As it begins public hearing this week on the Power Sector Recovery Plan, the National Assembly has been urged to ensure its planned intervention does not amount to a mirage like previous ones.
This call was made by Mr. Festus Mbisogu, Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Blue Diamond Logistics and a foremost agitator for stable electricity and sustainable energy in Nigeria.
Mbisiogu in a statement said it would be an exercise in futility should the National Assembly allows its public hearing to go the way of others. “Since March 2005 when the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act was signed into law leading to the privatisation of the power sector, we have had series of public hearings in the National Assembly as well as other seminal interventions. Yet the 11 electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and six generating companies (GenCos) have shown that they are not capable of satisfying the electricity needs of Nigerians.
“Rather, Nigerian electricity consumers have borne the brunt of their inefficiency, paying for services that are not rendered. The National Assembly with its oversight responsibilities that would have instituted decency and discipline in the operations of the operators in the power sector have been engaging in mere academic exercises with frequent public hearings without concrete and implementable results achieved,” he said.
Mbisiogu called for a total probe of the power sector to ascertain why privatisation of the sector was not working in Nigeria as in other African countries. He also urged the Federal Government to suspend the planned tariff increase which is scheduled to take effect from July 1, 2020, insisting that only in a regime of efficient services are prices increased.
“It has become imperative that all Federal Government’s interventions in the power sector from the date of the privatisation of the sector to date should be thoroughly investigated. Also, all market participants in the power value chain should be investigated to ascertain the level of corporate governance compliance in the Nigerian electricity industry. These efforts will truly unravel the adequacy of such interventions. What is the rationale in increasing tariff when we are not enjoying for the services we are paying for? Increase in prices of goods and services does not lead to increased service deliverables, particularly in the power sector, if the fundamental challenges bogging the sector down are not tackled,” he said.
While recalling the devastating impact of inconsistent and unreliable access to power on Nigeria’s economy, he said no nation makes progress until it fixes it’s energy problems.
“Do you know many businesses, particularly Small-scale Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are losing billions of naira everyday in revenue with many companies and industries having folded up with the attendant job losses since the power sector was privatised?” he queried. He said with the global economic meltdown occasioned by COVID-19, time had come for the Federal Government and all stakeholders in the power sector to come together and rescue Nigeria’s economy from total collapse.
Mbisiogu who is the founder of Good Governance Initiative, has been in the forefront of the agitation for a stable, sustainable electricity in Nigeria in the last 10 years.