From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at the weekend, said the planned 2017 National Census would assist the Federal Government to address the problem of shortage of electricity supply in the country.
The minister also said his ministry has mapped out a three-pronged strategy to deal with power problems in the country and had divided the strategies into short, medium and long term.
Fashola, who spoke to newsmen in Awka, disclosed that the census which, according to him, would be part of the medium term plan, would help to properly enumerate power usage and allocation in the country, while increasing power in the grids was the short term plan.
“We’re here to get the job done and get life better for the people of Anambra and the South-East. Our work in power is three pronged; short term, medium term and long term. In the short term, we want to achieve incremental power; the power we have now is not enough.
“Unfortunately, as we are gaining power in some places, expanding power and the transmission grid can now take 7,000 megawatts, but we are losing power generation to gas sabotage and vandalisation,” he said.
“Today, we can evacuate 7,000, but we don’t have the gas to fire those turbines, that is why the Vice President visited the place (Niger Delta) to speak with them. Now, the price of petrol has gone up to 56, so we should take the opportunity to produce more. More fuel means more gas, and more gas means more power.
“We have lost about 3,000 megawatts, and we are currently working towards getting another 4,000 and you can imagine what would have happened if our brothers from the Niger Delta, who are angry with us, could sheath their sword, we would have had about 7,000 now. And you know what that means.”
The minister appealed to Nigerians to stay in their towns or states of residence when the census would be conducted as it would help to ensure proper evacuation of power.
“Stay where you live, don’t move to the village. We have to know where you need power. These are the strategies going further,” he said.
Fashola further disclosed that his ministry was working hard to tackle the problem of estimated billing system with the distribution companies (DISCOS), noting that it might take some time for everyone to own a meter. He urged the people to be calm as the problem would soon be overcome.