Understanding the Electricity Act just signed into law by President Tinubu
By Idowu Oyebanjo
History is being made by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he signed the Electricity Act into Law on Friday, the 9th of June, 2023 in his second week in office.
He fought, as the governor of Lagos State, for the state to generate electricity and supply her citizens over two decades ago, but was deprived by the fact that electricity, as it was then, remained in the exclusive list (only the Federal Government could regulate & legislate on grid connected electricity supply systems) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This therefore combines dramatic irony and tragicomedy in one go.
The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria puts electricity in the exclusive list, implying that only the federal government can legislate and regulate on matters involving the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in areas within any state in Nigeria where the national grid system already exists.
This limits the States to the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in areas not already connected to the national grid, notably the rural areas.
This provision of the constitution had to be backed by an Act known as the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005.
To further deepen the electricity reform in Nigeria, especially in view of the dismal performance of the privatization exercise so far, it became expedient to allow states to regulate, generate, transmit, and distribute electricity to improve the experience of consumers within their boundaries. For this to happen, two things must take place first. The 1999 constitution must be amended and EPSRA 2005 repealed.
The 9th National Assembly successfully passed a bill to amend the constitution in line and this was accented to by President Muhammadu Buhari on 17th of March, 2023.
The Electricity Act, now signed into law on Friday, concludes the process, by repealing the EPSRA 2005, providing a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the post-privatized electricity supply industry in Nigeria (The Electricity Act, 2023).
As someone who has keenly followed the power sector in Nigeria for over forty years, what stands out the most about this step is that the 1979 constitution allowed states to make laws, generate, transmit and distribute electricity within the state but somehow, this right, removed in the 1999 constitution, is now being brought back in 2023, 43 years later.
This is the story of the Nigerian Power Sector.
Share your thoughts on the story Understanding the Electricity Act just signed into law by President Tinubu with NigerianSketch in the comments section below.