Electric power that can go on the national grid has climbed up to 6,863 MW as at August 10, 2017.
It looks good and commendable that we are moving up from the about 4,000MW we have been stuck in for months. Power Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola who gave the figure in Kano last week emphasized that it represented a big leap from 2,690MW generation he inherited as minister in May 2015. I share in his optimism, but I still have strong doubts that we can begin to sing praise songs yet. First, we are in the rainy season. This means that whatever improvement recorded is aided by water available to the hydro power stations.
The implication is that once the rains cease, power generation capacity will drop. Secondly, we also have been enjoying relative peace in the Niger Delta, culminating in improved gas supply to the Gencos. Maintaining the current capacity is also dependent on sustenance of peace and law and order in the Niger Delta. If anything goes awry, we would be back to square one.
Niger Delta militants had threatened to resume the destruction of oil installations from September 30, citing government’s failure to fulfill its promise to implement a developmental agenda in the region. The Edwin Clark-led Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), which the Federal Government had been discussing with, also threatened to pull out of further co-operation if government failed to reach a consensus with it on the 16-point demand it submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari in November, last year.
A truce had, however, been reached after a meeting with Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo on August 3. It was agreed that PANDEF would work with the government in an inter-ministerial group on Niger Delta development. It is important that the collaborative efforts with the Niger Delta leaders are sustained.
The peace in the Niger Delta notwithstanding, we are still very far from having adequate and stable power supply befitting our country. It is estimated that Nigeria needs 153,000MW. South Africa, which has a little above a quarter of the population of Nigeria, is leading Africa with about 45,000MW. Achieving stable power supply in the life of the current administration is a mirage, considering the estimate that it would cost Nigeria up to $100 billion to properly fix the power sector.
This translates to about four times the entire 2017 budget, which is $22 billion. What it means is that if the entire budget is spent on the power sector alone in the next four years, we may still not have stable power supply.
Fashola is often quoted to have said that provision of electricity was no rocket science. He made that statement apparently relying on the strides he made with the establishment of five power plants during his tenure as Lagos State governor. Those plants provided electricity to government buildings and public infrastructure. I also believe provision of electricity is no rocket science truly, if we do the right thing. It is because previous governments, particularly during the military era, failed to anticipate the future and do the needful that Nigerians are now groping for light.
If Nigeria is able to generate 45,000MW today like South Africa, our problem will still not be over. Even now that the minister announced the 6,863MW feat, he added that there are still more challenges. The electricity distribution companies cannot distribute all that has been generated. And Fashola already put up a defence on the Discos behalf. He said the assets the Discos inherited were largely ageing; investments by them had not been sufficient, foreign exchange volatilities had affected their asset value base and their ability to access credit.
I should add what the minister did not say about the Discos and it’s an important reason we may not have stable supply even if power generation climbs to the envisaged 153,000MW mark. The Nigerian factor.
Beyond the extraneous factors that have made the Discos underperform, they appear not to have recovered fully from PHCN viruses. I’ll cite few practical examples. IBEDC, which operates where I reside, supplies electricity to communities that have been enjoying the service without paying a kobo, some for more than a year. Residents of the communities are neither metered nor served bills. In another area, there is a suspected fraudulent arrangement through which residents pay a fixed charge monthly through the Community Development Association, regardless of the amount of electricity consumed. Don’t ask me whether the money collected from residents gets to the Disco.
But does the distribution company care? As long as other customers can be served crazy bills and made to pay for what they did not consume, it’s okay.
Fashola warned the Discos to desist from estimated billing without proper metering system. But the affected consumers will not have respite as long as they have no protection against paying for the inefficiency and corruption in the Discos’ operations.
And I have a personal experience. I had obtained an electricity meter for my house during the PHCN era. It’s not worth it recounting the trouble I encountered before getting the facility in my determination to ensure accurate payment for my consumption.
When IBEDC took over, my bills started to read ‘no meter’ even though my meter still works perfectly. I lodged a verbal complaint at the customer care unit and was asked to make a written complaint. I never got a feedback.
