Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday attributed the deplorable power situation in the country to dubious awards of contracts by previous administrations. Various contracts for power projects were awarded by the administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan over the last 16 years.
Under Obasanjo, a probe of the power sector by the House of Representatives ended on a controversial note. Osinbajo, who made the declaration in Abeokuta, said large-scale corrupt practices in the contract awards for power generation, distribution and transmission were responsible for the collapse of the sector. He said these while delivering a lecture titled, ‘Nigerian economy and the future’ at the 10th anniversary of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The Vice-President, who stated that several billions of dollars had been invested in Nigeria’s power sector over the years, declared that the sector needs total overhauling to stabilise and boost the nation’s dwindling economy.
According to him, Nigeria needs more than 10,000 megawatts to stabilise economic growth but the current capacity of power transmission lines cannot distribute more than 5,000 megawatts. Osinbajo said, “Unfaithfulness to awards of contracts and execution of contracts being awarded are the major challenges. Several contracts in that regards have been awarded several years back but have not been completed.
“What is being produced now is less than 3,000 MW. Our transmission grid today can only transmit 5,000 MW and we need to improve on transmission capacity to transmit enough power needed to stabilise economy.
That is why private investors have to increase capital investment in power sector.” He said the 10 per cent Gross Domestic Product promised by President Muhammadu Buhari during the campaign can only be realised with significant improvement in the power sector.
The vice-president noted that the non-availability of gas had adversely affected power supply but assured that the Federal Government would ensure the completion of gas pipelines that had been abandoned for years. Osinbajo, who said the current power sector privatisation covers only the distribution aspect, noted that the All Progressives Congress-led administration would consider the privatisation of power transmission which is still under the control of the Federal Government.
He assured that government would ensure maximum protection of pipelines in order to improve the power situation in the country, adding that transparency would be the Buhari-led administration’s watchword. He, however, hinted that some tough decisions would have to be taken to put the country back on track in line with the APC’s manifestos.
He said, “Insurgency and instability of government are major setbacks, especially in the agricultural sector. Agriculture contributes 24 per cent to Nigeria GDP but the 24 percent is under threat because of the insurgency in the North- East.
“The militancy in the south has also reduced oil production significantly and that is why any form of extremism must be put down not only because of the economy but for the unity and peace of the country and that is why all the recent initiatives are important because we must deal with the question of economy. “In the petroleum sector, vandalism also contributes in no small measure to the drop in the output of the sector. 400, 000 barrels are stolen on daily basis while countries like Ghana only survive on less than 150, 000 barrels.