The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government has retrieved 690 containers of power equipment out of over 800 containers abandoned at various ports by the previous administration.
The minister disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja when he featured on a Radio Nigeria programme, “Politics Nationwide’’.
“You will remember that about 800 containers of power equipment were abandoned at the ports, because the previous administration did not pay the contractors and they abandoned the equipment there.
“As of today, we have been able to retrieve 690 of the containers,’’ he said.
The minister said that despite the shoddy privatisation process of the Power Generation Companies (GenCos) and Power Distribution Companies (DisCos) by the previous government, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had taken pro-active measures to improve on electricity.
“When we came in 2015, we found out that many of the beneficiary companies of the privatisation process were undercapitalised, unequipped and they lack the necessary expertise.
“We, however, resisted the temptation of cancelling the privatisation of the GenCos and DisCos in order not to send wrong signal to the investing world.
“What we met on ground was very chaotic because the gas suppliers said they would not supply the GenCos with gas because GenCos were not paying.
“The GenCos said they would have loved to pay but the DisCos were not paying them,’’ he said.
To salvage the situation, Mohammed said the government set aside a N7.1 billion Payment Assurance Programme.
He said the programme guaranteed that as long as the gas suppliers supplied gas and GenCos generated power for distribution, the government would pay them.
Mohammed said the policy led to increase in power generation from about 4,000 megawatts they met in 2015 to more than 7,000 megawatts being generated currently.
He disclosed that government had made intervention fund available for the take off of the 3,050 megawatts Mambilla hydro-electric plant project which would commence in early 2019.
Also on power generation, the minister disclosed that the 2.4 megawatts solar power project in Katsina would be commissioned in few weeks.
The minister said that the total capacity for power transmission in 2015 was 4,000mw which the Buhari government had increased to 7,125mw in three and half years.
He said the government was able to achieve that by improving the connectivity between the GenCos and the DisCos.
Mohammed also said that government had embarked on distribution expansion programme to help the capacities of DisCos in meeting the needs of electricity consumers.
On security, the minister said the Buhari administration had succeeded in restoring normalcy in the North-East and that Boko Haram insurgents had been decimated; lacking the capacity to take an inch of the nation’s territory.
He said the herdsmen/farmers clashes had nothing to do with ethnicity or religion but were as a result of population explosion, environmental changes and pure criminality.
The minister said that the clashes were going down tremendously because of the proactive measures taken by government, including the setting up of Quick Air response that carried out surveillance and report to the ground troops.
“In Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state, government established a new battalion, while we have a joint force in Zamfara. Government is on top of the game,’’ he said.
The minister noted that in the last six months, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as Shi’ites, had been “organising protests, demonstrations, chanting war songs and making unprintable remarks of the President’’.
He said the group were protected by the security agencies in line with the freedom of association which the government believed in.
Mohammed said that of late, the sect had gone rather violent which necessitated the clashes with the military.
“For example, on Oct. 21, there was credible intelligence that they actually wanted to take over the National Assembly and government had to deploy the security to ensure it did not happen.
“On Oct. 27, there was a military convoy escorting military hardware to federal depot in Kaduna.
“The Shi’ites mounted a road block wanting to take over the consignment and at that point in time the military had to respond.
“No government in the world will allow sect to take over its ammunition.’’
On the release of the sect’s leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the minister said the government was constraint because the court recently denied him bail.