?The Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, has disclosed that the federal government is yet to have the requisite data to set up the nation’s energy requirement, and that there is a gross deficit in the country’s electricity tariff.

Nnaji however appealed to Nigerians to give the Federal Government the chance to correct the anomalies through the proposed reform of the sector.

“We know there are gross deficits but just give us a chance and you will see power grow in the country,” he said.

“Starting from June, you will see growth in power and it will go on and on and will never go back again.”

He added that power plants would soon be inaugurated in some designated locations that would boost electricity output in the nation.

Nnaji said that the sector reform was to protect consumers from arbitrary billing system, particularly the urban poor and the rural dwellers who were made to pay for what they did not consume.

The minister explained that there was a trust deficit from the people concerning the reform but urged Nigerians to trust government this time around.

“It is true, there is trust deficit and we in government must acknowledge this and this is why people don’t believe it.”

He said that the government had met the target on electricity in many places but missed it in some areas.

The minister noted that the government was ready to work again to meet all the targets on electricity, adding that there was no similarity between fuel subsidy removal and tariff adjustment.

“I guarantee you that it is the opposite of fuel subsidy; you are not having increase in tariff but tariff adjustment.”

He added that the government will embark on energy survey to determine the actual energy consumers need.

“We are going to carry out a study on the population of the country to determine how much power we want in Nigeria,” he said.

“We are going to use many of our youths for this exercise.”

Nnaji said that the government wanted to increase electricity tariff to ensure that investors and the rural and urban poor were protected in the new price regime.

Those who consume more power will pay higher, while those who consume less will pay less.

He further revealed that the Federal Government would carry out final screening of staff of PHCN to determine its correct number of personnel, adding that the ministry was partnering with EFCC to identify non-genuine personnel for punishment. 

According to him, the National Assembly plans to ensure that the government prosecutes anybody who commits any act of vandalism, meter bypassing or tampering.

Darius Ishaku, the Minister of State for Power, on Thursday explained that the power sector had been neglected for over three decades by successive governments, until the current administration.

According to him, the neglect had resulted in the decay in the sector.

“Many power stations in the country are over 40 years and have not been overhauled since installation,” he said.

He said there was no basis for comparing Nigeria with either Ghana or South Africa in terms of electricity because Nigeria had a larger population and needed more power.

Ishaku said government had built 10 National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) to ensure that Nigerians enjoy regular and sustainable electricity. He however said they did not put measures in place to supply gas to the plant, adding that government was doing everything possible to provide gas soon.

Eyo Ekpo, the Commissioner in-charge of Market Competition and Rates, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said there had been no investments in the power sector for decades.

He said that before 2001, there were only 600,000 lines of telephones in Nigeria, “but at present, we have over 120 million lines due to privatisation”.

Ekpo explained that NERC wanted to provide basic standard to attract investors to the sector, so as to witness the type of growth which occurred in the communications sector.

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