Despite the unprecedented level of investment in the power sector and increase in electricity tariffs, power supply situation in Nigeria is still the same with the gap between demand and supply widening sharply in the urban areas even after the privatization exercise.
Even though power generation has barely improved beyond 4000 megawatts over the past six years, the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan recently insisted he had delivered on his campaign pledge to make the power sector a priority for his administration as the Federal Government had invested about $8.26 billion in the power sector through the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) over the years.
President Jonathan, who was speaking during the inauguration of a 750 megawatts Olorunsogo II Power Station in Olorunsogo, Ogun State, recently said that soon the challenges posed by epileptic power supply would become a thing of the past.
Nigerians have been groaning and saying that the erratic nature of Nigeria’s power supply cannot guarantee any meaningful industrial development and can also not lead the country to her vision of becoming one of the top 20 industrialised nations of the world by the year 2020.
The detailed power sector roadmap that is part of the implementation of the reform process, which legislative groundwork was laid by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act of 2005 is seen as a shame as customers are made to pay outrageous bills for “darkness”.
The whole exercise is gradually being turned into a laughing shock with the Discos still battling with technical losses, which they attribute for their inability to distribute every megawatt received from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Keen observers have accused the Discos of not deploying funds and loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria for infrastructural development, hence no improvement in power distribution. They also said that about 20 per cent of the power sent to the Discos is not accounted for due to technical losses.
Also, experts in the sector who commented on the development noted that the setting unrealistic targets have become the practice in Nigeria, particularly in the energy sector. They noted that government failed to deliver on its target to generate 10,000mw, 6,000mw, 10,000 and 14,000 in 2007 and 2009, 2012 and 2013 respectively and also did not make timelines for completion of various power projects, some of which had been under construction for almost a decade, and had never been met.
They cited the situation in South Africa that generate more than 40,000MW and declared that unfulfilled promises from the power sector drivers is not making Nigerians happy as all the privatization efforts have not made any significant impact so far in the power sector.
The Federal Government appeared not prepared for the privatization of the sector as it is still controlling the generation and transmission sector leaving the Distribution sector to investors, therefore the incoming government should revisit the power sector to ensure that those investors who are not competent are relieved of their jobs in the various Discos.
For the power sector overhaul to gain the confidence of the investors and consumers, experts say there is need for security of investment, right pricing and efficiency in power generation and distribution in order to sustain the delivery of power in the country.
Another area of note is the issue of gas flaring in the Niger Delta Region, passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the implementation of the Federal Government of the abandoned Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) national strategic policy which highlights steps to be taken to stimulate and promote the use of LPG among the Nigerian populace.
The NNPC Audit Report is that is yet to be submitted to the National Assembly calls to question as the incoming government need to beam its search light on the report and the corporation to ensure that the turnaround maintenance of the nation’s refinery is achieved for it to refine crude oil at optimal capacity.
It is an aberration for the country to be importing refined crude oil and this has to be stopped by the incoming administration for the power sector to have meaning and satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians.