Senate President Bukola Saraki has said that government was totally to blame for the failure of the Nigerian power sector, despite the enormous resources committed to it in the last 14 years, stressing that the government must get it right this time around.
Saraki was speaking at a 2-day stakeholders interactive workshop/dialogue on finding a lasting solution to the challenges facing the power sector,which he described as probably the most significant challenge to Nigeria’s economic development.
The Senate President noted that the current state of the country’s power industry was not an accident but a result of deliberate and sometimes innocent mistakes by the government over the years.
He said: “I will be blunt and specific in my contribution and hopefully that will set the tone for not-so-politically-correct deliberations on Power today.
“Unless all players speak frankly, open-mindedly and honestly we will not get the right solutions to power issues.
“Where we are is not an accident. We walked our way into the landmine we are facing with the decisions we made in the past on power sector.
“We cannot shy away from the fact that inexcusable mistakes have been made in the past that brought the power sector to this point.
“Some mistakes were innocent, some products of selfish interests, fraud,others borne out of ignorance or glaring lack of capacity.
“We must be willing to face up to these mistakes and clearly delineate them in order to ensure that we do not return to the mistakes of the past,” Saraki said.
The Senate President opined that the privatization policy of the Jonathan administration was a good one which was intended to create a power sector that can galvanize Nigeria’s economy, but it was not properly carried out.
“We forgot that participation of the private sector is not an end in itself.
“We sold the discos to individuals and parties who had no idea about running a proper power distribution business.
“Licenses were issues based on cronyism rather than capital adequacy,market experience and capacity to deliver.
“Agreements were faulty and transaction integrity hardly imperative.
“GENCOS (Generating Companies) bought generating units without a clear assurance of source of gas to fire plants and government had no active road-map for delivery.
“Today, the power sector is on verge of a total systemic breakdown,”Saraki lamented.
He however described the workshop as “an opportunity to stop this train from derailing completely.”
“Opportunities for both the Executive and legislature to come together to forge a solution to the perennial problem have been wasted in the past.”
The former Kwara State Governor warned that government “cannot afford to waste opportunity we have now” adding that government owes it to the people who have elected them into power “to work out solutions not complaints to address power issue.”
He advised that “to get power right, sacrifice has to be made and borne by all. We must agree to put Nigeria first and our contributions to this must be genuine.”
“Some will lose money, jobs may be lost, investment gestation may extend but government must as well be sincerely committed to solving the issue …and fulfill its part of the deal without equivocation.”