Nigeria: We Don’t Want Stories but Power, Reps Tell Minister

The House of Representatives Committee on Power yesterday chided the Minister of Power, Abubarkar Aliyu, for coming to read speeches to them when they needed answers and solutions to the current blackout in the country

The lawmakers had invited the Minister to explain the current erratic power situation in the country to them.

Chairman of the committee, Magaji Aliyu, had in his opening remarks at the committee, told the minister that Nigerians were worried over how the epileptic power situation had affected their health and businesses.

He said: “It may be recalled that Nigerians whom we represent experience one of the worst moment of electricity supply across the country. This development has caused variety of problems affecting peoples’ welfare which makes social living condition very uncomfortable.

“It has caused collapse of small businesses whose operations depend on stable electricity supply. The situation has also aggravated increased process in commodities and services especially those that require electricity supply.

“The overheated socio-economic environment due to very poor electricity supply attracted huge public outcry for immediate solutions, especially given the contractual nature of provision of power and energy services in the post privatization era by the Nigerian Power Supply Industry.

“Against this background and acting as peoples’ representatives, this interactive session is organized to request the minister to, among others, explain the remote and immediate causes of the current deplorable power supply across the country; explain the technical, operational and administrative measures taken by the ministry to address the challenges and its devastating consequences against life.”

The minister is also to address “welfare and the economy; and suggest in your highlight the areas which the House of Representatives or, indeed, the National Assembly can provide legislative support to overcome the challenges apparently disturbing all Nigeriians

Responding, the minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Nebolisa Anako, read a long scripted speech on the achievements of the ministry which the lawmakers did not find relevant.

They said the speech had no bearing and direct answers on the current blackout in the country, describing it as as essay and tutorials.

Some of the lawmakers remarks went thus:

Speaking on the issue, Mohammed Wudil, who represents Wudil Federal constituency of Kano State, said: “Mr, chairman, in your speech, you even expected the Minister to explain the immediate causes of this current deplorable power supply in this country. We are talking about what is happening now.

“Why is it that we don’t have electricity? But all he is telling us is projection. What is happening? Is it that the situation is transmission or generation problem? What is happening now?

“At what capacity are they running now. That’s the seriousness we will like to hear from you. Why are Nigerians not getting power? This submission is not in agreement with what Nigerians expected.

On her part, Aisha Dukku from Gombe State said: “Mr. chairman, what the perm sec is telling us is end of next year. So, that means we will continue to be in darkness until end of 2023? Haba! No, no!”

In his contribution, Muraino Ajibola from Oyo State, said the minister was niot prepared to give Nigerians power

He said: “These problems are not starting now. For instance, we know, every year, there will be shortage of water. We also know that most of the time, during the period of January to March, there is always this shutdown.

“We have abundance of gas but we are not making use of it. What we do is fire brigade approach. Mr. Chairman, the summary of it is that we are not prepared to give power and I think it’s very sad. They also bring electricity when they want to send estimated bills to us.”

Also contributing, Princess Mariam Onuoha, who represents Okigwe federal constituency of Imo State, said: “Mr. Chairman, I want to express my displeasure at the way the federal ministry of power and their MDAs are handling the issues of power and power-related programmes.

“I want to assume that there is some level of conspiracy targeted at bringing down government’s efforts, despite all the money we have appropriated. And why is this happening when we are about to round off the present administration?

“Mr. Chairman, you will agree with me that there is no project this ministry has brought before us that has seen the day light. It’s always from one story to the other. Tell us what efforts you are making to cure the defects.

“We don’t want to hear the complaints. We need practical steps to solving these problems. We want power. That’s what you were engaged to do. Give us power, the heat of this period is unbearable. If you don’t solve this problem, you will be causing a lot of other health problems. I am sad. Give us power.”

Ruling on the matter, chairman of the committee said the House would ensure the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, was returned to the ministry of power, directing the minister to return on Friday with solutions to the power challenges in Nigeria.

“It is our opinion that we have to revisit the privatization. We thought you would come with a list of how many plants we have and their capacities today. We have to do everything possible to bring back NBET under ministry of power.

“We will never make progress if NBET is elsewhere. We will involve our leadership to ensure that the right thing is done for this country. There is nothing you have told us that is new, nothing because there would be no power today, tomorrow.

“So, you have to go back and tell the minister that we are not on the same page with the ministry; and we did not agree with this submission in totality. There must be power. We have to work hard to ensure that this problem is solved.

“Where are the NIPP projects? How many plants do we have? We have generation, transmission, distribution, everything! The President must hear this. And we want you to come back to this by Friday with better solutions. I so direct,” he said.

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