Power system collapse: Govt sets panel to unravel causes

By The Rainbow

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has empowered a panel to unravel the reasons behind frequent power system collapse in the country.

The minister said that the system had collapsed 15 times so far this year.

The 13-member Technical Investigative Panel on System Collapse was inaugurated on Monday with a charge to complete the assignment within two weeks.

According to him, the incessant collapse of electricity infrastructure across the country has become worrisome.

He said, 'The high rate of system collapses in recent time, which has given rise to more than 15 collapses in the last five months, calls for a critical look.

'The technical investigative panel is, therefore, being constituted to investigate the causes of these collapses and proffer solutions aimed at forestalling future occurrences. Though a technical investigative panel, it is expected that it will also address human lapses where found.'

Nebo terms of reference for the panel to include:

  • the determination of the immediate and remote causes of system collapses and review of all the collapses that had occurred from January to date;
  • re-evaluation of the performance and effectiveness of the power grid's protection system in the period under review;
  • recommendation of  measures to further strengthen the protection mechanism, as well as to consider any system collapse related issues.
The minister urged the panel to carry out its assignment without fear or favour in order to get to the root of the problems in the power sector.

'This panel is not going to be like most others, but must work round the clock and provide answers and solutions within two weeks. No excuses will be tolerated, please,' the minister said.

Nebo, however, explained that the radial nature of the nation's grid system and the failure to build new infrastructure over the years, coupled with the lack of adequate operation and maintenance network, among others, had contributed to the weakness of Nigeria's transmission network.

The Chairman of the panel, Mr. Fatai Olapade, said system collapses could be an act of God or man-made.

He said whirlwinds, rainstorms and people who were not happy with the developments in the sector could be causes of the incessant collapses.

According to Olapede, 'Power generation, distribution and transmission companies are under-funded and all these could be factors, and those are some of the areas we will look into before the man-made problems. However, we cannot start giving reasons now for the system collapses because we will do our best.'

The Federal Government has so far identified 46,821 ghost workers in 215 of its ministries, departments and agencies, thanks to the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that the IPPIS, an innovation of government meant to enhance efficiency in efficient personnel cost planning and budgeting, had 153,019  members of staff in 215 ministries, departments and agencies.

She said that work was currently ongoing to bring in the other 321 MDAs into the system.

Under IPPIS,  personnel costs are  based on actual verified numbers and not estimates.

Okonjo-Iweala said the scheme was part of the reform measures aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of government resources.

The event was an avenue for ministers to present their mid-term stewardship to Nigerians about their contributions to the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The minister said, 'The Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System enhances efficient personnel cost planning and budgeting, as personnel cost will be based on actual verified numbers and not estimates.

'Two hundred and fifteen MDAs (153,019 staff) are on the IPPIS as of January 2013. Savings on payroll cost to date is N118.9bn and work is ongoing to bring in other 321 MDAs not yet on the IPPIS. About 46,821 ghost workers have also been identified.'

According to her,  the introduction of the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System in April 2012 had helped to boost the speedy execution of the budget.

She said, 'The GIFMIS is aimed at improving the acquisition, allocation, utilisation and conservation of public financial resources, using automated and integrated, effective, efficient and economic information systems.

'Fifty-eight per cent of the budget is now executed through GIFMIS. This is expected to rise to 79 per cent by end of the third quarter of 2013.'

On the Treasury Single Account, which is a unified structure of government's bank accounts that gives a consolidated view of the cash position, Okonjo-Iweala explained that its introduction had helped to reduce how government's accounts were being overdrawn.

'Ninety-three MDAs are currently on the TSA. Government's overdrawn position has dropped from N102bn in 2011 to N19bn in 2012,' he said.

The minister also said the Federal Government had taken adequate measures to increase non-oil revenues.

For instance, she said through tax enforcement mechanism, the government had recovered over N10.65bn as outstanding tax liabilities.

She also said the modernisation of tax administration and operation helped the government to register 227,140 new tax payers in 2012 alone.

Okonjo-Iweala also used the occasion to clarify what she called misconception about the country's debt position.

She said that contrary to the widely held opinion that Nigeria was becoming a highly indebted nation; the country's national debt was still low.

The minister explained that what the government was doing was to reduce domestic borrowing and take advantage of the interest-free loans from international financial organisations.

Giving a flow of the domestic borrowing, Okonjo-Iweala said N107bn was borrowed in 2006; N200bn in 2007 and N155bn in 2008.