…25,000MW in 4 years –Minister
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Dennis Mernyi, Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has noted that even though Nigerians were now turning the poor power situation in the country to a butt of joke, it was no longer funny.
The president who spoke on Monday at the opening session of National Economic Council Retreat on the economy at State House Conference Centre, Abuja, vowed that by the end of the remaining three years of his administration, 10,000 megawatt would be achieved.
The current power generation is about 4,000 megawatt.
The two-day retreat is to generate immediate, medium and long-term viable policy solutions to the economic challenges facing the country at both the federal and state levels.
Speaking at another forum, Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Shehuri, disclosed plans by government to achieve a generation target of 25,000 megawatts by 2020.
Shehuri, who spoke at the fifth induction ceremony of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria Graduate Skills Development Programme in Abuja yesterday, stated that the present government was determined to transform the power sector in four years.
Shehuri said the feat could only be achieved through robust collaboration among stakeholders as well as sound improvements in infrastructural development and capacity building.
Also, the President urged the governors to consider what he called some random policy options filtered from across the spectrum of our stakeholders on four selected sectors of our economy including agriculture, power, manufacturing and housing.
According to him, “Nigerians’ favourite talking point and butt of jokes is the power situation in our country. But, ladies and gentlemen, it is no longer a laughing matter.
“We must and by the grace of God we will put things right. In the three years left for this administration we have given ourselves the target of 10,000 megawatts distributable power. In 2016 alone, we intend to add 2,000 megawatts to the national grid.”
The President regretted that despite the privatization of the power sector, not much has been achieved in terms of performance as the old problems have persisted.
“This sector has been privatised but has yet to show any improvement in the quality of service. Common public complaints are constant power cuts destroying economic activity and affecting quality of life, high electricity bills despite power cuts, low supply of gas to power plants due to vandalisation by terrorists, obsolete power distribution equipment such as transformers, power fluctuations, which damage manufacturing equipment and household appliances, low voltage which cannot run industrial machinery.
“These are some of the problems, which defied successive governments. In our determination to change we must and will, insha Allah, put a stop to power shortages,” he declared.
He therefore challenged the retreat to consider the privatisation exercise, noting, “we are facing the classic dilemma of privatisation: Public interest Vs Profit Motive.
“Having started, we must complete the process. But National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the regulatory authority, has a vital job to ensure consumers get value for money and over-all public interest is safeguarded.”
In the same vein, President Buhari used the occasion to urged all 32 states governed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to build 250,000 housing units per annum to enable the party to meet up with its election promise to provide one million houses per year for Nigerians