Calling Power Generating and Distribution Companies’ Bluff- Lekan Sote


President Muhammadu Buhari should, please, call the bluff of the power generating and distributing companies that threaten force majeure over low tariffs for jobs that they hardly perform. The Nigeria Labour Congress is understandably mad that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission appears willing to accede to the request of the power companies for a 40 per cent increase in tariff.

Force majeure, if you like to know, is a unilateral decision of one party not to abide by the terms of an agreement duly entered into because of extenuating circumstances like natural disasters, called acts of God, or late discovery of facts that render the agreement unacceptable or unenforceable.

Apart from compelling businesses to spend more on running generators, the power outage is also causing households to throw away food items. Others go out in rumpled clothes because they cannot even do the simple everyday chore of ironing their clothes.

Maybe, the green lobby, those concerned with environmental issues, should institute a legal class action on behalf of the suffering masses who daily endure the noise and air pollution caused by the wilful negligence of the private power investors.

They knew they couldn’t perform the assignment they took up. The output of electricity is dropping fast like lead. From a little above 10,000MW of installed capacity, the generation of electricity, which steadied at a dismal 4,030MW, has dropped to a further low of 3,090MW supply to the national grid.

One excuse that has been advanced for this breach is the sob story that the Nigerian Gas Company advised a partial shutdown of thermal power plants because of ongoing maintenance works. That explains why production at Nigeria’s biggest thermal plant at Egbin, with installed capacity of 1000MW, which shamefully steadied at 813MW, has further dipped by 18.8 per cent, to 660MW.

The Director of Public Affairs of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mrs. Seun Olagunju, tried to burnish up the figures by claiming an output of 4,274MW by the gencos (that’s the industry slang for generating companies). You must be peeved by the conflicting figures of output by this doddering, even doddypoll, industry. The TCN, with its carrying capacity of just a little above 5,000MW is, itself, a systemic bottleneck that limits whatever the gencos and the discos (or distributing companies) can muster.

Government must look beyond now, into the far and near future, and rejig the power industry.


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