23 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has faulted the call for the cancellation of privatisation of power sector.
Fashola, who spoke at the third edition of National Council on Power (NACOP) with the theme: “Complementing Power Sector Reforms” in Jos, said although he agreed that there were problems with privatization, four years was not enough to change what could not be done in 60 years in the electricity distribution sector.
Fashola emphasised that he would rather insist on follow-up of the on-going reform in the maximum benefit of Nigerians.
He said, “As we are all aware, there have been comments about how effective privatisation has been in the power sector and some people have called for its cancellation, which I disagree with.
“Let me set the context by once again reminding all of us that the power sector has been privatised and is largely in the hands of the private sector. Therefore, the work that needs to be done is largely the responsibility of the private sector.”
He added, “Our role as governmental institutions at Federal and state levels is to implement the laws, enunciate policies and take actions that help the private sector play its part effectively.
“Our roles in this regard are well set out in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 pursuant to which the privatisation of the power sector took place. That law, which I urge everybody to read, clearly sets out my role as minister, which is to administer the law in Section 100.”
According to Fashola, “I agree that there are problems, I understand that four years post-privatisation is a transition period, and some more work needs to be done before the expected benefits of privatisation come to fruition.
“That is why we developed the Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP), which are a set of policies, programmes and actions aimed at solving generation, transmission, distribution, liquidity, metering, estimated billing, energy theft, safety and other challenges.
“While we are beginning to see results of increased generation up to 7001MW on September 12, 2017, Transmission up to 6,700 MW and Distribution 4,600, it is not yet enough.”
The minister lamented that that stealing and vandalisation of electricity equipment were part of the challenges that Distribution Companies (Discos) were faced with, which has invariably affected their ability to perform at full capacity.
Stressing that the largest beneficiaries of the power sector reforms were Nigerians, Fashola therefore challenged states and local governments to be ready to play their own role in ensuring the power sector reforms succeed in the interest and growth of the country.
Instead of passing a vote of no confidence on the distribution companies, Fashola said the states should assist them in all possible ways. On allowing states to develop their own power plants, he said government did not stop any state from doing so.
He further appealed to residents to pay for energy they consumed, even as he urged the public to desist from pilfering electricity equipment.
He specifically urged state governments to empower the magistrate’s courts to punish those who bring down energy or damage equipment, as that would reduce the workload of the High Courts.
Fashola restated his call on the state governments and individuals to build their own power plants and solar energy.
The minister said, “Among some of the reform actions contained in the Power Sector Recovery Programme being undertaken at Federal Government level, there are other areas of reform, where progress will be defined by what happens at the state and local government and this is one of the reasons why we chose to discuss this theme at this council, where all the states are represented.
“For example, out of the estimated MDA debts of about N90 billion claimed by the Discos, only about N27billion has been verified as debts owed by the Federal Government. There are invoices which show that other parts of the debt are attributable to service points at states and local governments.
“I will urge first that states and local governments insist that their buildings are metered so that they can budget for and pay for the energy they use. It will turn out to be cheaper than diesel-generated power. It will also help reduce the loss of income by Discos.”