ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – A former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, on Wednesday blamed the regulatory agencies of the nation’s power sector for the poor supply of electricity in the country, despite huge resources channeled into the sector over the years.
Nnaji, who dropped the hint before the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Power, maintained that Nigerians were yet to enjoy adequate supply because the regulatory agencies had failed to carry out necessary enforcement and discipline.
He noted with regret that about half of the power being generated by the various generating companies actually get to the consumers as a result of poor transmission, which according to him, was as a result of inefficient regulatory by the concerned government agency.
He explained that 5,500 megawatts, out of the 12,000 megawatts installed capacity actually get to the consumers since government does not produce power any more.
For instance, he observed that the gas being delivered for power generation was a fraction of the installed capacity, which would not affect the quantity meant for export through the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
“Even when you have installed capacity of 12,000 megawatts, you cannot release the same amount of mega watts to the end users. Nigeria can generate 7,000 megawatts, and make it available for consumption should there be no constraint in transmission where we have inefficiency in distribution. Out of the amount of power that is distributed to transmission companies only about 50 percent of it gets to the consumers. It is an incredible inefficiency in the power system that must be cured,” Nnaji said.
Speaking on the sideline, Nnaji expressed optimism that the new Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, would effectively discharge the functions of managing the ministries assigned to him without affecting the power sector.
“I know that Fashola is an excellent administrator and manager. I can imagine what Lagos State used to be like before he became governor and what it is now. It comes with dedication and that is what we need in this country.
“It is a very large area to cover but the Ministry of Power is no longer what it used to be when I was a minister because the entire generation is out. It is no longer going to be the manager of power generation, except supervise.
“He is no longer going to be the manager of distribution; he just manages the transmission network. It is a very different terrain. So, I believe he should have (the) capacity to do the assignment.
“He should concentrate on transmission because that is the major constraint. Gas production and transmission. He doesn’t control gas production; but he must liaise very well with the Ministry of Petroleum and the Presidency to ensure that gas is available for all of the power plants and even though he is not supervising the power plant,” he added.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
In his remarks, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who stood in for Senate President Bukola Saraki, noted that the issue of the adequacy or otherwise of power was at the very heart of the nation’s development challenge.
“You don’t have to be an economist to observe that, if we do not improve on the availability and accessibility of adequate power to drive the economy, our developmental aspirations will continue to emaciate,” he said.
Ekweremadu explained that it was in recognition of the pivotal role which the power sector plays in aiding development that the Senate decided to place enormous emphasis on the improvement of the sector, especially the reliability of the national grid.
He maintained that the reason for the investigation is because there is a cleavage between the public investment that has been made in the power sector, and the returns Nigerians have enjoyed from the sector between 1999 and 2014.
“The essence of this investigation is to see how best to revitalise the sector to make it more efficiency and transparency driven. It is hard to put in words the level of frustration Nigerians have had to face with power, the impact of this on the wider economy and the level of inefficiency in the entire energy value chain.
“We have an opportunity now to right the wrongs of the past. It starts from our doing a thorough job of this assignment. It is my belief that the committee’ work and final recommendation will be invaluable tool towards providing the sector the right remedy we need to move it forward.
“Our goal here is not to witch-hunt, It is essentially a diagnostic review with the aim of repositioning the power sector to perform its role as a major primer of development. This administration has made the delivery of power and the revamping of the economy some of its cardinal objectives,” he added.
He observed that the vibrant power sector, driven by efficiency and innovation, would impact positively on the Nigeria textile industry, rice mills, the manufacturing startups, assembly plants, manufacturing, agric business development in general, aviation, communication, cost of doing business, insecurity, service delivery, technology adoption, life expectancy of Nigerians both in the rural and urban areas, SMEs and unemployment.
“The implications and ramifications are immense indeed they are enormous. Therefore, we cannot afford to fail, Nigerians will not afford half measures,” Ekweremadu concluded.