31 July 2013, Abuja – Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has disclosed that about N21.2 billion has so far been disbursed to the three segments of Nigeria’s Electricity Supply Industry – generation, transmission and distribution under his watch.
According to him, the release of a $100 million loan from the African Development bank, AfDB, to the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, to fund critical transmission projects as well as N5.2 billion special intervention fund to successor distribution and generation companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, for operation and maintenance services, have been effected since he assumed office as in February.
While explaining some of the challenges he met upon his appointment as well as efforts of the government to overcome them, the minister stated at a power sector development forum organised in conjunction with German power firm, Siemens, in Abuja that the government had steadily got its power sector reforms back on track.
He added that workers of privatised successor companies of PHCN would this week begin to receive their severance benefits, as proper audit of the payment process, which had delayed final disbursement of funds to the workers, has been concluded.
He said: “When I assumed office, there were numerous challenges that posed a cog in the wheel of progress vis-a-vis the power reform agenda, which included amongst others, labour negotiations, which were stalled because of complaints about non-coverage of temporary staff in the settlement scheme.
“There were existing schisms between TCN and Manitoba because of unclear delineation of roles. Consequently, Manitoba staff weren’t allowed access to their offices; the transmission network which hitherto had received very little investment was becoming increasingly unstable and more sensitive to new generation.
“There was uncertainty and loss of confidence amongst some of our key investors and critical development partners about the commitment of the government to the reform process and the transformation of the power sector in general.
“We were faced with the arduous task of getting the sector back on the transformation track. I stand here to tell you that we have managed to steer the ship in the right direction and have recorded some significant achievements ever since.”
Nebo’s explanations on funding of the power sector were perhaps in a response to recent comments by the National Assembly that lack of budgetary allocations for the operations of PHCN successor companies has contributed to the decline in nationwide power supply.
The minister however listed some unresolved challenges to include the recent loss of 1,598 MW due to activities of vandals at two gas pipelines leading to eight power plants.
– Chineme Okafor, This Day