A new report on Wednesday indicated that over N11tn meant to provide adequate electricity in the country was squandered under the governments of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
The report, published by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said the much-publicised power sector reforms in Nigeria under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 had yet to yield desired result largely due to corruption and impunity of its perpetrators, regulatory lapses and policy inconsistencies.
“Ordinary Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills,” SERAP said in the report, entitled: ‘From darkness to darkness: How Nigerians are paying the price for corruption in the electricity sector.’
It said the total estimated financial loss of over N11tn from 1999 to date “represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.”
According to the report, the loss may reach over N20tn in the next decade given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.
The report accused Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of “settling officials with millions of naira as severance packages and for embarrassing them with alleged N3bn fraud.
“The authorities must undertake a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation as to the reasons why corruption charges were withdrawn, and to recover any corrupt funds.”
The report called for the reopening and effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including the alleged “looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria levelled against a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali.”
It said, “The Obasanjo’s administration spent $10bn on the NIPP (National Integrated Power Project) with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12bn.
“The Federal Government then budgeted N16bn for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007), which went down the drain as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals.”
The report noted that the Federal Government handed over the Transmission Company of Nigeria to a Canadian company, Manitoba, to manage under a management service contract of over $200m.
It said, “Findings also show that the Transmission Company of Nigeria could not execute most of its approved 44 projects after having 50 per cent of its N30bn 2016 budget released to it. Funds were released from Eurobond. $23.6m allegedly paid to Manitoba Hydro International of Canada to manage the TCN would appear to be without due process.”
The report said the Federal Government should undertake a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the power sector privatisation, adding, “Ownership of public stakes of 40 per cent in those entities should be revisited and further privatised to avoid using government/public resources to subsidise private entities.”