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Senate probes protracted blackout

Says it’s bane of North’s industrial growth
Disagrees with FG on bill to establish NIHOTOUR

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA — THE Senate has begun a probe into the protracted blackout in the country, especially in the North. It also mandated its Committees on Power, Steel Development & Metallurgy and Gas to urgently investigate what it described as an anomaly and report back immediately.

Also, yesterday, the Senate raised the alarm that the protracted power shortage in northern part of the country had led to the shutdown of the industrial sector in the region.

The upper chamber equally lamented that over N4.7 trillion was expended by the Federal Government on importation of petroleum products in 2016, adding that 40 per cent of foreign exchange demand in the country was due to importation of the products.

The resolution of the Senate was sequel to a motion by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom North-East), entitled, “The urgent need to save the 215 mega watt Kaduna Power Plant.”

In his presentation, Akpan said: “Senate notes that the protracted power shortages in the northern part of the country has led to the shutdown of the industrial sector in the region.”

Senator Akpan noted that “lack of gas pipelines from the southern part to the northern part of the country had hindered power generation by the 215MW Kaduna Power Plant.”

In his presentation, Akpan observed that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was on the verge of awarding the contract for the construction of the 40 X 614km Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, AKK, gas pipeline.

Disagrees with FG on a bill to establish NIHOTOUR

Meanwhile, the Federal Government and the Senate, yesterday, disagreed over a bill for an act to provide for establishment of National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, NIHOTOUR.

While the Federal Government kicked against moves by the Senate to establish the act on the premise that if passed into law, NIHOTOUR would become both a trainer and regulator and endanger the growing tourism sector, the Senate said the government could not condemn the bill in its totality.

The Senate described tourism as one sector that Nigeria had not fully explored, taking into consideration the landmarks and historical sites Nigeria.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, kicked against the bill.

The rejection by the Federal Government was at the one-day public hearing held by the Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) led Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism.

According to Urhoghide, all the agencies in the Culture Ministry have no defined objectives, hence the need to put them in proper compartment to make them defined agencies.

Represented by Dr. Paul Adelukwu, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the intendment of the bill, if allowed to sail through, would bring about a lot of agitations and ill-feelings and would definitely not achieve its main purpose.

 

Mohammed said:  “I wish to commend your fastidious drive in ensuring that tourism is properly placed as the next alternative to oil in this great country. I have so far seen your great effort in ensuring that our laws are strengthened for the industry to be more effective.

‘’It is, therefore, needful for me to reach out to you in respect of the forthcoming public hearing on the above mentioned bill, to assist in ensuring the success of your committee by the time the bill is passed.

“Permit me distinguished chairman,to state that after I read the bill and juxtaposed various legal opinions, I am of the view that the bill is overwhelming and overreaching the mandate for which NIHOTOUR was established, which is principally as a training institute.

‘’The bill in my opinion, is giving NIHOTOUR the position of both trainer and regulator of everything relating to tourism, thereby disregarding the legality of other parastatals under my Ministry and further encroaching on the rights of the private sector stakeholders.

“You would agree with me that this is very unhealthy for the growth of tourism which you have labored so passionately for.

“From the foregoing it is obvious that the bill will bring about a lot of agitations and ill- feelings and will definitely not achieve its main purpose. I, therefore, wish to advise that the bill be revisited and redrafted for NIHOTOUR to operate strictly as a training Institute.

Declaring open the public hearing, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who described tourism as one sector that Nigeria has not fully explored, said beyond passing a bill to revitalize the tourism sector, the country must do its best to promote tourism by continuously refurbishing tourist sites and national monuments.

Represented by the Senate Minority Whip, Senator Philip Aduda, Saraki noted that the bill would help strengthen and improve the tourism sector in Nigeria.

He said:  “Many of us have the notion that tourism is just about landmarks and historical sites. However, there is more to it than that. This impression is there because right from elementary stages, tourism is not taught as a key topic in our schools, hence we grow up with little or no understanding of it.’’

 


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