By Dele Sobowale
“The Federal Government plans to achieve 10,000 Megawatts of electricity generation by December, the Minister of State for Power, Mrs Zainab Kuchi has said”. PUNCH, January I0, 2012 p 23.
PROMISES MADE IN THE PAST “If a man deceives you once, shame on him; if twice; shame on you”. That was a lesson we learnt in our youth; and one which hopefully is still being passed to younger generations. Only by remembering what governments have promised and achieved can we avoid being deceived each and every time.
With all due respects to Mrs Kuchi, she is restating a promise that had been made so many times in the last thirteen years and which had never been fulfilled. Because of that, the sane response to, what she believes is an astonishing announcement is to disbelieve it until it is achieved.
The Minister was also reported to have announced that the generation capacity stood at 6,442MW by the end of 2012. Meanwhile Nigerians can recollect the President asking us to celebrate the achievement of 4,520MW in December of last year.
The difference of 900MW actual and potential capacity has not been explained, an enduring characteristic of a government which does not believe in full disclosure. That discrepancy between claimed 6,442MW and actual delivery of 4,520MW should constitute the foundation for doubting the government once again.
What follows is brief historical review of what had been promised; what had been claimed and what had actually been achieved in the power sector since 1999. The President of Nigeria, who if he was a Managing Director reporting to the Annual General Meeting of a company, with perceptive investors, would have been laughed off the podium, as well as the Minister of State can benefit from reading this. It would at least stop them from continuing to erode government’s credibility which it its main asset.
(a) Obasanjo/Bola Ige in I999. In July of 1999, late Chief Bola Ige, then Minister of Power and Steel, and up to that time a highly credible individual, announced to Nigerians that by December of that year, 1999, “power fluctuation would be a thing of the past”.
Slightly over a year after, power fluctuation remained with us; Ige’s credibility was dented; the Federal government was under pressure to deliver. The cabinet was reshuffled; out went Ige, in came Lyel Imoke as Minister. Imoke was the first to announce that by 2007 Nigeria would be generating 10,000MW of power. It remains elusive till today.
(b) Jonathan/Nnaji in August 2011, freshly appointed as Minister of Power, at the Conference of National Association of Energy Correspondents of Nigeria, NAEC, delivered a paper titled NIGERIA: A MIRACLE WAITING TO HAPPEN. In which he claimed the following:
(i) Nigerian needs $100 billion investment in the power sector.
(ii) With that level of investment Nigeria would generate 40,000MW of electricity by the year 2020.
(iii) Although Nigeria lacks the capacity for the amount of investment, “This kind of money is available in the international money markets. Nigeria’s power sector can attract it”.
(iv) He also said that the Federal Government is not resting on its oars to achieve 5,000MW by December [of 2011] and to grow same in subsequent years.
(v) To demonstrate that the 40,000MW target claim in August was not a figment of his imagination Professor Bart Nnaji, then Minister of Power repeated the claim in an article titled SHOW THE LIGHT AND THE PEOPLE WILL FIND THE WAY; which was published in all the leading newspapers in December 2011.
(vi) In August 2012, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Power, on Media, Mr Ogbuagu Anikwe, said, “Public power supply in Nigeria reached a peak of 4,237MW”.
(vii) Thus, by August of 20I2, we already had a shortfall of 763MW promised for December 2011 and 66% or 660MW of the promised annual increase for 20I2. Total shortfall by then was 1,423MW.
(c) Federal Government’s Lies in August 2012. It was bad enough that government was falling behind in delivering its promises, what was worse was the lie that was officially published by the President’s appointees. In an advertorial published in the PUNCH on Monday, August 13, 20I2, one Olusanya Awosan, Media Director, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Public Affairs) in the Presidency, made this declaration.
“Government has improved the power generation from under 3,000MW in 2011 to 4,300MW by August 20I2”. Not contented with that false declaration, the same spokesman for the Presidency further made the following statement. “Therefore, when the I0NIPP projects are fully on stream, which will be within the next few months, the total national generation capacity will not be less than 9,000MW”.
Why a government which promised 5,000MW by December of 2011, and further annual increases, would ask us to clap for the delivery of 4,300MW by August 2012 is a mystery. More mysterious is the penchant for forgetfulness or deliberate misstatement of facts by Jonathan’s government.
Mr Awosan, like virtually every official of this government naturally forgot that as early as 2010, Professor Nnaji had told Nigerians, in what was tagged the Road Map that “all the entire nation has today (as generation capacity) is 4,200MW”.
More importantly, the former Minister of Power had assured the nation that, “In the period up to April 2011, it is expected that there will be enough gas supplied to power producers …to support the targeted increase to actual generation capacity to 7,000megawatts”.
Even a child knows that Mr Awosan and his boss, who must have approved the publication, were lying.
The tragedy, in all these, is that the President, on whose behalf these falsehoods are being published, does not even know that he is a hostage to unrepentant liars. Worse still he joins in uttering those demonstrable fallacies.
(d) Jonathan/Kuchi and I0,000MW by December. From the brief trip into history, two facts stand out. First, the promise is, not only not new, it is actually a stale one. Second, even if it is achieved, it will still constitute a shortfall from where we should be. Furthermore, if power generation peaked at 4,237MW in 2011, then a new peak at 4,520MW in 2012 represents only additional 283MW generation capacity in one year.
Can any president of any country on earth be proud that all his government has done in twelve months is to increase power generation by 280MW? By contrast, the USA added over 12,000MW in the same period from two sources alone – solar and wind power and more than 30,000MW from other sources.
More to the point can a government which added only 283MW in one year expect people to believe it can add 5763MW in one year? Even if 3000MW was the actual achievement in 20II, as claimed by Awosan, that would mean that Jonathan had added a mere 1,520MW. How does that fulfill all the promises made since he became president?
Ultimately, the real tragedy of the power sector lies In the fact that we have a president who clearly does not read much; does not remember much of the little he had read and has become a hostage to staff who feed him with rubbish – in full confidence that nothing will happen because the BOSS does not give a damn.