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Moving The Power Sector Forward

Posted: Oct 28, 2015 at 12:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent statement by a former Chairman, House Committee on Power in the 6th House of Representatives, Godwin Ndudim Elumelu, that powerful Nigerians in all walks of life killed the power sector speaks volume.  Although he did not mention names to substantiate his claims, the issue here is not about the allegations but on the way forward in the power sector for President Muhammadu Buhari.

That Nigeria urgently needs a stable power supply is not in doubt, although a lot of efforts and policies have been made to ensure that the sector is up and running. The irony however is that the money expended in the sector by past governments has not yielded much dividends.

Indeed the endemic corruption in the system has continued to stall the vision of a stable power supply for Nigerians. A situation where government, according to Elumelu, would spend about $1.545 billion on 9 Gas Turbines when 18 of same equipment were bought for $404 million within a short period, underscores that kind of rot that has been going on in the sector. Available information reveals that President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration invested about $16 billion in the power sector with a view to revamping it, yet not much was achieved as a large chunk of the fund was allegedly diverted to private use by some cabals in connivance with some government officials. The result is the continuous abysmal power supply in the country.

Regrettably, the effect of the dysfunctional power sector has been taking its toll on the Nigerian economy while the so-called cabals who are benefiting from it look the other way. Many jobs have been lost as a result of the industries that have either folded or moved to other countries. The inflow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) indices has also been low. Moreover, the development and sustenance of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), which should drive the economy are slow due to lack of requisite catalyst from the power sector.

The truth is that the situation in the power sector is unacceptable to Nigerians and not a few believe that the time to get it right is now. Although the privatization policy of the power sector by the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration is a laudable way to go, the Muhammadu Buhari’s government needs to improve on the reform. Ever since the privatization policy came on stream, there seems to have been improvement in electricity supply across the country. Reports show that Egbin Power Plc, which was bought over by Sahara Power Group and The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), has succeeded in taking power generation from an average of 500 megawatts as at 2013 when they took over, to about 1, 100 megawatts accounting for almost one-third of the current improvement in power supply across the country. But the privatization exercise is not smooth yet.

Therefore, with President Buhari on the saddle, we believe he must be decisive about the sector if he intends to improve the economy. To this end, it is important that he, perhaps, carries out the kind of clean -up on-going in the oil sector in the power sector too. The bottom line is that Mr President must do the needful. He must hit the ground running to get the power sector to its desired place for the benefit of Nigerians and the country.