Oscar Chukwugekwu, Abuja
The Senate on Friday inaugurated a Committee to conduct comprehensive investigation into allegations of unwholesome practices in the nation’s power sector.
The Committee, which is headed by Senator Abubakar Kyari, is charged with the task of looking closely into the entire power value chain (generation, transmission and distribution) with a view to specifically identifying the problems.
The Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who inaugurated the Committee at the Senate yesterday, noted that the task before the Committee is huge
Saraki also lamented the continued absence of regular supply of electricity, despite the country’s huge investments in the sector.
In his remark, Kyari provided detailed explanation into the nature of the investigation in the sector.
“A close look at the entire power value chain (generation, transmission and distribution) calls for review of our policies in order to obtain optimum performances across the board. The abysmal performance of the generation segment is no longer news in view of the current deteriorating power supply, which hovers around 4,600 megawatts (mw) for a population of over 170 million people, despite the huge resources committed into it.
“This, compared with our contemporaries, is highly regrettable. No wonder so many companies have relocated from the shores of this nation, due to increasing cost of production.
“The issue of turn around maintenance, gas pipeline vandalism, just a mention but a few, are some of the teething problems bedeviling the sector. We must address it now in order to stem this destructive tide. The Committee will beam its searchlight in this direction to put things in proper perspectives.
“Having realised that the transmission segment is the major linkage between the generation and distribution fronts, increasing our capacity in this direction is also very necessary, since power produced must be utilised immediately. Deteriorating infrastructures in this segment must be addressed forthwith. The Committee attaches great importance to this and would work assiduously in ensuring that all these leakages or slippages in this area are brought to the front burner and dealt with.
“It is in line with this objective that the Committee would be seeking explanations from the Management of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) on the terms of their Management Contract with the Federal Government as it relates to assets inherited, funds injected into the Company so far and the achievement recorded,” Kyari said.
On the distribution segment, Kyari said that the the Committee is desirous of ascertaining the level of funds committed into it before privatisation since the segment is currently solely private sector driven.
“It calls for vigilance as successor companies are expected to bring in investments to improve the quality of services in terms with the agreement. Signals emanating from their activities shows that excessive profiteering has been the major determinant of their decisions.
“It is on record that some of the distribution companies reject power load allocations to reduce cost. Their metering system calls for fundamental review, since the emphasis has been on estimated billings and imposition of fixed charges for services not rendered.
“There have been a lot of unwholesome practices by some of these companies, the Committee has to get down to the root of these problems especially where provisions have been made in the past through appropriation, prior to privatisation and funds were not properly utilised. We must find out what has brought us to this sorry state.
“The National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) was designed to fast track the improvement of electricity supply nationwide; hence, it was involved in project implementation across the gamut of the power chain. However, some of the power plants built have not been able to contribute meaningfully to the power generation through the national grid.
“The resources committed to these projects are enormous and the Committee in keeping with its mandate, would be seeking for answers in order to chart the way forward. The Federal Ministry of Power, its departments and agencies and other key players within the power sector would be appearing before the Committee to provide needed information in order to achieve our laudable objectives.
“The second arm of the Committee’s mandate is in respect of the unbundling of the power sector, which was midwifed by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). The Committee would be seeking inputs from the establishment on the process of privatisation as it relates to funds committed to the privatisation process, funds generated, the settlement of laid off staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and successful bidders (companies) financial profile. Of importance is the need to verify why these companies are already asking for bail out/loan facilities from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“This Committee is not out to witch hunt any person or organisation. We are on a fact-finding mission, and would pursue our mandate objectively,” Kyari declared.
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