The Federal Government on Wednesday urged the incoming administration of Gen Muhammadu Buhari to avoid reversing the extant privatization policy in the power sector.
Speaking to State House Correspondents against the backdrop of suggestions to that effect, the Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo said the policy was implemented in the overall interest of the nation.
“I think the incoming government will be ill-advised to reverse privatisation and liberalisation of power generation, transmission and distribution because any attempt to do that would be to set Nigeria back many many many decades,” he said.
The minister added: “The gains of privatisation are very obvious. If we can solve the problem of gas like we are talking about energy mix, we are not just going by gas, we are doing hydros.
“It was this same administration that flagged off Zungeru hydro power plants for 750 megawatts and it is in the bid to flag off Mambilla 3,050 megawatts. Shiroro has been improved, revamped, Kanji revamped and improved, the same as Jebba.
“So there is a lot of work being done by the government, however to turn back on privatisation would mean stopping all of these companies and then reversing the massive inflow of investments coming into the power sector.
“Nigeria’s power consumption per capita is one of the lowest in the world and that is part of the efforts of government to reverse that. So I don’t think it is in the best interest of the country.”
On the epileptic power supply being suffered by Nigerians , Nebo said he had never been frustrated this way in his life.
He said his frustration was caused by vandalism of gas pipelines which he said was being carried out regularly by Nigerians who were possessed by demons.
“These are the real reasons we have darkness nationally. We apologise for that but again it is our own nationals that are doing this to Nigeria.
“Yes. These evil forces inhabit human beings. Can a sane human being go and bust pipelines that is bringing gas to power stations? Stopping the industries from working, manufacturers cannot work, governments cannot work, even hospitals cannot work. Can a sane person do it without demon possession? These people are possessed! That is the extent of depravity that will lead people to punish their country the way these hoodlums are doing.”
He spoke further: “I have never in my life seen anything as frustrating as what we are experiencing today. Every month, the Nigerian gas company spends a minimum of N120 million to fix gas pipeline. Every two weeks, western axis pipelines are vandalised and that is pure sabotage; the eastern axis pipelines are vandalised and that is oil theft. At the end of the day, the gas that is supposed to go to the turbines don’t get to the turbines to generate electricity.”
Expressing his frustration further, the minister said: “As I speak to you today, we have not installed capacity which is more, but available if you give us gas right now we will produce 5,500MW.
“But when the pipelines are in the state of disarray as they are now, in fact the recent thing they are doing is testing the integrity of the entire system. And when you have broken something over and over again, you have to really look at the entire spectrum to make sure whether the rest of the pipeline has integrity to bear gas.
“Four major joints they are working on is going to cost them N1.5 billion. Is that the way to give light to the country?
Nebo said planning was part of the problem and putting all the nation’s eggs in one basket which this administration had done everything to reverse.
He said so long as the nation continues to depend on gas which is vulnerable to attacks on a regularly basis, the situation would persist.
The minister said there were days he felt like crying over vandalism.
He continued: “There are days I feel like just crying. You finish the repairs that took two weeks, within 36 hours they are burst again. As you finish the repairs again, in two weeks they burst it again at various points.”
He admitted that the past three weeks had been horrible because both the East and the West are affected and as a result, gas that is available is too small.
On what government has done to deal with the vandals, he said: “I stand on good authority that a lot of people have been jailed , the thing is that a lot of noise is not being made about it.
“People are being arrested, some even said how much they were paid to burst the gas pipeline, for nothing. That is they don’t get anything for bursting it but they get paid for bursting it and some of them are even people involved in finding people that will fix it. So a lot is being done.
“Has armed robbery stopped in Nigeria in spite of all the executions? Look at what happened to many kidnappers and yet they are still kidnapping.
“There is a lot that needs to be done but I do hope that as our people get more educated and patriotic all these things will be behind us.”