Power sector privatisation fraudulent, Lawan alleges
•Laments exodus of investors, urges declaration of emergency
• GenCos, DisCos seek N1.23 trillion bailout
Senate President Ahmad Lawan yesterday faulted the power sector privatisation that birthed the 23 generation companies (Gencos) and 11 distribution companies (Discos), insisting that the exercise was allegedly fraudulent.
Addressing a roundtable on Nigeria’s energy crisis organised by the Senate Committee on Power in Abuja, he stated: “From the Electricity Power Reform of 2005 to the privatisation of the Gencos and Discos and to what is happening today, we know that everything is fraud and if we continue to play the ostrich, even in the next 10 years, we would remain where we are.
“I think the time has come for us to summon courage. I want to remind us that we have signed unto the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.”
Lawan went on: “I believe what will give us an edge is to have a competitive environment for our industries. Our businesses must be able to produce things that will compete favourably with products from other countries on the continent.
“We are not in that position today and we know the consequences. Even our citizens who have the capital would rather relocate to Ghana, produce whatever they want and bring them back to Nigeria to sell. Where does that leave our country?
“No employment opportunities. Nigeria becomes a dumping ground. So we have to tell ourselves the truth.”
The Senate president, who painted a gloomy picture of how the national economy had been adversely impacted by epileptic electricity supply, stressed that the sector needed a declaration of state of emergency where “courageous decisions must be taken by government.”
His words: “This is an opportunity for us in this roundtable to discuss not only the challenges of the power sector in Nigeria, I think that has been established by the solutions and the way forward.
“The truth is we all know what is wrong. What we really need to do is to have the political will to take on the challenges.”
The nation’s number three citizen submitted that it was time to review the entire privatisation process in the interest of the country.
He noted: “Some people signed very scandalous agreements on behalf of government. People will take hundreds of millions for nothing. I think the time has come to take major decisions on what needs to be done with those agreements.
“We need to revisit the privatisation because apparently there are flaws and we have to address them whether it is at the expense of government or not.”
Lawan further said: “We have to get out of this quagmire otherwise we will continue to be complaining and talking about these things until even the 4,000 megawatts we (currently) enjoy become a challenge to us.”
He averred that the data that should have ordinarily guide government for a thorough exercise were unavailable at the time.
Also speaking at the event, the Country Representative of Energy Market and Rate Consultants, Mrs. Rahila Thomas, warned that the industry might experience more problems with attendant blackout in the coming weeks except government makes N1.23 trillion available to the generation and distribution companies for their survival.
According to her, the sector is bedeviled with numerous issues that “have put investors in huge debts and broken down trust in the entire value chain.”