Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has so far spent over N1.7 trillion on the already privatised power sector in the last three years, it has been revealed.
Despite this support, 80 million Nigerians cannot still access power.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State disclosed this Thursday at the end of the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja, presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
El-Rufia, the Chairman of the NEC Committee on the Ownership Structure of Power Distribution Companies in the country, declared that such funds cannot be sustainable for long.
According to him, if government is still supporting the sector for as much as N1.7 trillion, “That is certainly not privatisation”, the governor said.
El-Rufai said the committee briefed NEC on its findings so far, particularly the complicated nature of the power sector.
He stated that the power sector needed emergency attention to address issues, including lack of capacity, tariff and funding.
“Right now, we shall invite members of the general public to also give their views by sending in memoranda to the committee. The objective is how do we fix the power sector?
“Hopefully, by February, the committee will submit a comprehensive report to NEC”, he added.
El-Rufai, while declaring that N1.7 trillion subsidy to the sector was no longer possible said: “Let me begin with the issue of electricity, I will plead that we don’t begin to pass judgement until we submit our final report.
“The problems in electricity are many, capacity is one, perhaps. There are some that have shown lack of capacity. It is true. But there are many that are fantastic, so it is very difficult to pass quick judgement. There are other issues.
“The entire sector is broken, the tariff is an issue, the way the privatisation was done is an issue to many. So there are many issues.
“What we have agreed on is that there are fundamental problem in the electricity supply industry. And that you cannot privatise an industry and then, over three years since privatisation, you pumped in N1.7 trillion of government money into it, that is not privatization.
“The Federal Government has supported the electricity sector with N1.7 trillion in the last three years and this is not sustainable. So, solutions must be found, those solutions are not going to be nice, there maybe painful but the only way to solve the structural problems in the industry is to take some very difficult decisions.
“There are many issues including the ones you have observed in Kano Disco. Our hope is that when we must have presented our report, we would have identified issues and isolated these issues and would present options to the government that would will have costs and benefits. Because, we continue to spend N1.7 trillion every three years. The question is, if we continue like this, are we getting electricity, industrialisation? That is one option. We can also look at other options and have cost and benefits attached to it for the consideration of the economic council of government.
“So, my appeal is that let’s not be quick to pass judgement. Right now, we are listening to all the stakeholders, of course there is a lot of blame game. At the end of the day, we must have an honest conversation as Nigerians and know that, unless we fix electricity, we cannot make progress. And this electricity is required not only in the cities but in every home, every rural area. How do we fix the structural problem in the industry? So that it doesn’t cost the government this much to cover the whole of the country.