All stakeholders should do more to stem the menace

It is unfortunate that as the nation remains overburdened with the quest for improved and steady power supply, there are unpatriotic elements hell-bent on sabotaging government efforts. In what was numbered as the sixth national grid collapse of 2024, electricity generation in the country plummeted from 2,583.77 megawatts to 64.7MW for several hours last Monday. While there are other challenges, vandalism of transformer and powerline cables has become a major cause for these grid collapses. At the inauguration of a 300KWp Solar PV pilot project in Kainji, Niger State in January, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu expressed concerns over the frequent destruction of electricity assets nationwide. “What is the essence of government and private companies expending resources on these power facilities while some elements within the society will deliberately move to destroy the facilities which are national assets?” Adelabu asked. “We should take it as a personal and collective responsibility to protect the infrastructure.” 

While we lament this deplorable situation, it must be stated that the menace of electricity equipment vandals persists because of the existence of some “market” for the stolen items. Obviously, no criminal would be foolish enough to take the risk of stealing whole transformers and power-line cables without having an assured off-taker market somewhere ready to buy such equipment. Sometimes these stolen transformers and other equipment turn up for resupply by contractors in the sector. After all, no single individual can afford the purchase and installation of such specialised equipment without the active connivance of the officials.  

Unfortunately, this is a common story across the country as managers of the DisCos make strenuous efforts to cope with equipment vandalism which indeed has become one of the major obstacles facing the company in the Southeast geo-political zone. Yet there is no doubt that the incidents of theft and equipment vandalism are really costing the nation huge sums of money. On annual basis, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) announces loss of several billions of Naira to this sabotage, including the ones deliberately inflicted by insurgents in the Northeast of the country. 

To the extent that what we are dealing with is a serious crime that borders on economic sabotage, the security agencies should be up and doing in apprehending the hoodlums and bringing them to justice. We also call on the host communities to help by way of real-time intelligence and information to the security agencies whenever they notice any untoward activity. Criminals come from within the communities and when they realise that they would be exposed by their kinsmen they would certainly have a second thought. Community leaders should therefore consider it a patriotic duty to join in the fight against the vandalism of electricity equipment. 

However, it is incumbent on the authorities to take serious measures in tackling this menace. The immediate consequence of this criminality is that life is made more difficult for law abiding citizens who are thrown into darkness due to erratic power supply. Also, the nation’s economy is seriously threatened as industries are being shut down and employees laid off because companies cannot meet production targets as many operate below their installed capacity. 

As the nation continues to grapple with persistent power outages and unreliable electricity supply, all the critical stakeholders must collaborate to protect this critical sector. The security agencies must do more while people in communities must be vigilant in keeping a close eye on this equipment, even if only for the sake of their own enlightened self-interest.

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