Maiduguri- The Minister of State for Power, Alhaji Mohammed Wakil, on Sunday blamed the prolonged power outage in Borno on sabotage and insurgency.
Wakil made the announcement in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media Mr Olawale Rasheed in Maiduguri.
The statement said that government had made several attempts at restoring the power supply, which was cut off in June 2014 after a suspected terror attack on the Damboa Power Sub-station.
“The Federal Ministry of Power has repeatedly moved to reconnect Maiduguri to national grid but insurgency and sabotage have so far delayed the realisation of that goal.
“In the last seven months when the power lines and sub-station at Damboa were attacked, the ministry through the Transmission Company of Nigeria made at least seven attempts to rectify the problem but on each occasion the officials were attacked.”
The statement said that two other attempts to restore power were successfully accomplished with parts of Maiduguri enjoying electricity supply.
It, however, noted that the power supply was short-lived as the lines were again vandalised less than five hours after.
The statement said that the development prompted the ministry of power to seek assistance from the military on reconnection.
It said further that Wakil in a meeting with military chiefs requested for special security cover which was granted and this led to the latest attempt by the ministry to reconnect the state.
The statement quoted the minister as saying that “it was widely reported that the insurgents again attempted to attack the TCN staff but were ambushed by a military team.
“In that brave defense of the power officials, the military lost an officer and two soldiers with seventy five insurgents killed and many others sustaining injuries.”
It said that the power lines covered a large area, making it difficult to police.
“It should be put on record that power lines run several kilometers across the state.
“It is practically impossible to physically police the lines from Damboa to Maiduguri which is also widely known as an insurgency belt.
“It was due to the bravery of our officials and the military that the Damboa Sub-station has been repaired but the power lines remain susceptible to vandalism.
“The ministry is thus using this medium to alert the public that sabotage and insurgency are two evils, stalling the restoration of power to the state.”
The statement expressed shock that the blackout had been politicised by some individuals trying to score cheap political points.
“There is strong evidence suggesting that some disgruntled forces are deliberately vandalising power lines as a weapon of blackmail against the Federal Government.
“The blackout crisis has thus become politicised with those dark forces deriving joy in stopping power supply to Borno in other to score cheap political points.”
The statement noted that to embark on systematic destruction of power lines and other utilities for political end was uncharitable and an action that should be condemned by all and sundry.
It said the protection of public utilities in Borno or elsewhere should not become instrument of politics as the welfare of our people was at stake.
The statement said the ministry would not relent in its efforts to reconnect the state and defeat insurgency and sabotage.
It commended the people of Borno for their understanding, assuring them that efforts were being made to restore power in the state. (NAN)