Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (3rd right), Consul-General of France in Nigeria, Mr. Francois Sastourne (left), Leader of Delegation and Chairman, Africa Caribbean Pacific Committee, Mr. Patrick Lucas (2nd left), Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze (3rd left), Ambassador of France in Nigeria, Mr. Jacque Champaqne de Labriolle (2nd right) and the Chief Executive Officer, PAL Partners, Mr. Lionel Zinsou (right) during the Closing Session of the 7th Lagos Economic Summit (EHINGBETI 2014) with the theme, “Powering the Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities” held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos on Thursday, April 10, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday, 10th April, 2014, drew the curtain over the three-day Lagos Economic Summit, christened EHINGBETI 2014, as he advocated a synergy between the government, the private sector and the citizenry in order to achieve adequate electricity for the state.
In his remarks as part of the closing ceremony of the summit with the theme, “Powering the Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities”, at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Governor Fashola said the only way to achieve the dream of uninterrupted power supply for both industrial and domestic use was for the three segments to work together and play their roles effectively and efficiently.
The Governor, who asserted that the generation and distribution of power are the sole responsibilities of the private sector, said the role of government ends in providing the enabling environment through policy initiation and implementation to facilitate the work of the private sector.
Noting that the deliberations at the summit have pointed to that direction, the Governor declared, “If anybody is still in doubt, let me say very clearly here that the generation and distribution of power is now a private sector affair. So let nobody be in doubt. It is no longer Government affair; it is now private sector driven.
“But we know the private sector requires the government to enable them do their work through policy and this is what we continue to do”.
He added that this informed the reason behind making power the theme of this year’s summit.
He explained further, “We do so because we believe that this summit, with a very remarkable record of implementing over 90 percent of the solutions that have been made since 2000, can spend its reputation and human resource on solving this Power challenge or at least making a significant impactful dent on the power challenge over the next two years”.
The Governor reiterated that power is required for industries, for agriculture, for transportation and for housing while the private sector requires funding, tax and safety of its assets in order to function optimally adding that the state government sees a partnership growing in the process with the new owners of distribution and Power assets through the sharing of data, government’s power audit and feedback of the residents’ registration exercise.
On the role of the citizens, Governor Fashola said every citizen must first endeavour to register in the on-going residents’ registration exercise in order that government would know the number and location of those that require electricity as well as make it easier for the private sector operators to know the amount of power required by residents.
“Citizens have a role to play here; if we want power, we must show up now that we are consuming power because if power is consumed they need to know who is using the power so that they can plan how to release the Power”, the Governor said adding that government would make laws and regulations to protect the assets of the power companies.
“Government will, perhaps, have to make laws and regulations at the state level to protect the assets of the power companies and to enable security formations to evolve and, perhaps, this is a compelling case for raising the issue of municipal policing or state Policing or whatever you want to call it”, he said.
Such laws and regulations, he said, would create Right of Way permits and other related issues which, according to him, “have to be put on the front burner for the erection of sub-stations, for the erection of gas pipelines, for the erection of transformers and so on and so forth”.
Emphasizing on the citizens’ roles in the process, Governor Fashola said, “Indeed, when all this is put in place, let us not forget that these private owners are putting up these assets not on charity but for profit and, therefore, they must collect bills. So, for us, our partnership with them is to reduce risk.
“The bankers are also here and if they do not see a way towards realizing their assets, the risk is high and also the cost of delivery will be high. So this is a journey of mutual benefits”.
Lagos State Government, the Governor said, is today the largest customer or consumer that the two power companies, Eko Disco and Ikeja Disco, have in areas where government’s Independent Power Projects (IPPs) have not covered, such as staff quarters, schools, hospitals and other areas where they have not reached.
He said government was already working with the Discos “to create a single billing platform where all their bills can come centrally and they can be paid once and for all”, adding, “So for the benefit of the public, we have had two important meetings with them and these meetings will continue. I have chaired these meetings to show how important we hold the road ahead”.
The Governor advised, “But beyond Government and the Private Sector and the owners of these assets, let me say that everybody, those who are here, those who are listening to us and those who are watching us and those who will hear us in the course of the next 24 months, have very important roles to play”.
He recalled a drama presentation at the dinner night to flag off the Summit where two young men and a lady were sharing their dreams of uninterrupted power supply and the agreement of the audience pointing out that such achievement would not be made by praying but acting about it.
“If you look at all the other nations, whether it is in the Middle East, whether is in Western Europe they will tell you that electricity does not come from religious institutions. It comes by hard work, discipline and orderly life. So what I just think we have to do as ordinary Nigerians, as ordinary Lagosians is that we must take ownership of it as if it is our own”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola again advised, “We cannot, in fits of anger, break electricity poles; we cannot in fits of disagreement damage transformers. We cannot use electricity formations and poles as breaks when our vehicles lose control. We all now know the responsibility of conserving assets because it is the only way it will go round.
“It is a shared asset and a limitless consumption is never satisfied by unlimited supply. It is simply uneconomic. Production reaches a platform where conservation and responsible use become the basis for achieving sustainability and conservation means switching off light points when you don’t need them, switching off air-conditioning and other electrical appliances when they are not in use”.
Noting that conservation has been achieved in telecommunication through the process of “Flashing” instead of making direct call, the Governor said he saw the innovation as “a strong message of conservation of credit units”, adding, “So if we can conserve credit units, we can also conserve electricity which is much more important and necessary to produce those credit units”.
He emphasized that consumers of electricity must be ready to pay their legitimate bills adding, “We must stand up as a people against illegal connections; we must see every illegal connection as a threat to our own legal use of Power. And therefore we must not wait for government, we must not wait for the private owners, there must be a community action against this kind of connection”.
The Governor, who also advised against buying of secondhand electrical materials declared, “Secondhand cables, secondhand transformers, secondhand metres and secondhand equipment used in the distribution of electricity suggest to me and should suggest to you and suggest to all of us that it was stolen from the public grid and therefore all those markets must cease now. We must also resist the temptation to cut cost. There must be no illegal connections and we must report any such case”.
Thanking all the participants and both local and international facilitators whom he said participated “very enthusiastically and robustly” the Governor who also urged the cooperation of the citizenry “in order to achieve this dream which is already within our grasp”, pledged the commitment of his administration to work hard to achieve the recommendations of the Summit.
“I thank you once again for participating and I think that our work is cut out for us. And for my part, between now and the next summit, my team and I have one more year and a few months of hard work before we hand over to the next team. But I assure you we are ready to work”, he said.
One of the highlights of the grand occasion was the reading of the recommendations of the Summit which bordered on the means to achieve adequate power supply in lagos for both industrial, commercial and domestic use.
Also present at the occasion were the First Civilian Governor of the State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, members of the State Executive Council, including the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Ben Akabueze and his Commerce and Industry counterpart, Mrs. Sola Oworu, among others, local and international energy experts, a high-powered French business delegation led by Chairman of African Committee of MEDEF International, Mr. Patrick Lucas, Captains of industry, representatives of Power generation and distribution organisation as well as top government functionaries.