PDP, APC Trade Words Over N5Bn Donation By DISCOS To Jonathan Campaign
THE ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday traded words over a N5 billion donation purportedly made by the power Distribution Companies (DISCOS) to the re-election campaign fund of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The altercation occurred at the sixth edition of PDP, APC debate themed “Improving Power Supply in Nigeria: What is Your Party’s Master Plan?” held at Barcelona Hotel, Abuja.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, who stood in for the PDP, however, denied knowledge of such deal.
Recalling how he took punitive measures against the DISCOS for breaching laid down rules, Amadi contended that as head of the regulatory outfit in the power sector, there was no way he would have approved such underhand deals.
He said: “On the issue about campaign fund to President Jonathan, these are so strange. The accounts of the DISCOS are regulated. You are aware that NERC did a snap audit and we penalise them by N2 billion for inappropriate expenditure. If we see any evidence of inappropriate expenditure we will discipline them.”
But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, insisted that such monies were given to Jonathan to help float his campaign in the public glare.
He noted: “Well, I don’t see a situation of people who are licensed by government to be donating N5 billion. It was televised; I don’t think you should argue on that. It is in the public domain and shortly after that, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made its own intervention. It is good Nigerians are watching this happening. I am happy this issue was raised.”
The duo, who bared their minds on a wide range of issues in the power sector, were responding to a question from a member of the audience who asked the NERC boss whether it was appropriate for the DISCOS to donate monies to fund President Jonathan’s campaign and then not long after got huge chunk of monies from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the form of intervention fund.
Amadi insisted that the privatisation of the power sector was required to ensure the participation of the private sector, adding that with the milestone so far recorded across the country, it has closed what he termed a chapter of darkness to usher in a new chapter of light.
Faulting the notion that privatisation of the power sector would automatically translate to immediate power generation, he said the dividend of the reform, which has a gestation period, would surely come soon.
Mohammed, however, said it was unfortunate that countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, that were at par with Nigeria 50 years ago, have left Nigeria behind due to the absence of reliable and stable electricity supply required to trigger industrialisation and employment generation in the country.
Promising that the APC would assemble a first-rate team of experts to fix the power sector if elected, he maintained that due process was not adhered to in the privatisation exercise embarked upon by the President Jonathan-led administration.
He noted: “We in the APC, assure you that where others have failed, we would succeed; where others have given excuses, we would give results; and where others have given you darkness, we would give you light because we have studied and assembled a first class team in the power sector that is working round the clock and we are going to give you the solution to what we think is an intractable problem which is power.
“Irrespective of what anybody wants to say, power still remains the single greatest test for any government in this country. Our administration should be judged on its preparedness to give power, which is stable and reliable and affordable.”