By Ahmad Murtala
Power sector in Nigeria over decades has become a bone inside a neck, strangulating the economy and wedging every ascending SMEs. The sector that befriended several heads of states and presidents and yet unproductive—Nigerians were tensed towards the end of Jonathan led government that privatized the sector which added to the loomed darkness that If Buhari was elected, perhaps he could clear the mess.
Every government is installed by the people to scratch the hitching spot at the center of their backs, on that same presumption the government advertised itself. The brazen lacuna is the ‘political will’—despite having the clear image that the problem lies with the DisCos. Nigerians have been entrapped in the bogus privatization agreement in 2013, which the investors shared according to the geopolitical zones extracting from the darkness they sell. A problem identified is half solved, what then constitutes a complaint ?
One can count how many times the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari since assuming office the number of times he granted the press for presidential media chat since his second term in office. Of the records of his interviews, most of the questions thrown at him were hardly addressed. The beating around and incoherence to answer one topic for the other aggravates the anger the people have for the government over its three top manifestos. The same as expected, the question about the state of electricity in the country was thrown at him during the recent interview with the channels tv, the same wailing and blame game ensued on DisCos.
Every government where ever it based, is the first institution that is fed with a first-hand and genuine intelligence report, President in his words when asked his response affirms this assertion “let us try to understand the problem first, TCN is 100% government, but we inherited what they call DisCos almost divided the country almost to geopolitical zones what was the basis ?” President, perhaps does not have a defined entity called ‘power’ that is conferred on him—government does not wail but it acts. Evaluating the performance of the DisCos is what needs to be conducted if found less performing which is clear what it would be found, revoking the license should be the first option.
In one of the session with Chimamamda Ngozi Adichie a renowned Nigerian writer with the former Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2021, Adichie asked Merkel about the status of the MoU with the Siemens company that was signed with Nigerian government to add to the national grid, she raised two concerns as the hindrances that subdue the kick start of the project which are funding and the need by the Nigerian government to use 50% local content. The long awaited muteness was revealed though at the detriment of Nigerians—if Siemens cannot execute the MoU the channel for other companies to step up should not be tight since we are at the receiving end.
Ever since Nigeria keyed into this agreement, she was running on the lose-win peddle, injecting a huge amount of money, more than a trillion and a half over five years. What kept Nigeria from revoking the license given to the DisCos is the argument that its image would be dented before the other investors, that it would dry up the future possible investments and it would look like ‘nationalization’ alongside the damages that the government would pay in return. This argument is tentative—If not the beneficiaries are political class, as the President cried, what would make an agreement lopsided at the detriment of the entire nation running at loss ?
Mambilla dam situated in the Taraba state of northeastern part of the country, has the potentiality of generating 4000 megawatts which will accrue to the national grid. Fortunately, it becomes a milking cow that political class make use of annually enriching themselves becoming billionaires overnight. The ministry also befriends several ministers of power—at the dawn of this administration, the president was rest assured that the work was going on without him supervising, which disrates the mark of leadership quality he has. At his second term, a reshuffle was made which brought in a new minister Engr Sale Mamman from the same state, only to disclose that all the pictures going round in social media were speculations, the locations was not cleared and no road access to the location, after some few months he was fired with his incompetency.
The centralized national grid like FAAC contributes to the setback of the power sector today. The interconnection between the stations which if one is faulty could affect the other part of the country, with almost every month the news of national grid collapsing taking front in newspaper pages—the old usage should be deracinated and allow each state to generate its own power via other means available. The gas reserve deposit should be tapped up for use in this regard and shun the hydroelectric means since it yielded no tangible result.
Three options at hand: as the DisCos are divided into geopolitical zones, the licenses should be handed over to the governors of those states, or each state generating its own power decentralizing from the national grid or inviting foreign DisCos who have capital and the technical know-how to man major obstacle and the setback we see—but as long as these castrated, impotent, infertile and barren DisCos would remain spear headers of this sector, am afraid till Jesus Christ descend, Nigeria would not witness stable electricity.