The federal government has in the past three years spent N1.7 trillion on Nigeria’s electricity sector, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has said.
The Kaduna State governor spoke on Wednesday after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja.
Mr El-Rufai, who said “the entire (electricity) sector is broken,” said such expenditure by the Muhammadu Buhari administration on a privatised sector was “unsustainable.”
“The entire sector is broken, the tariff is an issue, the way the privatization was done is an issue to many. So there are many many issues. What we have agreed on is that there are fundamental problem in the electronic supply industry. And that you cannot privatize an industry and then over three years since privatization, you pump in N1.7 trillion of government into it, that is not privatisation.
“The federal government has supported the electricity sector with N1.7 trillion in the last three years and this is not sustainable.”
The governor urged Nigerians not to pass a judgement on the electricity sector until a NEC committee he is part of submits its report.
“I will plead that we don’t begin to pass judgement until we submit our final report.
“The problems in electricity are many, capacity is one perhaps. There are some that have shown lack of capacity it is true but there are many that are fantastic, so it is very difficult to pass quick judgement,” he said.
The governor said solutions that would be painful to some parties would have to be adopted in the electricity sector.
“Those solutions are not going to be nice, they may be painful but the only way to solve the structural problems in the industry is to take some very difficult decisions. There are many issues including the ones you have observed in Kano DISCO. Our hope is that when we must have presented our report, we would have identified issues and isolated these issues and would present options to the government that would have costs and benefits.
“Because we continue to spend N1.7 trillion every three years. The question is if we continue like this, are we getting electricity, industrialization, that is one option. We can also look at other options and have cost and benefits attached to it for the consideration of the economic council of government.
“So, my appeal is that let’s not be quick to pass judgement. Right now we are listening to all the stakeholders, of course, there is a lot of blame game. At the end of the day, we must have an honest conversation as Nigerians and know that unless we fix electricity we cannot make progress. And this electricity is required not only in the cities but in every home, every rural area. How do we fix the structural problem in the industry so that it doesn’t cost the government this much to cover the whole of the country.
“Today, there are 80 million Nigerians that do not have access to electricity. We cannot continue like this.
“So, we will ask all these questions, look at everything you have observed and even those that you have not observed. But we want to listen to Nigerians and get their own views and incorporate those views in every solution that we propose.”
Nigeria recently signed a deal with Siemens of Germany to revamp its electricity sector and ultimately produce and utilise over 20,000 megawatts of electricity, for a country barely able to generate and distribute 5,000 megawatts.
However, many Nigerians foresee obstacles to the implementation of the agreement especially as two of three key electricity stages have been privatised.
Nigeria privatised its electricity generation and distribution segments to various firms during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Only the transmission segement is owned by the federal government.
Some Nigerians like the Nigeria Labour Congress have called for the reversal of the privatisation while others have suggested the government should buy-back the electricty generation and distribution firms from the private companies.