By Gbenga Gbelee
Nigeria’s Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has advocated a detailed review of the privatisation of the power sector as a panacea to the present myriad of challenges bedevilling the sector and its biting effects on the Nigerian masses.
This is his own preferred solution as against the clamour and agitation in some quarters for an outright cancellation of the privatisation of the power sector.
The minister made this known on Thursday (13th of July) at the University of Lagos where he delivered a distinguished Public Lecture which centred on the state of power in the country.
Held with the theme; The power sector reform in Nigeria: Challenges and the way forward, the distinguished public lecture was the fifth in its series put together by the Department of Economics of the University of Lagos which held at the J.F. Ade Ajayi Auditorium.
Mr. Fashola’s lecture combed through the entire privatisation arrangement in the country’s power sector pointing out the lopsidedness in the process from power generation to transmission and distribution hence he buttressed the need for a new approach and attitude to issues in the sector.
He was absolutely against the name calling, blame game and discriminatory approach towards issues affecting power in the country.
The immediate past governor of Lagos state placed on record that as at May 29, 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, power generation stood at 2,690 megawatts, an amount which he said has increased to 4,014 megawatts by May 29 this year and hinged the feat on the meticulous and relentless efforts of the present administration at the centre.
While condemning the nefarious activities of pipeline vandals across the country and its sabotaging effects on government’s efforts in the power sector, Mr Fashola who spoke on the roadmap of his ministry for the power sector gave a breakdown of ongoing projects across the country all targeted at exploring water, gas, wind and solar for increased power generation.
He also announced to the delight of the teeming audience that the carrying capacity of the National Grid has been increased from 5,000 to 6,200 megawatts.
The minister also noted that the federal government has paid over #900 million to reclaim 387 out of over 800 containers containing power equipments which were stranded at the Nation’s ports for over a decade.
While taking the gathering through the chain of activities from six power generation companies to the one power transmission and eleven power distribution companies which form the power sector, Mr Babatunde Fashola advocated a new and liberal attitude from all Nigerians towards electricity.
He also cautioned against power wastage and all forms of sharp practices such as metre bypassing which he said leads to power theft.
He affirmed that most of the challenges in the Nation’s power sector are man-made hence, he advocated a resolve from every Nigerian towards ensuring the desired change which would aid government policies and ensure increased power generation, improved transmission and distribution chain and a favourable tariff system for both investors and power consumers.
The discussant for the distinguished lecture was Professor Akin Iwayemi of the Centre of Petroleum, Energy economics and Law, University of Ibadan who emphasised the need for Universities across the country to evolve from knowledge impartation into problem solving centres.
The discussant also stressed the place of accountability from government, regulatory agancies as well as other operators and the populace in the power sector.
The Pro-chancellor and Chairman, Governing council of the University of Lagos; Dr. Wale Babalakin was the Special guest of honour at the event, he charged every Nigerian to search deep and evolve deliberate solutions which would ensure proper application of scarce National resources to tackle National challenges.
Dr. Babalakin identified education as the only engine room to resolving Nigeria’s challenges hence the need for education to be fostered into a first class system.
In his remarks to welcome the dignitaries, the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos; Professor Rahamon Bello acknowledged the Energy Audit Programme of the Federal Government across 37 federal universities, one which he said makes the University of Lagos one of the few selected centres where independent power plants would soon spring up courtesy of the federal government.
In their separate addresses, the dean, faculty of socials sciences; Professor Iyiola Oni and the Acting Head, department of Economics; Dr. (Mrs.) Olukemi Lawanson described the distinguished lecture as the University’s effort at conveying an intellectual discuss on the country’s epileptic power supply system and its attendant consequences on the n economy.
The lecture being the fifth in its series according to the duo is targeted at adding value manpower enhancement towards National development.
The resource persons were in agreement over the challenges in the power sector, the non availability and un-sustainability of bio-waste and farm produce as a source of power generation and the need to support genuine government efforts towards addressing the lopsidedness in the present privatisation structure of the power sector for improved service delivery and steady power supply to the Nigerian populace.