The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has said that all Nigerians can be heroes and heroines in overcoming the current power challenges facing the country, even as the situation has forced some industrialists to downsizing and closing down.
He made this disclosure as a guest speaker last thursday, at the Quarterly Business Luncheon of the Institute of Directors Nigeria held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. Fashola who made a presentation on the theme; Agenda for Power: Prospects and Challenges, appealed to economic stakeholders not to panic over the power situation in the country while calling on them to perform their roles and responsibilities by helping to unravel and release the opportunities inherent what they currently view as challenges.
In his words, “I know that these times are challenging but we have seen in this country, challenging times in the past and we are still standing. “There is something indomitable about the spirit when we confront challenges and we must dig deep again and find that indomitable spirit”, he added.
The Hon. Minister reiterated revelation of a roadmap by his ministry, which would ensure progressive power supply from incremental to steady and then uninterrupted power supply nationwide.
Analyzing retrospectively, he mentioned that the country had a government-driven monopoly of power before now. Dating back to 1950,
the nation’s electricity was managed by the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), with National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) emerging to replace it and Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) taking over afterwards.
Going further, the administrator of the power ministry said, upon unbundling the PHCN in November 2013, government sold majority of its assets to private companies, giving out 6Generation companies (Gencos) and 11Distribution companies (Discos) of the 18 companies as it retained only one leg of the power chain; Transmission company of Nigeria (TCN). As a result, it stopped producing and distributing power as well as issuing meters.
Still revealing to the audience, Fashola stated that government also created companies like the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) the Nigerian Electricity Management and Safety Agency (NEMSA) and the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO), which ideally ought not to be there until the system was stabilized.
In that context, he pointed there were certain elements of the privatization process he desired working on if he had the prerogatives.
Coming back to the current state, he was quoted as saying “I am mindful of pain, mindful of discomfort and mindful of cost”. He however enjoined the Directors to cease from downsizing, saying “that is not the way to go, my appeal is for subsize and self-constraint”.
Still touching on the prospect, the Minister submitted that from 2013-2016, the sector would have been in transition for three years this November, the present administration has spent one year and he would have spent seven months as Minister.
In that vein, he asked if three years was enough to achieve efficient power, which wasn’t realized in 63years under the sole control of government and lamented all forms of comparisons with other countries.
He further disclosed, “the power sector I inherited as minister is one that the government role has been reduced to policy and regulation except for NIPP projects which government started”
On current and future activities, he pointed that 900-1000MW will be added to the grid in August, highlighting projects to include repair of gas turbines, strengthening transmission to evacuate power and the National Independent Power Project (NIPP), Gbarain, expansion of Qua Iboe, completion of Kaduna Power Plant with generation capacity of 215MW, Zungeru with 700MW, Azura with 300MW, Kasimbilla 40MW, Dadin Kowa 39MW and Gurara 30MW.
Other sources of generation according to him will include Zuma Coal, Mambilla Hydro with 1,200MW and solar, noting that energy mix would be launched at the next National Council of Power meeting to aid achievement of its objectives in this direction.
Similarly, the minister in his response to news men at the 13th Annual Lecture of the Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), the Minister said “One of the things the energy mix will do is not just taking power plants closer to fuel substations but to also help achieve national energy security. So, we will go beyond solar to some coal for a lot of hydro, finishing hydro plants like zungeru and starting the biggest hydropower Manbela which will give us in a place about 3,000mw”.