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Why power supply may not improve under next administration, by PENGASSAN

By Collins Olayinka (Abuja) and Gloria Nwafor (Lagos)
16 May 2023   |   4:05 am
Huge debt, operation barriers, poor new investments, poor credit rating and low commercial viability are some of the challenges that could thwart electricity performance under the Bola Tinubu administration, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has said.

PENGASSAN

Huge debt, operation barriers, poor new investments, poor credit rating and low commercial viability are some of the challenges that could thwart electricity performance under the Bola Tinubu administration, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has said.

PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, stated this at the union’s seventh triennial national delegates’ conference in Abuja. He said although electricity is considered a major determinant of economic development, attaining efficiency has remained abysmal, especially against the backdrop of a flawed privatisation exercise.

Osifo was re-elected during the delegates’ conference.

He was returned unopposed as members of the unions were unanimous that Osifo has represented the union very well in the last three years while deepening reforms and retooling PENGASSAN to have a stronger voice in the oil and gas sector.

Osifo, in his address declared that the dismal outlook of the power sector may not change in 2023 or any time soon.

He also hinted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has not improved the electricity supply to homes and industries during the past eight years.

Osifo said: “Averaging 4,500 megawatts in the past eight years, Nigerians looking forward to improved electricity supply may continue to wait as inherent challenges may stall power generation.”

The PENGASSAN President observed that the worsening exchange rate crisis in the country would also drastically impede the sector as the majority of tools and equipment used in the sector are dollar based.

Amid increasing blackouts, the hapless consumer is made to pay for the inefficiency of the operators and the regulator.

The union also urged the incoming government to adopt the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) model to run the nation’s four refineries upon completion.

“The incoming government must do all within its reach to see to the conclusion of the current rehabilitation effort and initiatives that are currently in place so that our nation’s refinery will come up in no time,” he added.

While decrying the parlous state of the economy, Osifo stressed that Nigerians have hoped for a prosperous country with a steady growth of its GDP, increase access to employment and diversification of the economy but unfortunately, this is yet to be achieved more than six decades after independence.

He declared that poor implementation of both fiscal and monetary policies and policy inconsistencies have continued to militate against Nigeria’s projected growth and development as a nation.

He further observed that rather than pursue growth and increased shared prosperity, the Buhari administration has put Nigeria’s current debt profile, as of the first quarter of 2023, in a quagmire that may take several generations to repay.

He said: “The nation’s economy is confronted with many serious challenges like structural imbalance, corruption, weak human capital development, inequality, security challenges and excessive dependence on oil for revenue.”

Another critical area Tinubu that must be decisive is the multiple exchange regime.

“Efforts must be made by the incoming administration to address the issues of multiple exchange rates as the arbitrage created is negatively affecting our economy,” Osifo stated.

Osifo stressed the urgent need for the government to diversify the sources of revenue away from oil export receipts, saying, “The hard truth is that revenue from the oil and gas sector can no longer sustain us as a nation and this is the most auspicious time to walk our talk.”