• Jonathan Takes Centre Stage
• As South Africa with 40 million People Produces 40,000 megawatts, Nigeria with over 150 million population produces 4,600 megawatts
BY JAMES OBUTE
Due to epileptic electricity supply despite the huge amount of money spent on the power sector since 1999, the Nigerian Senate penultimate Thursday before proceeding to about 6 weeks break setup an Ad hoc Committee to probe the sector under former President Olusegun Obasnajo and Goodluck Jonathan.
The incessant power failure in the country resulting to the death of several companies and rise in unemployment rate generated a lot of debates in the red chamber last week before the Senate finally setup the Ad hoc Committee to investigate the power sector.
It was surprising that South Africa with about 40 million populations produces about 40,000 megawatts of electricity while Nigeria with over 150 million only produces about 4,600 megawatts of electricity.
The Committee, headed by Senator Abubakar Kyari, (Borno North) was also given the task of probing the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria by the Federal Government.
The Upper Chamber took the decision while passing a motion sponsored by the Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, seeking the immediate reconnection of some parts of Borno State back to the national grid in view of the challenges the blackout was posing to his constituents.
Ndume observed that the disconnection of Maiduguri , the Borno State capital, from the national grid, as well as the degeneration of power supply across the country had affected the economy negatively.
He expressed concern that Nigeria, with a population of over 150 million, produced only 4,600 megawatts, while South Africa with a population of about 40 million people produced 40,000 megawatts.
Ndume also expressed concern that with an installed power generation potential of about 5,000 megawatts, the output distributed currently was about 1,950 megawatts.
He added that it was disheartening to note that Iran with over 77 million people “generates about 42,000 megawatts, while South Korea with over 49 million people generates about 60,000 megawatts of electricity.”
Ndume, who said that Maiduguri and its environs had been completely disconnected since the emergence of insurgency, complained that the situation had grounded economic activities in the state.
He said, “I buy diesel to run my generator and that costs me N10, 000 per day. No country can be said to be near development when there is no power.
“This Senate needs to investigate this to give the government support. For some years now, a lot of money has been spent but there is nothing to show for it.”
Similarly, former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje in his contribution said that the motion was apt in view of the untold suffering that lack of power supply had caused Nigerians.
According to him, many companies had shut down operation due to irregular power supply in the country.
He maintained that it is unfortunate that Nigerians are celebrating 4,000 megawatts in 2015.
Former Governor of Akwabom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio said the situation is worrisome. “We cannot have employment without power and Nigerians are complaining about the high cost and some localities which have not seen light for months are asked to pay high tariff.”
On his part, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted that the inadequate power supply in the country was a cause for concern, saying it had affected the economic growth of the nation.
He observed that the lack of power supply had plunged the country into further hardship, besides corruption.
He said, “We thought that with the Power Reform Act and the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, we will begin to see improvement with regard to power supply; unfortunately, it is not so.
“The Ad Hoc Committee that we set up should look at the activities of the Discos and what is preventing Nigerians from benefitting from the unbundling of the PHCN.”
The Senate however, urged the Federal Government to complete the Mambilla Power Project with the aim of improving electricity supply in the country.
It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Transmission Company of Nigeria to immediately reconnect Maiduguri to the national grid.
Speaking to Desert Herald on the probe, Senator Abubakar Kyari said the long break embarked on by the National Assembly will not stop his committee from doing his work.
According to him, the committee will continue his work during the break.
The Senate directed the committee to conclude its investigations and report to the Senate within two weeks.
Similarly, while speaking to this medium on the poverty level in the North East, Senator Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa) said the lawmakers from the zones are not going to leave any stone unturned in attempt to proffer solution to the problems facing the North East.
He said part of the efforts is the inauguration of the North East Lawmakers Forum. According to him, the legislators from the two chambers comprising Senate and the House of Representatives had met and decided to unite in order to address the challenges of the region.
He said non of them (lawmakers) is happy over the pathetic and sorrowful condition of the North East, hence the need to come together to face the challenges collectively.
This medium also observed that the lawmakers from the two chambers met on Wednesday and Thursday last week to discuss the challenges of the region. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume were among those that attended the meeting. Several other lawmakers from Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa and Taraba States irrespective of political parties were present in the meeting.