Power situation may derail change agenda of government – Buhari

*Egbin Thermal Power Plant.

*Egbin Thermal Power Plant.

…Promises to achieve 10, 000MW by end of 2019

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

22 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Mohammadu Buhari on Monday woke up to the realities of epileptic power supply in Nigeria, saying that the situation was no longer funny.

The President, who was speaking in a keynote address presented at the opening ceremony of a two-day summit of the National Economic Council, NEC, in Abuja, said should the situation persist, it would seriously affect the change agenda of the present administration.

He said his administration must do everything necessary to increase power generation and distribution from its present status of about 1,500 to 3,500 megawatts with additional 2000 before the end of the year as a way of halting the ripple effects on the economy.

But giving high hopes on the power sector, the president stated that before his government winds up in 2019, he would achieve a historic 10,000 megawatts of electricity.

He said, “Nigerians’ favourite talking point and the butt of jokes is the power situation in our country. But, ladies and gentlemen, it is no longer a laughing matter.

“We must and by the grace of God we will put things right. In the three years left for this administration, we have given ourselves the target of ten thousand megawatts distributable power. In 2016 alone, we intend to add two thousand megawatts to the national grid.”

The president noted the theme of the summit: Nigerian States: Multiple Centers of Prosperity was apt, and identified five key areas such agriculture, power, manufacturing, housing, and healthcare as challenges the Council must prioritize.

President Buhari also expressed misgivings over the privatization of the power sector in the country, saying that the process was more profit oriented than a thing of public interest.

He stated that the sector was yet to show the gains of the privatization Programme as the quality of service was still in a sorry state. But being an ongoing process, the president said that it must be completed.

“This sector has been privatized but has yet to show any improvement in the quality of service. Common public complaints are: constant power cuts destroying economic activity and affecting quality of life, high electricity bills despite power cuts, low supply of gas to power plants due to vandalization by terrorists, obsolete power distribution equipment such as transformers, Power fluctuations, which damaged manufacturing equipment and household appliances, Low voltage which cannot run industrial machinery.

“These are some of the problems, which defied successive governments. In our determination to change we must and will, Insha Allah put a stop to power shortages.”

He added that “Key points to look at here are: Privatization. We are facing the classic dilemma of privatization: public interest versus profit motive. Having started, we must complete the process.

“But National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the regulatory authority, has a vital job to ensure consumers get value for money and overall public interest is safeguarded.”

He noted that the government will fast-track completion of pipelines from gas points to power stations and provide more security to protect gas and oil pipelines.

“Power companies should be encouraged to replace obsolete equipment and improve the quality of service and technicians.”

The summit had all the serving ministers as well as the 36 Nigerian State governors as participants.

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