The Challenges befalling many consumers on the Nation’s energy intake coming with issues of estimated billings that generation and distribution supply companies have resorted too was indeed subject of discussion at the 11th Bola Tinubu’s Colloquium in Abuja on Tuesday as he urges the federal government to revisit power sector privatization.
He described estimated billing as “a vestige of the past that should not accompany Nigerians into the future.”
He advised the government to bring experts together for a more constructive reform to improve power generation, transmission and distribution by any means necessary.
He also said the government should push for an end to the practice of estimated billing, adding that people were being forced to pay for the electricity they did not consume.
The former Lagos State Governor said President Mohammadu Buhari’s second-term administration should dedicate itself to changing the very structure of Nigeria’s economy for the better as no government had done.
“The single most important sector for the government’s focus is infrastructure. The most important of our infrastructural demand is power,” he said, adding that affordable and reliable power would drive industrialisation and boost job creation.
Tinubu said, “I believe the second Buhari administration will work to increase electricity generation, transmission and distribution by more than 50 per cent within the next four years. It is a challenge we must go through and we will be held responsible for it. We require serious and bold reforms to achieve this.
“What is happening to our gas pipelines? Whatever we have to invest now for our future is a task that must be done boldly. The Peoples Democratic Party administration shared out generation, distribution and transmission to their friends and cronies without very deep and thoughtful research and evaluation. It has now become pork chops.”
Tinubu also said an increase in Value Added Tax would reduce the spending power of the people and might inflict more hardships on them.
He urged the government to rather consider widening the tax net so that people who had not been paying taxes would start to pay taxes.
He said, “I will appeal to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and his team to put a question mark on any increase of VAT, please. It will reduce the purchasing power of the people which can further slow down the economy. Let us widen the tax net. Those who are not paying now, even if it is inclusive of Bola Tinubu, let the (tax) net get bigger and will take in more taxes, and that is what we must do in the country instead of additional taxes for now.”
Tinubu said in working to transform the economy, the government must also enact policies that would encourage industrialisation and modern agricultural practices.
According to him, government-funded social security for the aged and government-backed affordable housing and mortgage facilities are things that it must continue to explore in an aggressive manner.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who represented Buhari at the event, lauded Tinubu for his political sagacity.
He said Buhari’s government was focused on fixing the economy and building infrastructure, adding that the administration had recorded great achievements in education and healthcare development as well as in infrastructural development.
Osinbajo said, “Our country, for the first time, is experiencing the type of leadership that is bound to lead us where it is that we have purposed for ourselves as government. In my view, the honest leadership, the leadership with the integrity of our President – President Muhammadu Buhari – is a very important component of getting anywhere at all in all our development plans.
“At the last colloquium, I said that Nigeria’s main problem was not a lack of ideas; it was not a lack of projects and programmes. It was most of the time, with experience in the past, a lack of integrity in leadership and corruption in particular. That was the reason why we were finding it difficult to make any progress and I think that was why we earned $383bn in four years, 2010 to 2014, the highest ever in the history in our country, and yet Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Lagos-Kano Railway were not done. All the things that are supposed to be done were not done.”
He added, “You cannot point to a single major infrastructure project that was completed in the 10 years period despite the high revenue, including power. So, a government coming after so many years of waste must be a government that emphasizes prudence and integrity in public finance, so that they manage the little resources to achieve the maximum that can be achieved. That is what President Buhari is set out to achieving.