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Historic blackout paralyses National Assembly

By  Emmanuel Aziken & Tordue Salem

Abuja—Activities at  the National Assembly complex were paralyzed yesterday following an unprecedented blackout that threw the place into pitch darkness.

The outage occurred at 9.50 a.m. and power was yet to be restored as at close of work yesterday, a time duration that was described as unprecedented since the return to civil rule in 1999 when the complex was put to use.

The outage, Vanguard learnt, followed routine maintenance by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) of the distribution line to the three arms zones which includes the Presidential Villa.

The generator for the complex could not come on yesterday as a result of a fault in one of the panels, sources told Vanguard yesterday.

Though the Senate and the House of Representatives are currently on recess, routine office work in the complex was paralysed.

Workers, newsmen, lobbyists and other hangers- on huddled in the lobby and outside the White House complex as a result of the power outage.

Power was, however, available in the office complex of some of the legislators occupying the N25 billion new building commissioned by then President Olusegun Obasanjo in May 2007.

The power outage also affected activities in the about a dozen banks operating from the White House complex as the banks refused to honour cheques and other withdrawals forcing their customers to resort to the use of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) or to go outside the complex. The banks were, however, accepting deposits.

The Director of Works and Estate in the National Assembly, Mr. Sani Mahdi, said the blackout was a result of the “burning of the transmission panel” servicing the generator.

The Director of Information and Publications, Mr. Monima Daminabo, however, dismissed it “As a mere power outage” that would be rectified with time.


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