Nigerian senator identifies problem with power sector

Former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam.(Photo Credit: Daily Post)
Former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam.(Photo Credit: Daily Post)

The lack of quality data is the basic and most fundamental problem in the Nigerian power sector, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue), has said.

Mr Suswam, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday, said there is no data for planning to ensure adequate supply of electricity to citizens.

“When you don’t have data, how do you plan? We have over 200 million and we are planning for two million.

“We can’t meet up so we need quality data with integrity. Not just people sitting in their rooms and extrapolating on what is the data.

“Lack of data in the power sector is a problem. Once you have data you can now plan and know how many people are on the national grid; how many people are metered and how many people are not metered so that you can meter them and then you can now know the exact quality of power you are sending to them.”

Mr Suswam, who represents Benue North-East, while noting that Nigeria’s population was increasing, said stakeholders in the sector are not structuring the planning to be in consonance with the increase in population.

“So we need to be on the same table to plan ourselves properly otherwise we cannot now say that it is okay we are generating 13, 000 megawatts for 200 million.”

He said that part of the committee’s oversight function is to ensure efficient utilisation of funds appropriated to managers of the value chain in the power sector.However, he said regulating the agencies effectively is a task that needs to be handled by the National Assembly

“The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), quote and unquote, is supposed to be an independent body to regulate the power sector.

“But in all developing economies, similar regulators have not had the independence that they should have and the reason has been political.

“Because when it comes to tariff, which is an issue in all developing economies, increase in tariff is what people resist vehemently and so NERC is not completely as independent as it is supposed to be. It has to pander to the people who appoint them.

“That is why to regulate the sector effectively will be difficult because there is interference. For instance, the National Assembly just interfered and is based on the political consequence of their action.

“We as politicians look at the political consequence, they are looking at the economic consequence. And so if the polity is unstable, of course the economy will not operate as well.

“So it is difficult to have an independent regulator in the power sector in a developing economy,” he said.

(NAN)

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