CHIEF Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Finance Minister, recently underscored the prime place power generation occupies in the economy and every aspect of the life of a nation.
According to him: “(President Muhammadu Buhari) should give priority to power generation because if you don’t solve the power problem nothing else is going to work well. We need power for everything.”
Nigeria needs to generate at least 180,000 megawatts of electricity to have adequate and stable power supply. But, with a population of about 200 million people, the country has since 1980, generated only a maximum of 5,150 megawatts whereas South Africa, with only 67 million people, (June 2018) generated 48,000 megawatts and was aspiring to increase it to 79,000 megawatts.
Nigeria ranked second out of 137 countries (only ahead of war-torn Yemen) in the Spectator Index’s list of the world’s worst performing countries in electricity supply in 2017.
That year, according to Vanguard, the Advisory Power Team report showed that the national grid capacity stood at a mere 4,000 megawatts.
On average, most Nigerian families spend about N600 every day on fuel and engine oil to power their two-cycle small engine power generating sets at home.
That is about N16, 800 per month. For middle-income families that use up to four-cycle engines needed to power their deep freezers and other heavier gadgets, they must set aside at least N1, 000 every night, amounting to N28, 000 a month.
All these calculations did not factor in the cost of maintaining the generating sets. Extreme electric power poverty is one of the reasons that Nigeria is ranked as “the poverty capital of the world”.
Sixth on the 2015 electoral campaign promises of President Buhari, among other yet-to-be-fulfilled promises, was “generation, transmission and distribution of at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW with a view to achieving 24/7 uninterrupted power supply within 10 years”.
Electricity consumers who are lucky enough to have acquired meters escape an entirely different tragedy which has befallen the people – estimated billings – which translates to electricity consumers in Nigeria paying for darkness and government’s inefficiency.
Nigerians are tired of listening to the cock-and-bull stories churned out by government and electricity companies to justify keeping the country in perpetual darkness.
It has been 220 years since electricity was discovered by Italian physicist, Alessandro Volta. There is, therefore, no mystery whatsoever in generating electricity and its constant and reliable distribution to the people.
Nigerians need and demand steady and reliable power supply. It is the duty of government to provide it. A government that has no clue as to how to provide electricity can never fix the economy.