Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has described the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to merge the Ministries of Power, Works and Housing which he manages as a single entity as a calculated measure to save the costs associated with running them independently.
Fashola said this at a ‘Town Hall Meeting and Policy Dialogue for Good Governance’ organised by the Alumni Association of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (AANI).
He also noted that he was equal to the task of running the ministries, and comfortable with the merger decision of Buhari.
A statement last night from the senior communications aide to Fashola in Abuja, Mr. Hakeem Bello, stated that the minister had in response to a question on the challenges he has running three ministries, said he welcomed the responsibility as it was a cost saving initiative by the president.
He added that he was pleased to serve his country in any capacity.
“Now, about whether I can cope with three ministries or not, on one hand, we have spoken of the high cost of running government and in trying to mitigate or reduce that cost, Mr. President, in his wisdom decided to merge the three ministries together.
“Now, two of those ministries have had a natural relationship over years. They were either works and housing or land, works and housing. In adding power to it, let us also remember that the work left in lower is just to complete the privatisation and to complete the transmission grid,” he said.
He added: “The distribution is now in the hands of companies. All of the work that NEPA used to do distributing power is now in the hands of 11 companies. All of the work that NEPA used to do generating power is now in the hands of six companies.”
The minister further explained: “Now, there is an agency called NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission) created by law made by people you and I elected. That is the regulator of the power sector now, in getting licenses issued and so on and so forth and a statutory company called NBET (Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc). So, all of these institutions are taking positions and evolving.”
He said: “So, my work really there is supervisory and directional. And that is why you will see that in the ministry of works and in the ministry of housing where we have over 4,000 personnel in each ministry, the ministry of power has barely 800 staff now and the numbers are reducing as traction is being gained.
“So, it is no longer a government driven sector; it is now a government regulated sector driven by the private sector.”
Fashola equally said: “And if you still have any issue about that really, I think you should complain to Mr. President. For me it is a privilege to serve my country in whatever capacities I am designated to do so.”