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FG’s Assurance on Generation of 25,000MW Electricity

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Electricity Tariff Hike

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Understandably, the major factor, says a report, that daily abbreviates the seriousness with which communication from public officials/offices are taken by the people is that generality of such information often makes the grade of ‘self-undermining’.

They are recurrently reputed for encouraging complacency as constituents perceive issues raised by the government has already been handled or the priority often always not in conformity with the will/opinion of the people on the action later taken.

As expected, similar feelings greeted the recent reassurance by the Minister of Power, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, that the federal government was ready to generate 25,000 megawatts of electricity in the country.

The Minister disclosed this in Katsina State recently during his inspection of several power transmission substation projects, including the ongoing windmill project located at Lambar Rimi in Charanchi Local Government Area of the state as part of efforts to enhance power-related businesses and other economic activities in the country.

Without any shadow of the doubt, the assurance by the Minister is by no means political and would have, for obvious reasons elicited some level of excitement among Nigerians. If not for any other reason, the power sector as we all know remains very critical to meeting our industrial development aspirations and power is especially important because many artisans have been thrown out of work while many manufacturing and textile companies closed shop due to epileptic power supply.

It affects the survival of humanity, our nation. After all, any nation, according to Barack Obama, former United States of America (USA) that cannot control its energy sources can’t control its future.

The validity of the above statements and the strategic role that electricity plays in the socio-economic development of any nation notwithstanding, Nigerians are no longer moved by such promise/assurance coming from the federal government in this direction.

What they anticipate from the government is no longer assurance but action, progress and result. In fact, in the estimation of many, the challenge of epileptic power supply in Nigeria can easily be likened to the proverbial cat with nine lives that have survived different administrations.

Nigerians are particularly not happy that instead of generating megawatts of electricity, successive administrations, including the present federal government, have become reputed for generating megawatts of assurances devoid of process and outcome fairness.

They (Nigerians) are now in agreement that the culture of promises when it comes to electricity generation and improvement by successive administrations now qualifies as a familiar music hall act.

This challenge is by no means President Buhari’s administration-specific. Rather, for those that followed the trend since 1999 when democracy re-emerged on the political geography called Nigeria.

Let’s cast a glance at some of these past developments/promises.

In 2005, the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, going by media reports, attempted to solve the power problem with the Power Reform Act which provided for the privatization of the power sector.

As part of that reform, the then National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), which was renamed Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), was to be unbundled for privatization. But the reform did not go far before Obasanjo left office in 2007. But before then, a report observed that he had sunk $16 billion into the NIPP without anything to show for it

Before the dust raised by such colossal waste and phantom promise could settle, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) in 2010 came up with a similar roadmap for electricity reform in the country.

During the launch of the programme, Mr Jonathan even boasted saying; “As President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I and my Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo, GCON, is conscious that what we do with the Nigerian electricity supply industry will go a long way in determining whether Nigeria remains in darkness or joins the rest of the world in the race for development.

“Our commitment is to bring an end to our nation’s stunted growth and usher in the fresh air of prosperity by pursuing a new era of sector-wide reform which is driven by improved service delivery to every class of customers in the Nigerian electricity sector. Promising that with diligent implementation and meticulous application of what this Roadmap provides, we will see an end to the chronic electrical power supply shortages.”

Again, to lend credence that Jonathan’s electricity roadmap was on course, Professor Chinedu Nebo, the then Minister of Power, in 2013 told Nigerians and the entire world that President Jonathan’s power sector privatization process was on and already.

Successful bidders, he said, had paid 25 per cent of the bid-offer. They are expected to pay the remaining 75 per cent in less than 90 days after which they would take possession of the distribution companies. Also, Nebo going by reports had said that the handing over of the national integrated power projects, NIPP, would make power supply more stable soon.

Regrettably, as at the time of his departure from office in May 2015, there were neither traces of appreciable increase in power generation or the promised fresh air of prosperity.

In 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) led the federal government emerged.

The party had in the previous year, as part of its draft manifesto, promised to revitalize the nation’s power/energy sector. According to the party, its power supply programme would vigorously pursue the expansion of electricity generation and distribution up to 40,000 megawatts in four to eight years. The party would also work assiduously at making available power from renewable energy sources such as coal solar, wind and biomass for domestic and industrial use, wherever they are visible.

In the year 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government, sequentially launched a roadmap for the nation’s power sector.

