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Review… Why Buhari may not deliver on steady power to Nigerians

Buhari may return from London this weekend

Every indication points at one thing: Nigeria may not enjoy stable power supply throughout the Muhamnadu Buhari’s administration, even until 2022.

And this is despite all efforts to reverse the reality, Ripples Nigeria findings have revealed.

Further affirmation to this assertion came recently, when the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, admitted that a system failure, which started on May 8, 2017 had worsened.

A statement from the ministry said that, “The system witnessed collapse on May 8, 2017 at 14.29 hours, system frequency suddenly and sharply dropped from 51.06Hz to 43.37Hz, leading to system collapse.

‘’Prior to the collapse, Benin/Egbin 330kV line (cct B6N) was out on fault due to cut sky wire between towers #460 & 461.

“On May 9, 2017, average power sent out was 3425Wh/hour (up by 468MWh/h). The reported gas constraint was 1915MW.

“The reported line constraint was 150MW. The reported high frequency constraint was 59MW. The water management constraint was 260MW. The power sector lost an estimated N1, 144,000,000 on May 09 2017 due to constraints.”

But that was not the first time electricity consumers have had to bear loss of power supply, as there were three system collapse incidents in June 2016 and twice in April 2017.

To many experts and other stakeholders, given the fact that the sector had since 2013 been privatised and series of local and international fundings channeled through the current operators, Nigeria is supposed to have moved from the least level it occupies at the global level in renewal energy rating within the last 10 years.

But the discordant notes from the operators: the power generators (Gencos), power distributors (Discos) and the Transmission company of Nigeria (TCN) on one hand, and the regulators, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), representing government, on the other has complicated the matter.

According to Ms Philomena Adeniji, the spokesman of the Association of Electricity Distributors of Nigeria (AEDN), there seems to be some vested interests sabotaging all attempts to record efficiency in service delivery of the operators.

“The government is not supporting us the way that we had expected, in terns of its promise at inception in 2013 that fund facilities, like loans, would be made towards turning around all the dilapidated equipment that the operators inherited from the defunct PHCN.

“Not even the cumulative unsettled bills owed by government agencies, totalling more than N50 billion and fresh ones of about N10 billion have been paid. That Gencos are at loggerhead with us today for not meeting up on our obligation, all because of non release of the seed money and other obligations to the sector by government”

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But the Minister, Babatunde Fashola, said the $5.2 billion World Bank loan facilities were part of efforts taken by the Federal Government and aimed at revamping the sector.

He also noted, that “We have made it clear that the auditing of the accounts of the operators, as well as putting minimum capital base for each sub-sector will go a long way to identifying serious ones among them.

“Those of them that are not ready to invest in the sector will give way for us to attain certain level of improvement through the willing ones.

“There is every available evidence that each operator was aware of what they were buying into as investors, right from inception”, he asserted.

But Mr. Nureden Alao, the general manager, Marketing/Corporate Affairs, Electex Nigerian Limited, one of the power generating companies said both the Discos and TCN were to be blamed for incessant power failure in the country.

In his words, “There have been instances when the volume of power generated are not fully transmitted, and at times not fully distributed, and we are being forced to bear the loss alone. Never, no investment can return itself in that method.

“Of all the subsectors, it is the Gencos that are most capital intensive, yet it is the most owed of all the operators.”

But the GM (Public Affairs) TCN, Seun Olagunju, absolving his outfit of any blame in the admitted system failure, stated that most of the badly damaged and out modelled facilities in the system were inherited by TCN.

“For instance, the Damboa Substation, Bornu State, previously having a 60MVA 132/33kV capacity transmission station with fully equipped control room and staff quarters was completely destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents on the 4th of July, 2014.

“However, we have been able to install and energized another 40MVA 132/33kV mobile power transformer there just in May 7th, 2017. Others are stalled due to scarcity of funds, still all hopes are not lost as the World Bank loan, we are told is almost ready.”

A World Bank report, published recently, says Nigeria is one of the least electrified nations with its current power generation, fluctuating between 3,000 and 5,000MWs, compared with South Africa with a quater of Nigeria’s population having 35,000MWs and Ghana having 15,000MWs .

The report further says, “about 75 million Nigerians lack access to adequate electricity, while Nigeria is ranked highest among the countries with electricity-access deficit among developing countries within the renewable energy map.”

Mr. Earnest Ikoro, a former director with Shoreline Power Company put it this way: “Nigeria is yet to be blessed with solution provider as far as electricity is concerned.

“The report to the government from the private sector on how to allow independent public project (IPP) decongest the national grid was never considered by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) when unbundling both NEPA and PHCN.

“The result is the situation that has seen the country even worse than before the emergence of the Discos and Gencos. Unfortunately, there is no solution on the ground for that to change, until that report, which supports privatising TCN.

“As if that is not enough, Fashola’s portfolio is over-bloated assignments, for progress to be made, the ministry must be decongested forthwith.”

Nigeria is among a few countries that are blessed with natural resources that could see it export power to other countries.

For instance, it can generate electricity from water, the sun, coal, wind and gas. Not many countries are so rich in this regard.

Ikoro maintained that any industry, which relies on public power for its production will not survive in Nigeria in the next five years.


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