Senate seeks declaration of emergency in the power sector

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan has called on the Executive to declare a state of emergency on the power sector over the intractable problem faced in the sector.

Senator Lawan made the call at a one-day roundtable discussion held in Abuja on “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems” organised by Senate Committee on Power.

Dr. Lawan who declared the session open, said that “if there was any one single sector of the economy that was important and yet so challenged, it was the power sector.”

 “The truth is we all know what is wrong. What we really need to do is to have the political will to take on the challenges.

 

“I believe this is a sector that needs a declaration of emergency. I believe that we have to declare a state of emergency on power and courageous decisions must be taken by government.

“This is an opportunity for us in this roundtable to discuss not only the challenges of the power sector in Nigeria but to also look for the way forward.”

The president of the senate explained that “from the Electricity Power Reform of 2005 to the privatisation of Generating Companies (GenCos) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) everything is fraud.

“If we went wrong with our privatisation of GenCos and DisCos, the time has come to look into whatever we have to review these things. We must remove in the interest of the country. We must admit there was something wrong.

“We need to revisit the privatisation because apparently there are flaws and that we have to address whether it is at the expense of government or not. 

“We have to get out of this quagmire otherwise we will continue to be complaining and talking about these things until even the 4, 000 megawatts we enjoy become a challenge to us. I think the time has come for us to have courage.

“I want to remind us that we have signed into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, I believe what will give us an edge is to have a competitive environment for our industries, our businesses must be able to produce things that will compete favourably with products produced in other countries in Africa.

“We are not in that position today and we know the consequences of that, that even our citizens who have capital rather relocate to Ghana, produce whatever they want, and bring it to Nigeria to sell, where does that leave our country.”

He further called for measurable road maps in tackling the challenges in the sector because the National Assembly would not leave the implementation of decisions on the executive alone.

“We want to participate in each inch of the way, every bit of what is to be done we want to be a part of it so that we will contribute meaningfully in taking the power sector to the next level,” Dr. Lawan said.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam said: “The privatisation of the sector was rushed; the data that we require to have been a guide for us to do the privatisation was not there.

“And since privatisation, what was required to have been done is to do what you call data quality review which has not been done,” he said.

In his remark, Minister of Power, Mr. Saleh Mamman said that the most important ingredient to resolving the challenges in the sector included strategies and effective coordination and collaboration of all players in the sector.