THE Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, says he never made any promise that the problem bedeviling the nation’s power sector would be fixed within six months.
“I have the video of what I said and where I said it and I think it was in 2014 in the run-off to the election and I was in Lekki, Lagos,” Fashola said on Wednesday night at the Nextier Power Dialogue held in Abuja.
He was responding to question that he once said a serious government would fix power sector challenges within six months.
The Minister challenged participants at the dialogue and members of the public to produce any video evidence where he made such comment.
He explained that the comment was made during the inauguration of the Lekki Independent Power Project when he was governor of Lagos State, adding that his statement had to do with the connection of residents of Lekki to the IPP within six months if the state government had received the approval to do so.
“You may disagree with me, but I challenge anybody who has an alternative set of facts. We have the video here and we can play what I said and you can listen to it. If you have a different version, bring it out. I challenge you!” the minister declared.
At the dialogue, Fashola also stated that Federal Government is not responsible for poor power supply in the country.
While acknowledging that there were problems in the power sector, he explained that it was not the Federal Government’s problem if citizens in the country do not have electricity, especially since the sector was privatized.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”