Without going into specific concepts or approaches contained in that move, the roadmap which according to government sources form a part of the outcome of meeting President Muhammadu Buhari held with a German Chancellor, Angela Merkel on August 31, 2018, will have Nigeria partner with the German government and Siemens, in implementing projects geared towards resolving challenges in the sector, expand capacity for future power needs and supply in Nigeria.

To continue with the season/culture of promise/excuses that have in the past ‘produced monument of nothingness’, President Buhari during a nationwide broadcast on June 12, 2020, among other things stated; “The power sector remains very critical to meeting our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the challenges that still exist in the delivery of power through different strategies.

“We are executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme including the: Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano, 330KV DC 62KM line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba, Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project, Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme, and Northern Corridor Transmission Project. Our agreement with Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve our electricity needs.”

Today, both the nation and the administration are yet to depart that season of promise/reassurance.

Certainly, while I believed and still believe in the FG’s effort to ensure stable electricity in the country, the truth must be told to the effect that the whole gamut of failures is standing on the tripod of corruption, policy summersault and lack of sincere political will/desire by the nation’s handlers to engage best minds to help get the answers and deploy the resources we need to move the sector in the right direction while achieving the result we need as a nation.

This piece further holds the opinion that at the most basic level, it is evident that what Nigerians need is the result, not assurance or reassurance; they want to see and enjoy stable electricity supplied at a very reasonable tariff regime. Outside this, this season of doubt will continue.

Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Feature/OPED

Still on Nigeria’s Electricity Crisis

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Nigeria's electricity crisis

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

Similar to history, which according to historians, is an unending dialogue between the present and the past through a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts to assist the anxious enquirer improving the present and future based on a clearer understanding of the mistakes and achievements of the past, the conversion on electricity power supply challenge in the country has like history, become neither unending nor abating.

Essentially, the first half of this recurring circle was captured recently in my piece titled FG’s Assurance on Generation of 25,000MW Electricity, as it explains why Nigerians are no longer comfortable with assurances from the federal government, the present piece which qualifies as the beginning of something new was elicited as a response to a declaration by Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesperson.

Shehu, who spoke in an interview on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, among other things stated; that President Muhammadu Buhari has greatly improved electricity generation in the country, he concluded.

Let’s face the fact; he spoke convincingly with actual authority that flows from the position that he occupies. However, the only difference here is that, unlike history, his run on fact, particularly his fervent belief that the outlook of the nation’s electricity remains good, in the face of the current epileptic power supply and unjustifiable high tariff regime in the country, has not in any way advanced our conversation on or assisted the nation’s quest to find a quick solution to its electricity/energy crisis.

Let’s face the fact; it is true that the 2005 Power Reform Act (EPSR, ACT of 2005), which provided for the privatization of the power sector did not go far before President Olusegun Obasanjo administration left office in 2007. Yes, it is also true in parts that the present frustration in the sector was further fed by the reality that the current federal government as noted by Garba Shehu during the interview, inherited reckless privatization of the power sector done by the Goodluck Jonathan administration (the roadmap for power sector reform of 2010), Despite the validity of these claims, yet, Shehu’s analytics for reasons did not go without opposition.

First, enough evidence supports the fact that no administration in the country, not even the present Muhammadu Buhari led federal government can boast of clean hands when it comes to Nigeria’s electricity crisis.

Without going into analysis to establish how culpable each of these administrations appears in this case, one point, in my view, that mustn’t be overlooked when discussing the power/electricity crisis in Nigeria is that the challenge has nothing to do with privatization. It is neither fuelled by the desire to fashion an authentic roadmap for restoring the health and vitality of the sector nor is it the function of the current effort to bring about a new tariff regime.

Rather, it’s simply and squarely a conceptual problem of what successive federal government has been doing which has never been in the best interest of the people, the nation and the sector.

Very fundamental of the challenge is the operation of the obsolete grid system, an arrangement where the power generated in the country is pooled/assembled or channelled to a control/switch centre before it is finally distributed to consumers across the nation.

Aside from qualifying as a clumsy arrangement and operated in an environment laced with outmoded transmission lines and facilities that cannot hold supplies over time, the practice itself, going by what industry watchers are saying, is not only out-fashioned, old-schooled but visibly runs contrary to the global vision/model which presently favours decentralization of energy generation and distribution.

In my view, energy/power centralization has never assisted the socio-economic development of any nation desirous of making headway industrially.

