As electricity is made available to Nigerians, they will find ways to create wealth and it is indeed an imperative for any political party to note.
Victor C. Ariole
According to a source, before ever the current development going on in the Emirate, Saudi, specifically, was enabled, it started with a complete survey of the disorganized and outmoded electrical system so as to design a new one that met standards equivalent to the best known in the world. When General Olusegun Obasanjo was a military head of state, they came begging for loan to start the process and today they must be mocking Nigeria. Nigeria, notwithstanding, has trained more engineers than any country in Africa can think of; and Engineering is basically bringing myths and fictions to reality level; and such myths and fictions abound in Africa.
Light beyond the sparkling nights of star, moon and sun, came to human beings by spark of stones. Then, deeper thought extended it to precious stones and establishing it as we see in the bulbs. I have also watched an insect that sparks fire as it flies and seen that the sparks are based on its feed.
I have also seen a sparkling shrub that shrinks when human energy gets to it and they are all phenomena of African source; and after reading Prof. Chinedu Nebo, former Energy Minister, Prof. Barth Nnaji former Minister also and Dr. Aminu former Commissioner of Energy, I still cannot pick exactly what they present as reasons for unavailability of electricity in Nigeria.
Prof. Nebo sees incompetence as the root of all the problems, and that central grid is not fit for Nigeria; and he has designed a turbine that can consume less fuel to produce greater KW than has ever been known. Production of electricity seems not to be a problem to him if the right turbines are designed and fed rightly with whatever make the turbines turn. With what nature provides, it is possible to feed turbines with whatever nature makes available beneath the earth, on the surface of the earth, or even above. Even in USA coal, gas, wind, waste products are all mixed into their grid. So, I still wonder why national grid or centralized grid that enables even breakers are not seen as valid for Nigeria.
To Prof. Nnaji who was asked to resign from his ministerial post for showing interest in energy business in private capacity, Aba – Port Harcourt axis was his fiefdom and he had wanted to make it a model but he seemed to have been frustrated by government policy of “offload it to the National grid”. According to reports, so much loan has gone into it that many interests and shareholders for that project seem to have jettisoned it and, also, got it frustrated.
In effect, much of the loan has been described “bad loan”. What one is still not picking right in the Nnaji project is that, there is room for sustainability in the Aba axis as most industrialists in Aba believe in his services. Lots of waste exist in Aba – Port Harcourt axis and it seems they have been put to use to generate electricity which is possible by mere noticing what the Kenyan farmers are doing with theirs; a type of manure heap that emits the requisite gas for such electricity generation.
We saw such type of heap in Epe Junction, Isolo-Ejigbo, and other places. It seems Prof. Nnaji is still in the business and needs to be encouraged to see if it could be approached in Nigeria’s way, first, before seeking international best practice; like MTN had done, out of three of them that started, in remaining constant in the face of all hardship in the Nigerian telecommunication business. Glo, we acknowledge as a Nigeria’s own Tim Horten or America’s Google; but still waiting for it to attain West Africa’s competitive standard.
However, Dr. Aminu that works towards establishing an energy business that will remove all federal establishments from the national grid, seems to be the person that is questioning the collective interest; as removing federally-owned grid is like abandonment, the way federal secretariat in Lagos had been abandoned; or even the great cash cow NITEL was allowed to go down the drain.
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I sincerely feel threatened by such postulation because national grids worldwide are restructured or reorganized or even rewired to respond to greater capacity carrying models like Nebo said about his own turbine as well as Nnaji who talked about redefining the Aba–Port Harcourt segment of the grid for a possible break from the whole National grid. The nexus is quite noticeable in the quality of conduction behaviour of the grid and how the power is stepped down for end users. And, even recently USA factored – in checks that could prevent hackers disrupting theirs. In effect, their grid has taken a fibre dimension.
It is still within Nigeria’s political will power to decide on how to reform the National grid, either costing the rewiring system or producing substations that could be wonderful in the supply chain, as we know that transformers matter in all the supply claim.
So, why not chart very well the supply cells and their carrying capacity and give Nigerians electricity based on the respect and discipline they bring to the energy supply business as against the current means of thinking they can outsmart the suppliers by doing the illegal connecting thing. Even as high tension as Nigerian grid is and as it covers the length and breadth of Nigeria, people do not fear tempering with it. So much a desperate situation that people do not care threading where the angels fear to go.
I remember vividly as a growing boy in Yamoussoukro that even when light shines in all the streets, it was not available to the whole houses in Yamoussoukro. What I could imagine, as maturity came, was that the planners or suppliers, like Nigeria’s NEPA, charted the terrain very well and metered it adequately to known consumption patterns and were at work to meet demand and supply as people pay and request to be added into the planning system.
It was then hydropower generation and it was on their rivers like Bandama, Kossou, Sassandra, etc. Nigeria seems to be lacking in such discipline and you see people relate to NEPA or PHCN, as if they are also taking their own national cake. So when Dr. Aminu talks about removing federal establishments from the national grid it smacks of sabotage and ostrich behaviour of burying its head in the sand while evil happens around it. That approach had contributed in killing education in Nigeria.
So, Nigeria needed to avoid such approach hence whether PDP or APC wins come 2019, there must be only one-item agenda; and it must be electricity and the value chain that follows it as either in developing human and material capacities that must sustain it from educational perspectives. Of course, electricity consumption relates very well with GDP growth. As electricity is made available to Nigerians, they will find ways to create wealth and it is indeed an imperative for any political party to note. “Show the light and humans will follow”.
Ariole is a Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Lagos