Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Monday denied boasting that he could fix challenges in Nigeria’s power sector in six months.
Many Nigerians continue to mock the former Lagos governor over the comment.
President Muhammadu Buhari less than two years ago named Fashola as head of the ministry.
But the nation’s electricity generation and supply still dwindles and unreliable, a situation the opposition and government critics use to mock the APC the Buhari led-administration.
But in a chat with Arise News, Fashola said he never said he could make the sector work in less than a year.
His words: “I remember where I made that statement, I did not say the words they said I said. I was responding to residents who, after we commissioned a power plant in Lekki to serve the water works and street lights in Lekki and Victoria Island, asked me when they can get powers in their homes.
“And my answer to them was that we would be encroaching the jurisdiction of the Disco without permit from NERC and that if NERC gave us the permission to provide power for them, the plant was there, connecting to them was a matter of six months.”
Fashola explained that the delay in the confirmation of the chairman-designate for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was caused by the stalemate between the Senate and the executive over the interpretation of the powers of the president with regards to appointments into executive bodies not listed in the constitution.
Fashola said: “The role of the government in power has been largely limited. The role of government is policymakers and enablers.
“So, there is a lot of investment coming on stream in generation, gas. New IPPs are coming up and old ones are being made efficient and so we must help the distribution companies to raise their games. One of the things we are doing is to verify their claims to debts and determine how much we are owing them and pay them.
“The other point is to ensure that government, going forward, would not owe Discos. It must budget for power in the way that it budgets for diesel and travels. We have done that in the 2017 budget, we will do it again in the 2018 budget, and enforce compliance by agencies to pay their debt.
“This will help in bringing stability to the liquidity in the power sector, ultimately for the benefit not only of the Discos and entire value chain because government as 40 per cent part-owner makes money if the Discos make money, we will get N4 out of every N10 dividend that they declare.”
On how much the government has invested so far in the Discos considering its 40 per cent share in them, he said: “I honestly can’t tell you the exact money but I think that the answer would need to be verified from the Bureau of Public Enterprises who supervises the interest of the government in those companies, I don’t have those figures, but clearly you hit the nail on the head – the entire value chain has to run in sync.”