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Senate to begin 3-day probe into N1.8trn power intervention funds

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The senate committee on power, said on Thursday that it has perfected plans to begin a three-day investigative hearing to probe how the N1.8 trillion injected into the power privatisation exercise by the federal government between 2013 till date, was utilised.

The privatisation exercise was consolidated on September 13, 2013, during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Gabriel Suswan, the chairman of the senate panel, told journalists after the meeting of his panel that the probe was not a punitive action.

Suswan said various sums ranging from N701bn, N600bn, N380bn and N213bn had been released as intervention funds in the last seven years.

He said the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, and her counterparts in the ministry of power, among other heads of government agencies in the power sector as well as private sector operators, had been summoned.

The chairman, who said that the three-day hearing would begin next week, recalled that the Senate had a motion on the floor where the committee was mandated based on that motion to investigate comprehensively the power sector, especially in areas as it related to the intervention.

Suswam said that the committee would investigate all interventions in the sector since the privatisation of the sector to date with a view to ascertaining the adequacy of such interventions and their desired impact.

“We are looking at the intervention and whether corporate governance had been introduced since privatisation because the expectation is that the sector will become efficient, unfortunately that is not the case.

“You know that the Federal Government had over the years intervened at various times in different sums: N701 billion, N600 billion and this year there has been N380 billion and N213 billion.

“All of these monies were Federal Government interventions in the power sector with the intention and hope that the power sector will become efficient and Nigerians will have access to electricity.

“Unfortunately, in spite of these huge amount of monies that have been expended, the result in what we see today is that the performance is below expectations,” Suswam added.

He however noted that the investigation would not be punitive, but intended to identify the reasons for efficiency and under performance in terms of unstable and inadequate electricity supply in the sector in spite of the huge financial interventions by government.

Suswam said other objectives of the investigation were to assist President Muhammadu Buhari to achieve his promise to Nigerians of providing them with adequate and stable power supply.

“The investigation is intended to identify why this interventions have come and there has been no improvement.

“This is so that at the end of the day, the leadership of the Senate will present that to the President of this country, who has shown a lot commitment to providing electricity to Nigerians,” he said.

He listed those agencies to appear before the committee to include Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because most of the interventions of government came from these two bodies.

Others, Suswam said are the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET), Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Presidential Power Initiative among others.

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