BULK-PASSING, blame game and policy summersault, seemed to be the misery, while Nigeria has remained in the tunnel of darkness, despite privatising the power sector, several years ago. Efficient, regular and stable power supply, were the drivers of privatising the sector. NEPA, before privatisation, generated between 2,500 and 3,000 megawatts nation-wide. Yet, progress is far from being made.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, former governor of Lagos State, was minister of power for four years 2015 to 1919, in the first term of President Buhari’s administration. He got the ministerial portfolio of Power, combined with Works and Housing. He was seen as a “supper minister”, heading three loaded ministries.
Fashola’s choice as power minister, may have been influenced by his performance as governor of Lagos State. Added to his advantage, was his public utterances, while serving as governor, that fixing electricity in the country, to ensure efficient, regular and stable power supply was not “rocket science”. That electricity can be fixed within months. He was seen as a possible quick fixer of the sector.
DECEMBER 2018, at Nextier Power Dialogue, in Abuja, Fashola began bulk-passing and blame game for failure to get the power sector to work. He told his audience that there were problems in the power sector. He made a U-turn, and argued that it was not the Federal Government’s problem if citizens in the country do not have electricity, since the sector had been privatised.
His words: “There are problems without a doubt, and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control for power, have been sold by the last administration before I came. And so, if you don’t have power, it is not the government’s problem. Let us be honest.”
Backlash of such bulk-passing was unpleasant for Fashola. He got bashing from Nigerians for such unguarded utterance. Many believed such statement from Fashola lacked respect and regards for the citizens; and insult their intelligence.
Nigerians argued that the Distribution Companies, DISCOs, and the Generating Companies, GENCOs, under the privatisation scheme, were regulated and supervised by the Federal Government. Buhari’s government gave loans to GENCOs and DISCOs to boost power supply. Yet, Fashola, absorbed the Federal government from blame for failing to provide Nigerians with efficient power supply.
BUHARI’S SECOND term in office, in 2019, Fashola was relieved of the Power Ministry, obviously, due to failed result in the sector. Four years as power minister, Fashola had no slightest solution to Nigeria’s epileptic power supply. He dented his reputation, and was tagged a failure in the power sector. The price of over-zealousness and mindless over-estimation of ability and capacity.
Worried Nigerians believe, Buhari’s government is synonymous with leadership of “blame game, bulk-passing and policy summersault”. Each time the president and his aids address critical issues confronting the nation, they resort to trading blames – blaming past administrations, even for the government’s failures.
Experts argued that the president and his aides have failed to accept and undertake leadership. Leadership is progressive – progressively moving from the past to the present demands. Not looking backwards. In managing critical national issues, leadership is tested. Overcoming crisis provide leaders opportunities to do things and solve problems in new ways. Ways that manifest clear vision.
MOVING FORWARD, Government has indicated, it may be considering reviewing the licences of power distribution companies, DisCos, and power generating companies, GenCos, according to Abubakar Aliyu, Acting Minister of Power. Certainly, not unconnected with the failed performance of DisCos, GenCos, and other critical stakeholders in the electricity supply value chain.
Nigerian homes, businesses and industries – small and big, presently, receive power supply range of 4,000 megawatts. Inadequate supply of power has held the country hostage. In the eyes of Nigerian public, electricity supply has become a “monster” that rules the country, does not serve it. Power sector failure attracts scorn and disrespect to the agencies and government.
President Buhari, recently, sacked the minister in charge of power, and appointed Abubakar Aliyu, as acting Minister of Power. On Wednesday, in Abuja, Aliyu presented a document to journalists, and stated that plans are in the pipeline to decide the way forward or fate of the failed power sector.
Aliyu said, government has spent over N1.7 trillion on the power sector; and plans to spend additional $3 billion. It has become necessary, for government to work on full implementation of extant laws and design new laws to protect or “match up with the huge sums invested” by Buhari’s administration in the power sector.
Aliyu said: “The Ministry is intensifying performance monitoring of the licensees and the licensing regime, especially their revised Performance Improvement Plans, PIP; to have a better understanding of why some critical stakeholders are performing below expectation.
