Fashola’s comment in Lagos on Monday came just as the Nigeria Labour Congress the Trade Union Congress and their allies held nationwide protest against the tariff hike of 45 per cent.
“The question on the lips of everybody is; why can’t we have power first before we pay?
“I wish we could do that, but if they understood that power business is funded from finance from banks. So, no bank is going to lend money to you if you can’t show a recovery price.
“That is the reason we can’t have power first before tariff. It has to be produced before we have it and it has to be paid for.
“The supplier of gas is not going to supply unless he sees his cash,” the Minister explained.
On the protest by the unions, Mr Fashola urged them not to start a new fight, saying “we don’t need one”.
“In any event, there are part of the employee of all these DISCOs and GENCOs that are still working, so let’s get to productivity. Let’s stop fighting (and) let’s produce.”
On the level of electricity supply which the unions are insisting must improve before a new tariff is issued, the Minister said that the capacity Nigeria had in January had never been reached before.
“In the last week of January, we recorded all time high generation of 5,000mw. Nigeria has never reached that level of generation (and) we need a lot more.
“But even with that 5,000mw, there is a lot of service work that needs to go on so that people can access the power.
“So not paying for power, you are disrupting the system; diverting lines, you are disrupting the system; vandalising pipes, you are disrupting the system, you are cheating the system, it is part of anti-corruption (and) everybody must pay for what he uses.
After a meeting with operators in the power sector, the Minister also inspected a transmission facility under construction.
He urged the contractor to expedite action so that incremental supply could be experienced.