If you don’t have electricity, it is not the Federal Government’s problem, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has declared.
Fashola, who disclosed this while speaking at the Nextier Power Dialogue on Wednesday night in Abuja, told his listeners that there were problems in the power sector, but reminded them that it was not the Federal Government’s problem if citizens in the country do not have electricity, especially since the sector was privatised.
He said, “There are problems without a doubt and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control for power have been sold by the last administration before I came. And so if you don’t have power, it is not the government’s problem. Let us be honest.
“The people who are operating the power sector, generation and distribution are now privately owned companies. I am here because I am concerned. If your telephone is not working, it is not the minister of communication that you go to. Let us be very clear.”
The minister added, “So for those of you who want to weaponise electricity, face the businessmen who have taken it up. Let us be honest. If your bank over-charges you interest, is it the minister of finance you go to? So let’s be clear. This is now a private business by Act of parliament 2005.
“My role is regulatory, oversight and policy, but I have a problem which is the fact that I can’t see a problem and turn my back, so I’m getting involved. So the people you should be talking to about transformers is not me, the ministry doesn’t supply transformers anymore.”
Fashola further defended his position after another participant at the dialogue insisted that the minister supervises the ministry and that the Gencos and Discos were players under the FMPWH.
Taking a cue from the analogy given by the participant while answering the question asked, the minister said, “I think that NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission) is the referee of the game. I am FIFA (Federation of International Football Association). And it is not right as you said that FIFA gets involved, because whether the referee makes a mistake or not the goal stands.
“So the FIFA man does not enter the field to say go and change the result, but it’s an interesting analogy that I’ve also contemplated in my head and that’s why you didn’t catch me by too much surprise. However, it is important to allow the referee to continue to decide the game because investors like to know who decides.”