Senate Adjourns Till Sept 29 After Constituting A Committee To Probe Power Sector Funding Since 1999
Worried by the poor state of electricity in the country, the Senate yesterday set up a 13-man Ad Hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation into the management of the funds appropriated for the power sector since 1999.
The Committee, which is headed by Senator Abubakar Kyari, will also investigate the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the Federal Government. This is even as the Upper Chamber has urged the Federal Government to complete the Mambilla Power Project with the aim of improving the state of electricity supply in the country.
The Senate also condemned in strong terms the inability of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to provide continuous and uninterrupted power supply to all parts of the country. These resolutions were sequel to a motion moved by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, and entitled: Disconnection of Maiduguri from the National Grid and the General Power Degeneration in Nigeria.
In his presentation, Ndume expressed concern that Nigeria, with a population of over 150 million, produces only 4,600 megawatts, while South Africa with population of about 40 million people produces 40,000 megawatts. He observed that the disconnection of Maiduguri in Borno State from the national grid, as well as the degeneration of power supply across the country had affected the economic activities because of the collapse of several industries.
Ndume also expressed concern that with an installed power generation potential of about 5,000 megawatts, the output distributed today was about 1,950 megawatts of energy. He further said that it was disheartening to note that Iran with 70,000 people generates about 42,000 megawatts, while South Korea with about 35 million people generates about 60,000 megawatts of electricity. Ndume, who said that Maiduguri and its environs had been completely disconnected since the emergence of insurgency, complained that the situation had grounded economic activities in the State.
“I buy diesel to run my generator set and that costs me N10, 000 per day. No country can be said to be near development when there is no power. This Senate needs to investigate to give the government support. For years now, a lot of money has been spent but there is nothing to show for it,” he said.
In his contribution, Senator Danjuma Goje said that the motion was apt in view of the untold suffering the lack of power supply had caused Nigerians.
“The problem of power was on before 1999, and I am surprised that up till today the power sector is grappling with sufficient power supply. This motion is apt because there is a need to find out what happened, in spite of the unbundling and huge amount so far spent so far,” he said.
On his part, Senator Godswill Akpabio lamented that many companies had shut down due to irregular power supply in the country. The immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State further lamented that, in spite of the financial contribution by some states in the South to improve power supply, Nigerians are still grappling with lack of electricity supply.
“In 2015, we are celebrating 4,000 megawatts, for me this is worrisome. We cannot have employment without power and Nigerians are complaining about the high cost and some localities, who have not seen light for months are asked to pay high tariff,” he said.
Akpabio urged the 8th Senate to do all within its power to assist the Federal Government in bringing an end to the problem. In his remarks, the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, noted that the inadequate power supply in the country was a cause for concern, as it had affected the economic growth of the nation. He observed that the lack of power supply had plunged the country in further hardship, besides corruption.
“We thought that with the Power Reform Act and unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), we will begin to see a relief with regard to power supply; unfortunately, it is not so.
The Ad Hoc Committee we will set up should look at the activities of the Discos and what is preventing Nigerians from benefitting from the unbundling of the PHCN,” he said.
The UNION reports that the Senate called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the TCN to immediately reconnect Maiduguri back to the national grid. The UNION also reports that the Committee was directed to conclude its investigations, and report to the Chamber within two weeks.
-Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja