‘Cancel Power Sector Privatisation Process’, Senate Tells FG
…Committee to probe FG interventions on power sector since privatisation to date
… Asks FG to suspend planned electricity tariff increase
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to cancel the entire privatisation process that was carried out during former President Good luck Jonathan-led administration.
The Upper Chamber which mandated its committee to probe all federal government interventions in the power sector since the privatization of the sector to date and trillions spent so far, said that the Power Generation (GenCos) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) have demonstrated lack of capacity to delivery desired electricity supply to Nigerians.
This is as the Chamber has warned that the country may not have power supply in the next 10 years, should the sector privatisation be left unrevised.
The Senate also called on the Federal Government to immediately suspend the planned electricity tariff increase due to take effect from July following the increased hardship occasioned by the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.
The Upper Chamber also called on the federal government, through the Ministry of Finance to include the Nigeria Electric Power Sector in the disbursement of proposed N1.7trillon Covid-19 intervention crisis fund.
Speaking on Tuesday, during discussions on a motion titled, “Power Sector Recovery Plan and the impact of COVID- 19 Pandemic, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said that it is disheartening that with huge sums of money spent so far on the Power, results are not being realised.
Lawan who said that the committee would investigate trillions spent so far to reinvigorate the power sector without commensurate results, said, “We gave power to them (Power generation and distribution companies) and they still come to the public to ask for funds.
“I think it’s time for Nigeria to consider reversing the privatisation of the power sector or they should just cancel the entire privatisation process completely. If we leave it, we may not have power for another 10 years”.
According to Lawan, “We expected efficiency and something better. DISCOS have no capacity to supply us power. We shouldn’t continue to give them money. They are private businesses. We need to review this whole thing. Something is wrong.
“Our committee needs to investigate the trillions spent. That’s a lot of money. Try and find out what has happened so far. The government needs to look at this whole thing. Maybe the Government is not doing its own part. We need to find out. There is a lack of capital. We feel very bad. There is no electricity and the country is suffering.”
Following this, the Senate mandated the Senator Gabriel Suswam, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Benue North East led Senate Committee on power to investigate all Federal Government interventions in the power sector since the privatization of the sector to date with a view to ascertaining the adequacy of such interventions and their desired impact, and to report back within four weeks.
The Senate has also asked its Committee on Power to investigate all market participants in the power value chain and ascertain the level of corporate governance compliance in the Nigerian Electricity Industry ( NESI) and to report back within four weeks.
This was sequel to the adoption of a motion on Power Sector Recovery Plan and Impact of Covid-19 pandemic, sponsored by Senator Gabriel Suswam. The Upper Chamber commended the federal government for the proactive initiative to establish the N1.7trillion Covid-19 crisis intervention fund to cater to critical issues on effective management of Covid-19.
The Upper Chamber has also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to allow operators in the power sector access to foreign exchange for procurement of equipment and materials like what is done in the aviation and oil industry;
The Senate has also asked the Federal Government to consider additional tariff support to cushion the effect of rate shock over a fixed period to allow the time required for TCN and Discos to access funds at implement performance improvement investments that will support increased tariffs, certain classes of customers, especially during the Pandemic.
The Senate also urged the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance to include the Nigerian Electric Power Sector in the disbursement of the proposed N500bn COVlD-19 Crisis Intervention Fund in order to ameliorate the financial hazards and operational challenges such as the enumeration of metering of actual consumers and the recent problem arising from the pandemic.
Earlier in his presentation, Senator Suswam said that the stable and uninterrupted power supply was also a critical factor in the management of Covid-19 pandemic patients at the designated isolation and treatment centres across the country.
According to him, uninterrupted electricity was also key in the proposed upgrade of health facilities and in the manufacturing sectors of the economy, adding that if the negative impact of Covid-19 on the sector continues without any emergency financial intervention from the federal government, Distribution Companies (DisCos) may not meet their remittances obligations to the electricity market. He also said that the financial obligations of Generating Companies (GenCos) and Gas to power suppliers would also be negatively impacted.