Members of the electricity workers union are currently protesting in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The workers in protest blocked main entrance gate and locked out some staff to the Ministry of Power. This is even in the presence of armed police officers.
The electricity workers are protesting over the non-payment of severance package for members who were affected by the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria PHCN into eleven electricity distribution companies (DisCos), six generating companies (GenCos), and a transmission company (TCN).
It will be recalled that the Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Monday called on the Executive to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in the power sector to overcome the legion of problems stalling steady power supply in Nigeria.
According to the Senate President, the privatisation of the power sector in 2005 and 2013 was a grand scheme conceived with the intention to defraud Nigeria.
Lawan while faulting the power sector privatization process said it hasn’t yielded significant improvements and the National Assembly is prepared to amend the Power Sector Reform Act of 2005.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said the 9th National Assembly will insist on accountability and transparency in the power sector, particularly in the application of funds proposed for it in the 2020 budget.
According to a statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, Lawan stated this on Monday when the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Joseph Chiedu Ugbo, led a delegation on a visit to the National Assembly.
Lawan said the Senate and House Committees through the instrument of oversight will ensure the prudent application of all funds channelled to the power sector.
He further explained that the Federal Government had severally been shortchanged in agreements entered into with generating and distribution companies in the past.
He, however, warned that those behind shortchanging the government through power deals will be held accountable for their actions.
“One of the challenges Nigeria is faced with today and for a very long time in the area of development is power. Until we are able to fix the power situation, development will continue to be difficult to achieve,” he said.
“This is one area we will continue to give priority to ensure we are able to meet the targets. It’s not going to be easy, but the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown clear determination in ensuring we get power fixed.
“The power sector has been surrounded with controversies for a long time. When the NIPP started, so many things were said; some of which are true.
“Expenditures were made in the past, and we did not see commensurate results from the expenditures. It is something to worry about.
“Some persons also have the tendencies to sign agreements that sometimes are clearly against the national interest. Time has come for people to stop doing this.
“In most cases, the Federal Government was shortchanged in some of the agreements signed by the people. I really don’t know what they were thinking.
“We need to be very careful. Time will come when people will be held responsible for their actions.
“Billions of dollars will just disappear like that, and there still won’t be power. This National Assembly will not close its eyes or not take any action if our nation is shortchanged.
“We are very concerned with what is happening in the power sector because personally we have not realised the best deal at all.
“In most cases, the deals were against the national interest, against the people and against the country.
“What we have are a few companies that are milking this country dry. I think we must insist on getting value for money.
“The kind of money sunk into the power sector will not only provide light for Nigeria but also the neighbouring countries.
“The Senate and House Committees on Power will look to see how we can make a difference this time around because we intend to monitor closely any money put in the budget. We want to see such money prudently applied,” Lawan said.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Chiedu Ugbo, said the NPDC was set up in 2005 to bridge the infrastructure gap in electric power supply industry.
“We started with ten generation plants, and then moved on to transmission to ensure power distribution gets to the end users,” he said.
Among the delegation of the NDPHC were, the Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, Babayo Shehu; Executive Director, Engineering/Technical, Ifeoluwa Oyedele; Company Secretary and Legal Adviser, Mahmud Mohammed; General Manager, Procurement, Nkechi Mba and General Manager, Communications and Public Relations, Mohammed Bunza.
Senators present included: the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Majority Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u, and Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Suswam Gabriel.
Others were: Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cyber Crime, Yakubu Oseni; Chairman, Senate Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, Benjamin Uwajumogu, and Chairman, Senate Committee on Youth Development, Kola Balogun.
A survey conducted by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has revealed that the Nigeria Police and the Power Sector are the most corrupt public institutions in Nigeria.
The survey which was launched by Professor Akin Oyebode on Tuesday in Lagos said the exercise captured responses of Nigerians and 70 percent placed the Judiciary, Education and Health ministries next, to complete a top five list.
Oyebode noted that; “Nigeria is looked upon as a giant of Africa. Yet Nigeria could not conduct free, fair and credible elections. It is a smear on the image of Nigeria. If we do away with selective enforcement and condonation of corruption, we will build and live in a better society. Corruption is a refined form of stealing. The politicians are stealing our common patrimony. Development of the people is almost inversely proportional to the level of corruption.”
However, the survey highlighted that the high levels of corruption in public institutions in Nigeria had not changed in the last five years.
According to the survey, “a bribe is paid in 54% of interactions with the police. In fact, there is a 63% probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he or she interacted with the police. That is almost two out of three.”
