The Federal Government, on Thursday, said it was not against state governments developing their own power projects to support development and supply of incremental power.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), reiterated the position of the Federal Government at a meeting of the National Council on Power (NACOP) in Jos, Plateau State.
“I heard statements to the effect that Federal Government should allow states to develop their own power projects. “The truth is that Federal government is not standing on the way of any state; the laws do not stand in the way of any state to develop power projects. “Because as governor, we built seven power plants, government did not stop us; what we could not do is to do commercial distribution which the law actually allows under license through Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).”
Fashola said that the theme of meeting, “Completing Power Sector Reforms”, provided opportunity to share with representatives of state governments, other participants what the Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRC) was about. The minister said some of the reform actions contained in the PSRC were already being undertaken at the Federal Government’s level. He, however, said that there were other areas of the reform where progress in the sector would be defined by what happened at the state and local government.
He called on the state governments to champion advocacy in some areas of the reforms process in their states to further realise incremental power programme of the Federal Government. Fashola listed some of the advocacy required from states governments to their citizens to include:
“State authorities should ensure that their residents comply with safety standard on building by not building on the right of way of 332/ 133, 33 and 11KVA lines.
“States can also help by leading the advocacy for the residents to pay for the energy they fairly believe that they have consumed, while we continue to work to resolve the metering issues and estimated billing. “States should lead the advocacy for people to stop bypassing meters and stealing energy; energy theft happens in the municipal levels, not in the senate, not in the villa or the house of reps.”
The minister urged the states to consider asking their attorney generals to review the financial jurisdiction limits of their various magistrates and area courts so that they could be able to try cases related to energy theft. Fashola also said it was important that states played significant roles in resolving land disputes on construction of power projects. According to him, despite the earlier call for the reversal of privatisation of the sector, significant progress was being recorded in the sector.
“Some people had called for the cancellation of the privatisation; I will not support that, however, there are some challenges in the sector.
“Four years into post privatisation is a transition period and so, more work, therefore, needs to be done before the expected benefits can come to fruition. “Four years is not enough to change what we could not do in 60 years and expect rapid result in four years this why we developed Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) which is a set of policies, programmes and actions.”
He said that these were aimed at solving the generation problem, transmission, distribution, metering, estimated billing, liquidity, energy theft safety and other challenges. Fashola said that there was increase in generation of up to 7,001 megawatts on September 12, while transmission recorded 6,700 mega watts and distribution up to 4, 600.
He said that the N701 billion payment assurance guarantee fund was also responsible for the rise in power generation.
“Those that produce power are now sure that they will get paid, those who supply them gas are now sure that they get their money back.
“The banks who lend them money now know that they will get their money back. “Power plants owners have started switching on power plants that they have completed that were idle.” Earlier, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Sen Eyinnaya Abaribe, had expressed confidence that NACOP would further evolve steps to improve the sector.
He said it was important to acknowledge and fully implement the laws regulating the powers sector. The minister said that the National Assembly would continue to support the sector to improve within the ambit of the law.