Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Failed 6000 MW Target

Nigerians who looked forward to seeing the President Umaru Yar'Adua government raise power generation to 6000 mega watts (MW) by December 31, 2009 as promised must be disappointed. The promise has clearly failed, as according to the minister of power, Mr. Lanre Babalola only 3,500mw was realized.

There is, however, no need to feel disappointed because it now seems in the character of this government not to keep any promise.

For example, the earlier promise of declaring a state of emergency in the power sector was not kept. The same government has not been able to fix the refineries as promised, a development that has led to the excruciating pains Nigerians have been going through to obtain petroleum products especially in the last three months.

Having failed to declare a state of emergency in the power sector, President Yar'Adua promised that his government would raise power generation to 6000mw by December 31, 2009. The promise included developing the capacity of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to evacuate and distribute same to the consumers.

To match words with action, the government followed its promise by releasing a princely $1.6 billion to International Oil Companies (IOCs) to ensure that they provided the needed gas delivery infrastructure to enable the power stations to stream their plants. Some other funds were also released to the Nigeria Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) and the PHCN to ensure that they fulfilled contractual obligations regarding delivery, transmission and distribution facilities and accessories.

The 6000mw generation target was actually a short-term policy measure to quickly bailout the country from years of lingering darkness. The medium-term is to generate 10, 000 mw by the end of 2010 and to steadily increase the pool by a sustainable percentage each year, thereafter.

This was in line with the recommendations of Alhaji Lukman Rilwan, petroleum minister, who as Presidential Adviser on Energy, had headed a committee which submitted the blueprint on how to address the country's energy crises.

Unfortunately, 2009 has ended with the country not being capable of generating the targeted 6000mw. Only 3,500mw of power was attained with the PHCN being able to only evacuate and distribute less than that amount due to inadequate infrastructure.

The implications of this failure, apart from the dent it has given to the image of this administration as one not given to keeping faith with its citizenry, are grave. No doubt, the development poses serious danger to the economy as more businesses would have to collapse or shut down with loss of jobs, high cost of production, rising inflation and growing mass poverty.

The picture of a Nigeria without adequate and sustainable power supply does not augur well for a country which wishes to join the league of 20 leading world economies by 2020. Moreso, for an economy which is in pursuit of the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Yet, we do not believe that the provision of stable power supply, taken for granted in other climes, cannot be achieved here in Nigeria. We, therefore, insist that the government should go ahead and deliver the 6000mw target, before the end of the first quarter of this year and deliver the 10, 000mw by the end of the year as earlier proposed.

We insist on these demands based on the fact that the foundations for their attainment have been laid. Besides, much money has been committed to the sector in recent years. Apart from the several billions of dollars currently being sunk into the sector by the Yar'Adua government, its predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's regime also devoted over $12 billion to the same sector.

The Federal Government should, additionally, investigate the cause of its inability to deliver on promise. This is imperative given that the militancy in the Niger Delta, which had earlier been cited by the IOCs for their inability to ensure steady gas supply has been curtailed, thereby making it possible for them to operate. It is not impossible that some saboteurs are behind the failure, so that the merchants of generators, fuel and allied products can continue to thrive at the expense of Nigerians. This must be checked and those responsible punished.

Daily Champion

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