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Beyond the Megawatts

Mr. Anuonye
VISIONING is a major factor in governance. Purposeful leadership comes with well articulated vision and mission. To bring about positive change – especially that which is sustainable, a leader must set up goals that are smart, measurable, achievable, and tangible with effective time line.

In addition, it takes a visionary leader to remain focused, determined even in the face of odds and challenges. The path to success may be thorny, as it is often, but the ultimate goal is result. A good leader must not be found wanting when decisions to move from point A to point B are desirable, all in the interest of the masses – the majority.

The above perfectly explains the philosophy behind the Seven-Point Agenda of the present administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua out of which sustainable generation of electricity is key.

It is also the reason why government, based on established principles both scientific and otherwise, set targets for the attainment of adequate power supply at the end of 2009 and 2011, respectively.

Since assuming office in 2007, President Yar’Adua has never left anyone in doubt as regards his administration’s readiness to raise the standard of living of the average Nigerian, especially through the provision of adequate electricity.

Yar’Adua, like many patriotic Nigerians and visionaries, knows that unless power supply is fixed and becomes regular, the attainment of the other six points of the Seven-Point Agenda will be a mirage.

Like Joel Barker, the author of the book, The Power of Vision noted: “The power of vision demonstrates that having positive vision of the future is the forceful motivator for change for success that companies, schools, communities, nations and individuals possess”.

Hence, Yar’Adua’s administration continues to invest in the power sector both through the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) and others in various parts of the country. This he complemented with both internal and external restructuring of the operational structure of the sector.

Although Nigerians may for now not be experiencing the best in terms of power supply, due to unexpected but avoidable circumstances – chief of which boils down to the activities of the Niger Delta militants, the joy, however, is that there is now a roadmap towards sustainable power generation, transmission and distribution.

The envisioned regular and affordable power supply aimed at banishing darkness in every nook and corner of the country is in top gear and will soon be delivered to Nigerians. This assertion you will agree with me is being corroborated by events and activities in power sector in the last four months.

Unlike before, government has been proactively deploying so much to reduce tension in Niger Delta. The NIPP projects are yielding dividends as the official commissioning of the fast-tracked Ganmo Power Station in Kwara State has shown.

Officials of the Ministry of Power are not relenting in their quest for alternatives to reduce the tension which intermittent supply of gas has foisted on the country. Right now, gas supply to Egbin Power Station has commenced and Shell Petroleum Development of Nigeria has also resumed gas supply to Utorogu plant.

Recently, Lanre Babalola the Minister of Power and Steel said there is now sufficient gas to power all the power plants in the country. Although he said the troubled Niger Delta region is making things difficult for the government, but he assured that solution is already being proffered. Nigerians are looking ahead with optimism that the set target of 6,000MW and 10,000MW of electricity by December 2009 and December 2011, respectively is realisable.

It is, however, instructive for every Nigerian to know that the 6,000MW target is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. We must all try to understand and appreciate the intrinsic dynamism of the power sector. The truth is that except for a holistic approach, any target set within a short term frame in the power sector will collapse. This we must know and take serious.

We all have to look at the various ways in which we could make contributions towards the realisation of the set target rather than being pessimistic about it.  This is the norm in other climes, especially now that the world is talking about safe technology and green economy.

Equally, priority must be given to adequate and efficient distribution of power in a way that those activities that have direct impact on industrial development take the lion share of the national grid. We should avoid wasteful attitude and tailor our energy consumption in line with our needs.

Peace in Niger Delta is a must requisite for the attainment of the set target. In realisation of this, the Federal Government recently granted amnesty to the militants in the Niger Delta region so as to quell the crisis in that region and usher in rapid growth and development.  If we are to face it, gas from Niger Delta region remains the most viable option for the attainment of the set target.

There are other energy sources but they are mostly not sustainable. Sources such as Kanji, Jebba and Shiroro put together can only produce 1,000MW. Now, the effect of climate change is already telling on the hydrological data of most of these dams. For Kanji dam which takes its source from Niger Republic, it is not hundred percent under Nigerian control.

Granted the energy sector in Nigeria has a battered image due to corruption and inefficiency,  operators there are now very determined to turn things around for the better. The sector is now being run by a minister who is focused and experienced- a tested professional and technocrat. Thus, based on his experience and past records, the minister can be taken for his words.

Presently, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria ( PHCN) has an installed capacity of about 6,200 megawatts but generates only 45 percent of the installed capacity. Nigeria can boast of eight federal operational power stations, namely: Egbin Thermal in Lagos with an installed capacity of 1320 megawatts, Jebba Hydro in Niger State with 578.4 megawatts capacity, Sapele Thermal in Delta State with 1020 megawatts, Ijora Thermal Lagos with 40 megawatts, Delta Thermal 912 megawatts, Kanji Hydro 760 megawatts, Afam Thermal in Rivers 969.6 megawatts, Alaoji in Abia 378 megawatts and Shiroro Hydro  Niger 600 megawatts. This gives a total of 6200 megawatts when fully operational.

Apart from the aforementioned, other commissioned independent power projects in the country are AES, Lagos- 300 megawatts; Agip Delta- 480 megawatts; Ajaokuta, Kwara -80 megawatts, and Aba IPP- 188 megawatts.

With all these power stations in operation, generating 6,000MW is not beyond the country even in four months time.

Though pessimists see government effort towards revamping the power sector as a wasted effort, based on the fact that previous governments did not do well to maintain and re-equip the sector. Like other sectors in the nation, this created the setback Nigerians are suffering now. But change being the only constant thing in life, will steer their vision to fruitfulness and sustainability.

Setting targets is ideal, but sustaining the idea behind the targets to ensure the sustainability of the sector is most sacrosanct. That is what the power vision of the Yar’Adua administration seems to be projecting.

The current drive for increased electricity supply in Nigeria should not be seen as efforts towards the generation of targeted megawatts at a given time frame. We should look beyond that declaration which seems to be gaining grounds more than creating jobs, alleviating poverty through a sustained power policy in the country.

The projection of 6000MW or 10000MW by 2009 and 2011, respectively is just a means to an end; not an end itself.

Mr. Anuonye a commentator on national issues, writes from Lagos.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.