The President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, has attributed the perennial power outage in the country to sales of Electricity Distribution Companies ( DISCOs) with no idea on how to run electricity distribution business and blamed the challenges on faulty privatization of the sector.
Speaking at a workshop on power sector organised by the National Assembly last week Abuja, Saraki faulted relevant authorities for privatising the sector to people who had no idea on how to run it.
The Senate President lamented that in spite of the huge resources committed to the sector in last 14 years, no much improvement has been witness.
Saraki said, “Today, we are on the verge of a total systemic breakdown and I see this as an opportunity to stop this train from derailing completely.
“We sold the discos to individuals and parties who had no idea about running a proper power distribution business. Licenses were issues based on cronyism rather than capital adequacy, market experience and capacity to deliver. Agreements were faulty and transaction integrity hardly imperative.
“This is the Opportunity for both the legislature and executive to come together to forge a solution to this perennial problem have been wasted in the past. We cannot afford to waste the opportunity we have now. We owe it to the people who have entrusted us with the privilege of working out solutions to their problems by electing us to our various offices that we are hard on our heels to bring them solutions not complaints.
“We cannot shy away from the fact that inexcusable mistakes have been made in the past that brought us to this point and we must be willing to face up to them and clearly delineate them in order to ensure that we do not return to the mistakes of the past.
“Clearly some of these where innocent mistakes, others were rather the product of selfish interests, some fraudulent, some borne out of ignorance and others glaring lack of capacity apparent from day one. All of these combined has brought us to the mess we now have to face up to.”
The President of the senate highlighted sacrifice as the panacea to the recurrent power outage facing the country.
He said, “Where we are is not an accident. We walked our way into the landmine we are facing with the decisions we made in the past. While privatisation is a right policy recipe to pursue in order to put in place a power sector that can galvanise our economy, we forgot that the participation of the private sector is not an end in itself.
“We neglected that unless this is done, observing transparency, competition, transaction integrity we might end up with a sector worse than the past. The BPE did things that were inexcusable. To imagine that even the sale proceeds of about $4bn was solely spent towards the payment of pensions and staff. Not one single kobo was expended towards catalysing the sector back to life.
“GENCOS bought generating units without a clear assurance of source of gas to fire plants and government had no active roadmap for delivery of a gas market infrastructure to make this happen. Yet gas companies and the IOCs were exporting our gas out of our shores to create gas markets elsewhere in Europe and Asia while we languished in darkness as a result of incessant, persistent and erratic power outages. In the face of all these our people continued to be called upon to bear inexplicable bills estimated beyond rational service value.
“While we are at the problem, the implications all of these have created has continued to mount on all fronts with stagnating growth statistics, loss of SME jobs in a country with a large and rapidly growing population, factories shutting down in growing numbers, dwindling family investable income and opportunities mostly due to the high cost imposed by inadequate electricity supply. Indeed, the link between electricity supply and economic development is such that the health of the industry is a matter of deep and personal concern to all citizens.”