Federal government spent about N2.740 trillion in fixing Nigeria’s shambolic power sector between 1999 and 2015, with minimal results.
This shocking disclosure was contained in the submission to the Senate committee on power probe on Tuesday by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali.
Igali told the Senate probe panel led by Senator Abubakar Kyari that out of a total appropriation of N1.6 trillion since 1999, the sum of N948 billion was actually released to the Ministry of Power and its agencies within the period. He further disclosed that sum of N155 billion was also released to the ministry to cushion the effects of the shortfalls in expenditure for the power sector within the same period.
According to the Power Ministry Permanent Secretary, “at the inception of democracy in 1999, the government inherited a sector where everything was dormant with no new generating units built except the one built in the 60s.”
He lamented that despite the astronomical spending by government on power infrastructures in the last 16 years, the sector was under invested.
“We have not been consistent with our investment. From 1999, despite the interest of government to infuse money in the sector, government has not been able to meet what the sector requires. It is a heavy capital intensive industry but if you get it right people are ready to pay,” he adds.
On the contentious issue of disengaged staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Igali said that only 2000 had not been verified and paid their severance allowances. He noted that most of those involved who claimed to be former staff of PHCN have no valid document to back up their claim, adding that final verification would soon be conducted to determine the veracity of the claimants.
The Permanent Secretary, however, told the Senate committee that proceeds of privatisation was used to settle labour claims of over 46000 workers by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and Pension Commission.
In his own presentation, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Mr. James Olotu, told the committee that the National Independent Power Projects (NIPP) received $8.23 billion (N1.640 trillion, from the excess crude account (ECA). That puts the total spending on the sector to about N2.8 trillion.
The committee also mandated Igali to submit audited accounts of the ministry of power and its agencies to it.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Kyari insisted submission of audited account of the Ministry of Power and its agencies would enable the panel to find out the actual amount released to the ministry within the period under review and what was spent as well as impacts on the sector.
The committee, however, raised concerns over some notable contradictions and discrepancies in the presentations and submissions of those who appeared before it.
By Olisemeka Obeche