MORE than six years into the “Change” mantra of the present administration, the World Bank has returned a damning report that Nigeria now ranks bottom – 171 out of 190 surveyed countries – in the access of its citizens to public power supply.
Government, as usual, might issue a rebuttal of such reports by authoritative international bodies, but that hardly solves any problem. The World Bank is in a firm position to know the standing of every country in all areas of development, including power supply.
According to the Bank, with 85 million or 47 per cent of the citizens lacking access to power supply, the Nigerian economy loses $28 billion or N10.1 trillion or two per cent of its GDP. The World Bank has been a long-suffering partner of Nigeria in its frustratingly dysfunctional trajectory towards achieving power self-sufficiency.
For instance, the Bretton-Woods institution granted Nigeria a $486 million facility for upgrade of the transmission sector which is still partially under the control of the Federal Government.
Nigeria currently has the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts of electricity for a population of over 200 million.
Only recently, the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, projected that the country will generate 7,000 megawatts in 2021. Meanwhile, Nigeria is only able to evacuate about 4,000 megawatts of power. It was perhaps in an effort to help us out of this quagmire that in February this year, the World Bank also granted $500 million to the Federal Government to assist power distribution companies to make more power available to the people, especially through affordable metering and repair of their power delivery networks.
Key figures of the Buhari government, while in opposition in 2015, had promised steady power supply within months of attaining power.
It has been more of promises than actual delivery. For instance, in January 2020, Buhari set up committees to deliver on the N2 trillion Mambilla power plant which has been on the drawing board for 41 years.
By November 2020, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, reported that Mambilla was not even in the 2021 budget as it was “not prioritised” by the Ministry of Power.
Meanwhile, Buhari has also launched Vision 30:30:30 – the attainment of 30 giga watts of power with 30 per cent renewables by 2030!
We need to take the provision of steady and reliable power supply serious beyond mere empty promises and political sound bites.
Without electricity, the economy cannot grow to cater for an exploding population.
We must devolve our centralised power system and allow the states, private sector and even communities to own power grids and give jobs to our teeming youth.