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Opinion

Nigeria and the permanent partnership with paucity of power

We woke up to a bad news this morning, saying, the residence of a close friend was razed to the ground by fire in Kaduna. This is the second time within a short spell, and the same stroke of bad luck had similarly visited another residence of the same person in Katsina. God can’t be wrong, and only HE knows why, but the physically assessed cause is attributed to electric inverter malfunction.

In Nigeria, because of the permanent paucity of power, the use of electric inverters has since become a necessity, particularly with the high cost of diesel, that is making the use of generators almost impossible. Those who can afford it, are compelled to install electric inverters, that convert direct current to alternating current for power supply in the house or office.

But from the look of recent happenings, this alternative source of energy is coming at a high price, because of the frequent cases of fire, occasioned by the permanent paucity of power.

Because the Nigerian power sector is so problematic, on coming to power, PMB made a promise to overhaul the system for the better. As a result, billions of dollars were spent on power, and many ministers and technocrats have come and gone, but the result seems the same: permanent partnership with darkness.

Successive stakeholders in the resuscitation exercise have talked about the privatisation of the sector, in a way that would give flexibility to the introduced lexicons like the GENCOS, DISCOS and TCN, but alas, the result seems the same: permanent partnership with darkness. And now the frequent visits of fire.

The mystery of power supply in Nigeria got to a point where a former Minister of Power, Zainab Kuchi, was once quoted as telling a South African delegation that evil spirits were preventing the country from achieving sustainable electricity supply. In her wisdom, Kuchi recommended that all hands must be on deck to collectively exorcise the demons in the sector.

“We must resolve to jointly exorcise the evil spirit behind this darkness,” –Kuchi.

But in spite of all the promises made, and the volume of money pumped, Nigeria seems to be moving from bad to worse in power supply, it seems.

I read somewhere, a statement credited to the PDP presidential flag bearer, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, viz:

“The darkness that has enveloped the nation in the last couple of days with the collapse of the national grid is a metaphor for the collapsing state of our nation: collapsing unity, collapsing security, collapsing economy, collapsing education, collapsing well-being and collapsing value of human life and dignity. My expectation is that Nigerians will collapse the ruling APC in kind via the ballot and enthrone a viable pathway for the New Nigeria of our dreams that will be united and stable, prosperous and awash with opportunities; secured and inclusive. As One, we can get it done”.

I also read some where, some remarks, credited to the General Secretary, Electricity Union of Nigeria, Joe Ajaero, which clearly comes like a direct response to the comments of Atiku, thus:
“17 OUT OF 18 COMPANIES YOU SOLD UNDER PRIVATIZATION IN 1999 ARE YET TO BREAK EVEN, YOUR THREE-POINT AGENDA IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL.

Today Osogbo Steel Rolling Mill is a glorified warehouse, what has been the performance indices of Generation Companies (GenCos) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) in the last eight years? 17 out of the 18 enterprises Atiku sold in the power sector, none is yet to break even. The Federal government has pumped about N2 trillion as subvention to the privately owned companies in the power sector, yet power generation has nose-dived from 4,000MW to 2,000 MW in nine years”.

The Union was quick to describe the three-point agenda of Atiku Abubakar, whose ambition is the privatization of refineries, rail sector, transmission company of Nigeria (TCN) and breaking the monopoly of all other infrastructure operations, as dead on arrival, asking Atiku to tell Nigerians, how many of the over 60 enterprises privatized under his chairmanship of the National Council on Privatization (NCP) in 1999 are functioning optimally today.

However, in something reminiscent to a respite, the Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Mr. Sanusi Garba, has announced to the press yesterday, that Nigerians would witness improved power supply from July 1st, following renewed efforts by industry stakeholders.

Garba said there was a meeting, which was attended by top officials of NERC, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Generation Companies as well electricity Distribution Companies, wherein an agreement was reached between the Gencos, TCN and the 11 DisCos that would guarantee the generation, transmission and distribution of an average of 5,000MW of electricity daily to customers effective July 1st.

He said the contract would be binding on all the players across the sector’s value chain, with the stipulation of penalties for any party that defaults on the new arrangement.

How far the government would go in the fulfilment of this promise, remains to rescue the rift, between a miracle and a mirage.

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