Over N11 trillion was allegedly squandered under the administration of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan on the pretense of providing regular electricity supply, a report has claimed.
Based on the report by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), activist lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday urged state governments to generate and distribute their own electricity.
He said the states have a constitutional responsibility to generate, distribute and transmit electricity to improve the well-being of their people.
Falana spoke at the launch of report, titled: “From darkness to darkness: How Nigerians are paying the price for corruption in the electricity sector”, at Weston Hotels, Ikeja.
The report was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
The learned silk, who was chairman at the presentation, told states to challenge the laws restricting them from generating electricity in their domains.
He described the power Reforms Act of 2005, which concentrate power and electricity on the Federal Government and private firms, as “largely illegal”.
“That’s why we are challenging state governments, stop going to Abuja, stop begging Federal Government to give you power to establish electricity companies in your state.
“You have the right. If individuals can do that and generate electricity they needed, why should you go to Abuja to get a licence to generate electricity in your state?” he asked.
Falana said it was high time for states to begin to exercise their constitutional rights by challenging the control of electricity generation, distribution and transmission by the Federal Government.
According to him, “Items 13 and 14 of the schedule to the constitution stipulate that state government shall have power to generate electricity outside the national grid.
“It goes further to say that the House of Assembly of each state shall make a law for the establishment of electricity boards in all states. But they are not there to provide electricity for the people outside the national grid.”
In the 65-page report presented to reporters by an Associate Professor, Energy/Electricity Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos , Akoka, Yemi Oke, the organisation stated that the estimated financial loss from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date was over N11 trillion.
It said the money included “public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector”.
“It is estimated that may reach over N20 trillion naira in the next decade given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls,” the report said.
It said: “The country has lost more megawatts in the post-privatisation era due to corruption, impunity, among other social challenges.
The report launch was also attended by the Director General/Chief Executive of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) Babatunde Irukera and Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who was represented by Director Public Affairs EFCC Mr. Osita Nwajah.
Both promised to work to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.
The report accused Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of allegedly settling some government officials with N3 billion as severance package.
The report called for the reopening and effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including the alleged looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) levelled against a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power.