You Can’t Spend Public Money to Bailout DisCos, NLC Tells Fed Govt


THE Nigeria Labour Congress ((NLC) yesterday accused the Federal Government of wasting over N11 trillion on the power sector reform, The Nation reports

NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who spoke with reporters in Abuja, said it was obvious that the power sector reform embarked upon by the government has failed.

But, he said the government was still bent on pumping more money into the sector, adding that while countries like South Africa were thinking about producing above 40,000 megawatts of electricity, Nigeria was still celebrating 5000 megawatts.

 He said since inception, the present government has spent about N660 billion in form of intervention in the power sector, adding that despite claims that they have paid over N500 million as electricity bill for public institutions and streetlights in Abuja, the DisCos were still disconnecting the streetlights to conserve energy to be sold to others.

He said: “One of the things affecting our country today is the issue of accountability. Every other issue can directly or indirectly be linked with the issue of good governance. The state level is even worst and that is the bane of our challenge. Take for instance, the power sector.

“I was really amazed yesterday, when I was going through some of the issues we need to campaign on and I realised that the present government has already committed about N660 billion in form of intervention to a sector that is already comatose without corresponding inputs and attendances.

“Even on the issue of metering, they are proposing to give a bailout to the DisCos. It is obvious that we are going the wrong direction. It has been made clear that it is not about resources.

“In about 16 years, we have so far committed about N11 trillion to the power sector reforms and yet, what we have day-in-day out is numerous challenges of lack of power. Even within the city of Abuja, the DisCos are busy disconnecting streetlights. I am aware that during the launch of prepaid meters, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration informed us that they have committed about N500 million in paying liabilities for power to public institutions, including streetlights.

“But they are busy disconnecting the streets because once they do that, they thought that they will be able to use the power being saved from there to service others.”

Wabba added: “We cannot continue like that because no country can make progress, if we don’t have stable power supply. We made it very clear from the time we started this reform that it was going to fail.

“Many countries of the world, where those processes have failed were cited and those countries have owned up that the process has failed. So, let us review the process and take a new direction. It does not matter how long you have gone on the wrong direction.

“If you don’t get your direction right, it is obvious that you will not be able to have the benefit of having stable power supply needed to drive our industries and the process of industrialisation. The process of diversification can only make meaning, if we have steady power supply. We must situate this within the context of our challenge as a country. It is not about money.”

He queried: “How can a government that is saying we are in a recession still advance from public money N38 billion to DisCos as bailout to look for meters. This is a public enterprise because these companies have already been sold. If they don’t have the capacity and the resources, let them bailout.

“I think it is time the process is reversed. If it is not reversed, we will continue in the  wrong direction because till now, we have not be able to attain 10,000 megawatts. We are still celebrating the attainment of between 5,000 and 6,000 megawatts when a country like South Africa is looking beyond 40,000 megawatts.

“The real issue here is actually the issue of good governance, transparency and accountability. We saw the example of Ethiopia. With less than $10 billion, they have built a power plant that is now generating power and even selling to neigbouring countries.”



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