Story by Michael Faloseyi
There are areas of power sector reforms where success will be determined by issues at the states and local government levels. This is according to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
The Minister in his keynote address at the 2017 edition of the National Council on Power (NACOP), held in Jos, Plateau State said that certain actions of states and local government would be critical success factor in the power sector reform.
One of such critical areas, according to him, is that of cash flow in the power sector, as he explained that the ministries, department and agencies of the Federal Government were responsible for barely 27 per cent of the debt owed power sector operators and that the bulk of the debt are in the states and local councils.
States and local governments should therefore be disposed to verifying some of the debt claims by the electricity distribution companies and make arrangement to settle them so as to solve liquidity squeeze in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
Besides, “States could insist that there structures are metered so that they can budget and pay for electricity they consume. They can thereafter set up audit team and verify debt and make payment plan. They will discover this is a better deal.”
He explained that power sector has afforded states and local governments’ opportunities to be active participants in the power sector especially with the Mini Grid Regulation by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to invest in the power sector.
“The Law is not standing in the way of any state to invest in power. States can go into joint venture or construct independent power projects, resolve land issues and right of ways to fast track construction of projects.
“States should ensure residents do not build under high tension wires and along right of ways, they can lead advocacy to ensure residents pay for electricity they consume. They can review the financial jurisdictional limit of their magistrate courts to be able to try vandalism thereby reduce cost of dispensing justice in high courts.
“What states can do are limited by imaginations and not law with the opportunities afforded them by the power sector reform,” Fashola concluded.