EDITORIAL: Is Nigeria Power Sector Jinxed?

EDITORIAL:  Is Nigeria Power Sector Jinxed?
April 02 13:46 2016 Print This Article

Worsening power situation is a hallmark that has marked Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, out from the crowd of other responsible countries in the world. 

In the last 17 years of Nigeria’s democratic journey, over N4 trillion has been wasted on attempts by successive administration to provide electricity for the over 180 million Nigerians. Sadly, over 80 percent of that fund have ended in the pockets of very few powerful but corrupt Nigerians. The consequences for Nigeria and Nigerians is darkness.

The unbelievable happened on Thursday, March 31, 2016 when the whole nation was brought to its knees as Nigeria’s power generation collapsed completely, at exactly 12.58pm, to zero megawatt.

The worst scenario is that the situation persisted for almost three hours. The author of the Guinness Book of Record would have to update their collection to include “a dark day in Nigeria”.

For the benefit of students of history, March 31, 2016 was the day over 180 million Nigerians were without electricity supply through the length and breadth of the country. From Sokoto to Uyo, Ibadan to Maiduguri, Umuahia to Dutse. It was all no electricity, thanks to the country’s system operators.

But how and why did we get to this abysmal level haven invested about N4 trillion on power generation since 1999? It is absurd that the more government pumped money to boosting power supply in Nigeria, the farther it retrogresses into darkness.

Smarting from past experiences, Nigerians now see appointments of individuals as ministers into the Ministry of Power as empowerment “to steal public funds’. The corruption and sleaze in the power sector is winning the nation negative laurels both home and abroad. Looking into records, those who had held sway in the power ministry have risen to become governors, senators and key members of ruling and opposition parties in Nigeria with a lot of financial influence. The victim of their diabolical services are the innocent Nigerians who reap darkness and more darkness why these appointees live in plush homes powered by generators and solar powers.

The nation’s woes in the power sector began with the failure of successive military regimes to invest in power infrastructure, which led to the ruin of power infrastructure over the years. And an attempt by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government to tackle power instability led to grand corruption where over $10 billion was wasted through corrupt means to achieve an insignificant result.

The power crisis defiled the wise understanding of the late Bola Ige, who while heading the power minister once declared that he would squeeze water out of the rock but could not achieve anything significant during his tenure.

The attempt by the late Musa Yar’Adua’s administration led to the declaration of a power roadmap designed to shore up power output to 10,000 megawatts but that attempt also fell flat despite the huge investment in power infrastructure through the NIPPs. Again it was an investment that produced a marginal result from a dismal power production of a little above 2,400 mega watts. 

The President Goodluck Jonathan’s government made a fair attempt by consolidating on the foundation laid by the Yar’Adua’s administration. Power production shore up to almost 4,700 mega watts but the distribution infrastructures were too obsolete to evacuate the power generated. The result was no benefit to the masses who need the power.

Suffice to say that without power supply, the engine of industry and growth of any nation would be at standstill while technology, production, and vibrant economy would be a mirage.

The consequences of this ‘no power’ to the economy is enormous, – high cost of running businesses, closure of multinational companies, high cost of goods and services as a result of individual investments in purchase of generators, poor business environment etc, just to mention a few.

Professor Chinedu Nebo, a pastor, and the last of the Jonathan’s minister of power, ascribed evil forces as the reasons behind the inability of successive governments to solve the nation’s power crisis. Could this be true or like Nebo, the governments are just pushing our failure to stabilise power to some unseen evil forces lurking in the dark corners in Aso Rock or in the power ministry? It is pertinent to ask here, are there no evil forces in Ghana, our sister neighbouring West African country with stable power supply?

Nigerians were happy when President Buhari came on board with the change mantra slogan. Hopes were lighted anew but almost a year after been elected into office that hope seems to be fading fast into hopelessness. It was during the Buhari government that Nigeria recorded a historic zero power output. This is a minus for a government that had promises heaven on earth during the campaign with assurance of power stability to the people.

The question we would like to ask here is, are we jinxed that as a nation that we cannot solve our power problem? What is responsible for the inability of the successive government to solve Nigeria’s power problem?

Lack of will and commitments on the part of successive administrations, lack of direction, lack of a sustainable power programme from government to government, wrong investments in power infrastructure, corruption among others are key to Nigeria’s power problem.

The comment made by Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman that: “If some people are crying that they are in darkness, they should go and hold those who vandalise the installations” smacks of arrogance and a betrayal of the peoples trust in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the President Buhari’s administration. It also shows the posture of an intolerant government to criticism and possible abdication of responsibility.

There is ample opportunity for the Buhari’s government to immediately wear its thinking cap and do the right thing and on time too, before it fretters away the little ‘goodwill’ it has enjoyed among the poor of the poorest, who stood in the sun to vote him into power before concluding that they were betrayed and regrets been led to board a ‘one chance” vehicle that heads for the wrong destination!

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