By Stephen Ubanna
Given the peak power generation in the country as at January , 2020, of about 4,406.8 megawatts, Mamman Sale, the minister of Power , was optimistic, that hopes of achieving a stable power supply in the country would be achieved.
His optimism was based on the fact that the Presidential Power Initiative , PPI, to modernise the National Grid launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, which culminated with the signing of a working agreement with Siemens, a multi-national power Company has begun to yield result. The Katsina born Nigerian President had phased the country power generation based on the working arrangement with the company from 5 MW, 7MW to 11 MW by 2023.
The President had those that cares to listen that the Nigerian Electricity roadmap was meant to solve the existing challenges in the nation’s power sector and expand the power generation as Siemens moves to implement the aggreement. The outbreak of the Wuhan Town of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus, popular, Covid 19, named after the year it became manifest and was reported to the World Health Organisation, by the Chinese government, to take immediate action appear to have taking a toll on the power generation in the country in spite of the implementations of roadmap on electricity generations for the country by Siemens as agreed with the government.
Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, may have been forced to speak out about the adverse effect of the health crisis on the power sector when he disclosed that ’ not enough power is generated in the country now because the outbreak of the COVID 19’’ , when Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives, proposed a two-month free power supply to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians as part of the stimulus package aimed at alleviating their financial burden in this trying and difficult times.
As a prelude to implementing the proposed free power supply the House and Stakeholders were said to have agreed to set up a joint implementation Committee to work out the modalities for the proposed two-months electricity bill waiver for the poor and the vulnerable Nigerians. The Committee was said to have also been given a mandate to identify the group of Nigerians to benefit from the facility and the number of households connected to the national grid in order to find a way out of the current unstable power supply in the country.
Not that at a recent meeting with those involved with the country power sector including the distribution Companies, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of House of Representatives had informed them that he had called the meeting to find a way of handling the House two months proposal for a free two month power supply to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
The big wigs at the all important meeting include Sale, the minister of Pwer, James Momoh, Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Marilyn Amobi, Managing Director, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc, NBET, and Representatives of the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies operating in the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
There may be a problem to the implementation to the House proposal for a two-months electricity bill waiver for the poor and vulnerable Nigerians. This is because Kyari , the GMD, of NNPC, was said to have made it clear to the Speaker and others at the meeting that it may not be possible grant such waiver for now because of the cost of supplying gas to the generation Companies to do their work.
The NNPC , boss, had said that the House proposal could only work out if the issue of who bears the cost and margins in the supply chain of gas which is critical to the power sector could be settled and agreed by all the parties once and for all.
The NNPC helms man position may have forced Gbajabiamila, the House Speaker to lash out at Momoh, the NERC, CEO, over the failure of the Commission to set up the Power Consumer Assistance Fund, PCAF, noting that ’ if it had been set up as mandated by Law, the fund would have served the purpose it was meant for’’ to defray the cost of gas supply to the DISCOS, in order to give poor and vulnerable Nigerians the proposed two months free electricity supply.
This may have informed why the aggrieved House Speaker declared: I think we should look into setting up the fund because we don’t know when this problem will come up again. He stressed that setting up the fund was not optional on the part of the Commission. ‘’ it is the Act that mandated its establishment’’, he remarked. According to him, ‘’this is the kind of time the fund was anticipating to help out in the country’’.
Sale, the minister of Power may have gladdened the heart of the Class of Nigerians who are expected to benefit from the House proposed two months electricity bill waiver when he said the executive arm was ever ready to contribute its part to the ‘success of the proposal’. ‘’We will give all the support as well as technical advice towards the realisation of the House proposal, he said.
Appealing to Nigerians not worry about the delay in setting up the PCAF by NERC, to address the current challenges necessitated by COVID 19 disease, he disclosed that ‘’the executive arm government are ever ready to make its contribution whenever invited to do so’’. This is good news to Nigerians if the minister could keep to his words.
Indeed, this should encourage the NERC, Authorities to hasten efforts to start preliminary discussions on how to set up the PCAF, without further delay to be able to meet its Constitutional responsibilities in terms of crisis of this magnitude in the country in the future.
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