Power Sector Reform: Senate Calls For Review Of Act, Asks MDAs To Pay Debt

Lawmakers during plenary at the Senate chamber in Abuja February 12, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Senate has called for the review of the Power Sector Reform Act 2005.

This was a decision taken by the Senators on Wednesday during plenary.

The Senators are of the view that the reform of the sector will consolidate the roles of regulators and policymakers; bridge existing gaps in the legal and regulatory framework, and cater to post-privatization operational issues in Nigeria’s power sector.

The position of the Senate was contained in resolutions reached following consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Power on “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems.”

Chairman of the Committee, Gabriel Suswam (PDP – Benue North East), in his presentation stressed the need for more consumers to be metered to avoid estimated billing.

He added that the Federal Government’s intervention since the privatization of the power sector in 2012 till date – amounts to N1.5 trillion – a sum used to fund tariff shortfalls that ensured Generating Companies (Gencos) and their respective suppliers were paid for energy delivered and consumed.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Sam Egwu (PDP – Ebonyi North), while lamenting the “decay” in the power sector, described the privatization process that led to the sale of government assets as “faulty and highly compromised.”

The Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, on his part called for the outright discontinuation of subsidy payments on electricity by the Federal Government to Distribution Companies (DISCOs).

The Senate in its resolutions, accordingly, resolved that the Cost reflective Tariffs Principle be reviewed and revisited to ensure that the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) pay for the full amount of power they receive from the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET).

As a way of bridging the gap in remittances to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Senate urged Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) to make provision for payment of all outstanding debts and liabilities owed to DISCOs, as well as accommodate budgetary provision for anticipated consumption for the 2021 Appropriation year.

The upper chamber while kicking against the bill on criminalizing estimated billing, called for the immediate removal of the increased customs duties of 35 percent to allow Meter Asset Providers (MAP) clear meters stuck at the port.

According to the Senate, rather than continue to pay for consumption, the Federal Government should consider an intervention that would see to the purchase of customer meters as a way of fulfilling its 40 percent shareholding in the Discos.

As way of insulating the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission against political interference, the upper chamber resolved that the regulatory body be empowered and allowed to carry out its functions in a way that guarantees that it is not distorted.

It also called on the Federal Government to consider recruiting 320 additional manpower for the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) to carry out technical inspection, testing, and certification of all categories of Electrical installation across parts of the country, as well as provide nationwide metering inspection services.

FG Appoints Osinbajo, El-Rufai As Members of Power Sector Reform Group

A photo combination of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the composition of a Power Sector Reform Coordination Working Group, under the leadership of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

A statement by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state and chairman of the committee, set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) on Power sector reforms and Distribution Company ownership (DISCOs), said that the new Working Group will incorporate the ongoing efforts of his committee and ensure all power sector initiatives are on the same page under the leadership of the Vice President Osinbajo.

‘’This new presidential working group will coordinate ad-hoc committee and other efforts on a national scale, and report progress fortnightly to Mr. President,’’ the statement clarified.

According to the statement, ‘’the presidential working group, which will meet weekly, commenced work at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, at a meeting at which the Vice President presided.’’

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The statement added that members of the group include, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, representing the Nigerian Governors’ Forum as well as the National Economic Council and the Chief of Staff to the President,  Abba Kyari, who leads the German Government/Siemens initiative to improve power supply.

Other members of the group are the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emiefele and Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari who is also the secretary of the Working Group.

The statement emphasized that ‘’the key objective of the working group is to harmonise various efforts by the Federal Government and the 36 States, through the National Economic Council (NEC), on power sector reform and to oversee the design and implementation of a well-coordinated roadmap for the sector.

‘’The national working group will support critical financing initiatives with the World Bank Group, DFID, and other key development partners. The group will also ensure that ongoing Federal and State initiatives are in sync with the Presidential Power Initiative being implemented with the German government and Siemens, and infrastructure investments of the TCN and the Ministry of Power,’’ the statement added.

President Buhari will receive updates and briefings twice a month on the progress of the National Working Group.

In November 2019, NEC constituted an ad-hoc Committee to determine the nature and extent of State Governments’ ownership of Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and provide feedback on the challenges afflicting the power sector reforms.

