Senate has called on the Federal Government to immediately begin to explore other sources of power supply, especially in the area of renewable energy to solve the worsening power supply in the country.
The Upper Legislative Chamber also warned the distribution, transmission and generation companies in the sector against short-changing consumers in the proposed electricity tariff.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator James Manager, made the call yesterday at a maiden meeting the Committee had with the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. “Deplorable power sector in the country in spite of the amount of money injected into the sector since 1999.
The power sector has been in a deplorable state for quite a while and we need to focus our attention towards energy mix thereby encouraging and emphasising on renewables,” Manager said.
Manager, while seeking a review of Nigeria’s policies to obtain optimum performance across the entire power sector value chain, noted that the country’s current generation capacity hovers around 4700 megawatts despite the huge funds injected into it so far,for a population of over 170 million people. “This current situation has put so many people out of business and taken away from others their means of livelihood.
The generation segment has been bedeviled by lack of turn around maintenance, gas pipeline vandalisation, among other challenges which has affected the level of power supply nationwide,” he added. He tasked the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to work in line with the federal government to make every necessary adjustments to enable the segment function maximally.
The lawmaker regretted that Nigerians were not getting better services in spite of the fact that the power sector had been privatized. “With the segment now wholly private sector driven,Nigerians expect better services.
However, our recent experience has not been pleasant, ranging from metering gaps resulting in estimated billing system,load rejection from the distribution companies due to poor infrastructure, which impact negatively on the management of loads allocation,” he stressed.
Manager also noted that industries in the country are folding up due to the high cost of providing alternative source of energy. He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to stop the drift, if “we must take our rightful place in the committee of nations”.
Commenting on the proposed tariff hike in electricity consumption, Manager called on the National Electricity Regulation Company (NERC) to be guided by fairness and objectivity in its dealings.“The demand by the distribution companies for cost reflective tariff so as to remain in business should be placed sideby- side with effective service delivery, so that at the end of the day, service providers are not regulated out of the market.
“However, Nigerians should never be made to pay for services not rendered since this development, if not properly addressed, could be a recipe for chaos,” he emphasised. He said the steel sector had suffered a lot of setbacks due to government’s inconsistent policy and outright neglect on the part of stakeholder,regretting that the pathetic state of Ajaokuta Steel Company and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), which could have provided thousands of jobs for the unemployed youth were abandoned.
Speaking at the meeting, Fashola, said that the Ministry has resolved to talk less and rather concentrate on work. He, therefore, asked Nigerians to be patient with the government, while assuring that Nigerians would not be disappointed at the end of the day. Fashola said that even if the Ministry had all the necessary amount needed to run the sector, the work that was left to be done decades ago cannot be accomplished in a day.
-Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja