Former Governor of Benue State and Senator of the 9th FDRE Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Gabriel Suswam, said the federal government is actively involved in developing renewable energy sources in solar and wind power (which is still being tested in Katsina). To pin.
Senator Suswa made this clear in an exclusive interview with Nairametrics.
Suswam, chairman of the ruling Senate Committee, said the Mambilla power project, which had been in the picture for the past 40 years, was still on hold and pending court cases had been resolved due to the new Chinese financiers’ unwillingness to continue the contract.
Parts of the interview
- The new energy minister, Abubakar Ali, appeared before the committee to defend the budget for the ministry. Tell us a little more about this.
Abubakar Ali was transferred to the ministry less than a month ago, and the budget was set before he took office as the new minister, and I don’t think he received a full statement before the president presented the budget. National Council.
Having said that, the funds in question are loans, multilateral and binary loans for some projects, which amounted to about $ 42 billion, with a total of N219 billion.
Now we have written a letter to them explaining to us, it is a lot of money and they put that money almost every year, we don’t know if these projects are in progress and in. all of them. So we need to know the details
- Your committee should carry out monitoring activities on the ministry, don’t you get regular updates about projects?
Here is the main point. Apart from Zenguru, others say only multi-stakeholder projects are underway in the country, with no details. So if we are raising a lot of money on credit, we need to know the projects.
- Let’s talk about the zebra in the 2021 budget, it was for N25 billion, now they are asking for N42 billion. Is this reasonable?
The money spent on Zengru is correct, 90% complete. They want the ministry to be implemented by December but I have warned that due to insecurity, we have to wait until the beginning of next year. The money in the budget is to repay these loans.
- Let’s talk about the loans. The executive always links them to different projects, especially when you look at the energy sector, do you think they are still proven?
First I am not a fan of taking out a loan, then it will be challenging when you take out a loan and the projects don’t come. I know it takes time to develop any infrastructure but they have been borrowed for many years and it is very small compared to what has been taken.
- They conducted an investigation into the power sector last year. Can we talk about some of the highlights of the Mambilla power project investigation?
Mambilla’s story is tragic. For the past 40yrs the project has been on the drawing table; Inside the government, the government came out. There is no concrete floor.
The administration then signed contracts with three Chinese companies. Chinese companies had to make the most money; Over $ 5 billion. Nigeria had to bring in 15%. After that agreement was signed, an issue arose. It was previously signed by another company. The company was arraigned in a Paris arbitration court in a $ 200 million lawsuit against Nigeria.
The Chinese, who have a new contract, have said they will not start the project until the project is completed if there is a lawsuit. Efforts are being made for the new minister, but he has stopped.
- What about the money spent on the private sector? The country still has no power.
A.D. In 2005, the government of former President Obasanjo introduced a law to privatize the power sector before the National Assembly. Part of the generation is privately owned, 60% privatized, 40% owned by the government. It ended with Jonathan’s administration.
The essence of privatization was to increase efficiency. Unfortunately, given to people, most of them had no ability to invest much in improving the efficiency of the sector. Privatization did not achieve its original purpose.
It is thought that part of the generation will grow up, but it is not so much a problem. We have about 12,000 megawatts of electricity. Siemens’ agreement was reached when the president met with the German chancellor.
Siemens must intervene in the transmission and distribution of infrastructure to improve infrastructure. That is history because we do not know where we stand. Not started but still on paper.
- Let’s talk about the rural electrification project, did you do your supervision?
Although rural electrification is nationwide, it faces many challenges. Due to the network infrastructure, Hercules work in rural areas.
The government has introduced renewable energy in terms of solar energy. Every family is building a solar system that works independently of any network. If you do that, 80% of Nigerians will have access to electricity next year.
Kathton is trying to generate wind energy, which is not yet popular, but solar energy can be used by anyone. There are experimental methods that have been tried and paid for in some parts of the country. People pay as long as they are sure of lighting.
- Do you know some of the places where these plans are?
Market in Ibadan, Market in Kano. I have also completed two solar mini-grids in Benu, which will be operational soon.
- You once complained that Nigeria did not have accurate information. Do you still think this is the problem?
It’s a big problem. Without quality information, there is no real plan anywhere in the world. What we are doing here is extrapolation. For example, it is estimated that 6 million people are without meters, which is an undisclosed estimate. Out of 200 million Nigerians, 4 million meters and 6 million meters, you say. Does this mean that only 10 million Nigerians are connected to the power grid?
- Renewable sources such as the Sun have been talking about it but one of Nigeria’s most abundant sources is gas. Is that enough for us?
Building a gas station is expensive, hundreds of millions of dollars. It costs about N40 million to build a solar mini-grid. President Obasanjo has built ten thermal plants in the south near a gas source.
They are still working. Four of them are up for sale, and at the beginning of next year, they will go into private hands. Expansion of gas infrastructure will help not only generate power but also create jobs and expand the economy. There is a gas infrastructure plan that Jetison did a long time ago, just for us to develop.
- You can talk about the sponsorship that the new electricity bill repeals the 2005 Electricity Regulation Act.
If it weren’t for the budget in the National Assembly now, we would have a public hearing. Nigeria does not have electricity, we are the government. In this case, 24 provisions have been repealed.
If we have electricity bills, it will give investors confidence. Anyone who wants to invest in the energy sector knows that they have the legal support to do so. After the budget, we will have a three-day public hearing early next year.
- Agencies such as NERC in the energy sector are under your control. NERC has decided that a tariff increase is needed and that it will not pay enough for power. The Senate has intervened for some time, does this not deny NERC as an independent agency?
Just because NERC is free does not mean you can do it randomly. They are in checks and bills. NERC MITO operates a tariff system that provides a multi-year tariff order that allows you to adjust tariffs on a regular basis within a year. The increase is important, but when you do that, people should realize that this is a problem, as people are already under a lot of pressure, people in Kovid, out of work, inflation, and then arbitrarily raising tariffs.
That’s why we intervened. We are not talking about tariffs, we are still talking. There is a fundamental problem, for example, that people who run heat generators, buy gas in the global market, fluctuate in dollars and dollars. We remember that this is a business.
- Let’s talk about measurement. The federal government has spoken out about the distribution of counters. Estimated billing problem, what is your committee looking at?
Yes, we intervened in that space. The FG has decided to invest N59 billion, discos have been invited and these funds have been given to the local meters. We insisted that people on the power grid should be measured when they exploit people, so that discs will be refunded and people will not be harmed.
The measurement program did not go as well as expected, we hope 1St The following year, they did a little. There is chapter one called federal import meter, but chapter two must be purchased locally. The discs are ordered to be purchased only from local manufacturers.
- The president has presented a 2022 budget, a shortfall of about N6 trillion, and said he would borrow more next year. Do you think we are in a debt crisis?
We are deep in it. The problem is that if we have a budget deficit, with well-defined financial resources, this will provide some comfort. But for the most part, our financial resources are approximate. What they see as a N6 trillion deficit is even greater.
Budget proposals are often estimates but when you have estimated financial assets in the budget, it is a matter of concern. Our shortcomings are always greater than the ‘fiscal liability’, which means that if we borrow, our shortcomings will not exceed a certain level and we are beyond that.
It is not sustainable, how can you borrow money every year to support the budget? This is exactly what is happening now. We are already in crisis.
- Why does the Senate continue to approve these loans?
You have to borrow money to implement the policy and say you have no money. If we do not approve, Nigerians say we do not want budget funding. When they say no, the economy is not doing well.
Last year’s deficit was over N4 trillion, the way we are going is increasing and now I have said on the floor that it is over N6 trillion. We are in shock!
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