The Senate Committee on Privatisation will discharge its duties diligently to ensure that investments in the power sector are adequately protected, the Chairman, Sen. Gbenga Obadara, said on Tuesday.
Obadara gave the assurance when members of the committee visited Gov. Babatunde Fashola at the Government House, Ikeja.
He said the committee was working hard to ensure that appropriate investment protection structures were put in place in the sector and advised investors not to entertain any fear.
He said that the privatisation of the power sector remained the only solution to the problem of poor electricity supply and promised that the committee would do its best to ensure the success of the exercise.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members of the committee were in Lagos to inspect electricity infrastructure in the state as part of the committee’s oversight functions.
``What the Federal Government is presently doing in the power sector is similar to what was done in the telecommunications sector some years back, where new operators were empowered and the sector was deregulated.
``We want to have the right investments in the sector and we want to create the enabling atmosphere for such investments.
``And we think it is our legislative responsibility to ensure that these investments, as they come, are well protected in the best interest of the sector, the nation and the investors themselves.
``However, as the Privatisation of the sector by the Bureau of Public Enterprises has put up 11 power distribution companies and six generation companies, we want to ensure that the exercise has a human face.
``We must take into consideration that it is our national assets and our commonwealth that are about to be privatised and we want to see that due diligence is adhered to.
``The committee wants to ensure that the people we are selling these assets to have the capacity to contribute positively to the development of the nation`s power sector.
He said the committee would want a repeat of the experience in the sale of NITEL wherein the investors that came to revive it left it worse than they met it and added: ``We will ensure the very best for the sector.''
Obadarasaid the Federal Government's reforms efforts in the power sector were an opportunity for the country to get it right and urged all stakeholders to work together to ensure their success.
He said if Nigeria could achieve power sustainability, the country`s Gross Domestic Product would tremendously improve and industrialisation enhanced.
The chairman commended the Lagos State Government for its various initiatives to improve the power supply situation in the state and pledged that the committee would cooperate to ensure the success of the reforms.
Fashola commended the Federal Government's privatisation programme but noted that its success might be undermined if Lagos State was not properly carried along and certain grey areas not addressed.
``We support the privatisation exercise of the power sector and we think if it must work, it has to start from Lagos.
``We must put our best foot forward from here.
``The power demand and assets in this state is perhaps the biggest, so if we put up an attitude of `we can do it without them,' there will certainly be a problem.
``Most of the distribution assets in the state were created and invested in by the state government; some poles, transformers and other equipment were even provided by the local governments.
``And these are some of the assets the new investors and concessionaires are going to use. So you can see that there could be some issues if the municipal government is not properly carried along in the exercise,'' he said.
The governor also said there was a need for the Federal Government to define clearly areas where the states could intervene in power generation, considering that the constitutional explanation on the issue was unclear.
Fasholaalso urged the Federal Government to consider licensing green field companies to take active part in the privatisation exercise, as was done in the telecommunication sector.
He said such companies could help boost power supply as they would build their own power infrastructure and might not need to buy any of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria assets to generate electricity.