President Goodluck Jonathan, on Wednesday in Abuja, warned the incoming Muhammadu Buhari administration against reversing the power sector privatisation, as doing so would be counter-productive to the ongoing reform process and not in national interest.
Jonathan, who spoke through Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo, on Wednesday while unfolding a new draft National Policy on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (NPREEE) approved by the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, said any attempt to reverse the exercise after May 29, would drag the nation backwards by several years.
The power sector reform, he added, has progressed to the point that only adequate gas supply remains the major stumbling block, stressing that “the incoming government will be ill-advised to reverse privatization and liberalisation of power generation, transmission and distribution because any attempt to do that would be to set Nigeria back by many decades.
“The gains of privatisation are very obvious. If we can solve the problem of gas like we are talking about energy mix, we are not just going by gas we are doing hydros.
“It was this same administration that flagged off Zungeru hydro-power plant for 750 megawatts and is to flag off Mambilla 3,050 megawatts; Shiroro has been improved, revamped; Kanji revamped and improved; the same as Jebba.
“So, there is a lot of work being done by the government. However to turn back on privatization would mean stopping all of these companies and then reversing the massive inflow of investments coming into the power sector.
“Nigeria’s power consumption per capita is one of the lowest in the world and that is part of the efforts of government to reverse that. So, I don’t think it is in the best interest of the country,” he stressed.
Nebo also reiterated his frustration at the level of sabotage inflicted on the country by evil-minded vandals who damage oil and gas pipelines to the detriment of other Nigerians.
While tendering government’s apology for the incessant blackouts nationwide which have worsened in the past three weeks, the Minister blamed these “demon-possessed” Nigerians for the problem which cost about N120 million monthly to repair.
He pointed out that many turbines at the power plants have been idle because of lack of gas caused by the vandalism, while the power generating companies have been operating at about 30 per cent of their installed capacity.
According to him: “Available capacity exceeds 5,500 megawatts, willing capacity exceeds 5,000 megawatts but today we are down to 2000, 3000 megawatts because of these repairs which we were hoping by yesterday (Tuesday) we would have finished to shore up to 4,000 megawatts again, but more discoveries (of damaged pipes) are being made.
“We apologise for that but again it is our own nationals that are doing this to Nigeria. Yes, evil forces inhabit human beings. Can a sane human being go and burst pipelines that is bringing gas to power stations? Stopping the industries from working, manufacturers cannot work, governments cannot work even hospitals cannot work.
“Can a sane person do it without demon possession? These people are possessed! That is the extent of depravity that will lead people to punish their country the way these hoodlums are doing.”
Continuing, Nebo said “people are being arrested, some even said how much they were paid to burst the gas pipelines for nothing. That is, they don’t get anything but they get paid for bursting it and some of them are even people involved in finding people that will fix it.”
On the new draft policy on renewable energy, the Minister, who was accompanied by his counterpart in the Information Ministry, Patricia Akwashiki, explained that remote areas not connected to the national grid stand to benefit immensely.
He noted that Nigeria was blessed with several sources of energy like biomass, wind, hydro, solar; and it has become necessary to address optimal use of these resources as has never been done by past policies.
He also advised on proper lighting as he disclosed that one-third of power used in the country is wasted by use of inappropriate light bulbs. He therefore encouraged use of LED bulbs to save the country up to 1,200 megawatts of electricity.
Meanwhile, the President, also on Wednesday, cautioned the All Progressives Congress (APC) against attempts to stampede, coerce or undermine his constitutional responsibilities before the handover date.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Rufai Ahmed Alkali, Jonathan denied the allegation that his administration is running the economy aground.
“The allegation is immature, reckless and out of tune with the President’s desire and patriotic commitment to a peaceful transfer of power.
“Nigerians will recall that shortly after the results of the presidential elections were announced, President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated a high powered transition committee to plan and organize a hitch free transition programme for the inauguration of the incoming administration.
“Surprisingly, it took the APC more than three weeks to wake up to its responsibility to constitute its own transition committee. How then can they turn round to accuse the government of frustrating the transition programme?”
Alkali reminded the APC that “since the setting up of the committee, the President and the entire machinery of the Federal Government have been put on the transition mode and all government officers have been giving maximum cooperation to the incoming transition committee.”
He also cautioned the APC to refrain from blackmailing the President over recent Federal Government policies and decisions, because “by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Jonathan remains in office up to the 29th of May 2015 when he formally hands over to the incoming President”.
According to him, “the machinery of government cannot be put on hold or frozen because of the country is in transition.”
He further reminded the APC that “governance is a serious business. He further added that with the sudden and unexpected concession of victory to them, it appears that the APC is beginning to face the full reality of managing the great challenges of a complex nation.”
Continuing, the Professor of Political Science observed: “Their recent, frequent and unnecessary attacks on the President clearly shows that they are losing their nerves and are beginning to lay foundation to justify their failures in the near future and we want to remind them that Nigerians are not ready to accept any excuses for their failure.
“They promised to bring change so they must bring positive change to the well being of Nigerians and urgently too,” he noted, calling on the APC to give space to the joint transition committee to work in harmony for a peaceful and seamless transition.