The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday reminded the the eleven power distribution companies in the Country that nobody forced them into acquiring the companies, saying they knew the assets of the firms before buying them.
Fashola stated this while addressing stakeholders at the opening of the 15th Monthly Power Sector Meeting held in Jos, the Plateau State Capital.
He said, “Disco performance under which you allege the power infrastructure you inherited is old and that some progress has been made by you that I am the first to publicly defend your contributions to the sector, but to the extent that consumers are not yet satisfied, you must do more to improve service.
“Rather than complain about old infrastructure, I wish to remind you that nobody forced you to buy those assets and you knew what you were buying.
“The N701.9 Billion intervention fund is consistent with Government’s policy and determination to enable businesses flourish, and it was intended to save the Gencos, the gas companies and their financiers who were providing service, from collapse”, he explained.
The Minister lamented that instead of the Distribution companies to spell out their grievances during the monthly meetings, they went about issuing press statements condemning government’s actions.
“Your statement did not tell members of the public that these companies were not getting paid because you were not remitting all of what you should remit to NBET and the market operator, admittedly because of reasons that are partly and not partly your fault.
“As I said when I convened the first of these monthly meetings, it is entirely voluntary and nobody is under compulsion to attend.
“As I have done at almost every previous meeting, I will now ask you all again to vote whether we should continue the meeting.
“If the outcome of the vote is to discontinue the meetings, this will be my valedictory statement to the meeting.
“If the outcome of the vote is to continue the meetings, then I will demand that this meeting must remain the platform for ventilating and resolving issues relating to the sector without prejudice to other meetings that the regulator may convene”, he stressed.
Fashola maintained that head of the Ministry, “I regret that I will not deal with an association because the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) acting for the National Council on Privatization (NCP) did not contract the asset sales and performance agreements with an association and neither did Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission grant you licenses as an association.
He said Government contracted with 11 investors in the distribution companies and the Commission licensed 11 distribution companies.
“Government will continue to relate with you as such, through meetings such as this, or individually to ensure that you discharge your duties to consumers.
“I am certain that NBET (the Bulk Trader) and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), your regulator, will communicate a similar position to you”.
Earlier in his goodwill message, Governor Simon Lalong, said his administration was fully committed to working with the Federal Government and Private Sector investors towards realising increased and stable power supply to the citizenry in the urban and rural areas.
Lalong maintained that, “Good power supply will enable investors to add value to agricultural products from farms, process the minerals from mines, and also improve services at hospitality and tourism industry.
“It is in the light of this that I wish to appeal to the Honourable Minister to help expedite the completion of the 132KV transmission line, from Makeri to the National Independent Power Plant substation in Pankshin, to improve the quality and quantity of power supply to the Central and Southern Zones of Plateau State, where the bulk of our agricultural activities take place”.
In his opening remarks, Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Jos Electricity Distribution Company, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, said he believes that with Babatunde Fashola at the helms of affairs in the Ministry, the crisis being witnessed in the power sector will be surmounted.