When Will Nigerians Have Uninterrupted Power Supply?

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Recently, Regional Vice-President of Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom) for Sub-Saharan Africa, Viktor Polikarpov, reportedly said in order to combat the current energy challenge facing Nigeria, the region needs access to affordable and clean baseload power.

Polikarpov who expressed this view at the just-concluded annual Powering Africa Investors’ Summit held in Abuja stressed the need for Nigeria to consider available sources of energy such as solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power complement and reinforce each other to form a green square to achieve a balanced energy mix. We learnt Nigeria spends almost $14 billion on off-grid diesel generation hence, the urgent, need to consider available sustainable energy sources.

It is saddening that 57 years after Nigeria’s independence, successive administrations have failed to achieve uninterrupted power supply. Also, despite their inability to attain any of the unrealistic targets projected, billions of dollars pumped into the power sector over the years seem to have gone down the drains as power supply has steadily deteriorated across the country.

 We recall with dismay that the administration of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly spent whopping $16 billion on the power sector but sadly, there was nothing to show that this huge amount was judiciously spent. Cases of allegations of corruption against some influential individuals on how funds allocated for fixing the power sector were misappropriated  have since been swept under the carpet.

More funds were spent by the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua but the power sector remained comatose. Also, the target of 10,000 megawatts projected to be achieved by December 31, 2009 remained a mere dream till he died in 2010. His successor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was not different. His Minister of State for Power, Hajia Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi’s promise that power generation would peak at 5,500 megawatts by December 31, 2013 and 10,000 megawatts by December 31, 2014 was not fulfilled.

The privatisation of the power sector by the Goodluck Jonathan administration has variously been described as a big fraud having failed to achieve the desired result. The then federal government handed over the N480 billion assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to new private investors on November 12, 2013.

However, controversies and condemnations trailing the privatisation exercise due largely to the incompetence of the new investors and calls on government by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and President of Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, amongst others, to review the exercise urgently are indications of its failure to meet the increasing power needs of Nigerians. This was why the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola reportedly warned distribution companies recently to improve service delivery to electricity consumers or leave to allow serious investors to come in. We, however, observe that the minister’s warning must have fallen on deaf ears since service delivery has continued to deteriorate.

Interruptions in electricity supply are injurious to national economy since they pose incalculable dangers to job and wealth creation, manufacturing, industrialisation, agro-industrial production, as well as local and foreign investments. We were not surprised that a recent World Bank report ranked Nigeria 182 of 189 economies worldwide on the ease of accessing electricity supply. This shows the importance of steady power supply and improved access to it as essential ingredients for driving the economy.

Nigerians deserve uninterrupted power supply to enable them live meaningful and productive life. We urge government to stop paying lip service to the power sector which is the main engine that drives the economy. In view of the huge task involved, Power Ministry should be carved out and manned by a substantive minister to ensure effective performance. The failed privatisation exercise should be reviewed without delay in order to stop the drift in performances of service providers.

We implore the federal government to remove power from the exclusive list so that states can in partnership with the private sector, generate electricity and ensure supply is steady. Until this is done, the current chaotic situation which is suffocating the economy, will persist while Nigeria’s ambition to rank among the front line 20 economies in the world by 2020 will be seriously jeopardised.

Source: IWIN

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