Federal Government yesterday urged the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, not to reverse the privatisation policy it implemented in the power sector.
Speaking to State House correspondents against the backdrop of suggestions to that effect, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, said the policy was implemented in the overall interest of the country.
He said: “On privatisation, I think the incoming government will be ill-advised to reverse privatisation and liberalisation of power generation, transmission and distribution because any attempt to do that would be to set Nigeria back many decades.
“The gains of privatisation are very obvious. If we can solve the problem of gas like we are talking about energy mix, we are not just going by gas we are doing hydros. It was this same administration that kicked off Zungeru hydro-power plants for 750 megawatts and it is in the bid to start the Mambilla 3,050 megawatts. Shiroro has been improved and revamped, Kanji revamped and improved, the same for Jebba.
“So, there is a lot of work being done by the government, however, to turn back on privatisation would mean stopping all of these companies and then reversing the massive inflow of investments coming into the power sector. Nigeria’s power consumption per capita is one of the lowest in the world and that is part of the efforts of government to reverse that. So I don’t think it is in the best interest of the country,” Nebo said.
On the epileptic power supply being suffered by Nigerians, Nebo said he had never been frustrated this way in his life.
He said his frustration was caused by vandalism of gas pipelines which, he said, was being carried out regularly by Nigerians who are possessed by demons.
“So these are the real reasons we have darkness nationally. We apologise for that but again it is our nationals that are doing this to Nigeria.
“Yes. These evil forces inhabit human beings. Can a sane human being go and burst pipelines that are bringing gas to power stations? Stopping the industries from working, manufacturers cannot work, governments cannot work even hospitals cannot work. Can a sane person do it without demon possession? These people are possessed! That is the extent of depravity that will lead people to punish their country the way these hoodlums are doing.
“I have never in my life seen anything as frustrating as what we are experiencing today.
“Every month, the Nigerian Gas Company spends a minimum of N120million to fix gas pipelines.
“Every two weeks, western axis pipelines are vandalised and that is pure sabotage; the eastern axis pipelines are vandalised and that is oil theft.
“At the end of the day, the gas that is supposed to go to the turbines, don’t get to the turbines to generate electricity. As I speak to you today (yesterday), we have not installed capacity which is more, but available if you give us gas right now, we will produce 5,500MW.
“But when the pipelines are in the state of disarray as they are now, in fact, the recent thing they are doing is testing the integrity of the entire system. And when you have broken something over and over again, you have to really look at the entire spectrum to make sure whether the rest of the pipeline has integrity to bear gas.
“Four major joints they are working on is going to cost them N1.5 billion. Is that the way to give light to the country? he asked.
Nebo said planning was part of the problem and putting all the nation’s eggs in one basket which this administration has done everything to reverse.
He said so long as the country continues to depend on gas which is vulnerable to attacks on a regularly basis, the situation would persist.
The minister said there were days he felt like crying over vandalism.
He continued: “There are days I feel like just crying. You finish the repairs that took two weeks, within 36 hours they are spoilt again. As you finish the repairs again, in two weeks they burst it again at various points.”
He admitted that the past three weeks had been horrible because both the East and the West are affected and as a result, gas that is available is too small.
On what government has done to deal with the vandals, he said: “I stand on good authority that a lot of people have been jailed, the thing is that a lot of noise is not being made about it.
“People are being arrested; some even said how much they were paid to burst the gas pipeline. Some of them are even people involved in finding those who will fix the pipelines.
“Has armed robbery stopped in Nigeria in spite of all the executions? Look at what happened to many kidnappers and yet they are still kidnapping. There is a lot that needs to be done but I do hope that as our people get more educated and patriotic, all these things will be behind us,” Nebo said.