7 February 2013

Nigeria: Fashola Decries FG's Interference in Lagos Power Project

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has faulted the interference of the Federal Government in the independent power project (IPP) initiated by his predecessor, Senator Bola Tinubu.

Fashola, who expressed the disappointment at the distinguished visitors' programme of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja, lamented that the project would have brought major economic development to the state if it had not been aborted.

He explained that the Tinubu administration entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with Enron Nigeria Power Holding Ltd "to build the first independent power project undertaken by any state in the federation."

He said the initiative suffered needless political interference and Lagos still "bears the financial and economic scars for it. One can only imagine what type of Lagos and indeed Nigeria we would be living in today if 13 years ago that project had been allowed."

According to the governor, "the level of development we would have attained; the volume of manufacturing and various types of economic activity that would be thriving today; the ideas and innovation that would have sprung out of the type of enabling environment that constant power supply engenders."

He, however, advocated the culture of conservation and preservation of electricity among Nigerians, saying it was the only way to achieve real success in attaining the goal as the country strived to ensure constant power supply.

He explained that the state government's water sector master plan "addresses the need for conservation and is currently developing a mechanism to address losses through leak detection, telemetry application; metering and water theft detection," adding that plans are underway to launch an awareness campaign on cable theft and the dangers of destroying street light infrastructure.

"We have found to our chagrin that this is not enough. The only solution, in my view, is a holistic mindset change amongst Nigerian citizens so that they see public utilities, not as government utilities but as their utilities. Members of NERC have a greater role to play to educate, inform and create the awareness that can bring about that mindset," he said.

He added that the state currently "has the most extensive power utility development plans in the country. In the last three years, this administration has successfully commissioned two power plants in Akute and Lagos Island respectively and one transformer factory in Badagry while two others - the Alausa Power Project and Ikeja GRA IPP - are under construction and at procurement stage respectively.

"The Akute Plant powers about 80 per cent of the water supply in Lagos while the Island Power Plant provides electricity to health facilities, schools and court buildings and public lighting within Lagos Island. The Alausa Power Plant, when completed, would supply electricity to the Alausa Secretariat while the Ikeja GRA IPP would power government establishments within the old secretariat amongst others.

"Through these power plants, we have witnessed vast improvements in our ability to deliver services to Lagos citizens, one of the most valuable of which is in the area of public lighting. It is our target to light up our streets, bridges and public places to reduce security risks," the governor explained.

Fashola reiterated that the success of his administration's pursuit of steady power and reliable water supply depended "not only on the ability of government to provide them but also on our sense of public ownership of these assets and our willingness to discharge the communal duty of protecting them."

Fashola also cited Magodo Estate in Lagos which, according to him, consists of 3,276 houses that are powered by 4,656 generators with a total installed capacity of 51.2mw and a daily cost of diesel amounting to N8 million. This, he added, translated to N49.24 per kw/hr as against PHCN cost of N12.75 per kw/hr.

He explained that the state government's power audit shows that the estate "requires only 30 mw and a total power cost per day for the estate will be N2 million. Ikeja GRA consisting of 789 houses is powered by 804 generators with total installed capacity of 68mw and daily cost of diesel put at N10.7 million. Our power audit shows that this estate requires 59mw and the total power cost per day for the estate will be N3, 040,000".

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