*Says faulty privatisation of sector worsens electricity shortage
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
The Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and former President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Peter Akpatason, has said the government is not serious about solving the country’s electricity supply crisis.
In a chat with Vanguard, Akpatason lamented that the faulty privatisation of the assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, worsened the electricity shortage in the country.
According to him, “the sellers of the assets of the defunct PHCN were the buyers and it ended up people selling to themselves and forcing the government to raise funds for them to fund their businesses. Yet, Nigerians are not getting benefits of privatization as well as the investment that the government made.”
Akpatason said “The first thing the nation should do to address the issue of power shortage is to have a strategic plan for increasing the power generation capacity as well as the distributive channels and then secure those channels to make sure that there are no interruptions, man-made interruptions. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that there is any clear master plan for the country at the moment.
“Sometimes ago, we were given the impression that the solution to power supply crisis was the privatization of the various sectors in the power sector or the assets of defunct PHCN. Unfortunately and I believe very strongly that privatisation was not properly done.
As usual, the sellers were the buyers and it ended up people selling to themselves and forcing the government to raise funds for them to fund their businesses. Yet, Nigerians are not getting the benefits of privatisation as well as the investment that the government made. It is a very serious situation.
“One would expect that government would try to quadruple the amount of power the nation is able to generate on daily basis and to invest more either through Public Private Participation, PPP, or any other means it can, to improve the distribution channels and ensure that power gets to the end-users or consumers. And also, protects the assets of the operators in the supply chain. What happened recently and the frequent crash or collapse of the national grid is a clear example of the unpreparedness of the operators and the actors charged with the responsibilities of protecting these assets.
“If there is vandalism that leads to maybe shutting down an aspect of the national grid or the entire national grid comes down, it causes very serious damage to the supply chain and Nigerians are made to suffer from it. Apart from ensuring effective distribution also, it is very important to make sure that we protect ourselves from vandalism as a result of the unwholesome activities of criminals.”