Govt okays council on power, partners states on supply

No Comments » January 31st, 2014 posted by // Categories: Energy Development Project



Guardian

Govt okays council on power, partners states on supply

  • Written by Emeka Anuforo, Abuja

Igali • Raises sector’s civil society advisory body

• N’Assembly may ban generator importation

AFTER months of planning, President Goodluck Jonathan has finally approved the establishment of the National Council on Power, the Ministry of Power announced yesterday.

The Council, which is expected to be chaired by the President, is bringing together federal, state and local governments to synergise, collaborate and jointly solve electricity generation issues across the country.

Also, government will today inaugurate a civil society power advisory group. Officials said there has been a consistent call for more space for civil society to engage with government on its policies particularly those that affect the daily lives of Nigerians.

Collectively, development partners in Nigeria would have contributed up to $300 billion by 2018 toward the improvement and efficiency of the power sector in Nigeria, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Regional Director, Dr. Patrick Kormawa has said.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly is considering a restriction on the importation of generators, as a deliberate way to fast track the availability of public power supply to the nation.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, who disclosed this at the sixth Power Summit at Abuja, stressed how the Council would play a critical role in changing the power situation in the country.

He noted:  “I like to announce that President Goodluck Jonathan has just approved the National Council on Power, which is going to be a major development. We do not have a Council for the sector. What a Council does is that it brings together all the states, because right now there is a delay. Every state government is performing on its own. The Federal Government is working, and the private sector is also on its own.

“The President has approved that we should now have National Council on Power, which will bring together all the stakeholders. It will be an expanded forum.  The next National Power Summit will now be the first National Council on Power, in which case, all the commissioners of power in every state will come with their plans, state by state and we will all sit to discuss what the Federal Government is doing, what the states are doing, and what the private sector is doing.”

Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo also disclosed stressed that the Presidency would convene a summit to discuss financing for power.

He said: “Next month, we are convening an international conference on power sector financing to be hosted by the President and the Vice President. This conference is expected to bring the new owners, investors and local and international financial institutions together to look at avenues to fund the huge capital expenditure required in line with government’s projections.”

He stressed the many challenges with transmission, noting that government was working hard to meet the conditions for the declaration of the Transition Electricity Market (TEM).

 

According to him, “As we move to fulfill all conditions precedent upon the declaration of the Transition Electricity Market (TEM), we still face some challenges. Our transmission grid is still fragile which resulted in unprecedented collapses in 2013. We also witnessed incessant vandalisation of gas pipelines on both the western and eastern axes all through 2013. These challenges resulted in the underutilised of our generation capacities which limited our capacity to give more power to consumers.”

Also, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel and Metallurgy, Philip Aduda, said at the summit that a restriction on generator importation was in the offing.

Though he did not directly link the planned consideration of restriction on generator importation to the alleged sabotage in the sector, he stressed that it was one of the options being considered by the legislators to solve electricity supply problems.

He said: “We at the NASS will look at some of these issues, and ensure that we can get service, and effective service delivery and we can ensure that our generators are off permanently. As a matter of fact, my colleagues and I are beginning to look at issues as they relate to generator importation. We are talking about gas. Why is there no gas?  The President convened a summit on gas sometime ago to discuss the issue of gas, why we are not having gas and why we continue to have shortfall.  Why do we continue to have power drop because there is no gas?

On if an outright ban on generator importation was being considered, he stressed: “We are going to look at those kinds of issues because we want to look at issues as they relate to impediments to having steady power supply in Nigeria. We want to look at various critical issues to ensure that Nigerians have power as well as what the impediments and problems are.

“Those are issues we want to look at and not just this one (ban on generators importation). That is why I said that we want to have a robust roundtable discussion with stakeholders in the power sector including the new owners of the generation and distribution companies as well as the transmission company of Nigeria.

“We are going to look at what we can do to ensure that service delivery is given to Nigerians and that is why I said that this forum is important because civil societies are brought together to look at issues critically to ensure that we move forward and have power. The Federal Government has spent so much money in this sector and is still spending money to improve the infrastructure so we cannot pay lip service to these issues. We have to be serious about it to ensure that whoever that much is given, much is completely expected of the person.”

He stressed that the National Assembly had summoned the new owners of the generation and distribution firms to ensure checks and balances in the post privatisation.

He said: “We need the civil society people to come on board. The representatives of the people and the voice of the people are the civil society people. They know that the gencos and discos have been sold. The people who can talk are the civil society people. The new owners of the discos and gencos would be thinking about profit. Some of them have started complaining that they didn’t know that the infrastructure that they bought had problems.  We need some of the civil society organisations to challenge some of these issues critically.”

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Patrick Ikhariale, cautioned the new power utilities owners to buckle up or face the music, as the National Assembly was determined to protect the interest of consumers.

He said:  “The power business is not a tea party and for our investors, those who have taken over the discos and gencos, I wish you well. But I will also mention that if the objective is to come in and make profit, maximize profit at the expense of poor Nigerians, the consumers, then you are in the wrong place.

“On transmission, there is need for the minister to take a memo on funding to the Federal Executive Council to ensure that there is an upward review of what we are giving to transmission. Government needs to pay better attention, prioritise and increase the level funding for the transmission aspect of power in Nigeria.”

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