The immediate past Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Monday said about 720 containers were recovered with abandoned transmission equipment when he resumed in office as Minister.
Fashola disclosed this on Monday during the ministerial screening by the Senate on Monday.
He said at the commencement of his administration, the focus was on completing what was inherited from the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration which led to the recovery.
“This led us to recovering about 720 containers belonging to the Federal Republic of Nigeria containing transmission equipment that had been left at the Nigerian port for almost a decade.
“Those equipment ultimately found their way to over 100 stations across the country and we had completed some of them by the time I left office,” he said.
Reeling out further achievements recorded while he served as Minister, Fashola added that power audit commenced in 37 federal universities. This according to him is aimed at lighting up the universities.
He said success was recorded in nine universities and Ndufe Alike University, in Ebonyi State will switch on next month.
“We also undertook the power audit of 37 federal universities in Nigeria with a plan to intervene and strategically deploy independent power to Nigeria’s federal universities as out contribution to education development.
“By the time I left, based on the limited resources we had, we had commenced nine as a first phase and all those nine are in various phases of implementation at the moment.
“I can say that from next month, Ndufe Alike University, in Ebonyi State will be the first to be commissioned next month.”
Fashola also noted that road networks of 14 Nigerian universities were built while he served as Minister.
According to him, the Federal Government is also, currently constructing houses in 34 states of the federation.
The Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola has rejected allegations that the Ministry of Power fraudulently awarded an N42billion contract.
The Minister made this clarification on Thursday when the joint committee summoned him to explain the role of his Ministry in the N42 billion rural electrification projects allegedly awarded without due process.
Fashola had a faceoff with the lawmakers during the proceeding as he maintained that the project followed due process.
“There is no contract award for N42billion. There is no such award. So, it is really a matter of whether you want us to continue. But let me say emphatically and clearly, there is no fraud here,” he said.
The lawmakers then enquired if the project has been suspended in line with the House Resolution when the Chairman House Committee on Power, Dan Asuquo, asked the Minister if he obeyed the resolution of the House.
“If you have not obeyed the resolutions of the House, then we don’t even have any need of your appearance, it means you don’t have regard s for the institution of the National Assembly.”
Fashola in swift response said, “Mr Chairman, as I said, I didn’t see the document you referred to, so to ask me to answer whether I have obeyed what I did not see, really I don’t know what you expect me to say.”
The Minister during the one-day investigative hearing appeared alongside the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, some heads of Federal Universities and officials of non-governmental organisations.
The committee also investigated the fast power programme, for accelerated gas production for power generation. The Minister in response to this said the programme was an investment and authorization was sought and received.
“It was an investment, we sought authorization, we got authorization. The side that needed budget was the switchyard to evacuate the power, we got the appropriation from you, we implemented it in accordance with the BPP procurement. And all the documents that showed the certificate of no objection are in the report that is filed before you,” Fashola said.
The lawmakers, therefore, insist that they are interested in ensuring that the projects are carried out in line with relevant laws and as prudently as soon. they are expected to submit their findings to the house for consideration.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has mandated the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to sanction any DISCO that fails to meet up with its metering commitment.
Speaking at the 16th monthly meeting of operators in the electricity industry, at the Ugwuaji 330/132 Kv Transmission Station, Enugu State, Mr Fashola said the Federal Government has zero tolerance for DISCOs who extort customers and sabotage the effort of the government in fighting corruption in all sectors.
“NERC as the regulator has been mandated to ensure that DISCOs implement the commitment they made to this meeting that they will meet a certain minimum threshold of metering. NERC should hold them accountable and sanction those who have not met the threshold.”
Mr Fashola further stated that he has gotten a lot of complaints about some DISCOs disconnecting those who have prepaid meters.
“For now I will keep the names of those DISCOs out of the media but next month if nothing is done by those DISCOs to address these issues I will publish their names.”
He also noted that the Federal Government is progressing in its road map to increase power across the country and appealed to the public to extend the Whistle Blowing Policy to power theft.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the Federal Government is not competing with any state but rather working relentlessly to complement and support them to blossom for maximum development.
Mr Fashola who gave this assurance during his one day working visit to Oyo state, said some abandoned road projects in the state have been revived, with contractors working on site.
He added that his ministry would do all possible to ensure that the 1,156 km of federal roads in Oyo state are put in good condition.
