07 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — President of the Nigeria Senate, and Chairman of the National Assembly, Dr. Bukola Saraki on Tuesday said that under the privatisation programme, the public power sector assets were sold to individuals and parties who had no idea about running a proper power distribution business.
Saraki stated this during a two-day stakeholder’s interactive dialogue/workshop on the Nigerian power sector for the National Assembly.
“We sold the discos to individuals and parties who had no idea about how to run a proper power distribution business. Licenses were issues based on cronyism rather than capital adequacy, market experience and capacity to deliver. Agreements were faulty and transaction integrity hardly imperative.” Saraki said.
He explained that the current challenges bedevilling the country’s power sector are no mere accident noting that “we walked our way into the landmine we are facing with the decisions we made in the past.
“However, we cannot shy away from the fact that inexcusable mistakes have been made in the past that brought us to this point and we must be willing to face up to them and clearly delineate them in order to ensure that we do not return to the mistakes of the past.
“Clearly some of these were innocent mistakes, others were rather the product of selfish interests, some fraudulent, some borne out of ignorance and others glaring lack of capacity apparent from day one. All of these combined has brought us to the mess we now have to face up to.”
The Senate President admitted that while privatisation is a right policy recipe to pursue in order to put in place a power sector that can galvanise Nigeria economy, “we forgot that the participation of the private sector is not an end in itself. We neglected that unless this is done, observing transparency, competition, transaction integrity we might end up with a sector worse than the past.”
Commenting on the $4 billion proceed made from the power sector privatisation, Saraki said the money was solely spent towards the payment of pensions and staff without investing a single kobo towards catalysing the sector back to life.
He added that Generation Companies, GENCOS bought generating units without a clear assurance of source of gas to fire plants while the government had no active roadmap for delivery of a gas market infrastructure to make this happen.
“Yet gas companies and the International Oil Companies, IOCs were exporting our gas out of our shores to create gas markets elsewhere in Europe and Asia while we languished in darkness as a result of incessant, persistent and erratic power outages. In the face of all these our people continued to be called upon to bear inexplicable bills estimated beyond rationale service value.
“…. the implications all of these have created has continued to mount on all fronts with stagnating growth statistics, loss of SME jobs in a country with a large and rapidly growing population, factories shutting down in growing numbers, dwindling family investable income and opportunities mostly due to the high cost imposed by inadequate electricity supply. Indeed, the link between electricity supply and economic development is such that the health of the industry is a matter of deep and personal concern to all citizens,” the Senate President said.
He assured Nigerians that the 8th National Assembly is fully ready to support and drive every actionable initiative that is expected out of this interactive session to boost the power sector significantly.