From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The federal government on Wednesday blamed its inability to reach the target of 5,000 megawatts of electricity generation as promised on a shortage of gas supply.
The government also indicated that the inauguration of the governing board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) will only take place when the outcome of the forensic audit report it instituted is concluded.
Minister of Power Abubakar Aliyu, while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday, regretted that power generation had remained at around 4,000 megawatts because of the problem of gas, despite government‘s firm contract with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc.
However, he assured that every necessary ingredient has now been obtained to resolve the problem as his ministry is working round the clock to improve the situation.
“Regarding the drop of electricity, yes, you know, the supply has so many players, gas, the cost that drops, issues of gas to some power plants, they cannot switch on their plant if they do you will experience some drop once they switch on, the electricity will increase,” he stated.
“There may be a drop due to the fault of the generator. It’s mostly generation. I’ve been watching since like yesterday (Tuesday) evening, we had a generation of around 4600 megawatts. And you know, we told you since 1st July, that we’ll be able to raise it up to 5000 when we activated the contract.
“And we have not been able to do so, due to some issues around gas contracts, gas to power, which we are trying to take care of. And we have gone very far with that, and I believe, is for that reason that we’re able to reach up to 4600 as of yesterday.
“This morning, it dropped to 4100. So, this is what is happening, you will be experiencing this fluctuation due to all these issues around gas to power, because gas is not something that we control directly, they will not give you gas until you pay. So, we are looking at ways to solve that issue.
“It is the reason we are unable to reach that 5000 we promised you by July 1 of this year. But as you will see from that date, July 1st, we have been around 4000 megawatts since then. Even if you experience a drop, it may not be throughout the day, you will see by evening it will rise up again, just like I saw 4600 megawatts as at yesterday evening. So this is the situation. So we’re working around the clock to ensure that we raised the capacity to the required level.”
The Minister also revealed that FEC approved N2.740 billion, as the revised estimates for the updated rates of building structures of compensation and resettlement of the communities affected by the construction of the 700 megawatts Zungaro Hydro electric power project.
The amount revised the subsisting amount from N19.640 billion to N22.380 billion.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, assured that the government was also anxious to see the board of the NDDC in place because it would aid the smooth working of the ministry.
He said that will only happen if the forensic report is out, assuring however that the government was at the stage of concluding on that.
According to him, And I can very conveniently say that the constitution of the board will follow immediately thereafter. Nobody is trying to stall the constitution of the board. Nobody. I want the board in place because it would make my work run smoothly. But we must also follow the due process, conclude on this report and the white paper is issued. So that is the position.”
Umana also said the council approved the additional costs of carrying out the forensic audit in the size that was considered and approved by counsel.
He said: “You’ll recall that for this exercise, a lead consultant was appointed who had to work with 16 other field auditors and the initial contract zone which covered the lead consultants and the field forensic auditors were N1.786 billion.
“These auditors have since concluded their work but in the cost of carrying out this work, it was discovered that they had to deal with many more projects than were initially envisaged. And the exercise also took an additional seven months.
“The total number of additional projects considered by the auditors was 3,773. So for reasons of the additional number of projects and the additional time taken, Council today approved a revised additional sum of N765,974,975.50 to cover the additional works done by the forensic auditors.“
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while responding to what the government was doing to stem rising inflation, said: “I wish my colleague the Honourable Minister of Budget, Finance and National Planning, was here and she will probably tell you both the fiscal and monetary measures government is taking, especially in the area of the medium-term fiscal measures.
“But what I can tell you is that inflation is a global issue. And I think it reflects, you know, a lot of things going on, globally. But what government does to stem inflation varies from government to government. “Sometimes it is the way you adjust your interest rate or the way you introduce certain fiscal measures that would allow you to bring down the inflation. But like I said, I wish the Minister of Finance was here she will be in a better position to tell me exactly what measures we’ve been taking to ensure that inflation does not continue to soar.”