The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu has linked the ongoing crisis facing the nation’s power sector to acts of sabotage being perpetrated by certain criminally minded Nigerians.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Aliyu said several recent incidences, including fatal attacks and abduction of foreign workers, who were working on various power projects, had stalled progress in achieving completion on some projects, while other attacks on installations had led to major power cuts.
While stressing that the acts of sabotage had been robbing Nigeria of investors and development, Aliyu appealed to Nigerians to join the federal government in combating the war on sabotage, which he said was actually a war for all citizens to wage.
He said: “You’re all aware this country is facing a lot of challenges. It’s not only in the power sector alone, you have just heard about the insecurity. The railway and the communities are being attacked, oil pipelines. They’re all similar things, including the power sector.
“You can call it a sabotage because how can somebody go and pull down 330 (megawatt) tower to cause this havoc to the whole country. What do you call that?
“Not quite long, on January 4, the project that we had announced that we’re going to commission, the Zungeru, 700 megawatts hydro, which is at present over 92 per cent completion, we’re just doing little touches to commission the project. There was an attack on January 4 this year and they abducted the Chinese workers and up till now they’re still with the captives. The Chinese cannot return to work until they get their brothers out.
“So, they are working minimally, we have like three sites on the whole project; the main dam, which on the 28th of March we have commissioned one of the turbines and passed it, we did the tests and it has passed, it was celebrated. They are working there in the main hydro.
“Then there is a line of over 30 kilometers to a switch yard. So, they’re not working on the switch yard on the line and if they don’t finish these two, you cannot evacuate. Even the turbine that we have commissioned and tested is just a dry testing, you cannot take electricity out because of the line and the tripping point, that’s where the switch yard is and this was where they attacked and killed some people, took away some of them, the foreign workers, about three.
“So, we need to also work together as a nation to support the leadership, to support the government, to face these challenges together. Any support you can give, give that support.”
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, corroborated the submission of his Power counterpart stressing that all Nigerians suffer for any act of sabotage affecting public facilities.
His words: “What the Minister of Power is saying is that it’s not really about inefficiency or not caring on the part of the government, but that citizens also have a role to play in this. I don’t know anywhere in the world where people will go and vandalise power stations or they go to the roads and take the railings from the road to go and smelt and make into spoons and aluminum.
“So really, we must understand that this, whether they are bandits or vandals, they’re not the enemies of just this administration, they are the enemies of Nigeria because they are depriving all of us of power, they are depriving us of peace, they are depriving us of security and I think we all need to look inwards and ask ourselves, are we all So contributing to making Nigerian ungovernable in one way or the other.
“I think it’s a big challenge, I think we should carry this thing to our people. Ask yourselves, the guy who goes at night to go and dig up telecoms cables to go and resell, is that political? That’s sabotage.
“Or the guy that goes out at night to go and remove the transmission lines. Now, we’ll all live to suffer the consequences of such actions”, he said.
The FEC meeting also approved N1.4 billion for the supply of more equipment for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), in order to boost power supply in the country.
Aliyu, said he presented two memos from the ministry of power for the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
The first one, he said, was variation of the sum of a contract for 132/33 KV substation at Kafanchan, Kaduna State with a KV line base extension at Jos substation, in Plateau State in the sum of N132,705, 861.42.
According to him, the second approval was for the supply of handling equipment and operational vehicles also for the Transmission Company of Nigeria at the cost of N1.3 billion.
His words: “The second memo was for the supply of handling equipment, haulage and operational vehicles for the TCN at N1,338,159,080. 88. They are heavy lifting equipment that the TCN requires for doing its work in the store and on the field, while changing equipment and moving transformers and the council graciously approved.”