The minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, has reiterated his conviction that the problems affecting the nation’s power sector were not insurmountable.
He stated this in Enugu during the third monthly meeting of key operators in the power industry where he maintained that he was optimistic that problems affecting the sector can be solved if everyone understands how his action or inaction affects the system.
He said, “My word to Nigerians is that this problem can be solved, it is a problem that has challenged us for a long time. Not only am I going around to understand what the problems are, I’m going around to understand what I am supposed to manage.
“I have been briefed on paper, in files, and memos, and I am going from power plant to power plant, transmission site to transmission site. What I have seen convinces me that this problem can be solved, it just needs us as a people to understand how the system works better. I am going to dedicate some of my time to breaking down the technical issues that have sounded so complex over the decades so that the average Nigerian can understand how the system works.”
The minister explained that actions taken by some groups or individuals often have grave consequences for the collective. He stated that if people break pipelines, for example, it would definitely weaken the system, adding that no matter how angry a person is, breaking a pipeline should not be contemplated because it would end up affecting the individual and the entire system.
“If you break a pipeline, it is going to affect you, because you won’t have power. If people feel that the best way to secure employment for their colleagues in the union is to shut down a gas or power plant, the truth is that you are going to hurt more people than the people you intend to protect,” the minister said.
He further explained that the third edition of the monthly power sector operators’ meeting was held to resolve pressing issues in the sector, saying, “In terms of specifics, the meeting addressed the problems of gas, problems of financial stability, and the problem of volatility of foreign exchange.”
According to him, the meeting deliberated on how these challenges affect the sector and how they affect the ability of the generation companies (GENCOs) and distribution companies (DISCOs) to implement their foreign technical service agreements with their foreign partners as to how to remit money and pay as well as the difficulty of pricing of local gas consumption in dollars instead of in naira.
The minister also informed that the issue of metering was discussed at the meeting with a resolution that DISCOs should not collect money from electricity consumers without supplying the meters.
“I have made it clear with the regulators that a situation where people pay for meters which are not supplied, for me, undermines trust and trust is necessary in the system,” the minister declared.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the stakeholders resolved to reinvigorate their effort towards customer engagement through the launch of customer care units for adequate resolution of issues in line with the standards set by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission. While the Central Bank of Nigeria gave its commitment to resume the disbursement of the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility upon finalising the structure and payment model with the NERC and other stakeholders, the Transmission Company of Nigeria also gave a commitment to strengthen transmission capacity to more than 5,000 megawatts (MW) by the end of the year. This is even as the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency on its part, disclosed that it has commenced the safety ranking of DisCos.