Expect Constant Electricity Supply Soon, Engineer Tells Nigerians

The Vice President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Otis Anyaeji on Wednesday said that if the Federal Government continues with the pace it applied in the power sector since the 2009 then Nigerian may soon enjoy steady power supply.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Mr Anyaeji said achieving steady power generation is not the main issue but maintaining the power generated and the supporting infrastructure.

He said, “Certainly, if we continue moving at the pace the country has moved in power since 2009, there is no doubt that we are going to achieve steady, reliable power supply status in the shortest possible time and then maintain it at that because power development is not a senile phenomenon as it is an activity that has to go on at all times.”

He said to achieve the desirable power supply, Nigeria has to keep investing in power to add capacity and maintain what’s already on ground and continue to expand on these investments.

Mr Anyaeji said power generation goes with distribution and transmission and that Nigeria has and can achieve equal capacity in all the three areas.

He however noted that the major problem is capacity. He cited a a grid study done after the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) did some emergency installations of infrastructures to boost power generation saying the study found that the grid would not be able to take on those plants built by the NIPP, hence more projects for strengthening the grid.

Watch video for more details.

Nebo Declares Zero Tolerance For Power Saboteurs

The New Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo has declared zero tolerance for sabotuers of the power sector reform.

The minister has stated that government will not hesitate to deal with anyone who plans to destabilize the smooth transition in the power sector in line with the on-going privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

He gave the warning at a technical session of the presidential task force on power in Abuja which had government officials and industry experts in attendance.

Here, the work of the task force will be x-rayed and assessed by the experts.

Professor Nebo expressed his belief that decades of neglect is responsible for the rot in the power sector and stated that it will soon be a thing of the past.

However, analysts worry that it may take a lot more than words of caution to stop sabotage in the sector starting with the uncertainties trailing the management contract of the Transmission Company of Nigeria by Canadian firm Manitoba Hydro.

Critics and analysts have commented that the TCN /Manitoba issue seems to have become a game of to be or not to be which the Federal Government insists will be sorted in the nearest future.

Professor Nebo has also pointed out that any official in the power distribution companies found to be sabotaging the revenue collection targets of the market  will be made to face the full wrath of the law as government will not tolerate complacency and ineptitude of these companies.

 

Poor Power Conservation Is Bigger Threat To Power Reforms – Fashola

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola has expressed dismay over the poor conservation of power utilities among Nigerians, describing it as a major threat to the power sector reforms.

Mr. Fashola expressed the concern in his address during the monthly “Distinguished Visitor” lecture of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to the governor, “the poor sense of value towards public utilities will always in the long run make a mess of successful projects.”

He stated that Nigeria has neglected such critical aspects in developing programmes to ensure stable power supply across the country, adding that the job of NERC as a regulator in the sector would be partial if it failed to emphasise to Nigerians the need for a value system built on conserving and preserving electricity utilities.

Mr Fashola called for a drive towards service improvement in the provision of utilities and also the all important aspect of conserving and preserving utilities, which is key to a sustainable future.

I will be Nigeria’s most praised leader – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has told the opposition and all the people that criticise his administration for non-performance, saying that he will be the most praised president of the country at the end of his tenure in office.

President Goodluck Jonathan (L) with the outgoing NBA president, Joseph Daudu (R)

Mr Jonathan said this while speaking at the opening of the 52nd annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) holding in the Federal Capital Territory on Monday.

The president wondered why the first 12 months of his administration has been awashed with criticisms over problems and challenges that he did not create, and reiterated his resolve to transform the country.

He pointed at the reforms taking place in the power sector, and other infrastructure, reminding the critics that transformation does not come with a wave of the hand.

The theme for this year’s NBA’s conference is “Nigeria as Emerging Market: Redefining our law’s and politics for growth”.

Emerging after 50 years

Matthew Kukah delivered the keynote address on Nigeria as an emerging democracy at the NBA conference.

The clergy in his speech wondered why after 50 years of independence, Nigerians are still talking about the emergence of the nation.

He said that things are not walking because Nigerians have refused to understand where they are coming from and he called on all Nigerians to overcome ethnic colouration in all they do.

The outgoing president of the NBA, Joseph Daudu decried the state of the nation especially insecurity in the land and the NBA’s position on the call for state police.

There was a mild protest at the entrance of the International Conference Center, venue for the 52nd lawyers’ conference, by lawyers, who could not gain entry into the venue.

The lawyers protested what they called the high fees charged by the authorities of the NBA leadership.