|Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister for Power, Works and Housing
The Federal Government has assured that it has no intention to reverse the privatisation of the power sector carried out by the immediate past administration.
Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister for Power, Works and Housing, hinted this in his keynote address at the Fifth European Union (EU)-Nigeria Business Forum in Lagos on Thursday.
Fashola said his ministry would remain committed to the terms of power generation and distribution contracts it inherited, noting that government would only listen to people calling for a revisit if the aim was to open up opportunities for more investment in Generation Companies (GENCOs) and Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
In his words: “I have discussions about revisiting the privatisation of power. Honestly, I don’t know what it means. I like those who are pushing the argument to come out and have a discussion with us. If revisiting the agreement means cancelling it, I won’t support. The investors who took the risk must have the assurance that government will not flip-flop.
“A contract that fails has consequences not only for the investors but on both sides. I don’t believe in revoking contracts. Like politicians meet at nights, investors also meet themselves and talk every day. Once they see the government cancels the contract signed with one of them, they will call on others to pack their bags and leave. This government will respect and uphold the contracts it has committed to and inherited. If there are issues with the contracts, the umpire is the judiciary.”
The minister emphasised the need for increasing investment in infrastructure, noting that improved infrastructure is a globally-tested parameter to drive growth.
He said the seven percent growth rates Nigeria recorded in the last seven years were purely driven by high oil prices, pointing out that the Present administration development plan is focused on increased investment in power, roads, schools, agriculture and housing.
Fashola acknowledged the role EU was playing in the drive to improve Nigeria’s power infrastructure, assuring the investors of government’s commitment to maintaining stable investment environment and policy guideline that would benefit all parties to power privatisation.
He called on the invests to partner in rural electrification project of the Federal Government, saying rural communities must be connected to national grid if the initiative to drive all-inclusive growth must be meaningful.
He said: “We have developed rural electrification policy and it is waiting for presidential approval in line with Electricity Reform Act. In driving the project, we target investment in education and agriculture as anchors of the project. What we have done is to develop an energy project in 37 Federal Government-owned tertiary institutions and seven federal Teaching Hospitals to improve rural health scheme and supporting the government’s irrigation projects. This is a plan the EU can invest in and we are ready to building a good partnership with investors.”