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‘Constitute Technical Task Force of Professionals Without Political Consideration’, Obi Tasks FG on Power Challenges

The Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general election, Mr. Peter Obi has charged the Federal Government (FG) to assemble a technical task force of real professionals without political consideration in order to tackle the challenges in the power sector.

Mr. Obi lamented that it is disappointing that the periodic and recent routine system collapses experienced in Nigeria are often caused by avoidable occurrences such as fire outbreaks.

He made this known on X, formerly Twitter on Wednesday, stressing that the difference in Nigeria’s energy wattage compared to Egypt and South Africa has massive implications for human development and economic growth.

“The Nigerian electricity supply industry has continued to face a real and present danger of collapse despite the efforts made in more than two decades to initiate a reform of the sector.

“It is sad that the periodic and now routine system collapses we experience are mostly occasioned by avoidable situations like fire outbreaks at critical transmission lines across our major cities often resulting from a lack of diligent attention.

“It is rather distressing that the total installed capacity for Nigeria, a country of more than 200 million people and about 40 million small businesses, is a mere 13,000 Megawatts. Worse still, only about 3,500mws are available for homes and businesses from the grid and sometimes it goes as low as 2,500mw.

“Clearly, this is unacceptable. We can contrast the available supply of electricity with competitor countries in Africa like Egypt and South Africa with respective populations of approximately 112m and 59.6m people supplying about 60,000mw and 58,000 respectively.

“This difference in energy wattage has massive implications for human development and economic growth. Nigeria today has the world’s lowest per capita electricity wattage in the world, interestingly lower than those of most of our West African neighbours. It is really sad that whereas our energy demand is above 200,000mws, we have only 13,000mw installed capacity and can only deliver regularly less than 4,000mw,” he stated.

Obi revealed that upon his consultations with experts in the sector, he realized that the crisis of power supply in Nigeria relates to two major sectors which are generation and transmission & distribution.

He explained that the major challenges of the generation sector are the lack of a regular supply of gas arising from the failure of the government in the last 8 years to provide adequate gas infrastructure facilities, weak commercial availability of gas for power and failure to control the restiveness of angry youths leading to vandalism.

“It is worrisome that for more than 8 years, we could not resolve the infrastructural bottlenecks that constrain the supply of gas to power plants, despite billions spent from CBN for legacy gas debts.

“On the transmission and distribution side, the last 8 years have witnessed an embarrassing failure to overcome the deterioration of networks and transmission and distribution networks and invest in modern technologies like SCADA, leading to poor coverage, lack of effective coordination between TCN and discos, leading to load rejection and inability to generate public trust for policy reform on tariff and leading to low private sector investments.

“If we had a good project manager, we would have massively increased generation, transmission and distribution capacity and enhanced policy coherence that would have crowded private sector investment in to a degree that would have sustained rapid growth of the grid,” he added.

The former Anambra State Governor emphasised that the problem is that the government has not exercised the required political will to appoint the right kind of leadership that understands the problems of the sector – and has the singular dedication and competence to create quick wins in the short term and transformation in the medium to long term.

“I suggest that the Federal Government immediately constitutes a technical task force of real professionals without political consideration to present a diagnosis of the crisis of the sector and to get to work to correct such simple slippages like incessant fire outbreaks that lead to perennial system collapse, drastically improve coordination and coherence between TCN and discos so that there will be no load rejection, and breathe down on all operators to deliver on their technical responsibilities.

“This will rapidly improve power availability in the short term while the government develops clarity to articulate an integrated national electricity policy and a practical implementation roadmap that harmonizes national and subnational electricity reform efforts to ensure rapid and expansive delivery of reliable, adequate, and affordable electricity.”

He further said that Nigeria is too endowed to be a nation of generators and to be trapped in darkness.

Hope Ejairu

Hope Ejairu is a writer, sports analyst and journalist, with publications on print and digital media. He holds certifications in various media/journalism trainings, including AFP.

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