Nigeria: Reps may revoke sale of power distribution firms

*House of Representatives.

*House of Representatives.

10 June 2016, Abuja — Faced with the near-collapse of power supply in many parts of the country, made worse by the recent drop by 1,598 megawatts, the House of Representatives may review the privatisation policy of the Federal Government and thereafter revoke agreements that have paved the way for the sale of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Dropping the hint yesterday, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation, Sopuluchukwu Ezeonwuka who represents Orumba North/ South federal constituency of Anambra State said that revocation was likely if power distribution does not improve in the country.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government is to unveil its energy mix strategy at the National Power Council soon, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said.

Fashola disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the inaugural Buharimeter Town Hall Meeting organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in conjunction with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the DFID.

According to Fashola, the nation’s power is down because out of over 26 power plants, 23 are fired by gas, adding that with the continuous destruction of pipelines, the country now struggles with between 2000 and 2500megawatts when it ought to be producing about 5000-6000megawatts.

He said the Zingeru power plant would be completed in the first quarter of 2019. He also said that based on goodwill and agreement with contractors, work would soon resume on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Besides, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Plc, James Olotu, says the inability of Nigerians to pay for electricity consumed has continued to impede the operations of generating companies, lamenting that his company is owed N99 billion.

Ezeonwuka said : “If you take a critical look at all the enterprises that have been privatised by the Federal Government, many of them are not living up to expectations.

“The case of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was worse. It was better when it was National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). By the time it became PHCN it was now worse.

“I assure you that as lawmakers, we are taking a critical look at the various agreements that have made it possible for these institutions to be privatised, and by the time we are done, comparing also their current viability with what they were before, we may be compelled to revoke their contracts.”

He implored electricity consumers and indeed all consumers of government services to be patient with the legislature as it is doing all that is possible in looking into their various service-related complaints.

Fashola who noted that government had completed the Rural Electrification Implementation Plan, pointed out that there was a rural electrification policy but there were no rules and laws as to how it would be implemented.

“It ought to have been done since 2006 but it wasn’t submitted until last week. We have set out our roadmap for incremental, steady and uninterrupted power supply.”

The minister who noted that the Federal government spent N135 billion on roads in 2009 after which the figures started to decline added that the last three years were significant as the government spent N45 billion in 2014 and N18 billion in 2015.

He said: ” The fallout of our meeting with contractors was that they have not been paid for the past three years despite the fact that budgets have been made over the year.

“On the basis of just our credibility, we pleaded with our contractors to go back to the site on Monday next week on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. They have not been paid but on the basis of our credibility they are going back and we will pay them. We have decided that we must build roads for a purpose, we must build roads that support agriculture, we expect that roads that we build will be sustainable. It is a long-term plan.”

Olotu who spoke yesterday in Abuja when he received the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his office.
*Karls Tsokar, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze , Chukkah Odita & Otei Oham – The Guardian

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