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Senate Probes Obasanjo, Jonathan’s Power Sector Spendings

The Senate on Thursday set up a 13-member ad-hoc committee to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the management of funds so far appropriated for the power sector since 1999.

The committee's work will cover the funding of the power sector under former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan's administrations.

The Committee, headed by Senator Abubakar Kyari, was also given the task to probe the unbundling of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria by the Federal Government.

The Upper Chamber took the decision while passing a motion sponsored by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, seeking the immediate reconnection of some parts of Borno State back to the National grid in view of the challenges the blackout was having on his constituents.

The senate urged the federal government to complete the Mambilla Power Project with the aim of improving the state of electricity supply in the country.

It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Transmission Company Of Nigeria to immediately reconnect Maiduguri back to the national grid.

It also directed the committee to conclude its investigations and report to the Chamber within two weeks.

The Senators, while contributing to the debate, also condemned in strong terms, the inability of the TCN to provide continuous and uninterrupted power supply to all parts of the country.

Ndume had expressed concern that Nigeria, with a population of over 150m, produced only 4,600 megawatts, while South Africa with population of about 40m people produced 40,000 megawatts.

He observed that the disconnection of Maiduguri in Borno State from the national grid, as well as the degeneration of power supply across the country, had affected the economic activities because of the collapse of several industries.

Ndume also expressed concern that with an installed power generation potential of about 5,000 megawatts, the output distributed today was about 1,950 megawatts of energy.

He further said it was disheartening to note that Iran with 70,000 people generates about 42,000 megawatts, while South Korea with about 35 million people generates about 60,000 megawatts of electricity.

Ndume, who said that Maiduguri and its environs had been completely disconnected since the emergence of insurgency, complained that the situation has grounded economic activities in the State.

He said, "I buy diesel to run my generator set and that costs me N10,000 per day. No country can be said to be near development when there is no power.

"This Senate needs to investigate to give the government support. For years now, a lot of money has been spent but there is nothing to show for it."

Senator Danjuma Goje, in his contribution, said the motion was apt in view of the untold suffering the lack of power supply had caused Nigerians.

He said, "The problem of power was on before 1999, and I am surprised that up till today the power sector is grappling with sufficient power supply.

"This motion is apt because there is a need to find out what happened, in spite of the unbundling and huge amount so far spent."

Senator Godswill Akpabio lamented that many companies had shut down operation due to irregular power supply in the country.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted that the inadequate power supply in the country was a cause for concern, as it had affected the economic growth of the nation.

He observed that the lack of power supply had plunged the country in further hardship, besides corruption.

He said, "We thought that with the Power Reform Act and unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, we will begin to see a relief with regard to power supply; unfortunately, it is not so.

"The Ad Hoc Committee should look at the activities of the Discos and what is preventing Nigerians from benefitting from the unbundling of the PHCN."

The senate subsequently adjourned till September 29.
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