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Promises of electricity

One of the things that has caused Nigerians some concern in recent times is the phenomenon of low supply of electricity, and I thought that the measures we have taken in recent times would have put things right. I think there is sabotage. I am not saying I am sure.

I will set up a team to investigate and the result would be made public. Whoever is involved would not be spared. — Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in April 2007 at a PDP presidential rally in Abuja.

AFTER 10 years of addressing the critical issue of power supply with words, the Federal Government in the past four months has been harping on raising power generation to 6,000 megawatts this month as if that means anything.
The comics begin from that point.

Minister of Power, Dr. Lanre Babalola isolates himself from the challenges. He claims to have the facilities to generate and transmit 6,000 megawatts, but absolves himself of any responsibilities if there is no gas to power this ambition. In other words, there would be no stable electricity supply this year.

Vice-President Jonathan Goodluck has added to the growing comedy. He has promised Nigerians that by the end of 2010 they would have enough power supply for domestic and industrial uses to discard their generators. He is also hinging his plans on the planned 6,000 megawatts which arrive this month and other plans of government.

Nigerians are well used to the reasons government advances for its colossal failures in providing electricity. There was a time the water of the River Niger was the main excuse, since Shiroro and Kainji Dams generated most of the country’s electricity which was hydro-based.

The shift to gas has come with its own challenges. Either the gas pipelines that supply feedstock to a thermal power station have been vandalised or the power transmission lines have been vandalised. The disputes in the Niger Delta made gas an unreliable commodity for electricity supply. These are later day excuses.

Over the years, government did not plan for the increased demand for electricity. Sometimes government’s theatrics understate the challenges. In 2000, the Federal Government announced the end of blackouts at a party to thank the Technical Committee on Power Supply which Liyel Imoke, present Governor of Cross River State, headed on the great work it did.

The then government regaled Nigerians with stories of increase in electricity generation, but admitted two other obstacles existed — transmission and distribution.

President Umaru Yar’Adua promised that one of his first acts in government would be to declare an emergency on electricity supply. His emergency has been mostly through inactions like the stoppage of funding of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), to which his predecessor had committed billions of Naira.

Like Obasanjo, who played politics with electricity supply, pleading sabotage after eight years, the present government is unserious with this important matter.

Nigerians have heard enough about efforts and excuses. They want electricity, not excuses.


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