The Senate, yesterday, berated the Federal Government over failures in the power sector seven years after privatisation, in spite of huge capital investment made to revolutionize the industry.
The Senate also lamented the N4.4 trillion injected into the sector as intervention funds within the last 21 years, out of which, N1.7 trillion was injected into the sector within the last five years, without corresponding improvement in electricity supply.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has reeled out recovery plans being made by the present administration in the sector.
The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, vehemently condemned the signing of an agreement, which, he insisted, was responsible for the country’s deep financial crisis in the recent years.
The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was unbundled in 2013, to pave the way for the emergence of six generating companies (GENCOs), 11 distribution companies (DISCOs), and one Transmission Company of Nigeria. Both the GENCOs and DISCOs are fully privatised outfits.
Consequently, Lawan tasked the Senate Committee on Power to carry out thorough investigation into all aspects of the Share Purchase Agreement.
The current investigative hearing is the second public hearing by the Senate in six months after the December 2019 round table discussion on the ailing power sector in Abuja.
Lawan expressed shock that the Federal Government entered into the agreement when it knew that it was incapable of meeting up with its terms.
His words: “How did they (Federal Government) sign the agreement? Were they under duress to make us lose this kind of huge amount of money? When we know that we are not prepared to take the required generation, we shouldn’t have signed it since we didn’t have the capacity. Now we are made to cough out N14 billion monthly. For what?
“This is a waste. Why should we sign this kind of document?
“How can we be paying N15 billion to them (GENCOS and DISCOS) every month and the CBN would be running from pillar to post to raise the money for work not done and yet there are problems we face every day because we are not able to give our security agencies the kind of weaponry that they need, no manpower, 14 million children out of school and then some people are busy collecting this amount of money.”
Lawn urged the Federal Government to stop playing the ostrich, pointing out that “this sector is so critical and yet it is the sector that receives the least kind of scrutiny”.
Earlier in his own opening remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East), said between 1999 and 2015, the Federal Government expended the sum of N2.74 trillion by way of interventions in the sector and between 2015 and 2020, additional N1.7 trillion injected into the sector as intervention fund, totalling N4.4 trillion .
According to him, “Despite the trillions of naira and billions of dollars interventions, over the years, the nation’s power generation output from 1999 till date, remained at about 3,500 megawatts as against the nation’s installed capacity of about 13,000mw.”
However, the minister, at the session, said the picture was not as gloomy as being painted since the Federal Government has embarked on series of recovery plans for the sector.
According to her, part of the recovery plans for the sector was the N1.3 trillion already facilitated for the sector from the World Bank and other international creditors as payment assurance facility.
“Work on revamping the power sector is in progress and will start bearing fruits in no distant time,” she assured.
Other stakeholders in the sector like the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and representatives of GENCOs and DISCOs are billed to appear before the committee today.