Senator Gabriel Suswam, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power

Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Sen. Gabriel Suswam has said that lack of quality data was the basic and most fundamental problem in the power sector.

Suswam, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday said that there was no data for planning to ensure adequate supply of electricity to citizens.

“When you don’t have data how do you plan. We have over 200 million and  we are planning for two million.

“We can’t meet up so we need quality data with integrity. Not  just people sitting in their rooms and extrapolating  on what is the data.

“Lack of data in the power sector is a problem. Once you have data you can now plan and know how many people are on the national grid; how many people are  metered and how many people are not metered so that you can meter them and then you can now know exact quality of power you are sending to them.”

Suswam, who represents PDP-Benue North-East, while noting that Nigeria’s population was increasing said that stakeholders in the sector were not structuring the planning to be in consonance with the increase in population. 

“So we need to be on the same table to plan ourselves properly otherwise we cannot now say that it is okay we are generating 13, 000 megawatts for 200 million.”

He said that part of the committee’s oversight function was to ensure efficient  utilisation of funds appropriated to managers of the value chain in the power sector but however, regulating the agencies effectively was a task that needed to be handled by the National Assembly

“The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) quote and unquote is suppose to be independent body to regulate the power sector.

“But in all developing economies similar regulators have not had the independence that they should have and the reason been political.

“Because when it comes to tariff, which is an issue in all developing economies, increase in tariff is what people resist vehemently and so NERC is not completely as independent as it is suppose to be. It has to ponder to the people who appoint them.

“That is why to regulate the sector effectively will be difficult because there are interference, for instance, the National Assembly just interfered and is based on the  political consequence of their action.

“We as politicians look at the political consequence, they are looking at the economic consequence. And so if the polity is unstable of course the economy will not operate as well.

“So it is difficult to have an independent regulator in the power sector in a developing economy,” he said.(NAN)

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