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Senate Investigates N1.8trn Spent On Power Sector Intervention

Senate Investigates N1.8trn Spent On Power Sector Intervention

The Senate Committee on Power said on Thursday that it had concluded plans to execute a three-day investigative hearing on the operations of the power sector since privatization in 2013.

Specifically, the panel said it had the mandate to unravel how the N1.8tn injected into the privatized power entities by the Federal Government in the last seven years was utilized.

The privatization exercise was consolidated on September 13, 2013 during the tenure of former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

The Chairman of the Senate Panel, Senator Gabriel Suswan, told journalists after the meeting with his panel that the probe had no punitive intent.

Suswan said various sums ranging from N701bn, N600bn, N380bn and N213bn had been released as intervention fund in the last seven years.

He said the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and her counterparts in the Ministry of Power, Salleh Mamman, among other heads of government agencies in the power sector as well as private sector operators had been summoned.

Suswan said the panel would unravel causes of insolvency in the power sector despite the interventions.

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The senator said the Federal Government had consistently intervened at various times but lamented that there had been no improvement in the sector.

He said despite the latest intervention of N380bn, what Nigerians were getting was between 3000 and 4000 megawatts of electricity.

Suswan said, “You will recall that the Senate had, following a motion on the floor mandated the committee on power to investigate comprehensively, the power sector especially in areas as it relates to the intervention.

“You know that the Federal Government had over the years intervened at various times in different sums.

“There was N701bn, N600bn and this year there has been N380bn and N213bn.

“All these monies were Federal Government’s intervention in the power sector with the intention and hope that the power sector will become efficient and Nigerians will have access to electricity.

“Unfortunately, in spite of these huge amount of money that have been expended, the result in what we see today is that the performance has been below expectation.”

He added, “The investigation is intended to identify why these interventions have come and there has been no improvement so that at the end of the day, the leadership of the Senate will present our findings to the President of this country.

“The President has shown a lot commitment to providing electricity to Nigerians. Unfortunately, he has not achieved that because of whether the money is not adequate or the money has actually been deployed for the purpose he had not meant it to be deployed to.

“At the end of this investigation, we will know what actually happened. Our intention is to find solution.

“We are inviting the Ministry of Finance because most of the interventions by the Federal Government comes from the Ministry of Finance.

“We are inviting the CBN because most of the interventions are coming from CBN; we are inviting Nigeria bulk trader because all those funds pass through them; it is like a conduit that takes the money to the Gencos and Discos.”

In November 2014, four government agencies signed an agreement for a stabilisation fund with N213bn earmarked for disbursement to the power sector.

In March 2017, the Federal Government launched the Power Sector Recovery Programme. The highlight was a N701bn CBN-funded guarantee for the power sector.

In August 2019, it was reported that President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the release of another N600bn intervention for the sector.

Our correspondent could not confirm the N380bn mentioned by the Senator Suswan as of press time.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had in May said the privatization of the power sector had failed and asked the Federal Government to reverse it.

Lawan said despite several interventions by the Federal Government running into trillions of naira, there was no improvement in power supply.

He had said that even if the country maintained the current system for 10 years, it could never guarantee a regular power supply.

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