By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has asked industrialists, directors of companies and other employers of labour in the country not to panic or downsize their staff strength in the face of current power supply challenges in the country.
He said the federal government had put in place a plan that would ensure progressive supply from incremental to steady and then uninterrupted electricity regime nationwide.
The minister according to a statement from his senior aide on communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello Friday in Abuja said this at two major events – the Quarterly Business Luncheon of the Institute of Directors (IOD) and the 13th Distinguished Electrical and Electronics Engineers Annual Lecture in Lagos.
As a guest speaker at the IOD Business Luncheon, the statement said Fashola underscored his optimism that the current challenges facing the power sector would soon be over, saying the present administration was committed to ensuring a sustainable power supply in the country.
He equally spoke at the Distinguished Electrical and Electronic Engineers Annual Lecture of the Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), and told industrialists, entrepreneurs, directors and other employers of Labour in the Organised Private Sector (OPS) not to panic by downsizing, shutting down or laying off their staff.
He noted that the nation would overcome the challenges of unsteady power supply just as it had overcome other critical national challenges.
He said he inherited a privatised power sector where majority shares of the sector was sold to private companies after the government unbundled the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and sold the generation, and distribution processes to private companies but retained the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Government, the minister said, also created regulatory agencies like the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) the Nigerian Electricity Management and Safety Agency (NEMSA) and the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO), adding that by unbundling the PHCN into 18 companies, government stopped producing and distributing power as well as issuing meters.
“Therefore the power sector I inherited is one that the role of government is reduced to policy and regulation,” Fashola said.
While stating that the power sector would have been in transition for three years in November this year out of which the present administration has spent one year and he would have spent seven months as minister, Fashola asked, “The context, therefore, is, between 1950 and 2013 what did we achieve in power?”
According to him, in all that time, only 4,000MW was generated while not all consumers were metered out of the six million known consumers.
“What is reasonable to expect within three years of privatisation and one year of a new government in respect of a problem that could not be solved in 63 years?,” he asked again, adding, “It is in this context that we can discuss my role as policy maker, regulatory supervisor and enabler for the private sector-led electricity market.”