Why Electricity Problems Persist in Nigeria

Nigerians have been experiencing series of problems in the power sector, ranging from irregular supply, total denial of electricity and electrocution. To unravel rea­sons behind this anomaly, this medium approached Chief Ofodum who enumerated the reasons why the problems per­sists and marshaled out the way forward. For him, one of the problems is the continued use quacks in electricity works in Nigeria, insisting that only licensed electrical contractors should be engaged for such du­ties. According to him, “a situa­tion whereby one accepts non-licensed electrical contractors should be stopped, because they are the major people that bring about issues we have in the industry”. He warned quacks not to dabble into areas they do not have good grasp of, the government to em­power the National Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), in order to avoid such problems.
“We know that the govern­ment has a lot at hand and be­fore expecting assistance from them, we need to play our own part justifiably. So I appeal to the government to fully back NEMSA to enable them do their part effectively, because it is the agency that is saddled with the responsibility of certi­fying our work.
“May be you don’t know that some of the electrical contrac­tors are quacks and they are the ones who go about caus­ing problems in the industry. If NEMSA is fully backed by government, it will enable them ensure that electricity works are done perfectly. For you to go into electricity contract, you must be perfect in the job and must be given certificate to that effect.
“We have license category ‘A’ in which the holder can do all electricity works; ‘B’ holder stops at industrial wiring. This means the holder shouldn’t exceed 11 KV line; ‘C’ holder stops at Low Tension (LT); while ‘D’ holder stops at house wiring. So with the exception of ‘A’ category, others have limi­tations and jurisdictions,” he explained.
On what the citizenry and government stands to benefit from LECAN he summed up the issues at quality electric­ity work. “For instance, a li­censed contractor should be at his site all the time to supervise his workers. Due to the lapses, some clients used to hand over the work to the boys think­ing that they know more than their contractor. In the process, he would put his personal as­sistant to represent him, and before you know what is hap­pening, his assistant and the boys who do not know the difference between standard and fake materials would use the fake ones at a cheaper rate to the detriment of the client. I blame the government for giv­ing electrical contract to nov­ices. Until all these are stopped, we shall continue to be having problems in the industry.”
He however drew a clear dif­ference between the role of an electrical engineer and that of electrician or technician in the field. According to his expla­nation, a Bachelor of Science holder in electrical engineer­ing’s role in the industry lies on designing, while that of a technician lies on practical and execution of the work.
The national coordinator continued to warn seriously on the use of unqualified prac­titioners, saying: “Give your work to a licensed electrical contractor, because he is in the position to give you what you want as well as know the differ­ence between fake and original electrical materials. You will find out that at times clients would prefer to give their work to quacks, without demanding for their certificate. The charges of a qualified professional may be higher than that of a quack, but in the long run, the client will see the difference. Every licensed electrical contractor has an address, office and is recognised by the government, unlike the quacks. The licensed electrical contract has a num­bered certificate with which to trace him when the need arises, but it will not be easy to trace a quack.”
On the persistent epileptic electricity supply in the coun­try, Ofodum noted that compa­nies involved in the generation and distribution chain “usually put a marketer, meter reader or a management staff to the of­fice of an engineer and make an engineer to be his assistant”, stressing that it will be easier for an engineer to be a mar­keter than a marketer to be an engineer.
On what his body did about this, he explained that he had petitioned to the presi­dent about the trend. Another factor that contributes to poor supply, according to him could be attributed to the dry season which affects the volume of water in the dams as well as the scarcity of gas which he linked to troubles in the Niger Delta.
The coordinator believed seriously that quality and ad­equate electricity supplies would go a long way to ad­dress problems associated with the economy. To that end, he advised: “Let the government go back to the drawing board, encourage indigenous engi­neers, instead of bringing in a foreigner we are not sure of his credibility. Electricity industry is not something you should be toying with”.
Though he however in­formed that LECAN had a monitoring team through which it has been fighting quackery in the industry, he equally regretted that the marketers-turned engineers and the consumers who like to cut corners usually encourage them. He therefore called for the urgent intervention of the government before the situa­tion gets worse.
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