President Umaru Yar’Adua on Thursday said Nigeria might not have regular power supply until 2011.
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President Umaru Yar‘Adua
Yar’Adua, in a live television presidential media chat to mark his one year in office, gave two reasons why power shortage may persist.
These are non-existent of law to back up the much expected declaration of emergency in the power sector, and the fact that Nigeria had sold all its gas for export.
He said the deals entered into by Nigeria with international oil companies on gas would have to be renegotiated over seven years.
“It is only now that the nation realises the critical importance of gas to the national economy,” Yar’Adua added.
The President, who coughed repeatedly during the two-hour telecast, said the privatisation of the power sector had failed. He however pledged that a large chunk of Nigeria’s savings from oil revenue would be spent on repairing power stations and transmission grid.
The President said that the power sector was too sensitive to declare a state of emergency without having the necessary legislation to back up such a period.
He, however, noted that the plan to declare the state of emergency was still on course just as necessary steps were being taken to implement short and long term measures that would address the problem of electricity.
Yar‘Adua said that the power sector was one of the vital sectors of the economy that would fast-track development and attract more investors into the nation‘s economy.
He said, ”To declare a state of emergency, you must have a clear programme. There should be an emergency legislation that is meant to be in place during the period of the declaration.
”I had in mind that by the time I declare this emergency, the nation should know what the problems are. It has to be okayed by the National Assembly and all other related agencies, state and local governments and all other sectors of the economy.
”The issue must have been exhaustively discussed. So, it is not just a simple issue and by the time we are out of the emergency situation, it is expected that this country will be self- sufficient in the power sector.
”What we are doing is learning how to tackle the sectors one-by-one. That is where the issue of declaring a national emergency in power and energy sectors comes in. This is one of the most critical sectors that needed to be sorted out before we can move forward. I have promised this country that I will declare a national emergency in that sector.
”In August 2007, I set up the National Energy Council and also two committees that will look into the oil and gas sectors. Let me inform the nation that just this week, I received a copy of the power sector reform and had to go through it personally before it is officially presented.”
The President disclosed that as part of the plans, the emergency period would see the sector generating 6,000 megawatts by 2009, and 10, 000 megawatts by 2011.
He said his hope was that 10,000 megawatts would be sufficient for the nation’s needs to a large extent.
He said, ”Again, we will need a legislation that will serve as deterrent to offenders during the period of emergency.”
Reacting to criticisms that he was slow in taking decisions, the President said that he was not disturbed because he was determined to effect a change in the polity.
He explained that the issue of the rule of law was paramount to the sustenance of national development.
He said, ”I believe that what Nigerians expect of this administration and what I am determined and committed to do is to lay a solid foundation that will protect reforms and programmes that will transform this country from an underdeveloped one to a developed nation.
”When I came in, there were certain elements that I recognised very clearly that are key and critical to achieving these objectives and vision, in particular the vision 2020.
”These elements are the ones that can shapen the direction, and they are quite challenging, but if this nation must transform, these challenges must be tackled.”
Dismissing insinuations that he was not serious about tackling corruption, the President said he had ordered the prosecution of officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration involved in the award of a fraudulent contract that led government to incur debts totaling N80bn.
He said, “Some officials, knowing that there is no appropriation; there is no cash backing, went and signed the contract. The contractors went and started work and then in the contract agreement, it was signed that any certificate of valuation which was not paid within the stipulated period in the contract agreement would attract a certain percentage of interest against the FCTA.
“Signing these types of agreement is against the extant laws of the Federal Government. The Bureau for Public Procurement law explicitly makes it illegal to award contracts without appropriation, or cash backing.
”What did we have? By the end of that, there were certificates worth N35bn, but the FCTA settled as and when due. It attracted an interest of N45bn.
“I have asked the FCTA to bring those who are responsible to be prosecuted.”
On his health, the President said he was amused by rumours that had gone round about his medical condition, including rumours that he had died.
“To me, this was amusing. Just like I told some foreign journalists, it is just a medical condition. Anybody can fall sick. I am an ordinary human being like other Nigerians. I can fall sick, I can die; I can die tomorrow; I can die next month; I can live to be 90. I can not guarantee how long I want to live and when I am going to die,” he said