By Adewale Sanyaolu
Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s, strong criticism against the poor performance of the power sector, the Federal Government has budgeted about N806,103.5 billion for various power projects in the 2022 budget.
The N806,103.5 billion power sector budget/ intervention is coming at a time when stakeholders have opposed the continuous support for privatised entities by the Federal Government, saying such move was counterproductive to the ideals of privatisation.
Buhari had in a televised interview last Wednesday said he was not happy with the state of electricity in Nigeria.
Some of the projects as highlighted in the 2022 budget included: N1 billion for rural electrification access programme in federal universities; N220.5 billion for multilateral and bilateral funded projects(Zungeru, NEP, Abuja power feeding scheme, transmission access, among others).
Others are the N800 million for the distribution expansion programme projects to utilise the stranded power from the grid, N114 billion funding (inclusive of multilateral loans) to the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for the completion of renewable energy interventions for rural electrification projects nationwide, N303 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/Gas Power Station, Kaduna and N470billion for Kashambilla transmission.
Meanwhile, a group, the All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum, said the displeasure of Buhari with the performance of the power sector is an indictment on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
The group advised the president to scrap NERC, which is the power sector regulator, and move its responsibilities to the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).
Its National Coordinator, Adeola Samuel-Ilori, gave the advice in an interview in Lagos last week.
Buhari had in a televised interview on Wednesday said he was not happy with the state of electricity in Nigeria.
He had also questioned the financial and technical competencies of the Electricity Distribution Companies inherited by the administration.
Power generation in the country still hovers below 5,000MW despite the 13,000MW installed capacity.
However, Samuel-Ilori noted that the buck stops on the table of the president who should demonstrate sufficient political will to rejig the power sector in the interest of national development.
He said: “Our advice to the president is to scrap NERC for not living up to its responsibility of regulating the industry.
“The government should put the sector under the supervision of the FCCPC which had, in recent times, shown that it had what is required to protect the interest of Nigerians.
“If we have a regulator that cannot only bark but can bite, all the stakeholders in the electricity value-chain, especially the DisCos, will sit up.”
Samuel-Ilori noted that the DisCos had for several years ignored NERC’s directives without sanctions, which had encouraged impunity in the sector.
He said, for instance, NERC’s order on capping of Estimated Billing was not obeyed by some DisCos, compelling the All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum to institute a suit against NERC and the DisCos before an Ikeja High Court.
According to him, the Meter Assets Providers scheme also stipulates a 10-day period for customers to be metered after making payment but some of the Discos are not adhering to the directive.
Samuel-Ilori decried the slow pace of metering of electricity customers across the country, adding that Nigerians should be allowed to procure their meters directly from any source by the DisCos.