‘Talk About Corruption Is Being Amplified’- Jonathan

By Akin Akande, Abuja

Despite criticisms that corruption has flourished more than ever during his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan says  that the talk about increase in corruption is being amplified.
Rather, he argued that corruption has been reduced considerably by his administration.
He stated this on Monday at the Presidential Power Reform Transactions Signing Ceremony held at the Banquet Hall, Sate House, Abuja.
The ceremony, attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, witnessed the handing over of  certificates for 25 per cent payment to the five Generating Companies (GENCOS) and 10 Distribution Companies (DISCOS) that have made payment.
Other agreements signed were for gas supply, generation agreement with the bulk traders and joint development agreement among others.
The President expressed satisfaction with the transparent manner in which the Bureau of Public Enterprises, (BPE) is carrying on with the privatization of the power sector.
He urged Nigerians to always protect what belongs to them and to take keen interest in the activities of government.
President Jonathan recalled the tremendous achievement recorded in curbing corruption that was hitherto deep seated in the distribution of fertilizers.
He was also delighted that commendations have greeted the emergence of the preferred bidders for the generation and distribution companies, noting that the process that produced them had been adjudged vey transparent.
His words: “let  me continue to assure Nigerians that yes, there are issues of corruption in this country but somehow it has been over amplified. People should watch how we have been conducting government business”.
We have been bringing down the issue of corruption gradually.”If you look at the fertilizer sector, you will agree with me that if government actors are interested we would have continued the same story of buying all kinds of things, awarding all kinds of contracts in the name of fertilizer.
But we are not doing that, we have sanitized that sector.”Look at the power sector, when we started initially there were stories in the papers but at the end, even when I was in the United Staes, companies from there that participated said publicly that the process was transparent and issue of corruption was not there.
“At least today we have also heard directly, that the process was transparent and that there were no issues of manipulations or corruptions.
I plead with Nigerians that the country belongs to all of us and we will all protect what belongs to us, what belongs to our children and what belongs to the generation yet unborn.
“I am particularly pleased to hear directly from the private sector that the process was transparent and those stories of corruption were not heard.
This age-long inadequate power supply will be brought to an end by God’s grace. Nigerians must have electricity for domestic and industrial use”.
The President commended the governors, the development partners and the private sector for showing interest in the power sector reform.
“Let me commend all our governors for their interest in this business and indeed our development partners and our private sector investors for having confidence in us to place this huge investment in this country”, he said.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, had announced that about US$3.4 billion is required between now and 2016.
He said the massive investment was needed to bring the transmission grid to evacuate all the generated power.
“The massive increase in generation underpins the need for a robust transmission grid.
Currently, our grid remains a weak link with a wheeling capacity of about 4, 800 mega watts.”With government’s objective to achieve 10,000 me in 2914 and 20,00 me in 2016, the urgent need to expand our transmission capability to evacuate the projected additions becomes imminent.
Government is working out the funding of Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN long term expansion plan from a mix which will include the Transmission Development Fund, International Development Banks and multilateral agencies”.
He however, said that implementing the power reform has not been without challenges, citing the payment of severance to the PHCN staff, but hastened to add that all outstanding labour issue will be resolved by June ending.
“The reform has had it’s setbacks and slippages due to the unprecedented size and scope of the reform program”, Prof Nebo said, assuring “we shall conclude d reform programme and deliver power to Nigerians in line with the transformation agenda”.
Also speaking, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dezani Alison Madueke, said there has been aggressive expansion of gas infrastructure in the last two years, adding that domestic gas supply has risen significantly with about 70 percent being directed to the power sector.
She however assured that despite the inherent challenges, Nigerians should expect sustained  gas supply to the power sector.
Mr. Tony Elumelu and Mr Tunde Ayeni, spoke on behalf of the companies that emerged the preferred bidders for the GENCOS and DISCOS respectively.
They both pledged continuous support of the private sector to the successful completion if the reform of the power sector.
The ceremony was witnessed by governors Emanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, Gabriel Suswam of Benue and Muritala Nyako of Adamawa and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim.