The federal government Monday rose from a meeting of the Joint Committee of the National Council of Privatisation (NCP) and the Board of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), alleging that its efforts to provide constant power supply in the country were being eroded by politically-motivated sabotage through gas pipelines and transformers vandalism.
Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam and the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, disclosed these Monday, while briefing journalists on the outcome of the joint meeting presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, at the Presidential Villa.
According to the duo, these activities had resulted in the shortage of gas supplies to the power plants and a drop in power generation currently being experienced in many parts of the country.
About 1,600 megawatts had been lost in power generation and supply due to the activities of vandals in recent months.
It was gathered that the vandals in one of the Distribution Companies (DISCOs), allegedly removed copper, which did not cost up to N10,000 from one of the transformers, resulting in the destruction that would gulp N27 million to fix thus throwing over one million people into darkness.
Nebo, who attributed the high rate of vandalism of gas pipelines and transformers to political moves aimed at discrediting the incumbent administration, said: “The breaking of gas pipelines and vandalism of the pipelines that bring gas, is sheer madness or may be essentially politically-motivated just to cause damage to the entire country and to Nigerians.”
According to him, “It is no news now that a couple of months ago the western axis of the gas pipelines leading to the power plants in the west were cannibalised, resulting in very severe damages that caused a sharp drop in power supply. That has since being addressed and the damages are being repaired.
“Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, the Akoloma plant in the eastern axis was also vandalised and the damages are quiet extensive.
“But a crack team of experts went to work and restored it bringing out gas supply and ensured that the shut down axis was open.
“Then the Afam both four and six were onboard again, but unfortunately, when people were rejoicing in parts of the country where power supply was stabilising, another sabotage was discovered a few days ago and Akoloma was also vandalised.
“But right now, it is being addressed and it is hoped that as they finish the evacuation of the condensed stage, that they will start pumping gas and we are hoping that the plant in Afam will be back running in a few days time.
“These are the reasons in addition to the fact that water level in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba are quiet low right now and the water level needs to be properly managed so that the plants will operate optimally. That we are hoping with the help if nature will come on board very shortly so that the 460 megawatts already lost because of water level will be recovered.
“Within the next six weeks, the western axis should be fixed and we are hoping that we would recover a good portion of the 1,600MW power that has already dropped.
“We are appealing for calm on the part of our people to understand that the massive load shedding that we are encountering now needs the support of everybody to help to educate these vandals to stop sabotaging the efforts of the federal government to ensure that power supply come to our people.”
An additional measure being taken by the federal government to stem the tide of the power crisis was the commercialisation of the NDPHC 10 power companies.
It explained that this was being pursued in a transparent manner, following the conclusion of the road shows meant to create awareness.
So far, 110 Expression of Interests had been submitted, while the joint evaluation committee passed 82 submissions totalling 386 expressions of interests on the various plants.
According to Suswan, “As you know, we went on a road show and as you know some advertisement were placed on the newspapers for people who were interested in the purchase of the 10 power companies to indicate interest.
“We received lots of interests and we received about 110 submissions. The joint evaluation committee, which evaluated these interests, passed 82 submissions amounting to about 386 expression of interest on various plants.
“We have about 46 consortia and were shortlisted for Gbarain power plant; we have 44 consortia expressed interest and were short listed for Benin City, 42 were short listed for Omotosho, 41 for Egbema, 41 for Omoku, 39 for Geregu, 37 for Calabar and 36 for Ogwurode, 30 for Olaoje, 30 for Oloronshogo, amounting to 386.
“The joint meeting considered the presentation which was made to them arising from the joint technical committee of the NDPHC, which took place on August 6 and approval were given on the prayers put forward as relates who expressed interest.”
“The ones that we find to be commercially-oriented are so very painful in the sense that it affected one of our DISCOs,” the governor said.
Information from This Day was used in this report.