Power sector privatisation, a national fraud – Saraki

Chidi Samuel

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday called out the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan for the way and manner it handled the privatisation of the power sector. He accused the regime of selling such a a critical national assets  to individuals who had no idea how to run it.

The senate President spoke at a workshop on power sector organised by the national assembly in Abuja.

According to him, the mistakes of past governments “born out of ignorance, selfish interests and fraud”.

“Today, we are on the verge of a total systemic breakdown and I see this as an opportunity to stop this train from derailing completely”.

“We sold the discos to individuals and parties who had no idea about running a proper power distribution business. Licenses were issues based on cronyism rather than capital adequacy, market experience and capacity to deliver. Agreements were faulty and transaction integrity hardly imperative.

“This is the opportunity for both the legislature and executive to come together to forge a solution to this perennial problem. We cannot afford to waste the opportunity we have now. We owe it to the people who have entrusted us with the privilege of working out solutions to their problems by electing us to our various offices that we are hard on our heels to bring them solutions not complaints.

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“We cannot shy away from the fact that inexcusable mistakes have been made in the past that brought us to this point and we must be willing to face up to them and clearly delineate them in order to ensure that we do not return to the mistakes of the past.

“Clearly some of these where innocent mistakes, others were rather the product of selfish interests, some fraudulent, some borne out of ignorance and others glaring lack of capacity apparent from day one. All of these combined has brought us to the mess we now have to face up to.”

“Where we are is not an accident. We walked our way into the landmine we are facing with the decisions we made in the past. While privatisation is a right policy recipe to pursue in order to put in place a power sector that can galvanise our economy, we forgot that the participation of the private sector is not an end in itself,” he said.

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“We neglected that unless this is done, observing transparency, competition, transaction integrity we might end up with a sector worse than the past. The BPE did things that were inexcusable. To imagine that even the sale proceeds of about $4bn was solely spent towards the payment of pensions and staff. Not one single kobo was expended towards catalysing the sector back to life.

“GENCOS bought generating units without a clear assurance of source of gas to fire plants and government had no active roadmap for delivery of a gas market infrastructure to make this happen. Yet gas companies and the IOCs were exporting our gas out of our shores to create gas markets elsewhere in Europe and Asia while we languished in darkness as a result of incessant, persistent and erratic power outages. In the face of all these our people continued to be called upon to bear inexplicable bills estimated beyond rationale service value.”