“We shall be taking a careful and detailed look at issues of policy, capacity and the technical requirement, among other things. One very critical concern that we must address in this performance monitoring process is to find out if the terms for granting the licenses were onerous”.
AKINWUNMI ADESINA, President, African Development Bank, AfDB, at the 49th Annual General Meeting of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Tuesday, in Abuja, blamed the woes in industrial advancement in the country, to the decay in the power sector. He said lack of reliable power supply was affecting the growth of industry.
Citing International Monetary Fund, IMF, report, Adesina said the country loses $29 billion yearly, about [5.8] per cent of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, as a result of failure in the power sector. Nigerians, he said spend $14 billion, yearly, on generating sets and fuel.
“Today, no business can survive in Nigeria without generators. Consequently, the abnormal has become normal. To be a manufacturer in Nigeria is not an easy business. You succeed not because of the ease of doing business, but by surmounting several constraints that limit industrial manufacturing.
“Today, the major challenge facing Nigeria’s manufacturing is the very high cost and unreliability of electricity supplies. Load shedding and the inconsistent availability of electrical power have resulted in high and uncompetitive manufacturing costs”. Without decisively, tackling energy deficiency and reliability, industries would remain uncompetitive, AfDB boss further stated.
GLOOMY PICTURE of the present state of Nigeria’s power sector, which he inherited, Abubakar Aliyu, said specific areas of conflict and tensions within the power industry value chain, are being harmonized for greater synergy. It will foster healthy alignment of responsibilities with governance system of the power sector.
Conversations within the power value chain, Aliyu said are ongoing. “Stakeholders are talking and cooperating with one another, and in so doing, bridging the observed disconnect within the sector”, the minister stated.
Some responsibilities within the value chain, in line with Electric Power Sector Reform Act, [EPSRA], Aliyu said, are performed by private sector partners and other agencies of Government. These partners are being closely monitored. They are, sometimes, given needed push in the right direction, to achieve desired objectives.
Quality of service in hours of electricity supply, voltage, disputed estimated bills, not having access to electricity supply, Aliyu said, still remained poor; even though, government approved increase in electricity consumption tariff.
There is also, what the Minister described as “sector illegality”. That the payments the DisCos are able to collect from consumers do not cover the full investment and cost of the GenCos, who produce and sell the power generated to the DisCos. The Transmission Company of Nigeria, generates power and wheels power to the Distribution Company of Nigeria.
ON OPTIMISTIC note, Aliyu said: “Hopefully, we will soon begin to experience the imminent turn around in the power sector. We are determined to deal with some policy issues, the legal and regulatory bottlenecks, and the human factors involved in the implementation and coordination of the power sector’s road map”.
The power ministry, he said, would focus on addressing liquidity, improving services – in terms of hours of supply, billing transparency and accuracy, as well as, wider access to electricity. The ministry will bring back consumer, operator and investors confidence to the sector, to attract foreign and local investment.
He said the ministry would focus on addressing liquidity, improving services in terms of hours of supply, billing transparency and accuracy, and wider access to electricity while bringing consumer, operator and investor confidence back to the sector to attract foreign and local investment.
Aliyu said “Kashimbilla 40MW power station has already started generating power into the national grid. Gurara phase 2 being developed in partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources will soon be ready to deliver 30MW to the grid.
“Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project is progressing towards completion next year to deliver another 700MW of renewable power. Katsina Wind farm, with a full capacity of 10MW, is already generating part of its full capacity to the grid. Dadin Kowa 40MW power station started generating power into the national grid under a concession arrangement with the private investor.
“Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project was contracted in 2017. Discussions are being intensified so that all encumbrances preventing full take off of the project are resolved soon. TCN’s Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme funded by various multilateral financial institutions to ensure adequacy and stability of the national grid are part of systematic implementation of the Presidential Power Initiative [PPI] of this administration”.
Aliyu said outstanding issues on regulatory and power purchase agreement are being resolved.
No one knows, or has categorically, stated how much power Nigeria needs. What is, obviously, known is that what is being generated and distributed, presently, is grossly inadequate for the country’s need.