Senate Seeks Expedited Action on Nuclear Power Generation

The Senate in session

The Senate has asked the federal government to step up Nigeria’s efforts at adding nuclear energy in its power supply mix.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly stated this in an order paper containing a motion by the senator representing Nasarawa South, Mr. Al-Makura Umar Tanko. According to Senator Tanko, Nigeria’s prevalent energy crisis necessitated that the country uses existing energy sources that are cheap, clean and functional.

It in this regards, the lawmaker asked, “the federal government to reposition the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority to enable it to carry out its mandate of ensuring safety, security safeguards and physical protection of nuclear materials including hazardous waste in Nigeria; re-engineer, refocus and recognise the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission with the mandate to ensure timely contacts and negotiations with nuclear vendors for construction of nuclear power plants with time line.”

Tanko, in the order paper THISDAY obtained, equally requested that the senate, “expedite action on the Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards Bill currently with the Senate; and pass into law all treaties and protocols on nuclear energy as ratified by Nigeria.”

The lawmaker’s proposal came at a time Nigeria appears to have continued with its plan to diversify its energy mix with the inclusion of nuclear energy technology from Russia.
In 2017, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom and Nigeria signed agreements for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants and nuclear research centre in Nigeria.

The senate order paper however noted that the primary sources of energy for the production of electricity in Nigeria included gas, hydro, oil and coal, with current power generation capacity of country put at 7000 megawatts (MW).

It added that experts have estimated that using modern energy modeling tools, Nigeria would need to generate up to 30,000MW by 2020 and 78,000MW by 2030, to grow her economy at a rate of 10 per cent per annum.

According to Tanko, the senate was aware that nuclear energy had been said to be one of cleanest and safest source of energy in the world today with no greenhouse gas production.

While justifying his call for Nigeria to have nuclear in its power mix, he noted that: “The senate is aware that in 2006, Nigeria ratified critical treaties with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna Austria, with the aim of enabling Nigeria access nuclear power into the country’s energy mix.”

“Power outages in Nigeria have constituted the major constraint to the development of the manufacturing sector and negatively affect the cost of running business in Nigeria and ultimately the economy of the country; and unless the energy mix in Nigeria is broadened to include nuclear energy, the persistent power outages being experienced by the country will not be easy to address,” he noted.

The senator also explained in the order paper that Nigeria and the Russian Federation signed bilateral agreements on nuclear energy cooperation, and suggested that the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Russia could be in the right direction to stimulate the implementation of the pacts.

He also noted that billions of naira had been spent by previous administrations to increase Nigeria’s power output without commensurate benefits to Nigeria in improved power generation.