Recently in Kenya, there was a blackout for four hours and its people wondered what happened.
Later, the power generating company KenGen issued a statement, blaming a monkey which tripped on an equipment in an hydro power plant for the problem.
The generation company (GenCo) said though the monkey survived, Kenya lost 183megawatts (Mw) during the blackout. It apologised to consumers, promising to secure its facilities from such hazards in future.
I can’t help admiring the way the firm handled the matter efficiently. Of course most Nigerians will argue that the power supply in Kenya is not compared with that of Nigeria because it is erratic here and blackouts are more.
I agree with them. This is because the Kenyan power firm has been allowed to do its public relations without any pressure and without any ‘monkey’ tricks or interference from any quarters on the source of power failure.
In Nigeria, however, the way blackouts are explained is different.The culprits are the distribution companies (Discos) that deliver electricity to our homes and companies.
This has been reinforced by the hostile attitude of the trade unions in the power sector in that they mobilised consumers against the discos. Take the case of when tariffs were approved for the discos by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commissionwere announced early this year.
The unions instigated even the Senate to stop the tariffs hike and NERC went to court to accuse the Senate of usurping its legitimate function as the regulator of electricity. The unions did not stop there; they asked workers to go on strike on the new electricity tariffs as if it is the same thing with the fuel price increase to N145 on which they called out workers on strike recently.
This is despite that discos don’t generate or transmit electricity, but only deliver to consumers when it is is available.
Stakeholders in the electricity industry include the Nigerian Electricity Bulk Trading Company, gencos, discos and transmission companies. How come then that the union leaders are always pointing fingers at the discos when there is a power failure? As the Kenyan example has shown, it was a genco that explained what happened, not a disco.
In Nigeria, it is true that pipeline vandalism has reduced the generation and transmission of electricity not to talk of distribution, which is the responsibility of the discos. But, then, can the discos distribute what they don’t have?
True, the gencos cannot generate power when they don’t have the basic ingredients to do so and even when sources of such generation have been rendered unproductive or inactive by vandals. In Kenya, the genco was lucky that it was a monkey that cut power for hours only.
It is an army of vandals that are stalling electricity production daily and they have even metamorphosed into a virile terrorist group called the Avengers of the Niger Delta who are daring and taxing the federal might.
That really is the core of the matter and that is what the unions should focus on as the cause of irregular electricity supply.
Therefore, the discos, which are at the receiving end of the poor electricity supply chain, should not be blamed by the unions.