It is no longer news that Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode recently signed seven important bills into law. The Laws are Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law, Amended Land Use Charge Law, School of Nursing Law, Cooperative College Law, Cancer Research Institute Law, Amended Customary Court Law and the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law
Without a doubt, the signing of these laws signifies commencement of the journey to further advance the dividends of democracy to Lagos residents. It is also an indication that Lagos is not resting on its oars, in-spite of recent giant strides recorded across all sectors in the state.
The implication of this is that Lagosians are in for a better deal in terms of socio-economic growth and development in the state. For instance, the Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law allows the state government to intervene in major areas of the power value chain to the overall benefit of the people. The main objective of the law is to put Lagos in the league of societies that experience 24 hours uninterrupted power supply. The new law has many dimensions. The first is that it puts government in a position to be able to extend her guarantee to private sector participants to generate power. Thus, the State, through the law is assuring investors that getting involved in power generation is a profitable venture.
The second is that it helps power distribution companies to upgrade their infrastructure, thereby ensuring they possess the capacity for incremental power. The third is that it empowers government to open up the gas market in Lagos State so that the product can be consistently available. It is this availability that would eventually enhance the attainment of 24-hour power supply which is ultimate goal of the law. The law would also enable the state government to collaborate with the distribution companies to collect tariff from customers efficiently and also avert power theft.
Indeed, this is the first time that any government in Nigeria will institutionalise the power theft law as it criminalizes power infraction. Before now, those who get involved in all kinds of power theft related ventures are often left off the hook, but the new law provides for clear-cut punitive measures against power theft.
Another integral part of the new law of Lagos is the Amended Customary Law which has far reaching significance on the state’s justice system. With the new law, the Customary Court in Local Government will surely gather new momentum, and hopefully this will help in boosting the dispensation of justice in not only the grassroots but in the entire state as a whole.
Similarly, the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law will help in ensuring that the Yoruba language is saved from extinction. Not only this, it will also help in preserving Yoruba custom, culture and tradition which are personification of the language. The current trend whereby most people hold the erroneous view that foreign languages and cultures are superior to indigenous ones is dodgy and must be seriously addressed. Hopefully, this new law will deal with this headlong, especially with the proviso that all public and private schools in the state must make the teaching of the language mandatory.
In same vein, the School of Nursing Law will help in further strengthening heath care delivery services in the State as it provides courses of instruction, training and other facilities in health related issues. The college is expected to make these facilities available on proper terms to such persons as are eligible to benefit from them. With the new law, the college shall provide courses of instruction on Nursing, midwifery and Public Health as the College may consider fit. Additionally, it shall conduct examination award degree programmes, National Diploma, Certificates and Higher National Diploma in Nursing, Midwifery and other related courses.
The law also provides that the college will have a Governing Council that will consist of the Chairman, the Director of Nursing and a representative from the Ministry of Health. Also on the council would be a representative of the Ministry of Education and a representative of the Governing Board of Lagos State University College of Medicine amongst others.
Another of the new laws is the Land Use Charge Law 2018 which repeals and replaces the Land Use Charge Law 2001. Some of the changes introduced in the new law include determination of land use charge to be based on market or commercial value, exemption of private cemeteries from land use charge and exclusion for property owned by religious bodies now limited to only those used as a place of worship or for religious education.
Among the new law is also the Cancer Research Institute Law which establishes the Lagos State Cancer Research Institute as a center to boost provision for the promotion, aid and co-ordination of researches relating to cancer and cancer related illness and for connected purposes. The law recommends that the Institute provides affordable and subsidized medical care for cancer patients, ensures that cancer patients are fairly treated and provided for, provides palliative supports for cancer patients and carry out research on terminal diseases, amongst others. It further recommends a Governing Board that shall consist of three medical professionals who shall be professors of medicine or consultants; a member of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA); and three members of proven integrity from the public. Considering the fact that cancer is a very difficult disease for anybody to manage, it could be affirmed that the spirit of the new law is particularly rooted in the love for mankind.
Another prominent part the new Lagos laws is the Lagos State Cooperative College Law whose main aim is to further enhance economic development of the state. A democracy consists of three vital organs of government namely; the executive, legislature and the judiciary. The legislative arm formulates policy and enacts it as law, the executive carries out policy in action while the judiciary applies the law according to rules of procedural justice and resolves disputes. To guarantee freedom, which is the hallmark of democracy, these three arms must be separated as much as possible and balanced against each other. For a successful democracy, the existence of a functional judiciary is a must.
It is in view of this that the Lagos state government is embarking on critical and laudable reforms geared towards oiling the wheel of justice in the state. Plato and Aristotle were Greek philosophers who both developed important concepts of government and politics. One of the many political subjects that these men wrote on is the preservation of the rule of law. According to them, a society without the necessary law would be like an animal kingdom and consequently anarchy and social disorder would become the order of the day.
It is, therefore, in order to ensure that governance in the state is anchored on institutionalized legal framework that is oiled by the rule of law that the state government is constantly making efforts to improve justice process in the state.