“Corruption remains a significant impediment to law enforcement, access to justice and basic public services such as affordable healthcare, education, and electricity supply. Several Nigerians have to pay a bribe to access police, judiciary, power, education and health services. Corruption is still a key concern in the country with 70% of Nigerians describing the level of corruption as high and in the same measure, stating that corruption levels either increased or remained the same in the last five years.”
“The police were the most adversely ranked on this indicator. For every 100 police interactions reported by the respondents, there was a bribe paid in 54 interactions. The prevalence levels stood at 37% in the power sector and 18% in education, 17.7% in the judiciary and 14% in the health sector.”
The survey urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council should investigate complaints of bribery and corruption against police officers and review all outstanding cases of judicial corruption.
“The Inspector General of Police should receive and investigate complaints of bribery and corruption against police officers filed by members of the public. The police should liaise with community leaders and civil society organisations in regard to incidents of police bribery and corruption within the community.”
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council should identify and review all outstanding cases of judicial corruption and refer such cases to appropriate anti-corruption agencies. They should apply the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in a consistent and transparent manner, with full respect for the fundamental guarantees of fair trial and due process.”
According to SERAP, the survey targeted a total of 2,655 respondents selected from seven states spread across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and the capital city of Abuja.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has joined in the call by some Nigerians on the Federal Government to probe the alleged mismanagement of $16billion invested in the power sector between 1999 till date.
In a statement issued on Monday by its national publicity secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, ACF said the call for probe of the power sector has become necessary considering the harm which corruption has inflicted on the nation and the promise by the current government to fight it.
Biu in the statement said public officials, no matter how highly placed, must account for their malfeasance while in office. He added that the probe will serve as a deterrent to others and instil prudence in managing the public office for performance.
“From 1999 to date, the promises made by our political leaders to improve the power supply have mostly been observed in the breach.
“The National Assembly had sometimes probed the alleged corruption associated with the power supply, but Nigerians are yet to know the fate of that probe,” the statement read in part.
ACF also expresses worry over lack to bring to justice those found guilty of mismanaging public funds.
“Most worrisome is the lack of the political will to bring to justice those found guilty by the probes which have unfortunately continued to encourage corruption by making it a way of life and culture,” the statement said.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) to urgently provide details of spending on the privatisation of the electricity sector and to explain if “such spending came from budgetary allocations or other sources.”
In a statement on Monday by the SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation also asked for “information on the status of implementation of the 25-year national energy development plan and whether the Code of Ethics of the privatization process which bars staff of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and members of the National Council on Privatization (NCP) from buying shares in companies being privatized were deliberately flouted.”
The organisation also said since the privatisation of the power sector, the government has continued to use public resources to subsidize private entities. It noted that the Goodluck Jonathan government reportedly spent over N400 billion on the power sector while the present government spent over N500 billion despite privatisation.
SERAP, therefore, said it is unclear if the spending is drawn from budgetary allocations and if these are loans to generation companies (GENCOS), Distribution companies (DISCOS) and Transmission Company of Nigeria.
It stated further that: “assuming the funds are given as loans, SERAP would like to know whether appropriate guarantees have been provided to secure such loans, and whether such loans provide value for money for Nigerian tax-payers.”
According to the organisation, the privatisation of power assets has caused major crises, ranging from “illiquidity, load rejection, metering, corrupt practices, lack of gas to power the stations, disinterestedness of investors, lack of injection of fresh capital after acquisition of financing, tariff interest, consumer apathy, foreign exchange hostilities, and sundry issues.”
It is also of the opinion that the goals of privatization have been marred by the sale of the sector to preferred bidders that could not pay the bid value on the sale.
While quoting sections of the Freedom of Information Act, SERAP says it believes that Nigerians have the right to gain access to information essential to the fight against corruption and in turn development of democratic institutions.
It also believes that making details of the spending available would provide a form of reparation to victims of grand corruption in the country.
The Federal Government has restated its commitment to using the development of the power sector as a catalyst for the overall transformation of different critical sectors of the nation’s economy.
The Minister for Power, Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola made this known on Friday after inspecting the Azura and Ihovbor power plant projects in Edo state.
Fashola said the Federal Government is eager to create jobs and make the economy better hence the heavy investments in the energy sector.
He also said the Azura Power Plant is a clear example of how the Federal Government has resolved to encourage private investors to do business in the country.
“I am truly impressed with the level of work being done here, this project had been started before this administration came on board but suffered a lot of setbacks, but this government has encouraged the project to take off and as you can see, energy is already being produced and will soon be evacuated to the national grid.”
The minister who also inspected the Ehor section of the Benin-Lokoja road dualization project, maintained that the current administration is doing everything possible to ease the suffering of Nigerians.
He also noted that the contractors handling the section of the road have promised to keep working through the seasons so as to meet the deadline.
