Between 80 and 90 million Nigerians do not enjoy electricity supply, Former Minister of Power Dr Lanre Babalola has said.
With a population of about 180 million, this means that over 50 per cent of the people are not connected to the national grid.
Babalola spoke at the weekend, at the National Discourse organised by The Companion, an association of Muslim men in business and profession at the University of Lagos main auditorium in Akoka, Yaba.
He attributed the inability to distribute electricity generated to shortage of gas, wondering why the government is selling the gas to foreign countries.
“You know what, these foreign nations are using the gas purchased from us to boost their distribution of electricity and we deprive ourselves of its usage all in the name of getting more funds to finance our budgets,” he said.
The Companion National President Alhaji Musibau Oyefeso said the theme: “Energy for sustainable economic development: What strategic options for Nigeria,” was chosen because it is an issue that concerns all.
“The 21st century life we live today is power driven. Power or energy if you like, has become an indispensable factor in our daily life. We rely on it for virtually everything we do. It is perhaps no exaggeration to state that electric power is the backbone of the 21st century technology in all spheres of life whether at home or at work. Fortunately for us, Nigeria is blessed with virtually all known sources of power whether conventional or renewable ranging from hydro to gas, thermal, coal, solar, as well as wind and bio-mass among others. Yet it is ironical that we have not been able to convert these resources to power for the benefit of our people and the economy,” he said.
According to him, electricity has been identified as largely responsible for local industries’ inability to compete at the international level as it takes up to 20 per cent or more of the cost of production.
“The significance of power to the economy is unquantifiable. Evidence shows that power has been a major resource in large shortage for our industries. The effort of government in increasing power generation has also yielded little or no positive result. The much needed private investment in the sector has also remained unfulfilled. The challenges seem enormous but not insurmountable,” he said.
Chairman on the occasion Chief Gbadegesin Giwa said the power sector has become a nightmare for individuals, businesses and other organisations.
Besides, Giwa said, it is having negative impact on the socio-economic development of the country.
“In addition, some of our best minds have also been deployed as ministers and special assistants in the ministry to provide leadership and deliver power to the economy, yet they ended up achieving little or nothing. The challenges seem so enormous ranging from deliberate sabotage to inappropriate laws, regulations, funding, manpower, security and many more. The change of status from public/government driven sector to private sector driven alternative does not seem to be having any positive impact either. This, therefore, calls for a more robust approach to the seemingly intractable problem. Fortunately for us, power supply is taken for granted in other climes because all forms of challenges have been overcome and the technology to provide power is generally available and not rocket science. What is required is strong political will and the resolve of all stakeholders including the general public to join hands in tackling the challenges.”