The House of Representatives is considering a stimulus bill that will ensure that Nigerians get free electricity supply for two months to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stating this on Saturday was the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who added that the proposed bill would help in boosting the economy, especially the informal sector, as the country prepares for economic rebound after COVID-19.
The Speaker said that the second “Stimulus Bill” would be considered immediately the House reconvened from its ongoing break, which was declared due to the pandemic.
A release on Saturday has indicated that the resumption of the lawmakers, slated for April 7, has been extended by one week to April 14, in compliance with the two-week stay-at-home order of the Federal Government to curb the further spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking at the National Assembly on Saturday during a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and a Federal Government team led by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmad; and including the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; among others, Gbajabiamila said that the country could not afford to be unprepared for the effects of COVID-19 on its economy.
He said, “On the issue of electricity, you’ll agree, because the minister did say that she had been inundated by the public, just as we had, on several suggestions; and ideas and I am almost a 100 per cent sure that, from those ideas will be the issue of some kind of shelter, as far as electricity is concerned.
“It is one thing that will touch every household. As I said earlier, when we engaged, I discussed with the electricity distribution companies to package whatever they would require. If the government can give them, for us to allow for two months free electricity for Nigerians, they would be able to guarantee it.
“We have the figures. I think we should look very seriously into that as part of our package for economic stimulus, because stimulus means something that will stimulate the economy. When you are stimulating the economy, most of it will come from the informal sector.
“When you are saving people their electricity and the fact that they now have stable electricity for two months, you are also saving the monies that would go into the payment of those bills at least for two months.”
Harping on the need for the executive to source for funds in the fight against COVID-19, Gbajabiamila noted that the National Assembly would partner with the executive in efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the economy, adding, “That is why we in the House have directed our committees on Health, Disaster Management and Preparedness and Donor Agencies to talk to the Presidential Task Force, talk to the Minister of Health and the Central Bank of Nigeria.”