Senate to probe power sector

• Urges FG to target 100,000 Megawatts

THE Senate has resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the numerous challenges that have hindered the power sector from meeting the national power needs.

The committee has four weeks to report back to the Senate for further legislative action ahead of the Christmas break.

The resolution of the Senate included tasking the Federal Government to set a target of 100,000mgwatt target for power generation to meet national power needs considering the nation’s size bother geographically and it’s population.

Senate resolution followed, “Addressing Nigeria’s power problems,” sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North).

The upper legislative chamber dismissed calls for ban of generators in Nigeria until such a time where it has recorded substantial improvement in the power sector.

The Senate further resolved to urge the Federal government to evolve measures that would bring about power generation models that would create economic and industrial clusters that would enjoy semi-autonomy from the national grid but can feed and be fed from the grid.

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Lawmakers urged the Federal Government to upgrade the transmission infrastructure of Nigeria’s power grid for more efficient transmission of power as well as break up Nigeria’s power distribution companies into smaller, more manageable distribution companies for optimal performance.

In his lead debate on the motion, Senator Utazi lamented that Nigeria ranks amongst the lowest in electricity availability per capita in the world.

“This fact retards growth and development and to be counted among the emerging economies of the world which will improve the standard of lives of its citizens, Nigeria must be able to produce and distribute electricity comparable to other emerging economies,” he said.

The lawmaker added that with a human population of 200 million people and an annual growth rate of 2.6% per annum, Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation on earth and going by our annual growth rate, the country will become the 3rd or 4th populous nation on earth within the next 20 years, behind China and India.

He said that the power generating or installed capacity of Nigeria in relation to its population and Gross Domestic Products cannot place the country on a good pedestal in developmental terms to compete favourably with other nations.

The lawmakers, who contributed to the motion, pointed out why the power sector failed and what the Federal Government needed to do to revive the sector.

Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross River South) said, “We must build on the success recorded in the power sector by successive government. There is a need to take a holistic solution to the problem of the power sector.

Senator Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto South) said the problem of the nation’s power sector is lack of political will, adding, “Our problem is lack of political will drive the power sector.”

He stressed the need to review the nation’s energy Bill, noting that the generation and distribution of power could be decentralized to enable state and local government areas to participate in the sector to improve in the distribution.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the plenary, Sen Utazi lamented that Nigeria is now a laughing stock of other nations, adding, “Ordinary electricity that is taken for granted in other nations we don’t have it.”

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to break the jinx in the power sector, the way former President Olusegun Obasanjo did it in the telecom sector.

The Enugu lawmaker said that the nation’s economy should be private-sector driven.

He pointed out that if other countries can do it, Nigeria can also achieve it.

He noted that manufacturing companies are leaving Nigeria for other neighbouring countries that are not up to Nigeria because of adequate power infrastructure would reduce their cost of production.

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