Lagos’ New Power Scheme

Ambode2

Lagos State government has taken another audacious move towards having uninterrupted power supply in the state. The state government has requested for a letter of no objection from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for its embedded power programme, The Nation reports.

The governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who on August 4 led some members of the state executive council, lawmakers and other stakeholders to a meeting at the NERC headquarters in Abuja, described the programme as his administration’s flagship programme towards achieving a 24-hour power supply for Lagos.

The proposed scheme, according to Governor Ambode, would generate about 3,000 megawatts of electricity through accelerated deployment of power plants in strategic locations in the state by some private sector power providers, within the next three to six years.

This should be a welcome development, particularly to Lagosians who, like other Nigerians have long been deprived stable power supply. One thing that is becoming increasingly clear by the day is the un-workability of the present arrangement in the power value chain. That explains why the country has not made any   appreciable progress in electricity supply in spite of the transfer of ownership to private investors more than three years ago. They have been generating and distributing more of excuses than electricity. It is either they do not have enough gas to power their plants or they do not have money to provide prepaid meters, which should ensure that electricity consumers pay only for power that is used by them.

 It is against this background that Nigerians should welcome any alternative that can bring about an improvement in power supply. The Lagos embedded power programme is one of such alternatives that should be embraced. It is interesting that Lagos State government saw far into the future on the country’s return to civil rule in 1999 when the then administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu initiated the Enron project, to boost electricity supply to the state. Unfortunately, the programme suffered not only from constitutional restraints but also the unwillingness of the then Obasanjo administration to make it see the light of day.

It is gratifying that almost all the other stakeholders present at the ceremony pledged their support to the initiative. We are particularly delighted that the NERC, represented by the commission’s commissioner in charge of legal license and compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, who stood in for the commission’s vice chairman, promised that it would work with the Lagos State Government to ensure the success of the programme: “Within the ambit of the law and existing regulations, you have our unflinching support in this project,” he said. Even the representatives of both Eko and Ikeja distribution companies at the meeting declared their support for the project, saying, and rightly so, that it would be detrimental to the progress of Nigeria if they opposed it.

This should be the spirit.

We do not need anyone to tell us that the Federal Government alone cannot resolve the power conundrum. It has been trying with little or nothing to show for it these past years despite the fact that the sector has gulped billions of dollars!

As a matter of fact, we have come to the juncture where the laws that have been  a hindrance to this critical part of our lives have to be reworked. Power supply cannot continue to be under the exclusive list. We can only imagine where Lagos State would have been if the Enron project had been allowed to work in its original form. But it is better late than never.

As Governor Ambode noted:”We are convinced that the offer by our government to deploy the state’s balance sheet in support of power generation, transmission, distribution, gas supply, metering, collection and enforcement in Lagos State will significantly relieve the national grid and free more energy for distribution to other parts of Nigeria”. So, it is a win-win situation for Lagos and other parts of the country. Therefore nothing should be done to scuttle it if indeed we are serious about having stable power supply in the country.

IWIN

 

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