By Ediri Ojoh
Amid clamour by stakeholders in the power sector for a reversal of the sector’s privatisation, the Senate said, yesterday, it had no plans to do so.
Speaking during a visit of the Senate Committee on Power to Ikeja Electric Headquarters in Lagos, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, described the current situation in the power sector as challenging.
He said: “We have been briefed by the CEO and executive staff of Ikeja Electricity and we have taken notes of the difficult operating environment of the distribution companies.
“Essentially, what Nigerians wants with privatisation is that there should be a difference between Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, and the successor companies in terms of provision of power, improvement of services and cash flows that come back to government on its investment as well as what has come out of the divestment as a public policy.
“We are aware that there are growing pains in terms of the privatisation, but our conviction is that we didn’t make a mistake in privatising these companies.
“Privatisation is a step in the right direction for developing the power sector, but the challenges make it seem the opposite.”
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja Electric, Dr. Anthony Youdeowei, explained that the company was committed to meeting its 100 percent metering demands, saying it was in its best interest to metre all customers.
He said: “Our balance sheets are red as we have incurred losses. In 2017, we ran a loss of about N65 billion and N80 billion by the end of this year.
“Our position is to place the business as they are and not about making excuses. Despite the challenges, we are optimistic as the operators and we will do the best we can so that things will go well.”
“What we are experiencing is that on all sides, there are mitigating factors that have led them not to operate optimally.
“We are very much aware of the plight of Nigerians to what is termed estimated billing system which is not commensurate with what is supplied to them. Every DISCOs should be aware of its responsibilities in delivering efficient service to their customers.”
Abaribe noted that Nigerians were not aware that 40 percent of the business was owned by Federal Government, adding that “as custodians of the people, our responsibility is to find out what these agencies or operators of the power sector’s business are doing.
“Our visit here today (yesterday) is to help in finding a way to alleviate or help in resolving some of these mitigating factors to lead to a much more efficient way of providing service to our people. We will send our recommendations and observations to the Senate.”
“The way forward is that it is not something the DISCOs can do by themselves, as we ask for government’s intervention. If we are honest with ourselves, there are significant improvements thus far.”