Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Raji Fashola, yesterday met with heads of the distribution companies (discos), generation companies (gencos) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), with the view of tackling the various constraints that are perennially associated with the nation’s power sector.
The UNION reports that the issues of the industry includes: gas, ramping up transmission capacity, electricity distribution, and metering electricity customers across the federation.
During the meeting, Fashola, who expressed optimism that issues would be resolved with time, pointed out the objectives of the monthly meeting.
“(We are) hoping (that) it would be a better year for the industry, especially for consumers, whom we have a responsibility to serve. Issues will be resolved as we get along with the monthly meetings.
“The idea behind this meeting is to listen to as much of the operators of the sector as possible to understand what the unique problems are, to understand the general problems that they also have, and to develop solutions to align with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, or in line with other agencies of government,” he said.
While hoping to that the meeting would be held across the country, in the different distribution and generation companies, Fashola tasked each power player to be committed.
“Our intention is to also do peer review and experience sharing for other discos to see what other discos are doing, where they are doing well, and where they are not doing so well, and to learn from one another.
“We want to set agenda for future meetings. What we have also (is) a representative of each of the power players, who can take decisions on behalf of their organisations.
“So, you will do us very well to avoid sending representatives, who cannot take decisions for you. The plan is that the team will take decisions and commit ourselves to those decisions.
“What we have decided to do is that this meeting will hope every second Monday of the month. So, it is a fixed calendar, subject, of course, to any public holiday that falls on a Monday so that we can all plan our activities around it.
“By the time we finish each meeting, we should hopefully agree to the hosts of next ones. We are hoping that we would have a reliable secretariat, after each meeting to issue communiqué of all interested parties so that this will become a one-stop shop centre for all the information that is coming in and going out from all the power players.
“We want Nigerians to know what we are doing. Let me know also (state) that we have briefed Mr. President and the Vice President about this meeting, and we have their approval, and also to add that we do this because this is a service that we are meant to provide. There are many participants across.
“We think that, if businessmen, engineers, lawyers, technicians, bankers and all those involved in the sector come together to forge a common front, all the problems besetting the industry will be charged and addressed as a team. If our purpose is united, if our understanding is united, I don’t see any problem that we cannot defeat together as a team.
“Those are broad outlines one wishes we hope to achieve in this meeting. This meeting will help us better communicate with one another.
“We come from different backgrounds. We have businessmen, who will learn to deal with government, and government officials, who will learn to communicate with businessmen.
“Ultimately, for us to democratise access for our citizenry to the power sector to know what is happening, to know what steps we are taking, and why we are taking such steps, and who to reach when there are issues. Some of us have been involved in this industry for various length of time.
“We need to lean from each other’s experience. We believe that anybody, who is involved in this industry, has something to offer, and I think that, if we provide this kind of platform for sharing ideas and so on, I think we will do very well.
Aware of the expectations of the public, Fashola hinted on the planned outcome of the series of meetings.
“The Nigerian public is waiting on us, and I think that we will do ourselves a word of good by giving it our very best shot. At the end of each meeting, we should be able to allocate tasks to different stakeholders, based on what we discussed.
“We hope to be able to solve problems, and we hope to also to be able to provide the platform that will be useful for information management and analysis. Like I said, at the end of this meeting and subsequent meetings, we hope to be able to come up with a communiqué on what we have agreed and what we have resolved.
“All these information, of course, will revolve around the issues of the industry, about what steps we are taking about gas, what steps we have taken about ramping up transmission capacity, what steps we will be taking about distribution, about what steps we are taking about metering. This meeting should be information centre.
“At the end of the day, we hope we can even pass information across on how consumers and customers can report faults, safety issues so that power facilities will not cause the kind of fatalities that we experienced recently when one of our very brilliant girls died recently and so on.
“We have prepared a 13-point agenda, which (the) Permanent Secretary will guide us through. By the time we are done, every one would have participated one way or the other,” Fashola added.
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Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja