OrderPaperToday – The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, (NGF), Monday, vehemently opposed the new ‘Electricity Bill 2022’ before the Senate describing it as an unconstitutional and unjustifiable act. 

In his presentation, Odion Omonfomwan, who represented Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and NGF Chairman at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Power, on Electricity Bill 2022, pointed out that “electricity is not an exclusively federal matter.”

The governors recalled that past efforts of States to establish and sustain electricity markets of their own have been stifled by the Federal Government.

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“We believe that the reality of the States as key partners in the achievement of universal electricity access by all Nigerians must not only be accepted by the Federal Government but must be legislated by the National Assembly.

“States like Lagos, Edo Ekiti, Ondo and Kaduna have already taken the initiative to enact policy statements and laws for the electricity sectors in their States. Similarly, the 19 States of Northern Nigeria have come together to establish a common platform for realising the benefits of the extensive renewable energy resources that their region is blessed with. 

“It would be unconstitutional and unjustifiable for the Senate to consider and pass a Bill that continues to treat the Federation as one single electricity jurisdiction or sector.

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“We live with an electricity sector divided into two parts. One part is the FG-controlled and regulated national electricity market that today is insolvent, bankrupt, and delivers no more than approximately 4,000MW/96,000MWh daily to 220m Nigerians, or an average of 18w/432watt-hours daily.

The other part is the alternative/backup market, whose estimated capacity is approximately 40,000MW so much so that Nigerian citizens generate their own electricity providers in their homes, factories, schools, hospitals, and places of worship. 

“Our calculations indicate that if the 40,000MW of electrical back-up capacity owned and operated by Nigerians were to be delivered to them by licensed private IPPs and distribution companies through organised public electricity markets, Nigerian citizens and governments would have saved up to =N=17tm in 2021.

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“Today, the Nigerian electricity sector is insolvent and has been dependent on the Central Bank of Nigeria and Direct Foreign Investments for regular infusions of cash to keep it afloat since 2013, building up liabilities that now stand at over =N=3 trillion. 

“It is not clear how the Nigerian electricity sector can settle these liabilities and the Electricity Bill does not offer a way forward on the issue. In 2020, the National Economic Council (NEC) conducted a thorough analysis of the entire sector since the 2013 privatisation.

The ensuing NEC Report established that the sector is in dire crisis and the privatised national electricity market has not turned out as planned for various reasons, including: 

The NEC Report went on to make three key recollections aimed at tackling these identified challenges and placing the national electricity market on the right footing,” Fayemi stated.

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“The Forum emphasized that it does not support the Electricity Bill in the version currently before the Senate.

“It further recommended that the constitution of a Working Group, spearheaded by the State Governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC), work with the NASS leadership on the way forward for the electricity sector.”

Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) assured all stakeholders that their recommendations would be thoroughly considered in the overall interest of the power sector.

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