President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday revealed how he was betrayed by some state governors who, after pressurising him to remove subsidy from petroleum products, shifted ground and abandoned him to face the deadly knocks from Nigerians.
Accordingly, he directed that Nigerians should be well informed and enlightened on federal government plans to increase electricity tariff on June 1, 2012 to save him the bitter experience he passed through in January following the fuel subsidy removal.
Speaking at a one-day presidential workshop on power at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, yesterday, Jonathan also warned against political manipulation in the ongoing privatisation process in the power sector, saying that not even his mother can lobby anybody in the exercise.
The chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had, last Tuesday at a meeting with electricity generation companies in Nigeria, said the commission would introduce new electricity tariff on June 1, 2012, and assured that the new tariff, tagged Multi-Year-Tariff-Order, would not affect low-income earners.
But maintaining his ground that he would not want a replay of his predicament on the fuel subsidy removal episode in January in which he was betrayed by the governors, President Jonathan said, “On the June 1 for the increase of electricity tariff, I do not think we have had a robust advocacy and this happened to me during the deregulation. At a point I wanted to send a team to the states to work with the governors and Benue State governor said no, that if we do that, there could be crises and that the governors should take charge.
“A the end of the day, by the day we announced the deregulation, almost everything was on my head. Everything was on Jonathan, to the extent that even the House of Reps met on a Sunday to discuss it and it became an issue. At a point, some of the governors who participated in pressurising me started shifting back. All what I am saying is that we do not have a robust advocacy. The civil society may come and tell you that they never heard you. We want enough communication so that we do not get to that June 1st and Nigerians have not been sufficiently informed.”
Warning the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to follow up on the privatisation process in the power sector strictly and guard against any political manipulation, the president said, “We do not want to hear any story again; they must follow issues to the letter and strictly with the dates. I do not want to hear that they have been influenced by any politician. At least I am the number one politician. Whether the person is my mother or my uncle, I do not want to hear that somebody is from the president or vice president. If you make mistakes, you are on your own and we will deal with you decisively.
“We must give to the best. The BPE will never make mistake to give this to companies that cannot perform. It must follow international best practices. So I want to assure all Nigerians and all the companies that have indicated their interest that there will be no political manipulations and that everything will be followed professionally, and only the best can get it. We are not going to play politics with the power privatization programmes.”
He hinted further that the Economic Management Team will meet today (Tuesday) to fine-tune and restructure what was discussed at yesterday’s workshop in order to come out with timelines to follow.
“That we must do with date on the power reform road map. We agreed that it is only through privatization that we would get to where we want to go,” he said.
Present at the presidential workshop on power which lasted from 10am to about 7:30pm were the vice president, Namadi Sambo; the secretary to government of the federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim; some state governors, ministers, some heads of parastatals and some members of the private sector.
Why Nigeria still gropes in the dark - FG
The federal government hinted yesterday that its effort to tackle epileptic power supply in the country has refused to yield results because there had not been proper alignment in the supply chains.
Briefing State House correspondents alongside her power counterpart, Prof Barth Nnaji, during lunch break at a one-day presidential workshop on power at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, minister of petroleum resources Deziani Alison-Madueke assured, however, that the federal government had already deployed a 12-month emergency roll-out to ensure that, by the first quarter of 2013, Nigeria should be able to add approximately 500 million cubic metres of gas per day to the volumes in the power sector.
The ministers said, “Before this time, there was no alignment, which means that while the NIPPs were being built nobody considered where the gas that would fuel the power for the NIPPs was coming from. They did not align the NIPPs that were being built with the required gas supply.
“But, beyond that, we also looked at the schedule to ensure that we begin to ramp up so that we can ensure proper alignment between the gas supply and the NIPPs which will be coming on board. As early as the end of this month, NIPPs will begin to come on stream. So, we are planning for the immediate 12 months, call it an emergency period, to put the required impetus on the necessary gas supplies to meet the demands on power sector.”
Earlier, President Goodluck Jonathan had, in his opening speech, said that the era of excuse on power supply was over, as what he now expected from the key players in the sector was concrete result.
He expressed belief that if the government was able to fix the problem of power, it would stimulate the growth of small and medium scale enterprises that will generate jobs for Nigerians as well as create wealth.
Jonathan said, “I do not want any government functionary to come and try to defend what they have done or what they are supposed to do. But the idea of this workshop is for us to put our heads together and look at our country.”
He said Nigeria was not supposed to be in a position of talking about power as a major challenge because every major country has improved its capacity, adding that the country has what it takes to improve its power capacity and that ordinarily, Nigeria should not be talking about 10 megawatts or five megawatts now looking at its own history.
He said, “So, I believe certain things were not done properly at certain period of our development as a nation. But today we are not going to blame anybody, but we called you – people in the private sector, public sector and our development partners – to come together and look at the critical things we can quickly do on short term basis and medium and long term to make sure that, as a nation, we get out of where we are today.
“We requested that the National Assembly should be robustly represented too so that where there is need to change certain existing laws, they will now carry that message to the NASS and work with it,” he added.