Nigeria and The Challenge of Electricity

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Electricity in Nigeria has become a sort of eccentricity, so much so that it appears we are ensnared by the Devil.
It is a known fact that the availability of electric power has a direct relationship with physical advancement of a nation. Inadequate electricity in Nigeria has grievous impact on national development as artisans and several industrial and business outfits are not able to adequately contribute productively to the national coffers.

If we go back to history, Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) was established in 1950 to take charge of all the various electricity supply outlets within the country. In 1962, an act of parliament established Niger Dams Authority (NDA) for the benefit of generating electricity through hydro power systems. On 1st April, 1972, the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria and the Niger Dams Authority merged to form a unified body known as National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). On 5th May, 2005, NEPA metamorphosed into Power Holding Company (PHCN) and subsequently the PHCN was unbundled into 18 companies, one transmission company, six generating companies and eleven distribution companies.

Late Alh.Umaru Yar’Adua declared the energy crisis a national emergency; he promised to deal with chronic shortages and break up the old power monopoly and bring in private sectors. His administration hit the golf ball to ensure stable electricity but it missed the holes due to his untimely death.

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration took the baton of leadership for five years and we were all thrilled an educated man would kick darkness out from the system. He was the Vice President under the late Yar’Adua administration, he was the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP), he was also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization of Nigerian parastatals, but again it missed.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo came with vast experience, being a former president and knew exactly what to do. He threw his dart at 10,000 megawatts but missed out.

Today, President Muhammadu Buhari with lots of experience is at the helm of affairs and knows where the shoe pinches. He addressed the National Economic Council retreat held at the State House, Abuja, few years ago that his administration has set a target of delivering 10,000 megawatts of electricity generation in the next three years. He is armed with bow and arrow to shoot with precision before the sun goes to sleep by 2023.

The creams of the society are after the big fish, the rims of the poor eyes are red with the scream of despair over estimated billing meted out to them by the electricity companies. But nature is always right: no matter how pale a flicker of light is, a modicum of it will outshine darkness someday. The masses are waiting for another Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s directives for all Nigerians to be metered.

As the new cabinets unfold, I hope the minister of power can put his foot down and say “I don’t care what they call me, as long as the issue of electricity is fixed in Nigeria, I am happy,’’ and it is guaranteed his name will be carved in gold in the museum of history.

The National grid is yet to cover many parts of the country. Whenever national electricity grid suffered a major failure, Nigerians groan in darkness and the response we get is that the grid is outdated. It’s high time the federal government looked at shedding the load of 100% ownership of transmission company.

The challenge of electricity in Nigeria is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the 21st Century. I hope the new cabinet will be largely interested in the common people’s plight and will go the extra mile to fix things. Although the recent agreement signed with Germany’s Siemens with respect to power is a positive one, I hope when the present cabinet looks back, it will certainly be a delight of realised ambition.
––Olusanya Anjorin,
Olusanyaanjorin@gmail.com