The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, on the other hand, expressed his delight at the visit, noting that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the most strategic partners for the state in the quest for greater development.
The governor underscored the significance of infrastructural provision as the pedestal for agricultural projections of the state which is targeted at producing sufficient food for the entire south west region of the country.
Also speaking, the Controller of Works in the south west for Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Engr. Omerekpe, explained that Mr Faola’s visit became imperative as 11 federal road projects had commenced in the state.
He also appealed to the governor to allow the state return to the Federal Housing Fund Scheme.
Gov. Ajimobi in response, promised that the request from the ministry for 10 more hectares of land for housing projects has been granted and would be perfected in the coming weeks.
“We are open to greater collaboration with Federal Government agents in Oyo state.
“In fact, I expect visits from them as soon as possible so that we can leverage mutually on existing opportunities,” he added.
Mr Fashola, however, stated that all necessary papers were being processed to ensure reimbursement of all outstanding payments to Oyo state for all projects on federal roads.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, have commissioned a 115mw gas turbine installed by Transcorp Power Limited Ughelli, bringing the installed capacity to 620mw from the 160mw which the company inherited from UPN privatization in 2013.
According to the management of Transcorp Power, the company currently generates only 300mw owing to shortage of gas supply, and promises to invest facilities that would increase gas supply to the power station if the government creates an enabling regulatory framework.
Mr. Fashola commended Governor Okowa for his commitment to peace in the Niger Delta, observing that it has paid off with the successful operation of Transcorp in the area without issues.
He also observed that the increase in power generation was a clear sign that the privatization of the power sector had started yielding benefits for Nigerians.
However, Governor Okowa called for collaborative efforts in the power sector to ensure that generated power translates into electricity in the homes of Nigerians, assuring that the existing peace in the state would be consolidated as a continuous boost to investors confidence.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved 701 billion Naira payment assurance for power generating companies in Nigeria.
The fund, kept by the Central Bank of Nigeria, is to enhance evacuation of power by the Transmission Company of Nigeria to the various power distribution companies in the country without wastage.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, briefed State House correspondents on the approval after the FEC meeting presided over by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osibabjo.
He said the guarantee is an instrument meant to resolve liquidity problems encountered by the power generating companies in payments to gas suppliers.
Also approved by FEC was the sum of 263 million Naira for the growing of gum arabic seedlings in the country.
The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said the fund was approved to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria in producing the gum, as the country ranks second in the world behind Sudan.
He said $43 million was earned from the export of gum arabic in 2016, and that 17 states are involved in the gum’s cultivation across Nigeria.
Mr Ogbeh added that the FEC also approved the distribution of improved cassava stems to farmers in the southern part of the country.
The cassava stems, to be provided by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, are to improve Nigeria’s cultivation of cassava which is a primary source of ethanol and industrial starch production.
The Minister Of Power, Works And Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has blamed Nigeria’s recent drop in power generation, on acts of vandalism on the gas pipelines at the Ihovbor Power Plant in Edo state.
Mr Fashola made the claims during an inspection of the 14 km Benin-Lokoja road reconstruction project at the Aduwawa axis in Benin City, the Edo state capital, as part of his assessment of projects being handled by his ministry in the state.
“There is about 3,000 mw of power that is not available because of vandalisation, that is not helpful to the country.
“If we add that 3,000 mw to the 4,000mw we have, then we get to 7,000 mw- that is the kind of progress needed,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, has called for quick intervention on the failed portions of the Benin-Auchi road, among other dilapidated roads in the state.
“There is one other place just by Ramat park, the place is caving in and we need to do something quick”.
He also said the nation’scurrent power generation will rise to 6,000 megawatts if the damaged oil pipelines in the Niger delta are restored.
He made this known while speaking at the monthly Power Sector and Stakeholders Meeting which took place at the Olorunsogo injection sub-station of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IEDC).
A group that calls themselves the Niger Delta Avengers have claimed responsibility for attacks on oil and gas facilities in the region, gradually dipping the nation’s oil production which had hit 2.4 million barrels per day in the post-amnesty era.
For a nation that depends largely on sales of crude oil for its revenue, further drop in production at a time of volatile oil prices is a huge threat to the her economy.
