Without any apologies to anyone, the power situation in Nigeria is in shambles. Since 1999, well over $20 billion has been committed to the power sector by various successive governments. The World Energy Outlook 2010 estimate claimed that this money is more than a quarter of what is actually needed to provide permanent access to electricity for all Nigerians.
I was reading some papers online and I saw that the National Tribune held a poll and 54 per cent of Nigerian respondents claimed the power situation in the country had worsened. A report in the Vanguard newspaper quoting a representative of an Oil Consultancy Firm in the West, reports that Nigeria wastes 1.1 million cubic feet of gas daily, which can provide electricity for 20 million houses, while the flared gas in the Niger Delta is enough to power the “African continent and beyond”.
I was in a bank the other day and the power just went off. No warnings. No apologies. This is such a natural occurence in Nigeria, it almost is as familiar as taking in Oxygen and breathing out Carbon Dioxide. Power supply has become the bane of economic development within Nigeria and is sincerely just, a national embarrassment. I say this with no disrespect for my country. As a Nigerian girl, I am used to power going off-well sort of used to it. I refuse to accept epileptic power as my reality and the reality of my future children. We have spoken about this disconcerting power issue a million times over and over. And for a little while, when this particular government started its tenure, power was good. Well, relatively good. It depends on your definition of good. Try not to interrupt me. Power was good.
The U.S. government’s Energy Information Agency drily notes, “Nigeria has vast natural gas, coal, and renewable energy resources that could be used for domestic electricity generation. However, the country lacks policies to harness resources and develop new (and improve current) electricity infrastructure”. Even other countries recognise our power producing potential.
Power has steadily declined in Nigeria over the years and this year- has gone to an all-time low. When power was finally privatised after all the drama, I applauded along with millions of Nigerians-thinking that there was finally going to be a change. What I did not think about was that power needed to be generated for the Discos to have something to distribute.
Why is Nigeria not generating enough power? Ask anyone who should know and issues of network, low water levels and inadequate gas supply continue to be unceremoniously repeated. These issues we have been acquainted with almost to the point that we can help the ministers in every era of government reel them out every time they are interviewed. Issues that have lasted years, still not solved. Despite the amount of money copiously pumped into the sector, the beat goes on. Classic case of looking at yourself in the mirror and walking away, forgetting what you looked like.
According to the NERC chairman, Sam Amadi, we produce less than 4,000MW for a country of more than a hundred and thirty million people. Do the math. Not up to 0.01MW per human in Nigeria. The GENCOs and the DISCOs are quickly discovering that the issues that affected their predecessors are most likely going to cripple them. There is still so much yellow tape, policy re-constructing, and basic common sense thinking to do before power in Nigeria will improve. We need to solve the inside before we start work on the outside.
So what do we do? Hold hands and sing “kumbaya” while we run the ragged race to Cameroon-carrying our generator sets on our heads.