Senate seeks improved electricity in northern Nigeria

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Senate has expressed worry that the protracted electricity shortage in the Northern part of Nigeria has led to the shutdown of industries in the region.

It also lamented that over N4.7 trillion was expended by the Nigerian government on importation of petroleum products in 2016.

The Senate stated that 40% of foreign exchange (Forex) demand in the country was due to importation of the products.

Resolutions
It therefore mandated its Committees on Power, Steel Development & Metallurgy and Gas to investigate the protracted blackout and report back to the plenary immediately.

These resolutions were reached at Thursday’s plenary following a motion on “The urgent need to save the 215 Mega Watt (mw) Kaduna Power Plants”, sponsored by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan.

Senator Akpan staterd that, “lack of gas pipelines from the Southern part to the Northern part of the country has hindered power generation by the 215MW Kaduna Power Plant”.

In his lead debate on the motion, Senator Akpan observed that the government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is at the verge of awarding the contract for the construction of the 40 X 614km Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline.

According to him, “to get the Kaduna Power Plant working in the next six months, to allow the Northern parts of Nigeria enjoy the benefits of the installed 215MW Power plant is to provide an alternative gas supply mode to the Plant”.

As the chairman of the Senate committee on Gas, Senator Akpan expressed the conviction that “the use of gas to power turbines is key all over the world due to its environmental friendliness and cost implication”.

This, he said, “is in line with the United Nations Chatter on Green Energy and Climate Change.”

Senator Akpan, however, expressed surprise that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing appears to have jettisoned the use of gas to power the Kaduna Gas Plant.

Rather, the Ministry opted for the construction of AGO tanks which is 60% higher in cost, when compared to gas.

He said that in the Federal Tenders Journal of Monday, May 28, 2017, and Sunday June 11, 2017, the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing advertised for the supply of AGO instead of Gas to power the Kaduna Power Plant.

According to him, the General Electric/Rockson Engineering Consortium upon becoming aware that over N4.7trillion was expended with 40 percent of foreign exchange demand by the government on importation of petroleum products in 2016 has raised alarm on the environmental hazards, cost and efficiency of the plant performance threatening to withdraw their warranty for the project.

Thereafter, Senate adjourned plenary until July 4, 2017, to observe a two week recess.

Sammie Idika