The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, says the approval of the N72 billion Distribution Expansion Programme is a demonstration of government’s commitment to enhancing power distribution.
The minister said at the December 2018 Nextier Power Dialogue in Abuja that the Federal Government, as a 40 per cent shareholder, had to approve the programme to enhance the distribution of power across the country.
He said although operationally there was 7,000mw of electricity ready for deployment, the operation was still constrained at the distribution end.
Fashola noted, in a statement in Lagos on Friday by Mr Hakeem Bello, his spokesman, the decision to intervene was taken after consultations with the distribution companies.
The Minister said the 3rd Quarter Report of the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that electricity made the highest contribution of 18 per cent to the 1.8 per cent growth in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
While responding to questions at the forum, the minister made clarifications on comments allegedly made by him in 2014 as to his ability to solve the nation’s power problem in six months.
He explained that the statement attributed to him was made in 2015 in Lekki in respect of distributing power to the Lekki community within six months from the residual power in an Independent Power Plant.
He said the plant was earlier commissioned by him to power some government Water Works and Street lighting on the Island.
He said: “I think it was in 2015 during the run up to the elections and I was in Lekki where we had gone to commission the Lekki IPP.
“It was Sam Amadi who gave us a license to do an IPP dedicated to power our Water works in Lekki, our Water Works in Victoria Island and our Water Works in Oniru and the street lighting in Lekki Phase 2.
“When we switched on that power plant that night and all of the street lights came on, as I was leaving, the residents accosted me and said ‘Governor you can’t go; we like this; but how would we get it into our houses?
“I explained that it was Eko Distribution Company’s franchise and if they wanted the power in their houses, there was reserved power still in the IPP and if they could tell NERC to issue him a license, he would do the distribution and connect the Lekki residents in six months.
“That was what I said.”
The Minister recalled that the policy outline laid by his Ministry at inception set out a roadmap to first get incremental power and then go to steady power and then to uninterrupted power.
He said: “So in terms of our first leg of incremental power, we have delivered what we promised. We have increased the power on all sides.”
Fashola said that in spite of the problems in the sector, people now spent less on petroleum products to power their generators because power supply had improved above what the ministry inherited from the last government.
Responding to questions on the supply of transformers at the forum, Fashola, said the last administration had privatised distribution by selling all the power distribution assets.
He said though the power sector operations were now in private hands, government was concerned.
He called for understanding, saying the decision to privatise was a matter of policy and policy implementation required time.