For some time now, the speculation has been rife that private firms that acquired Nigeria’s power sector as a result of the transformation of the Nigeria’s power sector did so without dropping a kobo. What with the government bonds and massive intervention fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Now the jury is out with the Senate Committee on Privatisation giving the verdict that most technical partners that bought the country’s power assets did not bring one kobo. No thanks to the Nigeria Privatization Council’s (NPC) refusal to sell the power assets in phases.

According to the Chairman of the committee, Senator Gbenga Obadara, investors in the power sector did not bring one kobo, which is the genesis of the mess Nigerians are experiencing in the sector currently.  “So, that is problem we have. Now, they have done the mess. The outgoing government failed to look at the financial capability of the investors that bought the power companies,” Obadara said. He added that before the sale of the power companies, he raised objection in the presence of the vice-president that the investors did not have the financial wherewithal to transform the sector. “Even when they opened another opportunity of borrowing for them, I objected to it. But the federal government went ahead with it. Has it solved the problem?,” he asked.

Obadara had advised the NCP on the need for gradual privatization of the sector. However, his advice fell on deaf ears.  Otherwise, the mistakes committed in the privatization process would have been known and corrected if we had privatisedthem in phases. “I told them the case of California with 4,400 power plants and everything went down in one day. Taking a gradual step would have helped the country. Taking a gradual approach would have allowed us make mistakes and rectify it at lesser cost”.

But the model for the privatization exercise was not the only issue militating against the effective delivery of power. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), he said, had not been supplying gas regularly to the power sector. This is why the effectiveness of some Independent Power Plants (IPPs) like Olorunsogo and Omotoso, had been crippled due  to the unavailability of gas to these power plants. “There is no gas to fire them. Gas is the key issue. If there is no gas, you can’t fire them. Gas is not available. It is unfortunate that the NNPC will say it has gas, but the investors owe them money. Even when they did not owe, gas was not made available. Yet, the NNPC is pumping the gas to Togo rather than using it for domestic purposes,” he said.

He explained that the NNPC constitutes a major challenge to realising stable power supply in Nigeria. “The NNPC preferred to pump to Togo because there was an agreement under the West African Gas Pipeline that mandated the NNPC to supply West African states. We have a lot of problems with the management of gas and gas master plan itself,” he said.

By Dike Onwuamaeze


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