The federal government has justified its inability to achieve its promised 5,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity generation for the country, saying it was due to shortage in gas supply.
This is just as it also declared that the consideration of the forensic audit report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was delaying the inauguration of the board already approved by the Senate.
Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, who disclosed this yesterday, while speaking with newsmen after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said whereas government had entered into a firm contract with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc, power generation had remained around 4,000 megawatts because of the challenge of gas.
He explained: “Regarding the drop of electricity, you know the supply has so many players, gas, the cost, issues of gas to some power plants. They cannot switch on their plant, if they do you will experience some drop, once they switch on, the electricity will increase.
“There may be drop due to fault of generator. It’s mostly generation. I’ve been watching since like yesterday (Tuesday) evening; we had generation of around 4,600 megawatts and you know, we told you since July 1, we’ve been able to raise it up to 5000 when we activated the contract.
“And we have not been able to do so due to some issues around gas contracts, gas to power, which we are trying to take care of. And we have gone very far with that and I believe it is for that reason that we’re able to reach up to 4,600.
“This morning, it dropped to 4,100. So, this is what is happening. You will be experiencing this fluctuation due to all these issues around gas to power, because gas is not something that we control directly; they will not give you gas until you pay. So, we are looking at ways to solve that issue.
“It is the reason we are unable to reach that 5000 we promised you by July 1 of this year. But as you will see from that date, we have been around 4,000 megawatts since then.”
According to him, the federal government had firm contracts with only five out of the 28 Power Generating Companies (GenCos) but had to extend it to more GenCos to stabilise supply at 5000MW as of July 1.
Aliyu, however, assured Nigerians that the government has, “all the ingredients” to solve the supply challenge soon.
He explained: “We have 28 generating companies and only five or thereabout that we had firm contracts with. Firm contract means that what you agree upon, you must give or else there’ll be penalty. And there must be uptake. This is what it means to have a firm contract.
“Now, we extended that to other generating companies by July 1, to be able to have a firm contract to generate 5000 megawatts as a baseline and we’re not stopping there. We’ll start ramping up with the other ones. So, this is the situation. We are working round the clock to ensure that we raise capacity to the required level.”
The minister also said FEC approved N2,740,000,000, as revised estimates for the updated rates of building structures of compensation and resettlement of the communities affected by the construction of 700 megawatts Zungeru Hydroelectric power project.
He added that the amount revised the subsisting amount from N19,640,000,000 to N22,380,000,000.
“Today (Wednesday), I approached Council to seek approval of revised estimates total costs for the updated rates of building structures of compensation and resettlement of the communities affected by the construction of 700 megawatts Zungeru Hydroelectric power project in the total sum of N2,740,000,000 which will revise the subsisting amount from N19,640,000,000 to N22,380,000,000 and the council graciously approved the request,” he added.
Commenting on the strike action embarked upon by members of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the Minister said the protesting workers have no grudges with his ministry, but the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan.
The union is protesting the nonpayment of outstanding arrears owed to former workers of the now-defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, suspension of conditions of service and career path for workers and the directive by the TCN board to conduct promotion interviews for acting principal managers who are moving to Assistant General Managers.
Answering questions on the issue, Aliyu said “The issues they have is not particularly something to do with us, but with employment issues with the Head of Service.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, told newsmen that federal government was anxious to see the board of the NDDC in place because it would aid the smooth working of the ministry.
He, however said, that would only happen if the forensic report was out, assuring that government was almost concluding work on the report.
He added: “I can very conveniently say that the constitution of the board will follow immediately thereafter. Nobody is trying to stall the constitution of the board. Nobody.
“I want the board in place, because it would make my work run smoothly. But we must also follow the due process, conclude on this report and the white paper is issued. So that is the position.”
Umana also said FEC approved additional cost of N765.9 million to complete the forensic auditing of the NDDC.
According to him: “You’ll recall that for this exercise, a lead consultant was appointed who had to work with 16 other field auditors and the initial contract zone which covered the lead consultants and the field forensic auditors was N1.786 billion.
“These auditors have since concluded their work but in the course of carrying out this work, it was discovered that they had to deal with many more projects than were initially envisaged. And the exercise also took an additional seven months.
“The total number of additional projects considered by the auditors was 3,773. So for reasons of the additional number of projects and the additional time taken, Council today approved a revised additional sum of N765,974,975.50 to cover the additional works done by the forensic auditors.”
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while responding to what government was doing to stem rising inflation in the country, said his Finance, Budget and National Planning counterpart will be in a better position to explain steps being taken by government to address the issue.
He said: “I wish my colleague the Minister of Budget, Finance and National Planning, was here and she will probably tell you both the fiscal and monetary measures government is taking, especially in the area of the medium-term fiscal measures.
“But what I can tell you is that inflation is a global issue. And I think it reflects, you know, a lot of things going on, globally. But what government do to stem inflation varies from government to government.
“Sometimes it is the way you adjust your interest rate or the way you introduce certain fiscal measures that would allow you to bring down the inflation. But like I said, I wish the Minister of Finance was here she will be in a better position to tell me exactly what measures we’ve been taking to ensure that inflation does not continue to soar.”