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Electricity tariff hike & power supply tops agenda as Reps begin probe of power sector

The need to correct the visible imbalance between the rising hike in electric tariff without corresponding increase in quantity and quality of electricity supply is the major preoccupation of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the power sector.

Chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee on Investigation and Review of the Activities of the Nigerian Power Sector, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa disclosed this Wednesday at a 2-day Public Investigative Hearing at the National Assembly Complex Abuja.

Ado-Doguwa said the major challenge confronting the power sector is the fact that the tariffs are not cost reflective and the issue of liquidity; with the Gas Suppliers claiming billions of Naira being owed them

While appreciating the efforts of institutions created from the unbundling of the power sector, particularly the GENCOs who now have the capacity to generate over 10, 000 megawatts the House Leader said: “it is in fact, becoming clearer from a layman’s perspective that the DISCOs and transmission agents must do more if we anticipate any form of improved electricity supply in the country.

“The inability of some of these institutions to meet the covenant obligations they entered into at the time of privatization has reduced the capacity to enable reliable and quality electricity supply for both domestic and commercial use”.

The Majority Leader emphasized that the power sector is critical to the nation’s industrialisation and development, saying the greatest issues bedeviling the sector after the unbundling of the defunct National Electric Power Authority is the inability to effectively transmit and distribute electricity supply across the country.

“The Federal Government in reaction to the inability of value chain players to meet their basic obligations, invited the German government to help the poor state of power in Nigeria. This is the situation that crystallised in what is now called the Siemens Intervention deal.

“incidentally, the above and many other concerns are the reasons we invited various stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to this Hearing. It is our belief that you shall be equipping the Committee with ample information on the status of the power sector, next lines of action and the inter-play between major players in the sector”, Ado-Doguwa said.

In his opening remarks, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila lamented that despite huge investments in the power sector, little progress have been made.

Gbajabiamila said it is becoming increasingly worrisome that successive governments have been unable to fix the issue of power in the country; with the current state of electricity supply apparently dampening the hopes of landmark industrialization and national development.

“The last time some of you were here to witness the inauguration of this Ad Hoc Committee, we reminded you that at the onset of the 9th House of Representatives we proposed a legislative agenda that sought to initiate a comprehensive review of all legislation relating to the power sector.

“Today’s activity is an attempt to walk the walk. This investigative hearing is the premise upon which the House of Representatives shall amass adequate information to guide us in causing the required and appropriate legislative intervention in the power sector”, the Speaker stated.

In their various submissions, members of the Committee called on both the regulators and operators in the power sector to add value to the lives of Nigerians through effective generation, distribution and metering of electricity supply in households, public offices and industries.

They challenged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to ensure that funds appropriated and released for the improvement of power in the power value chain are effectively utilized and called for more efficient metering system.

The lawmakers also said NERC as a regulator in the power sector should ensure that there is wide consultation before any of the operators announce increment in tariff by Distribution Companies (DISCOs).

Responding, the Executive Chairman of NERC, James Fagbemi assured the Committee that the agency is committed to ensuring that there is improvement in the quality of power supply to Nigerians.

He told the Committee that N701 billion and another N600 billion payment assurance facility so far advanced to the agency by government for stabilization of the sector is effectively being utilized.

The Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Sule Abdulaziz in his presentation informed the lawmakers that the company is deploying a total of N1,736,349.00 for expansion of transmission lines across states in all the six geo-political zones of the country.

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