August 26, 2018

FOCAC SUMMIT: Buhari should engage Chinese investors in power sector – Mbisiogu



AHEAD of President Muhammadu Buhari’s planned visit to China, Chairman of Blue Diamond Logistics, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, has urged the President to ensure that Chinese investors are involved in efforts at fixing Nigeria’s power sector.

Mbisiogu, who is a leading industrialist, described the Chinese power sector model as   reliable, adding that it should be adopted by Nigeria in the quest to put an end to the country’s intractable energy crisis.

President Buhari is one of the African leaders expected at the 2018 Forum on China Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, Summit, scheduled to hold in Beijing, China, from September 3 – 5.

FOCAC is a summit where Chinese and African leaders meet to discuss the policy of China-Africa friendly relationships, as well as explore new ways of implementing the blueprint of cooperation among African countries.

Briefing newsmen before leaving Nigeria for China in preparation for the visit, Mbisiogu said   the complaints by Distribution Companies (DisCos) operating at huge losses and the revelation by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that most of the DisCos were technically insolvent, is a warning that something   proactive should   be done in the sector.

His words: “It is obvious that these firms are operating below optimal level. .

“That has fallen short both in price structure and liquidity and that is why we are yet to obtain a reasonable level in power distribution.

“Besides epileptic and poor services, outrageous billings and lack of commitment to the provision of meters for electricity consumers to ensure fair billing have been the hallmarks of these DisCos.

He said: “At no other time is it more appropriate than now for President Buhari to declare a state of emergency in power. A recent statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics says 7.6 million Nigerians lost their jobs between January and June this year. This is traceable to industries closing down everyday because of unsteady power supply. How long would this continue? If this trend is not halted now, Nigeria should forget whatever claims we are making for industrialisation.

“I am aware that during President Buhari’s last visit to China, the Federal Government signed an agreement between the North South Power Company Limited and Sinohydro Corporation Limited which was valued at $479 million for the construction of 300megawatts (Mw) solar power in Shiroro, Niger State. But what I am advocating for here is the near-total handover of the power sector to Chinese investors. They will turn around the sector and will give Nigerian sustainable power supply.

“Today, China’s bilateral cooperation with Africa has grown phenomenally in the past 40 years with trade leaping from $765 million to $170 billion a year. China is Africa’s largest trading partner.

“With the totality of Africa’s debt to China being economically sustainable and with the Chinese government saying it is willing to expand its economic relations with African states, this is the time that Nigeria should exploit the opportunity and turn around our energy sector.

“It would be appreciated if the president, being the father of the nation, interfaces on behalf of Nigerians living in   Guangdong province, particularly as it concerns visa restrictions to family members and other immigration challenges they are facing.

“I   commend President   Buhari for his anti-corruption crusade which has yielded results and I am urging him to use his visit to China to look into the plight of Nigerians residing in the country, especially those living in Guangdong province.”