NIGERIA: Senate Committee Threatens Zero Allocation for REA

The Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy  yesterday threatened to shut down the budget of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) over the perceived ineffectiveness in rural electrification.
The committee reasoned that if the yearly allocations to the agency do not guarantee electricity for rural dwellers, it might be forced to deny it further allocations this year.  It however, directed the minister to review REA’s 2014 budget estimate with a view to ensuring even distribution of rural electrification projects and quick completion.
The threat was issued when Minister of State for Power, Hon. Mohammed Wakil, appeared before the committee to make clarifications on the 2014 budget of the ministry and its parastatals.
The minister had expressed displeasure over the failure of REA to champion rural electricity projects across the country since 2012. He therefore promised to take proactive steps to re-organise REA by paying attention to accountability, its action and output.
“You are an organisation and you are supposed to work for people to use and see your work. It is unacceptable for the agency to be returning fund when critical projects are crying for implementation. “Now that I am there, I am going to take effective control of that organisation. I am going to embark tours to see things for myself.
“I am there to make that place very effective and productive. I want to work with people who will bring value to me so that I can tell Mr. President that things are working,” he said.
Wakil called on all stakeholders to support the vision of the president to satisfy the yearnings and aspiration of Nigerians for sustainable electricity supply for all.
Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Phillip Aduda, advised the new minister to ensure that the ongoing power sector reforms are beneficial to Nigerians.
Aduda also urged him to bring his wealth of experience to bear by adding further political drive to achieve the needed result in the power sector
“We trust you and we know your antecedents. The power sector is key to everything we are doing including the transformation agenda. If we get power reforms right, we get other thing right,”Aduda said.
Speaking further, Wakil said the president had demonstrated his passion to sustain the ongoing reform in the power sector by providing all the needed support to the stakeholders.
According to him, any official found to be working at variance with the new tempo would be dealt with in pursuit of transformation agenda of the president.
“The president has very strong passion for transforming the power sector and in trying to reform the power, he has provided all that is needed to move the sector forward.
“As a former parliamentarian, I will work with other stakeholders to ensure that the reform succeeds in line with the wish and aspiration of president.
“Any official of government slowing down achievement of the road map for power sector reform is a saboteur and would be treated as one accordingly,” he said.

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