The Federal Government on Tuesday gave marching orders to power investors and key operators in the sector to, as a matter of urgency, ensure that there was visible supply of electricity across the country by June this year.
The directive, which came from President Goodluck Jonathan, was disclosed by the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, at the inauguration of the Board Chairman of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Waziri, in Abuja.
This is coming as the chairmen of both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Power called for the unbundling of the TCN.
Nebo said, “I wish to charge all the principal sector players here today to commit to ensuring that power supply to our customers is significantly and visibly improved by June this year as directed by Mr. President.
“Much is expected of us all and the entire nation is waiting for us. Government will no longer tolerate any excuse of non-performance from any of the sector players from both the ministry, and particularly, our new private sector partners.”
With respect to the new owners of the legacy assets, Nebo said the power ministry and other agencies of government would invoke all relevant clauses in the agreement divesting government ownership in the electricity generation and distribution companies to the new investors.
“Nigerians must, I repeat, must enjoy the dividends of the reform programme and none will be allowed to frustrate this vision of Mr. President,” he added.
Speaking on the appointment of Waziri, the minister said the move came at a time when the TCN had been a subject of serious public discourse.
He decried the rising incidence of system collapse, high transmission loss factor, poor rate of project delivery and general lack of prudence in financial management in the company.
Nebo said, “On the commercial side, the ministry has been concerned with a lack of business approach to decision making and a general malaise emanating from its origin of public ownership.
“To the new chairman and board of TCN, I specifically wish to draw your attention to the critical role of national grid in a deregulated electricity industry. The risk of non-performance by the TCN affects not only existing IPPs and Discos, but also nullifies all our effort towards creating a conducive investment climate for the sector.
“You must, therefore, drive the management towards creating a national grid capable of reliably and efficiently evacuating all generated power nationwide.”
He further charged the board to ensure that only prudent investments in transmission lines and substations were approved for implementation.
Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Mr. Philip Aduda, said the transmission arm of the power sector must be given a serious attention.
He said, “If you ask me, my take is that the Power Holding Company of Nigeria was unbundled; the TCN too should be unbundled. When this is done, we will have the market operator, system operator and the TCN on its own.
“We need to ensure that apart from having Manitoba to manage the TCN as contained in their contract with the government, we must have their Nigerian counterparts, who they intend to transfer knowledge to, working at the same level, or if possible, at a higher level with them.”
According to Aduda, Manitoba’s duties should be advisory “but you have the foreign partners doing everything, whereas we are supposed to have the Nigerian partners, who are supposed to learn on the job and understand the system.
“I told the minister in our last meeting that clear-cut rules should be put in place to let the system operator know what it is doing and also the market operator should be made to understand its job.”
He said the Senate had since demanded to know the terms of the agreement with Manitoba in order to settle the issues affecting the TCN and so that the legislators could know the areas where lacunas existed and proffer solutions.
He urged the newly inaugurated chairman to move in immediately and take position, stressing that Waziri should find out why his predecessor left the position in a bid to adequately address the concerns.