Tension in NASS as House leadership okays probe of power sector



Members of the House of Representatives are spoiling for a showdown, following a plan by the House leadership to re-open its probe of the nation’s power sector.

Many present and former federal legislators are opposed to any such investigation and are working hard on the powers that be in the green chamber to jettison the planned probe.

An ad-hoc committee of the House recommended a large-scale investigation of the power sector last year.

To be probed are the privatization exercise, appointments, funding as well as sales of some assets, among other things.

*The committee was instituted by the chamber sequel to a motion on: ‘Need to Review Government Expenditure on the Power Sector to Ensure Sustenance of the Power Reform Programme in Nigeria,’ sponsored by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina).

The ad-hoc committee was of the view that a thorough investigation of the power sector would solve the numerous puzzles begging for answers, and help in repositioning the sector for optimal performance.

The probe is yet to commence despite Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila’s avowed commitment to the implementation of the committee’s recommendation.

Rather, a fierce political battle has erupted between lawmakers who want the probe and those opposed to it.

There are fears in some quarters that the planned probe is targeted at some former public office holders, especially those from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Reliable sources told The Nation that the issue was tactically laid to rest by the leadership of the House when it appeared it could tear the then 9th Assembly apart.

“The leadership of the House had to stylishly allow the matter rest in its desire to protect the unity of the new assembly,” a source familiar with the issue said.

“It was not only the current House members that were interested in the matter. Former federal legislators and many serving senators also joined the campaign against the probe.

“The majority of them have one thing or the other to protect.

“There were also interventions from outside the National Assembly at a time. It was obvious that some people were scared of what the probe could lead to.

“But many of those in support of the probe vowed to revisit the matter at a later date.

“And with the issue of epileptic power supply and under performance of the GENCOs and DISCOs refusing to go away, and Nigerians daily crying out for a lasting solution to the many problems bedeviling the sector, request for the recommended probe to be revisited didn’t stop too.”

Last Friday, Hon. Magaji Aliyu, Chairman of the House Committee on Power, said the House of Representatives was now ready to carry out a comprehensive investigation of the power sector.

He made the revelation in Abuja when he led other members on an oversight function to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

His words: “The House has just been mandated to investigate all power sector privatisation from the public enterprises to the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).”