Electricity: Let’s Talk (1)


There are a lot of issues that require public conversation in Nigeria, but we can take them one at a time. Issues of primary importance to one person may not be the same to another, but issues that interfere with national goals may have a significant following. There are issues which may not be of interest to the executive and / or legislative branches of government and may never be discussed by either, yet these issues may be relevant to all citizens. For example, a debate on whether Nigeria should have the Senate or the House of Representatives in order to reduce the cost of governance would be a no-go zone for the National Assembly, but should be addressed in public discourse. This is one of the issues we should be talking about. In addition, the issue of electricity and corruption deserves a public debate. I suggest that the starting point is electricity.

I am convinced that if Nigeria can solve the electricity problem, the path of industrialization, massive public and self-employment as well as economic diversification will automatically be solved. Even, the issue of controlling the population without the use of oral contraceptives and drugs will be resolved. I once suggested that the failure of the PHCN – or NEPA as it is still popularly known – to enlighten Nigeria inadvertently fosters the population explosion. The argument is that when families are forced to retire to their rooms from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. maybe seven days a week and this is repeated for a month and finally a year, especially in houses like this. face-me-face-you, with crowded rooms, with a couple on a bed and the kids on mats with lights off, what else to expect every year? Procreation is automatically the result! Whereas, if there is electricity, the family, especially the children, can keep everyone awake until late at night while watching TV programs, thus reducing the hours of interaction between their parents. One study found that the affordability of small generators – the I-better-pass-my-neighbor generators – helped promote interactions between family members in urban areas after long hours of hassle during the day. Now that these types of generators are no longer affordable, thanks to government policies that fuel inflation, these families would naturally return to their shell with the expected consequences: no more children in a few years. Let us return to more serious questions, hoping that the government would have learned some lessons on the relation between electricity and population control or more accurately, between poverty and procreation.

Before going into the details of the modus operandi of the exercise “Parlons-en”, it is necessary to recognize that the extension of the title “Parlons-en” is not my innovation but was taken from the title of one of my favorite radio shows in Ibadan. , hosted by five-year musician, philanthropist and owner of the radio station, Yinka Ayefele, MON, and his close friend Enitan Olusegun Bamidele, aka EOB The program evokes a story or problem experienced in front of the duo and they would ask listeners for solutions. However, the issues to be considered here are national issues that require citizen solutions.

The World Bank, in April last year, reported that Nigeria has the largest number of people in the world without access to electricity, and the sector is experiencing an annual loss of income of around $ 29 billion. It is also known that despite the privatization of the power sector in 2013 and the promise that the supply would improve thereafter, the story remains the same even today. Billions of US dollars have been spent or misappropriated without favorable results. In fact, there seems to be a case where the more you look, the less you see or the more money the country spends in the sector, the less energy produced or distributed. At one point we were told the problem was with power generation and at another it was that we produced enough but distribution was the problem as was too much rain or too much rain. lack can disrupt electricity in Nigeria.

Uncle Bola Ige of blessed memory believed that if he ran the power business, there would be a turnaround within six months. President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him Minister of Mines and Energy (1999-2000) but no significant improvement and had to be transferred to the Ministry of Justice as Minister of Justice and Attorney General (2000-2001) . Babatunde Raji Fashola, as Governor of Lagos State, boasted that generating and distributing electricity is not rocket science. Given his background as a workaholic and talent, the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), gave him the post of foreman with three portfolios, including that of Power. After four years of trial and presumably when asked, at the start of another term, which of the portfolios he would like to give up, he did not hesitate to give up the Power that had rendered him powerless and kept Jobs. and Housing.

Before him there was Bert Nnaji, an energy engineer so to speak. When it appeared he was making headway, more powerful people in President Goodluck Jonathan’s government rose up against him, claiming he had vested interests, being an entrepreneur in the private electricity sector. He had to resign bluntly. The man who succeeded Raji Fashola was recently sacked. So the fight against darkness continues and unless we address it publicly now, all the money and energy spent will be wasted; all industrialization efforts will remain a mirage and the country will remain underdeveloped. It is not a question of God forbidding us from it. Human beings too must forbid it. Really, is electricity generation and distribution rocket science? I do not share this feeling.

The problem in the electricity sector is man-made and the grid is very long. I can say that every minister will have to face the challenges of generator set producers, who are foreigners, and I know that if Nigeria, being their biggest customer in the world, gets to do it right, not only will they lose money. significant income, but it will also result in job losses in the value chain of steel producers, metal casting companies, the bolt and nut subsector, and so on. Other groups in the value chain are importers and exporters of gasoline and diesel to power generators, battery producers, rechargeable lamp producers, touch lamp producers and now solar panel producers and importers and inverters. Producers and exporters are foreigners while importers, who largely have franchises with exporters, are locals or Nigerians. Then there are officials or officials, who approve the transactions, as well as other intermediaries. In addition, there would be laws that would need to be changed and the legislature would come into play.

I often wonder if or if, according to the law, all electricity production must pass through the national grid and if this law is not archaic and must be changed? I often hear about the state’s electricity production through the grid? Does electricity production pass through the national grids of other countries? Why do we have to limit the production of electricity to three main sources, namely hydroelectricity or thermal or gas or solar? Why can’t we dedicate solar, for example, to the non-industrial part of the economy and more powerful sources to industrial use, even within a state? Why does a state need to get permission from the federal government before embarking on the production and distribution of electricity? Why this and why that? These elements and many more are the rationale for public dialogue to enlighten Nigeria.

What is the modus operandi? The Ministry of Power should be the organizer or moderator and, in case of reluctance, a non-governmental organization or a press house can take on the task. One day will be dedicated to exercise as National Energy Day and a link to the Zoom or Microsoft platform is provided that anyone in the world can connect to. The main documents will be presented by former Ministers of Power who are willing and ready, providing the context, challenges and perspectives. All over the world, people can come in at any time and make contributions or just listen. As it can be difficult for everyone to contribute, those who cannot can send their tips via chat or as an attachment to the email address provided by the organizers. At the end of the day or the second day, the nation receives an electronic media statement, which is then published in the national dailies.

We have to start finding solutions to our national problems through this kind of national dialogue. Nigeria must move forward through the contributions and engagement of its citizens. No one comes to develop Nigeria for us because our development can be fatal for some countries just as it can serve as a liberation for other countries, especially African countries. Who will take up this challenge?

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