The Nigerian Society of Engineers have revealed that the power sector has been depleting Nigeria’s treasury by hundreds of billions of naira despite being privatised more than three years ago and has since failed to record tangible improvement,
It said the excitement across the country at the time the sector was privatised had suddenly diminished among Nigerians, adding that the present situation of the industry was awful.
The Chairman, NSE Board of Fellows, Mr. Chris Okoye, gave this position at the recent the conferment of fellowship of the NSE on 24 members of the society in Abuja.
On November 1, 2013, the Federal Government formally transferred 60 per cent of the public stake in 11 electricity distribution companies and six generation firms to the private sector.
The action was greeted with joy across the country and beyond, as most people thought the perennial problem of the power sector, which had retarded the nation’s economic activities for decades was coming to an end.
Okoye noted that the privatisation decision and campaign were hinged on the need to reduce the heavy pressure on the public treasury for basic infrastructure provision and bring efficiency into electricity business in Nigeria.
Others, he said, included the need to inject massive funds into the sector and bring considerable foreign exchange into the national economy through foreign investors; introduce advanced technology and state-of-the-art management techniques into the industry.
He, however, regretted that despite all these, on September 30, 2014, the Federal Government announced a loan of N213bn to the privatised power firms.
Okoye added that on March I, 2017, the Federal Executive Council announced the provision of N701bn as Power Assurance Guarantee for the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company for two years to pay the generation firms.
He said, “In other words, there is tremendous pressure on the national treasury for the provision of electricity in Nigeria. Still, electricity supply has deteriorated, and not improved since the privatisation. Nigeria is struggling to generate 4,000 megawatts. The highest output ever recorded, to the best of my knowledge, was 5,517MW, and this was in February, 2015.
“The transmission network is weak and fragile owing to old age and poor maintenance. The four-year management contract to Manitoba Hydro International of Canada, which cost Nigeria $23m in the first three years, ended in 2016 without the Transmission Company of Nigeria becoming a technically and financially efficient company as envisaged.”
In his address, the NSE President, Mr. Otis Anyaeji, said the highest decision making body of the society’s council had graciously approved the conferment of Fellow of the NSE on 24 engineers with proven track records of exceptional performance and significant contributions to the growth of the engineering profession in Nigeria.
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