Senator Ben Murray Bruce Cautions Against Reversal Of Power Sector Privatisation




The Senate Committee Chairman on Privatisation, Senator Ben Murray Bruce has cautioned against calls for the reversal of the power privatisation in the country but that instead, concerted efforts should be made by all stakeholders to address the crisis in the sector.
According to him, reversing the power privatisation would paint Nigeria as an unserious country which does not respect the sanctity of contractual agreements, thus scaring away potential investors.
The Chairman who stated this when he led other members of the Committee to the Ikeja and Eko Distribution companies as well as the  Egbin Generation company in Lagos as part of the Committee’s  on-going oversight visits to privatised companies in the country, noted that the “power sector is very crucial to the economic well-being of the country”.
In that regard, he said the privatisation process ought to be beneficial to the government, the investors and the Nigerian tax payers who look forward to reliable and stable power supply.
The Chairman said the on-going oversight visits had proved him wrong on his initial assumption that the privatisation process was wrong, adding that with the benefit of hindsight, “I have seen that the crisis in the sector is the necessary outcome of the privatization”.
 “The various stakeholders need to meet, brainstorm and think out of the box for a solution to the power crisis. There is no problem that is insurmountable. All that is required is the will”, he stressed and expressed the Committee’s readiness to assist the executive in resolving the contending issues.
The Committee members expressed concern at the liquidity crisis in the sector and wondered why the Gencos were not being paid for the power they generate to the extent of being owed huge sums in billions of naira. For instance, he noted that Egbin was being owed about N91.5 billion, “yet it is expected to operate optimally”.
The members decried power losses occasioned by vandalism, power theft and other criminal acts by unscrupulous elements and promised that as a first step, the Senate Committee would liaise with its House counterparts to propose a bill to deal with these vices as a matter of urgent national importance.
Earlier in his briefing to the Committee Members, the Acting Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Dr. Vincent Akpotaire, said that the privatisation process was widely acclaimed globally as the best largest and most transparent transaction ever in the power sector.
He said the inherent post privatisation crises and the macro issues have nothing to do with the transaction process and that the solution lies with “managing the outcome of the privatization”, which requires some level of investments.
The Committee also visited Eleme Petrochemicals, Intels, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, Nigerian Ports Authority and NAFCON.
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