Hike in Electricity Tariffs: Reps ‘ll intervene upon resumption of plenary -Kalu

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…says having brand new constitution is entirely people’s call

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has said that the House of Representatives will debate the propriety or otherwise of the recent hike in the electricity tariffs upon the resumption of plenary later this month.

It will be recalled that a spontaneous outcry greeted the development upon its announcement by the electricity authorities, stimulating fears that it will escalate the economic hardship in the country.

Speaking virtually on the special edition of “Ben Kalu’s Mandate”, a call-in radio programme of FLO FM, Umuahia, Abia State on Monday, the deputy speaker posited that the parliament, heeding the calls of Nigerians for its intervention in the matter will adopt a win-win approach in resolving the issues thereto.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Levinus Nwabughiogu stated that Kalu’s reaction however followed an inquiry from a call-in listener, Okafor Chinedum from Umuahia who sought to know the position of the parliament on the matter.

The Deputy Speaker said: “It’s a general problem. While I was on my holidays, one of the things I was bothered with was a letter sent to me by the majority leader of the House on the need for us to intervene in a matter involving the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital power supply. They were disconnected because of this hike and they don’t have the money to pay. We said it’s an essential service. Something should be done about it while we look at other details.

“I can assure you that when we resume, it’s one of the things we are going to look into. We will look at the both sides of the coin to know a win-win approach to it because we cannot suffocate also the investors, and also we cannot allow Nigerians to suffer unduly. So, it is one of the things we will look at by the time we resume and we will find a way to solving it.”

Also responding to the second leg of the question by the same caller about the possibility of giving Nigerians a brand new constitution, leveraging the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Kalu said that it behooves the people to lead the debate and provide a practicable template for the national assembly to consider the merits and demerits.

“Yes, some school of thought has expressed view that they want a new constitution, drop the old one and pick up something new. Some elders known as The Patriots are also asking for a brand new constitution. But as you know, we are the people’s parliament. You are our bosses. Whatever the people decide for us to do when we have our public hearings and all these engagements, when we move around because we are going to go to every zone, most local government areas or senatorial or geopolitical zones to engage (is what we will look at.

“If the people have a general consensus that this is what Nigerians want and the template of what they are asking for; what is wrong with this one that you want to change? How would the new one look like and what do you have in mind? We will be able to factor that in.

“I am happy that you are conscious of the move for the amendment of the constitution. I like it when people call to discuss that. It shows there is an awareness which is very key. It’s only when you are aware that you can engage and make the right impact. So, I appreciate you. This is the time to lend your voice to this”, he said.

Kalu also subscribed to the views of another caller, Davison Ukpabi, a retired military personnel from Umuda Isingwu that the review of military pension system was long over due to enable the ex-service men and indeed, similar retirees to meet up with the demands of the present economic realities.

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