“The contractors have been paid and so will not have any reason not to deliver. This project is now funded from the 100-billion naira Sukuk bond,” he stressed.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday presides over the 23rd Power Sector monthly meeting.
The meeting which is ongoing at Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital is aimed at addressing issues at the nation’s power sector. The meeting had in attendance the Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Al-Makura and other power stakeholders.
Julius Berger has formed a partnership with Petralon Energy to work on oil fields in the Niger Delta region and is currently in talks with about eight power-industry investors to build generating plants in the country.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government may soon achieve its objective of boosting Nigeria’s local refining capacity as an Indonesian firm has revealed plans to construct a modular refinery in the country.
The refinery will be located in Akwa Ibom State and on completion is expected to churn out 10,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Nigerian Government has come into an agreement with the World Bank group to scale up disbursements for critical projects in the country.
Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun told journalists in Washington at the end of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings that the power sector in particular, has received the backing of the World Bank and other development partners.
“If there is one thing that would really drive growth in Nigeria, its power. If we had to choose just one thing, it would be power because of the number of jobs it would create, the number of opportunities and amount of wealth it would create. So we have said getting power right is non-negotiable.”
She further stated that all the projects are contained in the economic recovery and growth plan adding that while the foundation has been laid, implementation is what is left.
“This phase we are now, is about implementation. We’ve put the foundations in place, now it’s about really accelerating the implementation in certain key areas and we are quite confident that we are going to get back to growth and hopefully, would be sustainable growth that would be less volatile so that even if the oil price falls in future, Nigeria would not be as vulnerable as we have found ourselves in the last few years.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has warned agitators across the country to desist from attacking Federal Government’s critical facilities just as he appealed to Nigerians to bear with the government as it finds solutions to the lingering crisis in the power sector.
He was speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital after being installed as the National Grand Patron of the S’Adatul Abadiya organization in Abeokuta, the state capital.
“We are going to appeal to Nigerians to be patriotic and they should please stop attacking and destroying critical facilities.
“On the part of government, what we have done now is looking for other means of gas such as nonassociated gas.
“We have also been trucking gas from Utorogu to Warri and Ughelli so as to allow for the stations around Sapele to have gas,” he said.
The Information Minister assured Nigerians that as it finds alternative means of ensuring adequate gas to fire the existing power stations across the country, effort is being channelled towards achieving the 10,000MW of electricity by the year 2019 by the federal government.
“By February this year, we were able to generate and transmit 5,074Mw of power but we are in this situation today mainly because of the attack on the Forcados export line.
“So now we have capacity to generate but we don’t have enough gas and as soon as this platform is repaired we will be able to generate and transmit more than 5,000MW.
“Therefore, aiming at 10,000MW for 2019 is quite feasible,” he said.
Electricity supply through the national grid is now ramping up as it attains 4,387 megawatts peak generation as at Friday, March 4, 2016 with a prospect for further improvement in power supply situation.
The Head, Public Affairs Department at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Usman Abba Arabi, said that this is following successful repair work on the damaged gas facility earlier in the week.
“It would be recalled that the peak generation level that notched epoch 5,070 megawatts few weeks ago suddenly nosedived due to inadequate gas supply on the main gas pipeline supplying many of the power stations.
“This was on account of gas supply shortage due to inability to evacuate condensates and oil produced with the gas because the main oil export pipeline out of Forcados was vandalized two weeks ago.
“However, with the successful repair work on the damaged facility, the system is now ramping up as it attains 4,387 megawatts peak generation as at Friday, March 4, 2016,” he said.
The acting Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Anthony Akah, has subsequently appealed to members of the public to cooperate with electricity industry operators and security agencies to stem the recent incident of vandalism on electricity installation.
He also warned the electricity distribution companies that the momentary downturn in supply should not be used to exploit unmetered electricity customers on estimated billing saying, “Customer bills for unmetered customers should be as accurate as possible and reflect their actual consumption. It shall in no circumstance be arbitrarily inflated.”
According to him, “The reduction in power supply when it lasted affects both metered and unmetered customers. For metered customers the drop in their consumption will be captured by their meter. For unmetered customers it is imperative that estimated bills during this period are reflective of their actual consumption.”
He further directed electricity distribution companies that unmetered and estimated customers have the right and option to pay current estimated electricity billing based on their last undisputed bill where there are concerns with the current estimated electricity bills.
He said that electricity distribution companies should ensure diligence and professionalism in the estimation of unmetered customers based on the provisions of the Billing Estimation Methodology Regulations, 2012.
He hinted that the Commission has deployed monitoring teams to report any act of negligence and extortion.