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Buhari says power situation no longer laughable, as govt targets 10,000mw in 3 years

The Power situation in the country is no longer a laughing matter as Nigerians make it out to be, President Muhammdu Buhari said yesterday.

He said his administration has given itself a target to generate 10,000megawatts in the three years left. It targets 2,000, Megawatts for 2016.

Speaking at the opening session of the two-day National Economic Council retreat, the President said “Nigerians’ favourite talking point and butt of jokes is the power situation in our country. But, ladies and gentlemen, it is no longer a laughing matter. We must and by the grace of God we will put things right. In the three years left for this administration, we have given ourselves the target of ten thousand megawatts distributable power. In 2016 alone, we intend to add two thousand megawatts to the national grid”.

Nigeria currently generates about 4,000mw, even as consumers continue to complain about constant power cuts, high electricity bills despite power cuts, low supply of gas to power plants due to vandalization by terrorists, obsolete power distribution equipment such as transformers, power fluctuations, which damages manufacturing equipment and household appliances and low voltage which cannot run industrial machinery.

The two-day retreat is to generate immediate, medium and long-term viable policy solutions to the economic challenges facing the country at both the Federal and State levels.

Among attendees are members of NEC led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, state governors, ministers and a former cabinet minister and economic adviser to the Prime Minister of India, Montek Singh Ahluwalia who would present a paper at the retreat.

Declaring open the two days National Economic Council (NEC) retreat, the President urged the governors to consider what he called some random policy options filtered from across the spectrum of four (4) selected sectors of the economy. He listed Power, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Housing.

The President said though the power sector has been privatised there is no evidence of any improvement in the quality of service. “We are facing the classic dilemma of privatization: Public interest Vs Profit Motive. Having started, we must complete the process”.

He said the regulatory agency National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), must ensure consumers get value for money and overall public interest is safeguarded.

Buhari said while the government will fast-track the completion of pipelines from Gas points to power stations and provide more security to protect gas and oil pipelines, power companies should be encouraged to replace obsolete equipment and improve the quality of service and technicians.

The President told the 22 states governed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to build 250,000 housing units per annum to enable the party to meet up with its election promise of providing one million houses per year for Nigerians.

He invited foreign investors and local construction companies to join in the country to cover the country’s housing deficit, which stands at 17 million.

On the manufacturing sector, the President said he was grieved that so many manufacturing industries in the country are groaning and frustrated because of lack of foreign exchange to import raw materials and spare parts.

Though painful, the President said he believes it is a temporary phase as there are deeper, more structural problems bedeviling local industries which the retreat should identify short and long-term answers to. Some of the problems he said include inadequate infrastructure, high Cost of borrowing money, lack of long-term funding, under-developed science and technology research, unions issues and smuggling.

The President recommended amongst others, that there should be more fiscal incentives for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which prove themselves capable of manufacturing quality products good enough for export: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to create more incentives and ease credit terms for lending to manufacturers.

He also called for the launch of a fresh campaign for the patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods “ for example all uniforms in government-sponsored institutions should be sourced from local

The president also spoke of the situations in agriculture and health sectors noting that now both the peasant and the mechanized farmers agree with the general public that food production and self-sufficiency require urgent government action.

For too long “government policies on agriculture have been half-hearted, suffering from inconsistencies and discontinuities,” he added.

According to him, the issues that worry the public include Rising food prices, such as maize, corn, rice and garri; lack of visible impact of government presence of agriculture, lack of agricultural inputs at affordable prices, the cost of fertilizers, pesticide and labour compound the problems of farming. Extension services are virtually absent in several states, among others.

This he said includes “Inadequate infrastructure: Power, Roads, Security leading to increase in costs of making Made-in-Nigeria goods pricier than imports, high Cost of Borrowing Money:Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has been hammering on the fact that high lending rates make manufacturing unviable and unprofitable.”

Osinbajo said the retreat was convened to find a solution to the country’s economic problems, which he said was caused by over dependence on oil.


Elizabeth Archibong

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