Federal Government, led by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua and Goodluck Jonathan, from 1999 to 2015, spent a whooping sum of N2.7trillion (N2, 749, 800, 000, 000) on the power sector with little results to show for it in terms of electricity supply in the country.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Ambassador Goodknows Igali, dropped the hint yesterday in Abuja while making presentation before the Senate’s Ad- hoc Committee on Power at the ongoing investigative session on the alleged unwholesome practices in the sector from 1999 till date.
Igali also disclosed that, no single engineer was employed by the government in the sector for 11 years before 1999, adding that no new power infrastructure was built to boost investments in the sector for many years by the previous administrations.
According to him, there was only marginal power generation increase of 2, 850 megawatts from 1, 750megawatts met on ground in 1999, making the total power generation now to be 4,600megawatts.
The N2.7trillion , according to Igali, were total sums of monies appropriated and cash-backed for the sector during the period , in addition to $8. 34billion spent on National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP, from Excess Crude Accounts funds.
He explained that, out of the total N1.565trillion appropriated for the sector during the period under review, N948billion was released , in addition to N155billion also injected into the sector in form of subsidy under the Multi Year Tariff Order, MYTO, to cushion the shortfall of funding, which when added to $8.34 spent on NIPP projects, gives a total of N2.7trillion .
He, however, said that the sector before 1999, was even more poorly managed as there was no single engineer employed into it, 19 years before the time and out of the 79 generation units available before then, only 19 were functioning with power generation of 1, 750 megawatts.
“Power sector investment before the advent of democratic governance in 1999, was static which shouldn’t be so at all. No new power plants between 1991 and 1999, no new transmission line between 1989 and 1999 etc, a very bad trend that gave successive governments from 1999 till date, sleepless nights to reverse , which they eventually did up to the privatization of the sector in November 2013”, he said.
According to him, the slight improvement being experienced in power supply now across the country was due to the privatization of generation and distribution components of the sector in November 2013, one of which is the Ugheli Power Plants, generating 640 MW now from 160 MW.
He affirmed, “Power sector is at the centre of national development and we have realised that globally, for any country to develop, it has to focus on the power sector. Countries with per capita consumption of power are developed than those with less per capita consumption.”
Igali, who cited the example of United States with high industrial development due to the per capita of power consumption, explained that from the 1900s, when power first came to Lagos, power generation and distribution remained in the hands of government until the sector was unbundled in 1999.
The permanent secretary said, prior to 1999, “by law, even if you can generate power yourself, you cannot sell to your neighbour”, pointing out that, “if power is stable, it will generate huge revenue for the government, because Nigerians are ready to pay once the power is stable. It is a sector that needs a lot of capital investment.”
He assured Nigerians that, with the incidences of vandalisation of gas pipelines gone, and gradual increases in power generation, power supply to every state of the federation will continually improve.
Aside Igali, chief executives of the various power companies also made similar submissions as regards monies injected into their various units for power generation and distribution during the period under review.
But in their remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno North) and other members, punctured their various submissions for lack of audited reports attached to them.
The chairman in particular said, the committee was not only out to know the total monies expended on the sector during the period under review but also to know how the monies were spent in terms of probity , accountability, transparency and due process.
He, therefore, demanded for the full audit report of the ministry of power and the agencies under it before the proper public hearing begins.
Meanwhile, the committee will today meet with the Power Distribution Companies, DISCOs, and National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC for another round of investigative session.


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