There exist yet another frustration, this time around fuelled by painful consciousness that instead of acting as energy sector regulator, successive administrations’ for yet to be identified reasons choose to function in the nation’s power sector as both ‘ captain and coach’,- owning shares in Gencos, Discos and TCN.

This state of affairs occurred in spite of part breaking studies that suggest that the private sector is likely to better understand the location and nature of market failures/bottlenecks/barriers that inhabit the energy sector.

It was also argued elsewhere that the government capacity to design and execute an appropriate resolution of identified market failure/bottlenecks is the sector is often always laced with controversy.

From this  ‘unrelenting’  failures/failings on the part of policymakers to define the business of power generation and distribution in the country and lack of clear strategy for penetrating it profitably, or allow conventional market forces to determine electricity tariff regimes in ways that will lead to the realization of economic rights of the investors while expanding fundamental freedoms and choices of the individual consumers; and with government, unwillingness to follow swiftly, the ‘changing needs of time’, which of course are the sufficient ingredients of foresighted decision making and condition that every leader desirous of success must constantly fulfil, it obvious that the nation’s handlers have finally left the survival of the sector to chance.

As we know, anyone that fails to search for his potential leaves his survival to chance

Again, it is weak regulations and untidy oversight such as these, that largely promotes a situation where according to a commentator, an electricity consumer buys pole, cables, meter and contributes money to buy or replace the community transformer; and, as soon as that is done, they automatically become the Disco property and the electricity distribution companies will, without taking the meter reading, send outrageous estimated bills he/she never consumed.

That is not the only apprehension. There exists also some unforgivable abuse of trust within the sector.

The first that comes to mind is the recent report that the Senate Committee on Public Accounts has begun the investigation of N14.7 billion proceeds of privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) allegedly hidden in commercial banks by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

The committee is acting on an audit query in the ‘Auditor-General for the Federation’s Annual Report on Non-Compliance/Internal Control Weaknesses Issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the Year Ended 31st December 2019.’

Before the dust raised by the above worrying/worrisome development could settle, another was up. This time around has to do with a new awareness of how TCN, DISCO’s Inefficiencies Caused Electricity Generating Companies to about N120.25 billion to stranded power which averaged 2,448.50 megawatts every month in 2021.

According to industry data cited by Business Standards, an average of N13 billion was lost every month by generating companies. This is the total monetary value of the volume of electricity generated by generating companies but which unfortunately could not get to consumers either due to infrastructural problems or because they were rejected by distribution companies for fear of not being able to recover the money from consumers.

What the above development tells us is that it is a difficult venture to implement meaningful changes when institutions are the cause of the problems in the first place.

It also suggests that engineering prosperity without confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that keeps them in place is unlikely to bear fruit as the institutional structure that creates market failure will also prevent the implementation of interventions.

To catalyse the process of serving the sector, we must recognize that what we need today, perhaps, is not a new theory, concept or framework, but people who can think strategically with a balanced perspective.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He could be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Advancement, Money, Transcendence and Vanity

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Money truck going over a cliff

By Nneka Okumazie

The progress that a country makes does not depend on what some individuals can afford. That an individual can have something or afford it does not mean that the happiness the individual now has would become useful to development.

There are countries in the world with people whose priority is to be able to afford high-end things. The acceptance of their society is about that – not about making it, or how it was made, or how to make extraordinary things that people would want, in future.

Money is the global standard of success, but the availability of money is not the eradication of problems. Most developing countries in the world with complex problems have internal and external revenues, with people of means, but low to zero probability of solving their own problems.

Money is its own pet, necessary for continuous tend. Those who have it live for it and are its subject, those who don’t, want and serve for it. There is normalcy to continue to make money, but many people, decades and decades ago, who did, and lived for it, rarely transcended its shackles.

They are gone. Their time and pleasures are gone. What it was to be what they were is forgotten. Their conflicts, bias, strife and competition are all past. Many left without leaving lessons. There is no difference between some of those who had now forgotten, and others who didn’t, also forgotten.

In a world where sudden death is possible, money should not be this important. Knowing that void can become of anyone should make the total war for advantage to money or resources less important. Time passage also, is a lesson, as some fade off, after being in the centre stage for years.

Money should have been a tool mostly adapted to progress, not as the meaning of life. The loss that the place of money is, to life, is unquantifiable. There are people who have things and that is all for them. Pride, arrogance, discrimination and irritation are tosses of money.

