…Says audit report delaying NDDC board inauguration
…Approves additional N766m for forensic auditors
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government, yesterday, attributed the shortage in gas supply for its inability to reach promised target of 5,000 megawatts of electricity generation.
It also said the inauguration of the governing board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, would only take place when the outcome of the forensic audit report it instituted was concluded.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, said whereas government had entered into a firm contract with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, Plc, power generation had remained around 4,000 megawatts because of the problem of gas.
He, however, assured that every necessary ingredient had now been obtained to resolve the problem, saying his ministry was working round the clock to improve the situation.
The minister said FEC approved N2,74 billion revised estimates for the updated rates of building structures of compensation and resettlement of the communities affected by the construction of 700 megawatts Zungaru Hydroelectric power project.
The amount revises the subsisting amount from N19,640,000,000 to N22,380,000,000.
He said: “Today (yesterday), I approached counsel to seek approval of revised estimates total costs for the updated rates of building structures of compensation and resettlement of the communities affected by the construction of 700 megawatts Zungaro Hydroelectric power project in the total sum of N2,740,000,000, which will revise the subsisting amount from N19,640,000,000 to N22,380,000,000 and the council graciously approve the request.
“Regarding the drop of electricity, yes, you know, the supply has so many players, gas, the cost that dropped, issues of gas to some power plants, they cannot switch on their plant if they do, you will experience some drop once, they switch on, the electricity will increase.
“There may be a drop due to fault of generator. I’ve been watching since, like yesterday (Tuesday) evening, we had a generation of around 4600 megawatts. And you know, we told you since July 1 that we’ll be able to raise it up to 5000MW when we activated the contract.
“We have not been able to do so due to some issues around gas contracts, gas-to-power, which we are trying to take care of. And we have gone very far with that, and I believe it is for that reason that we are able to reach up to 4600 as of yesterday (Tuesday).
“This morning (yesterday), it dropped to 4100MW. So, this is what is happening. You will be experiencing this fluctuation due to all these issues around gas-to-power, because gas is not something we control directly. They will not give you gas until you pay, so we are looking at ways to solve that issue.
He said the Federal Government had firm contracts with only five of the 28 power generating companies but had extended it to more GenCos to stabilise supply at 5000MW as of July 1.
On NUEE strike
Fielding question on the strike by members of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, the minister said the protesting workers had no grudges with his ministry but the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan.
It will be recalled that in the early hours of yesterday, NUEE withdrew its services from the Kaduna Regional Headquarters of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, according to the directive of the union’s national leadership.
Audit report delaying NDDC board inauguration
Also briefing, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, assured that government was also anxious to see the board of the NDDC in place because it would aid the smooth working of the ministry.
He, however, said that will only happen if the forensic report was out, assuring however, that government was at the stage of concluding on that.
He said: “I can very conveniently say that the constitution of the board will follow immediately thereafter. Nobody is trying to stall the constitution of the board. I want the board in place, because it would make my work run smoothly. But we must also follow due process, conclude on this report and the white paper is issued, so that is the position.”
Additional N766m for forensic auditors
Umana also said the council approved the additional costs of carrying out the forensic audit, adding: “You’ll recall that for this exercise, a lead consultant was appointed, who had to work with 16 other field auditors and the initial contract zone, which covered the lead consultants and the field forensic auditors was N1.786 billion.
“These auditors have since concluded their work but on the cost of carrying out this work, it was discovered that they had to deal with many more projects than were initially envisaged. And the exercise also took an additional seven months.
“The total number of additional projects considered by the auditors was 3,773. So for reasons of the additional number of projects and the additional time taken, council today (yesterday) approved a revised additional sum of N765,974,975.50 to cover the additional works done by the forensic auditors.”
On rising inflation
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while responding to what government was doing to stem rising inflation, said: “I wish my colleague the Minister of Budget, Finance and National Planning, was here and she will probably tell you both the fiscal and monetary measures government is taking, especially in the area of the medium-term fiscal measures.
“But what I can tell you is that inflation is a global issue. And I think it reflects, you know, a lot of things going on, globally. But what government does to stem inflation varies from government to government.”