This formed the core of the meetings he had with government officials and traditional rulers in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State, Bayelsa state, where he has visited in the last couple of weeks as well as Rivers state, where he visited on Monday, February 13.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has assured citizens of Anambra State that power failure would soon be a thing of the past as the Federal Government is doing all to improve its supply across the country, as well as all other irregularities being experienced.
This is in response to several protests in some areas in Anambra state over the prolonged power failure as well as the outrageous bills being slammed on citizens by the power operating company, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC).
Residents of Ngozika Housing Estate, Awka, and the Awka North and South Association of traders dominated the protesting group, claiming that they were adversely affected by the prolonged power failure and outrageous exploitation of citizens through the billing system.
Their grouse with the EEDC, included prolonged power failure in their areas which they claim started since 2013 and the outrageous bills between 7,000 and 8,000 Naira slammed on them monthly by the electricity company despite the blackout.
Furthermore, it was alleged that the management of the EEDC never responded to the complaints and accusations levelled against them.
They appealed to both the State and the Federal Government to intervene in the matter and also enforce the distribution of pre-paid meters as it would help stop the Estimated Bill practice.
Mr Fashola, who was on a working visit to the State Governor, Willie Obiano, however gave a comprehensive detail of the events of the power sector including the three pronged plans of the government and issues of gas sabotage that had dwindled power generation causing a loss of 3000 megawatts.
He stated that activities of the Niger Delta Militants were part of the problems which led to the country losing about 3,000 megawatts on the western axis of the Niger Delta.
“Our strategy is a three pronged approach; short term, medium term and long term.
“In the short term, what we want to achieve is incremental power, the power is not enough.
“Unfortunately as we are gaining power in some places, we are expanding transmission and the transmission grid can now take 7000 megawatts but we are losing the power generation to gas sabotage and vandalism.
“So today, when we can evacuate 7000 MW we don’t have the fuel to fire the turbines because of the conflict in the Niger Delta.
“We are working to resolve those conflicts, you saw the Vice President during his Niger Delta visit, trying to generate peace so that we can resume production.
“More fuel also means more gas, and more gas means more power but if you follow what we have been doing, we are completing transmission lines, awarding new ones over the last seven or eight months, some of the power plants too are going to be finished this year, Gurara will be finished this year, Kaduna will be finished this year, Kashim Bila will be later in the year or early 2019.
“We are working to deliver some solar initiatives also to penetrate communities that have not seen power.
“These are some of our continuing plans for incremental power and also to address the liquidity issues in gas generation and also in distribution.
The former Lagos State Governor, announced an upcoming nationwide power audit to ascertain consumer power consumption rate and crosscheck the corresponding tariff to ensure its suitability so as to ensure that consumers do not pay more or less tariff and as such no one is being cheated.
He gave the assurance that the Federal Government would also address the metering system, having observed the agony people are subjected to with the estimated billing practice.
“When the census is being done, stay where you live, don’t move home to the village because that’s where we will know where you need power. If we don’t know how many people that need power, then we will never give enough.
“We are addressing metering issue with the DISCOs too, we know your experience with estimated billing, but it takes time to get to each house, we need to do a power audit and know the kind of consumption you are making, because there are different classes of consumers, there’s the R-one, a very basic consumer, vulnerable people, their own tariff has not changed, it is N4 per kilowatt hour.”
On solar initiatives, the Minister reiterated that in order to penetrate remote communities that had been in darkness all their lives, the idea was in the medium term plan when there would have been an increase in power generation and distribution.
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, had called for a visible Federal Government presence in the Southeast geopolitical zone and Anambra state in particular, as the zone had clearly been distanced in the scheme of developmental projects especially in the area of road infrastructure.
The Governor said this when he received the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.
He stressed that any positive action taken by the federal government in the Southeast presently would go a long way in rekindling confidence and sense of belonging in them.
The Minister assured the Governor of the commitment of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to stimulate the economy with infrastructural development and that the Southeast would get its fair share.
Mr Fashola had been in the Southeast for a week inspecting federal projects, especially the Second Niger Bridge project and the roads.
The Minister whose entourage comprised top officials of the Ministry, commended Governor Obiano for his intervention on some failed federal roads and assured him that modalities of reimbursement were being worked out.
