07 May 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has revealed that the Azura power plant has been completed and ready to commence full operation.
The minister revealed this while inaugurating the new chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, James Momoh last week.
He disclosed that the Azura Power in Edo State just sent a message that their plant was now completed and was ready to run full operation, adding, “That is 459 MW of power. We are expecting another 240 MW from Afam and another 215 MW from Kaduna and also from Kashimbila. There is a lot of power coming. So, the distribution end is where our real challenge lies”.
The Minister, who noted that the mini-grid regulations issued recently by NERC have started producing results with impacts in markets, pointed out that later this year, places like Sura Market in Lagos, Sabon Gari Market in Kano, Ariaria Market in Aba and about 13 other markets across the country were going to be energized.
“So the progress we are making inspires us to continue. It reinforces the methods that we have formulated and the choices that we have made, that clearly we are on the right part. This is clearly an elephant and so we are going to break it bit by bit because you can’t eat an elephant whole”, he said.
Speaking after the brief but colourful ceremony at the Conference Room of the Ministry, Fashola, who said Customer Service was a challenging bridge that must be crossed, said it was the duty of the Commission to make Consumers understand what was going on with their metering, what are their rights and so on and so forth as well as who to hold accountable when things went wrong with service delivery.
The Minister told the new NERC Chairman, Professor Momoh, “Consumers must understand what is going on with their metering, what are their rights and so on and so forth; who do they hold accountable, where are the NERC field offices to which they can complain; what is the process of getting remediation for service that is not in sufficient quantity and of quality?”
Promising to make himself available to render assistance in terms of “policy guidelines, policy directions and helping to move the wheel of bureaucracy to make progress to get the work done”, he added that the Commission also had to do a lot of enlightenment among the customers in terms of making them understand who and where to complain when they needed service.
“I want to thank the Permanent Secretary and all the members of the team. I continue to receive those text messages; I like to thank the Director of Distribution and her team; they are the ones I send those texts of complaints, ‘Our meter has failed, etc’ and they respond as best they can all over the country and I get feedbacks from those who have received service”, he said.
Fashola, who described the Commission as the Policeman of the Power Sector, expressed delight that it now has the full complement of its membership with a Chairman, added, “I am one of the happiest people today and I will tell Nigerians why. Since Privatization took place, one of the things that have happened is that the size of the Ministry of Power shrank significantly”.
“I think our staff strength before I came was in the region of 15,000 and all of that is now less than a thousand people because most of the staff some retired as a consequence of the Privatization and transfer of ownership to the GenCos and the DisCos. Today, unlike the old Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, this Ministry does not own any Gencos or DisCos”, he further explained adding that the Ministry only supervises the Yola Disco where, according to him, privatisation became problematic and force majeure was declared.
According to the Minister, “The truth is that we don’t buy meters and we don’t supply meters. Really and truly our role now is just to make policies; our quality of energy, type of energy; whether it is hydro, thermal, and solar or wind and to make sure that if there are problems we go and solve them. And that is in terms of government activities”.
Reiterating that owners of the power assets today are the GenCos and DisCos, Fashola pointed out that the power industry was now a business where the aforementioned investors are now responsible for providing electricity to Nigerians, adding, “The owners of the DisCos are the ones who now have the challenge and responsibility of distributing electricity to Nigerians”.
The Minister added that the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, owned by the government, was now run as a business to transmit electricity pointing out that all of the organisations, both private and public, were subject to the regulatory power of NERC whose Chairman was being inaugurated. “So that is the Policeman of the Power Industry”, he said.