Shittu Oluwadamilola – Abuja
President Muhammad Buhari has approved the sum of N600 billion as another intervention fund for the power sector.
The Market Operator, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Edmond Eje, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja, while speaking on the sidelines of the third MO interactive stakeholders’ forum.
“The plan is at an advanced level and the fund has been signed by Mr President. The President signed for the release of the intervention and it is an intervention of N600 billion,” he said.
The Federal Government has been intervening in the power sector and the release of the latest N600 billion will make it the third key intervention so far carried out by the government after it officially handed over the distribution and generation arms of the sector to private investors in November 2013.
On September 30, 2014, the Federal Government announced a loan of N213 billion to the privatised power firms.
On March I, 2017, the Federal Executive Council also announced the provision of N701 billion as Power Assurance Guarantee for the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company for two years to pay the generation firms.
When asked whether the latest N600 billion was specifically for the distribution, generation or transmission company, Eje could not be specific.
He said, “At this stage I’ll tell you that it is for the market. If the money is injected into the Gencos, it is for the market; if it is injected into the Discos, it is for the market. It is generally for the shortfall in the payment of monthly invoices.”
When reminded that the Federal Government had at different intervals pumped in N213 billion and N701 billion to support power distribution, generation and gas companies, the MO stated that it was wrong to say the funds were meant to take care of just one arm of the sector.
“It is wrong to say that the N701 billion is for the Gencos, Discos or gas companies. As a matter of fact, I will tell you that whatever money government has injected into the market is for the sustenance of the market,” he said.
On how soon the government would release the N600 billion, Eje stated that the government was not happy that the funds had yet to be deployed.
He said, “I think the government is not happy that it has not taken effect. But you know when government signs such a thing, there are underlying protocols that must be observed in order to facilitate it and that is what is going on right now.
Some stakeholders had frowned on the interventions of government in the power sector as they argued that the industry was largely in private hands.
About two weeks ago, the Senate kicked against the continuous disbursement of bailout funds by the Federal Government to power firms.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, while playing host to the management team of the TCN, argued that it was not in the interest of government to be disbursing bailout funds to power firms without commensurate improvement in the supply of electricity.
Lawan called for a more stringent process that would allow only competent and qualified firms to execute power projects.