He relayed to the Governor the realities on ground with respect to the ongoing projects and maintained that the ministry would support the state in achieving its developmental aims as the federal government was not in competition with any state government, rather it would help them in successfully completing all projects everywhere.
He said: “Our concern essentially is to come and see the state of the federal roads, especially those that connect the states in the Southeast themselves and also to states in other zone.
“I will like to thank you for the interventions that you have made on some of the federal government roads and as I briefed you before, the President is mindful of the contributions to the state and even your intelligence has kicked off the plan by the federal government this year to make a provision for a board to settle all the state obligations and also various debts owed to contractors.
“This is part of the strategy from the federal government and Mr President to use infrastructure to stimulate the economy.”
Three officials from the ministry also gave status updates on the various projects in the state but not without appreciating all the support they had received from the state government.
Governor Obiano, in his response then commended the renewed interest of the federal government in the federal infrastructure in the Southeast and stressed the need for federal presence as that would boost the confidence of the people in the present administration at the center.
“I am delighted more importantly that you addressed some of the key areas that are bothering us. I’m happy to hear from you that the federal government will start work on the Second Niger Bridge this year.
“Finally, what we are saying here is that we want federal government presence in the Southeast as a whole and in Anambra in particular.
“We have lacked this presence for a very long time and their presence here will clearly enkindle a sense of belonging and improve major activities in the area,” he said.
After the meeting, the inspection team from the Governor’s lodge moved to sites of inspection, first through the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway to the Second Niger Bridge.
The construction was in the early phase, although for two years the contracting firm had registered its presence at the site.
According to the Division Manager of the company, Mr. Hadi Bley, they were awaiting funding for the commencement of construction and the early phase was expected to be completed within eight months and then the main construction would begin. This might likely take 36 to 40 months.
The Minister promised that inspection would be constant until the bridge is completed.
The Nigerian government says it will do all in its powers to overcome the setbacks in the power sector.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, gave the assurance while briefing reporters after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
One of the strategies that the government has adopted, according to the Minister, is the approval made by the Council for the completion of the Odogunyan Transmission Sub-station in Ikorodu in Lagos at the cost of 3.5 billion Naira.
According to Mr Fashola, the contract was awarded in 2009 and abandoned for lack of payment.
He said the cost was reversed, as a result of the economic reality of the times so that the project could be completed and put into use as an addition to the expansion capacity of the national grid.
After 55 years of independence Nigeria still depends on imported generators for electricity.
The cost of running these generators is high, forcing most businesses in the oil-rich nation to close down.
Nigeria with a populations of over 180 million people has electricity that fluctuates between 5,000 megawatts and zero megawatts. Electricity experts said Nigeria needed about 100,000 megawatts of electricity to boast of constant power supply to its population.
Latest report has it that electricity generation in the nation has dropped to less than 2,500 megawatts.
Blame the drop on vandalism of gas pipelines and huge debts to DISCOS and GENCOS, a source of worry to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
One step the government is sure will help expand the capacity of power in the country is the completion of the sub-station in Ikorodu which has been lying fallow since 2009.
When completed, the minister said it would add extra capacity to the national grid.
Concerned citizens have continued to ask; can there be a time when Nigeria will generate at least 40,000 megawatts of power, for its citizens like other countries of the world without failure?
Motorists and commuters plying the long bridge section of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway have begun to experience some relief as the first phase of rehabilitation work on both sides of the bridge is complete.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who visited the area on Monday, commended the contractors for the timely completion of the repair work.
Driving through both sides of the long-bridge portion of the expressway has been a horrible experience for motorists who spent hours in gridlock on the bridge as a result of the partial closure for repair work.
But few days to the deadline, the first phase of the rehabilitation has been completed and this, the Minister visited to ascertain.
Having received a brief of the technical details of the rehabilitation work, he said “as far as the work that has been done by our contractor on this Lagos-Sagamu bound section, so far so good”.
“For about 40 years since this road was opened, no major maintenance of the bridge had taken place and we have subjected it to very severe vehicle tonnage,” he said.
The Minister also commended motorists for their endurance, assuring of the federal government’s commitment to the completion of the expansion project within the stipulated time.
He added, however, that the work was not done yet.
“Its a 4,500 metre bridge on both sides and they still have to install some joints – about 44 on one side and 44 on the other side. So the work is not finished on this section of the bridge.”