Only 25 percent of Nigerians currently have access to electricity – Minister of Power

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MINISTER of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, alongside the Minister of State, Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi, Wednesday described the power outage being experienced in the country as national embarrassment, but blamed it on systems collapse.

Nevertheless, Nebo said that steps had been taken to rectify the problem, adding that power was already being restored. According to the ministry, at least 120 million out of the estimated 160 million Nigerians are currently without electricity supply, leaving only an estimated 40 million Nigerians with electricity.

Nebo, who addressed State House Correspondents after briefing the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on the activities of his ministry in the last one last year, said that systems collapse affected some power installations in some parts of the country.

He cited the recent breakdown of power installations in Bayelsa and Kebbi states, which kept the two states in darkness for over three weeks, stating: “Bayelsa State was almost knocked out because a huge tree fell on the transmission tower and shattered it up to the foundation.

“Similar situation occurred in Kebbi, where heavy storms destroyed three transmission towers. These things are natural phenomena that are not caused by human beings.”

Aside systems collapse, the minister also fingered the activities of vandals as well as lack of funding last year for routine maintenance of electricity equipment. He noted: “I can use the word ‘nightmare’ to describe what we witnessed in the past three weeks, as far as power supply is concerned.”

Nebo said it was down to “systems collapse, which occurs at the beginning of every rainy season, or when the rainy season is about to take off robustly, with a lot of storm.”

 Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsdey Orubebe, and his Minister of State, Darius Ishaku, told journalists that, “privatization is at its concluding stage. We need to focus on commercialisation of the power sector, considering where we are and the fact that only 40 million people have power supply.”

He expressed hope that the short-term mechanism being put in place, and additional fund being approved by government would raise power holding beyond the current 3200 megawatts.

Nebo, whose ministry presented its 2012 scorecard to FEC, said the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) has started a road show to make 10 different power plants available to interested investors, pointing out that once on stream, the 10 would add 4000 megawatts to the national grid.

For Kuchi, Nigerians would be better off owning great stakes in the power sector by availing themselves the opportunity in government’s commercialisation drive, as “the future of power in Nigeria is through IPPs and PPPs.”

Meanwhile, Orubebe said that funding has been the problem hampering the construction of the East-West Road. He noted, however, that the programme has made a lot of progress under SURE-P, as some bridges have been completed and key sectors of the road were being steadily delivered.

According to him, the ministry, in the post-amnesty period, has provided more skill acquisition centres to equip the youth and create jobs. Ishaku disclosed that the ministry spent N39 billion on the amnesty project in the past year.

According to him, the ministry was working hard to curb militancy, and though Julius Berger left the region because of militancy, the contract for the East-West Road was re-awarded and the new contractors were doing well despite the dearth of “real funding.”

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