By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA—Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has attributed the problems ravaging the power sector in the country to his successors, saying, they abandoned the sector.
Obasanjo said he had tried to ensure stable power supply since 1979 when he was Military Head of State and when he returned as civilian President in 1999 but, his successors abandoned the sector thereby making it moribund.
The former President stated this yesterday at a programme tagged First Green Legacy Moment with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Leadership and Human Security in Africa, in Abeokuta.
He said: “Part of our problems is lack of political will on the part of the leaders.What does a leader understands about development, any leader worth its salt should know that power is very important. It is the driver of all development be it social, economic, and even political.
“When I was military head of state, I developed the Jebba dam, I developed Shirroro, I started Egbin. Shagari came and completed Egbin and commissioned Jebba and Shirroro.
Between Shagari in 1983, until I came back in 1999, there was no single dime invested in power generation. If anything, the ones that were there were allowed to go down.
“A country like Nigeria must be adding not less than two thousand mega watts if we are to be moving on the path of development.
“If you will remember, when I came back in 1999, my first Minister of Power was late Bola Ige. I won’t say Bola didn’t know what he was doing and he said publicly that he would fix the power problems in six months.
“After one year, Bola with his capacity couldn’t fathom what was wrong with power. It was riddled with corruption. Then we had no money, people have forgotten that in 1999/2000, the price of crude oil was US $9 per barrel. So, I wanted the oil companies; Mobil, Total and they wouldn’t go along.
“When we started having money, we started the National Integrated Power Plant . When we said the money we had should be invested in power, my successor didn’t understand, he stopped it.
“If for almost 20 years we did not achieve anything in power generation, then we may not be able to get it again.
“Let me give you an example: the population of South Africa is 55 million and they generate 45,000 megawatts. Our population today is about 180 million people and could not generate 4,000 megawatts. And South Africa is an industrialising country and not an industrialised nation.
“For us to say that we are industrialising country, we must be generating much more than what South Africa is generating, say 100,000 mega watts. What year will Nigeria get there if we are adding 2,000 mega watts each year? For us to get to 100, 000 mega watts, I leave the mathematics to you. It sounds very discouraging but that is the reality”, he said.