The preeminence of capitalism paved way for intense use of technology, contributing in part to unprecedented loneliness, dissatisfaction and gross sadness. Money is the centre of most technology contents, to make or to show, drawing those trying to make or looking to show.

When it was said that all is vanity, there is a point where the money for the sake of it, is included. Progress, real useful advancement carries more meaning than money for things, status or class.

Lack of money is what can make people brand others danger or stranger. The thing about network or connection is not about integrity or purpose, but mostly about who has money or who is close to it.

There are lots of talks about the end of the world, but the world has long driven over the cliff with money as the one true throne everyone bows before.  Those who should have understood more about the risks of money supremacy are blinded by it. Those who understand nothing about its emptiness are controlled by it. The position of money in the world is greater than all people, nation, government, work, school, knowledge, all. Money may be the main, unbreakable hex.

[Psalm 144:4, Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.]

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Germ Traps in the Kitchen

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SweepSouth germ traps in the Kitchen

From fridges to coffee makers, these are 5 germ traps in your kitchen.

We all want our homes to feel sparkly clean, but there are some areas that may not be making it onto your household chores list.

Aisha Pandor, whose on-demand home services company SweepSouth helps people to keep their homes spotless, lists the places we often forget to clean.

In a study by global health organisation NSF International looking at where the highest concentration of germs can be found in the average household, three of the top five germ hot spots were in the kitchen – which leads to the first area that needs a good clean.

The back of your fridge

Topping the list of places in the home that rarely gets cleaned is the back of the fridge – that’s the exterior back, not inside! The coils located there work to cool the air down, but they can’t do so efficiently if they’re coated with grime. To reach the coils, Aisha advises you to unplug your fridge, pull it away from the wall and gently brush off any dirt and dust on the coils.

Do this annually and it will help you save on power costs. A fridge is one of the top energy-using appliances in the home, and simply cleaning its exterior coils can reduce the amount of energy it uses by up to 30%. Remember to leave space between your fridge and the wall once you’ve pushed it back into position, to allow air to freely circulate.

Backsplashes

Tiled backsplashes are often overlooked during cleaning, but they’re notorious for attracting grease and grime. That grease acts as a magnet for dust and dirt, says Aisha — not exactly the type of environment where you want to be preparing food.

To clean backsplashes using natural products, mix two cups of distilled white vinegar with a cup of water and 15 drops of eucalyptus oil. Dab a cloth into the mixture and rub over the tiles to clean. You can use this cleaning mixture on any shiny non-porous surface, like sinks, too.

Ovens and hobs

At the very heart of the kitchen’s food preparation, ovens are prime real estate for germs. Clean the interior regularly, and line the bottom with foil to catch any drips and spills. When the foil becomes grimy, simply peel off and throw it away.

It’s not just the inside that needs cleaning, though — stove knobs are in the top 10 for common places where germs hide. To clean, remove the knobs and wash in hot soapy water. Rinse well, allow to dry, and reinstall. On a gas hob, dismantle the gas rings and clean separately in hot soapy water.

Can opener

Chances are that you seldom take a close look at your can opener, yet it’s surprising how grimy this kitchen aid can become. Can openers can harbour bacteria like salmonella and e.Coli, and should be washed after every use to clean the gears and cutting wheel.

Dry thoroughly to prevent rust. If there’s a build-up of dirty residue in your can opener’s wheel, Aisha has a nifty trick to clean it: simply clamp the wheels onto a piece of dry paper towel and turn the handle to get rid of any gunk.

Coffee maker cleanse

Coffee machines’ water tanks or reservoirs usually have lids to stop dust, dirt and insects from getting in. However, a study by a health organisation, NSF International, of where the highest concentration of germs can be found in the average household, showed that coffee machine water tanks are the fifth most germ-ridden place in the house.

A tank’s moist, dark, location is a prime place for germs and bacteria to grow. In fact, the study discovered that 50% of households had yeast and mould in their coffee maker water tanks, and one in 10 had traces of coliform, a bacteria found in animal and human faeces that can cause gastrointestinal upset and flu-like symptoms. If you regularly make coffee, Aisha advises that you rinse the water reservoir regularly — if not daily, at least every week.

While experts do say we need some exposure to germs to help build strong immune systems, we need to limit being around germs that cause serious illnesses, says Aisha. By cleaning the above areas regularly, you’ll help keep your kitchen more hygienic and safer.

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