Nigeria’s power sector is yet to experience any significant changes and it has gotten to a point where people are almost comfortable with the power failure.
Children have been shouting ‘Up NEPA’ since early 60s and funny enough, the trend seems to have no end in sight yet as the sector remains in a perilous state.
Ironically, people still pay bills for light which they never see, a situation which made most of them conclude that Nigeria now charges citizens for darkness.
Of course, it is extortion when one is made to pay for a service he or she never used, how much more people that spend hugely buying petrol to run their generating sets in order to carry out activities they should have comfortably done if there was adequate light supply.
It is really frustrating to spend so heavily and at the end of the month still pay bills for light that was never supplied.
Unfortunately, in the midst of all the power frustrations coupled with the severe economic downturn, the government seems to be unapologetic.
While criticizing the privatization of the power sector, Senate President Bukola Saraki opined that the sector is the way it is because the buyers were bereft of ideas on how to run it.
Saraki lamented the pathetic state of the power sector despite the huge resources that have been invested into it in the last 14 years.
In his words: “Today, we are on the verge of a total systemic breakdown and I see this as an opportunity to stop this train from derailing completely.
“We sold the discos to individuals and parties who had no idea about running a proper power distribution business. Licenses were issues based on cronyism rather than capital adequacy, market experience and capacity to deliver. Agreements were faulty and transaction integrity hardly imperative.
“This is the opportunity for both the legislature and executive to come together to forge a solution to this perennial problem. We cannot afford to waste the opportunity we have now.
“We owe it to the people who have entrusted us with the privilege of working out solutions to their problems by electing us to our various offices that we are hard on our heels to bring them solutions not complaints.
“We cannot shy away from the fact that inexcusable mistakes have been made in the past that brought us to this point and we must be willing to face up to them and clearly delineate them in order to ensure that we do not return to the mistakes of the past.
“Clearly some of these where innocent mistakes, others were rather the product of selfish interests, some fraudulent, some borne out of ignorance and others glaring lack of capacity apparent from day one. All of these combined has brought us to the mess we now have to face up to.
“Where we are is not an accident. We walked our way into the landmine we are facing with the decisions we made in the past. While privatisation is a right policy recipe to pursue in order to put in place a power sector that can galvanise our economy, we forgot that the participation of the private sector is not an end in itself.
“We neglected that unless this is done, observing transparency, competition, transaction integrity we might end up with a sector worse than the past. The BPE did things that were inexcusable. To imagine that even the sale proceeds of about $4bn was solely spent towards the payment of pensions and staff. Not one single kobo was expended towards catalysing the sector back to life.
“GENCOS bought generating units without a clear assurance of source of gas to fire plants and government had no active roadmap for delivery of a gas market infrastructure to make this happen.
“Yet gas companies and the IOCs were exporting our gas out of our shores to create gas markets elsewhere in Europe and Asia while we languished in darkness as a result of incessant, persistent and erratic power outages. In the face of all these our people continued to be called upon to bear inexplicable bills estimated beyond rationale service value.”
It is obvious that blame game is one of the reasons where the country seems to be at a stand still because the government has failed to accept responsibilities and find solutions to lingering issues.
Given the situation at hand, it would be wise if the government found a lasting solution to the epileptic power supply that has been ongoing for years.
Even though it wouldn’t be as easy as conceived, but at least a bold step ought to be taken first instead of sit and dole out endless blames on previous administrations without doing anythings.
The last time we checked, the notion that heaven helps those who help themselves is still true.
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