When the CAPMI was not introduced, a neighbour advised me to approach an IBEDC official who could assist procure the pre-paid meter within weeks with the payment of a private processing fee of N15,000. I opted to go through the official route. I personally paid into the specified IBDC bank account and submitted forms for meters for three apartments since April 2016. I have lost count of my visits to the IBEDC customer care unit. I have taken my compalint to the Business Manager at the Sango Business Hub to no avail.
I’m bemused and I believe people suffering same fate also do when Minister Fashola gives his occasional sermons to the Discos to stop issuing crazy bills; and for consumers not to buy transformers. Electricity is truly not a rocket science, but it remains so here until further notice.
Re: Back in the jungle
It is very bad for Nigerians to engaged in jungle justice for suspects because of our security agents not living up to expectation to prosecute suspects that were caught in evil acts. We should stop jungle justice to avoid sending innocent people to their early grave without any proof of crime. Let the law take its course, please.
–Gordon Chika Nnorom
Abdulfatah, there is no gainsaying that journalism is a vulnerable profession in terms of exposure to criminals, assassins for reportage on unforgiving top ranking people, and lunatic night-security men who regard innocent people at night as possible or known criminals. Most of my friends in journalism leave home in the evening, when on night duty, and leave office at safe hours of the following day for safety of their lives. Please ensure you avoid confrontation with night guards. Many of them, mostly in the younger bracket, are usually under influence of marijuana or “ogogoro” because such gives them unusual courage to face hard criminals, according to a night guard I spoke with recently. All these security breaches and frequency of crimes are resilient because the landscape is rather large for the inadequacy in number of policemen and rejection of state policing to shore up their supply. Usually, in Ijaiye-Ojokoro cultists’ scenery, disclosure of informant might place her on death knell with yet-to-be-arrested residue of the cultists. The issue of destitute and the insane being molested or sometimes killed is hinged on failure of government to help them.
In advanced climes, such people are prevented from roaming the streets, properly housed and fed while efforts are made to salvage them from insanity. A complete reverse is the case in Nigeria. Self-help or not, night security men, who kill unjustly, are themselves criminals. Jungle justice is an aberration and condemnable. If they suspect anyone as a criminal or ritualist, they should simply hand him over to the police for investigation and prosecution in court. If there was no “spiritual” intervention in your case, what would have happened to “OPEN SECRET” column by now, tears, regrets and loss of a truth-telling columnist? God forbid!
Jungle justice is really an ‘open secret’ and very interesting. l wish the government can put a stop to it, but our government can be very disappointing in matters like this. Boko Haram, Baddo, cultists etc. that kill people every now and then, what has the government done about them? My brother may God save us.
Re: Nigerian children on sale on our watch
After reading your piece on Nigerian children on sale, Abdulfatah, I came out with the conclusion that what we fear most: total breakdown of morality, is fast creeping in on us with our full knowledge and permission. Except we want to pretend as we usually do, this business of selling of babies is not new with any Nigerian that has all the while had his or her ears on the ground. The real challenge now is that the society is beginning to accept it as the normal way of adopting babies. And this encourages the child theft that has now become rampant with us. Our hearts go for couples who for a reason or the other are unable to bear children on their own.
However, the right approach to adoption should be followed for sanity to prevail. It smacks of ingratitude to God for a woman to deliberately get pregnant with sole intention of selling the baby because she is poor. Apart from the nauseating idea of parting with one’s blood for good not knowing what becomes of it henceforth, the greatest snag for me, is the act of haggling over a human being as we do for mere commodities.
If society had been kinder and our social welfare officials are up and doing, I believe that couples in need, would have preferred to approach adoption in a humane and civilized manner.
]As we talk about those who sell their babies, we remember those who simply dump theirs in the dustbin callously forgetting that as they engage in the evil act, legally married couples are kneeling in supplication to God to bless them with just conception not talking about full pregnancy and childbirth. May God continue to be gracious to mankind, our sins are much. Thanks.