalities show that 98.6 percent of the victims already suffered from at least one ailment or pre-existing condition.
Slightly over half had three or more other health problems when they died.
Only 29.1 percent of the victims were women. The disparity has been observed elsewhere and still puzzles doctors around the world.
The average age of victims was 78 — a fraction lower than the 78.8 reported last week based on the first 3,200 deaths.
But Italian virologist Roberto Burioni said the figures were “not particularly reliable” because the country was primarily testing people who already exhibited flu-like symptoms.
Italy’s death rate among the confirmed COVID-19 cases — 10.1 percent — was thus much higher than in countries with broad-based testing such as South Korea.
Nigeria: Another 14 fresh cases of COVID-19 confirmed
Another fourteen new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Nigeria, bringing the total number of cases to 65, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced in a tweet on Thursday night.
According to the breakdown of the number of the additional cases, 12 new cases were discovered in Lagos while the remaining two were confirmed in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Six of the cases were detected on a vessel and three others were returning travellers into the country while the remaining case was a close contact of a confirmed case.
The NCDC, however informed that another case had been discharged, bringing the number of persons who have recovered from the virus to three.
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