Nigerians deserve a power sector that functions as a reliable engine for growth, writes Ezinwanne Onwuka

A few days ago, during one of my mindless scrolling on X (formerly Twitter), I stumbled upon a photo, shared by a user, of Bayo Adelabu, the Minister of Power, using an alleged power bank to charge his mobile phone while at a formal event. I was heavily amused, and I do not know who wouldn’t be tickled at such an irony.

A minister charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Nigerians enjoy uninterruptible electricity caught in the web of the erratic power supply in the country. Unbelievable as it may seem, but it is likely to be probable, especially as electricity in the country has been unstable in recent weeks and it affects everyone. I recall reading in the news some time ago that the Senate could not hold a plenary recently because of a power outage.

Adelabu was quick to blame the situation on the low supply of gas to power-generating companies to absolve himself of blame and criticisms from Nigerians. Nigerians have labelled him “a failed power minister” forgetting that the electricity woes of the country did not start today. And I dare say that the end is not in sight. This is not me trying to be pessimistic, but the fact remains that the power issues are likely to persist for a long, long time.

You need not ask why I say so. The reason is not far-fetched. Was it not just last month that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), released a list of its high-ranking debtors, among whom were the Presidential Villa, the Ministry of Finance, and quite surprisingly, the Ministry of Power, among others? The AEDC reported an accumulated debt of N47 billion. Is it not curious that government agencies and ministries default in paying bills as important as the “NEPA bill”? If the government itself is not fulfilling its obligation to pay its bills, how can it expect everyone else to? And how do they hope to resolve the country’s years-long power woes? These are not just questions of comfort; they are questions of progress. The political class should lead by example!

There is the issue of regular national grid collapse too. Despite significant investment, the national grid continues to be fragile, plunging the entire country into darkness with frustrating regularity. This is not just an inconvenience; it is a major hurdle to economic growth and development that the government has yet to find a lasting solution to. The recent grid collapse on 4 February serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address our power sector frustrations.

Beyond technical issues, another significant culprit is the perpetual problem of electricity cable vandalism. These acts of theft are more than just a nuisance. This year alone, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), has reported about five incidents across the country. In all the cases, no arrests have been made, making me wonder about the efforts of the government to secure the crucial infrastructure. The motives behind this crime are varied. Some steal copper cables to sell on the black market, while others target transformers for their oil. Regardless of the reason, the impact is undeniable.  A single incident can disrupt the power supply to thousands of homes and businesses, stalling economic activity and straining already-stretched resources.

It is in light of these myriad challenges that Adebayo aspires to push the country’s electricity generation to 20,000 megawatts by 2025. His aspiration seems overly optimistic with the frequency of power cuts in the country today. Nigeria’s current power generation hovers around 4,000 megawatts, leaving millions without access to reliable electricity. Eighty-six million Nigerians lack access to electricity, according to a report by the World Bank. This makes Nigeria the country with the largest number of people without access to electricity globally.

Just like the World Bank implied, Nigerians are no strangers to blackouts. As a Nigerian, you have to get used to frequent power outages. Almost every Nigerian can relate to this: When you have an electricity supply for five hours, for instance, you are left wondering, “What’s going on?” as the fear of an outage that would last for a day or more grips you. Usually, the general thinking is that the outage is a “punishment” for the unusual stretch. As a result of the frequent power cuts and an unreliable grid, most homes and businesses have resorted to generators, inverters and other sources of electricity to avoid the great inconveniences. But the alternatives, particularly petrol-powered generators now come at a higher cost following the government’s removal of fuel subsidies in May 2023 which has shot up the cost of fuel.

Adebayo wants to turn things around for good for Nigerians. His ambitious plan emphasises investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, alongside increased reliance on efficient natural gas plants. Upgrading ageing transmission infrastructure is also a key component, aiming to minimise energy losses during distribution. Well, Nigerians are all too familiar with the government’s ambitious plans and unfulfilled promises. The Minister admitted during a press conference that it won’t be easy while assuring that his ministry is committed to working tirelessly with all stakeholders to achieve this target. “A steady and sufficient power supply is crucial for our nation’s growth,” according to Adebayo.

Of course, Nigerians deserve better. We deserve a power sector that functions as a reliable engine for growth, not a flickering candle offering fleeting moments of light. Only time will tell if Adebayo’s plan will illuminate a path towards a brighter future for Nigeria’s power sector. But until it happens, I would advise every Nigerian to take a cue from our power minister and get a power bank so as to not run out of battery on our mobile devices—a solar power bank for that matter, since there might be no electricity to charge an electric-powered one.

Ezinwanne may be reached at

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