A member of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, Dame Julie Onum-Nwariaku, has blamed the Power Holding Company of Nigeria as well as the entire power sector for the current lull in the country's economy.

Onum-Nwariaku, who said this in her keynote address at the PHCN Anti- Corruption and Transparency Unit retreat in Lagos, on Wednesday, stated that the country's economy could only take a leap forward if there was constant power supply.

She said, 'A fully engaged economy functions in two daily cycles: night and day. The ability to run these two sides optimally will significantly determine the size of the economy. In the modern and technological and even managed driven world, adequate electricity is the only cost effective power source that keeps the economy running and growing.'

'Only recently I read an article in the newspaper which quotes 'unsteady electricity supply is the bane of Nigeria's growth and development. It is central to all efforts to grow the economy and move the country.' That is exactly my position and that is exactly the position of all knowledgeable people in this country,' she added.

Speaking on the impact of corruption on the energy sector, Onum-Nwariaku, said, 'Corruption in the power sector has the most damaging consequences on the national economic, social, and political situations. The knock-on effects of the failure of the power sector on the nation are usually unimaginable. Nigeria's economic growth and development depend totally on how much electric power we can generate and distribute across the nation.'

Onum-Nwariaku, who identified corruption in revenue collection as most damaging to the image of PHCN, urged members of the Anti- Corruption and Transparency Unit to approach the problem of corruption in PHCN with appropriate passion and sense of urgency.

She further stated that Nigeria could not hope to achieve the position of being one of the top 20 economies in the year 2020 without constant power supply.

She said, 'The power sector has consequently under performed in the set target of meeting the national electric power needs. Unless there is transparency and accountability in your operations, the public may never appreciate your handicap. As far as we are concerned, you are not performing.

Although, the Federal Government failed to meet the 6000 mega watts of electricity generation target it set for itself at the end of December 2009, the PHCN had recently hinted that the target could be achieved by the end of the year.

The company also reported that generation capacity was hovering between 3,600MW and 3700MW.

The Managing Director of PHCN, Mr. Hussein Labo, blamed the non-attainment of the 6000MW target on the much publicised shortage of gas needed to run the thermal power stations and the non-completion of the 200MW steam plant at Shell Nigeria's Afam 6 power plant.

Afam 6 generates 450MW and was expected to add additional 200MW from its steam plant in December, bringing the total capacity from the plant to 650MW.

He said, 'Part of the mandate was from the Shell's Afam 6 power plant. Unfortunately, they could not finish their own. But they said they will be ready in the first quarter and from there we will get 200MW.'