• Friday, June 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Atiku, Obi outline steps to solve electricity crisis, others

Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, on Monday, outlined measures they plan to take to solve the country’s power crisis and other challenges, if elected.

Speaking at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group Presidential Dialogue on the Economy, in Lagos, Atiku said if voted into power, he would within the “first year of the new administration, initiate and implement an emergency power programme that can deliver additional capacity in certain key areas.”

“Over the medium term, I will propose legislation for the removal of the entire electricity value chain from the exclusive list and give states the power to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity for themselves,” he said.

He said the last major industrial dispute in the sector resulted in a loss of more than N100 billion within the first two days of the strike.

“It is counter-productive and injurious to let an industrial dispute with the Federal Government in Abuja affect an industry in Lagos or a factory in Aba or Kano, or even an average Nigerian who simply desires to get home, watch the news, and sleep under a ceiling fan,” he said.

With 83 million Nigerians not having access to the electricity grid, as the World Bank reported in 2022, Atiku promised to increase investment in additional generation capacity, to be accompanied by complementary investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure to wheel the additional energy.

“We shall incentivise private investors to invest in the entire electricity value chain while the Federal Government focuses on policy, regulation, and standardisation. A tariff structure for operators that reflects costs will be one of such incentives,” he said.

Obi, who spoke at the Chatham House in the United Kingdom, described his party’s solution to the perennial power problem in Nigeria as “a comprehensive one that covers transmission, distribution, generation and financing as detailed in our manifesto”.

“However, we will immediately complete the $2.3b Nigeria-Siemens network improvement deal to achieve 7,000 MW stable capacity by the end of this year (2023), 11,000 megawatts by 2024, and 25,000 megawatts by 2025,” he said. “We will support local manufacturing capacity of power technologies and encourage and expand local R&D in universities, training centres, and workshops through which many jobs will be created.”

Obi, who listed seven governance priorities, said the fifth is to “build expansive infrastructure for efficient power supply, rail, road and air transportation, and pipeline network, through integrated public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurial public sector governance”.

He said: “Nigeria stands at a critical juncture, having suffered from two recessions in the past six years, unprecedented levels of physical and food insecurity, persistent fuel scarcity, and high levels of crude oil theft,” he said.

“While we aggressively pursue the activation of all opportunities in the oil and gas value chain, we will target incentive schemes that will be professionally administered to diversify our non-oil export portfolio with proper consideration and management of climate change risk and opportunities.”

Atiku promised to drive resources and encourage public-private partnerships towards reducing poverty in the country.

The former Vice President said the success of his poverty reduction agenda would be “measured by the number of jobs created and the number of people lifted out of poverty rather than by the amount of money spent.”

In seeking the mandate of the Nigerian voting public, he pinpointed the negative statistics of massive unemployment, infrastructure deficit financing, a huge public debt profile, a high inflation rate, and insecurity as some of the reasons why he should be given the opportunity to govern the country.

“I have carefully outlined five priority areas to focus on in order to rescue and reposition this country for sustained economic growth, improved welfare, peace, and security for our people,” he said.

Atiku believes, based on extensive research by his economic team, that getting the country out of the doldrums of economic uncertainty would require a religious focus on unifying the country, reviving the economy, improving security, improving the infrastructure, and developing the human capital capacity of the country.

Read also: Nigeria 2023 general election and beyond

He took time to pinpoint how he intends to achieve his poverty reduction agenda, with a focus on job creation and wealth distribution.

“These priority areas are connected to one another and cannot be treated in isolation,” he said. “And they would have the most impact on all other aspects of our national life. They are also intended to provide focus for my government rather than us scratching at everything and doing nothing well.”

He promised that his well-thought-out agenda would take Nigeria to the promised land of economic prosperity.

His economic growth and development agenda targeted at taking Nigeria to the top 20 economies in the world “would seek to revitalise the real sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises”.

Obi said the fiscal and monetary policy will be properly coordinated, with each deploying conventional tools transparently instead of distorting markets to favour a few privileged persons.

He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, we will collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the transparent liberalization of the foreign exchange market and the dismantling of the opaque multiple exchange rate regime which effectively subsidizes a few privileged persons.

“We will also seek to boost the supply side, rather than continuing to concentrate exclusively on demand management of the foreign exchange market. When unaffordable subsidies are removed, some carefully calibrated transfers will be used to cushion any adverse impact on the economically weak.

“If the competitiveness of a sector is to be enhanced, then that will be done via the enactment of transparent and specially targeted fiscal and trade policies designed to stimulate investment and growth. Revenue shortfalls and leakages such as oil theft will be dealt with decisively by holding persons in positions of authority fully accountable.”