With a steady power supply consistently below 4,500 MW since 2013, coupled with frequent system disruptions, the federal government and the private sector have failed to deliver adequate and affordable electricity, despite promises from successive administrations, reports Ejiofor Alike.
The inadequate power supply of domestic households and industrial producers is not new to most people who live in Nigeria. The daily power supply is estimated at four hours, which leads to the very poor state of the country’s basic infrastructure, such as the water system, the health system, the distribution of petroleum products, agriculture and the education.
It also caused a blow in the expansion of the country’s ongoing economic development. Many families and businesses in Nigeria have to run one or more diesel fuel generators to provide them with the facility they need to run their business or household in the wake of this energy crisis. It has also led many industries to journey to a much better and more suitable environment.
Since November 1, 2013, when the federal government handed over the production and distribution of electricity to the private sector, the regular supply of electricity has remained a mirage. Before the energy assets were transferred to private investors, the country’s electricity supply was already hovering around 4,500 megawatts under the then energy minister, Professor Bart Nnaji. In its efforts to convince recalcitrant Nigerians and electricity workers who vehemently opposed the privatization of the electricity sector, the Federal Government promised that the benefits enjoyed by Nigerians in the liberalization of the telecommunications sector would be replicated in the electricity sector.
According to the federal government, a privatized electricity sector would guarantee huge investments, massive employment opportunities, as well as an adequate and affordable electricity supply. Despite these promises, the electricity supply had in fact only occasionally exceeded 5,000 megawatts before steadily dropping below 4,500 megawatts. System disruptions have repeatedly led to the collapse of power infrastructure, with supply dropping below 2,000 MW. By the start of the month President Muhammadu Buhari took power in 2015, Nigeria’s total power generation had fallen to 2,800 megawatts, the lowest in nearly a year. Power output has increased from a peak of 4,500 MW on April 3, 2015 to 2,800 on May 1, 2015.
The then permanent secretary in the Federal Energy Ministry, Ambassador Godknows Igali, blamed the huge reduction on “gas pipeline vandalism”.
Igali, who spoke in a meeting with the Commanding General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Ade Abolurin, said the affected pipeline was the Escravos road.
On May 20, 2015, when the power supply dropped further to 2,700 MW, Igali had blamed the drastic drop in power generation over the previous five weeks on the “nefarious activities of gas and crude oil pipeline vandals”. “which happen almost daily.
The week before Buhari took over, power generation fell to a record 1,327 MW amid a nationwide fuel shortage.
President Buhari had, when he took office, promised to increase production to 10,000 MW.
But on March 10, 2016, the generation plummeted to an all-time low, hitting its lowest point since Buhari took power.
Earlier on March 1, 2016, power generation also fell to a nine-month high of 2,800 MW.
But on March 10, the daily report of the Nigerian System Operations (NESO), a department of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), showed that power had fallen to 1,580.6 MW.
Just a month before Buhari resumed his second term in May 2019, power generation also fell in the national grid from around 3,231 MW to 2,919 MW.
More than a week earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) also reported a system collapse, which reduced power generation by about 4,338.9 MW as of April 20, 2019.
The transmission company said the gas supply cut was caused by a leak discovered on the Escravos-Lagos pipeline system.
As Nigerians continued to groan under the epileptic power supply, it fell to zero with the collapse of the national grid at around 10.40am last Monday, leading to widespread blackout across the country.
Alerting its customers, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company had described the incident as a general system collapse, adding that the drop in electricity generation on the grid had caused a power outage in all five states falling within its area of control. franchise.
For its part, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said the collapse affected its network and franchise area – Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger states.
Ikeja Electric also confirmed the system collapse, while Eko Electricity Distribution Company also informed customers that “a system collapse occurred on the national grid at 10:40 a.m. today (Monday), resulting in outages on our network.
Kaduna Disco also stated that “we regret to inform you that the power outage experienced in our franchise states is due to the National Grid System Collapse which occurred at approximately 10:40 am.”
Before the system collapsed, power companies on Sunday blamed the relentless blackouts across the country on weak infrastructure at transmission and distribution companies.
The Gencos had said that the poor infrastructure of Discos and TCN had rendered the quantum of power generation in Nigeria inconsequential.
While the TCN, owned by the federal government, manages the electricity network, the Discos and Gencos are managed by the private sector.
Prior to the Gencos’ reaction, the TCN attributed the low power generation to the Gencos’ inability or unwillingness to generate power.
Just 48 hours after Monday’s collapse, many parts of the country were plunged into darkness on Tuesday following another national grid collapse.
Ikeja Electric Plc and Eko Electricity Distribution Company confirmed the partial grid collapse.
The companies said the network collapse occurred at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday.
In a public announcement to customers on Tuesday, the Ibadan electricity distribution company called the grid collapse a total. As the various stakeholders in the power value chain continue to trade blame, Nigerians have been left in endless darkness in view of the power crisis.
Reacting to the latest energy crisis, former Minister of Energy and Chairman of Geometric Power Limited, Nnaji, identified the lack of gas to power existing power plants, insufficient transmission and distribution infrastructure and the factors along the electricity supply value chain, as the main challenges of the sector.
Until the government tackles issues of power head-on, development in all its ramifications will continue to elude the country.