Nigerians Go For Generators

Nigerians Go For Generators: PHCN/NEPA Producing or Prodigal?

Government’s persistent failure to genuinely address the energy in Nigeria problem is contributing to the deprivation of access to quality healthcare, adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, sanitation, medical care, schooling, and access to information for millions of Nigerians. The lack of access to modern energy/electricity services is particularly detrimental to millions of Nigerian women and children. Instead of finding lasting solution to the epileptic electricity, this Government is budgeting to spend N2 billion on generating sets .Despite yet to spend the bogus vote on this government move to declare emergency on electricity, the 2009 budget that was passed by the Senate on December 17, 2008, showed that government cannot handle the electricity situation in this country. As insensitive, unserious and unwilling to tackle the deplorable and unreliable electricity services in this country, despite making reactivation of the power sector one of the key elements of its 7-point agenda, the Presidency has budgeted an expenditure of over N27 million to fuel its generators, while another N14.3 million will go into the maintenance of the generators. What a ridiculous situation!

In June 2008, this government man by Umaru Yar’Adua lip-served that his regime would declare a national state of emergency in July 2008 over decrepit power infrastructure in Nigeria. Just like that, he promised when he took office just over two years ago to declare a national emergency on power but used “waiting for two House committees” as excuses till date. The power crisis has become so severe that much of the country has been without mains electricity for weeks, plunging neighbourhoods without private generators into darkness every night and heightening frustration among its 140 million people.” Next month (July 2008) I am going to declare a national emergency in the power sector,” I heard Mr. President telling a gathering of French businessmen.

Similarly, the National Assembly will spend about N233 million on fuel, while offices and administrative buildings will gulp N63 million for the same purpose; maintenance, N57.2 million. Also the National Assembly White House, which houses the Chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives will spend N58 million on fuelling and N55 million on maintenance; the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) (fuel and maintenance, N25.8 million); and Police formations nationwide (fuel and maintenance, N110 million).

The government’s plan to spend N2billion on generators at a time millions of Nigerians are without access to regular electricity supply, and some are dying from the effect of the use of generators, has shown that the government is not genuinely committed to, and in fact, has given up on its oft-expressed commitment to address the persistent problem of unreliable electricity supply in the country. Spending so much money to supply generating sets to government offices, while millions of Nigerians remain without access to regular electricity is discriminatory and amounts to abdication of responsibility.

Despite being the world’s eighth-biggest oil producer, Nigeria has a generation capacity of about 3,000 megawatts (MW). South Africa, with a third of the population, has more than 10 times that capacity. This government told us that the emergency period would last until the country was able to generate about 10,000 MW of electricity, which he expected to take until 2011 but why generators at last?. This regime’s dishonour waits on perfidy—Nigerians should blush to think a falsehood since this government is committing the crime of coward.

Unless a powerful cartel in the top echelon of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is retrenched, the perennial power crisis facing the country will persist. No matter how many billions of naira that is pumped into the PHCN, solution to the perennial power failure in the country will continue to elude the Federal Government

Without access to improved supply of electricity services, Nigeria cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and ensuring environmental sustainability. Access to uninterrupted supply of electricity is a basic human right, which is necessary for the enjoyment of other human rights such as healthcare, adequate housing and quality education. Electricity offers neat, flexible and variety in usage to the end -use services that drives economic development and improves the quality of life. Instead of spending huge money on generators, the government should come up with action plan with benchmarks, which will be faithfully and fully implemented to ensure access of millions of Nigerians to regular electricity services on the basis of equality and non-discrimination.

Government of Yar’Adua should demonstrate its oft-expressed commitment to tackle the problem by considering banning the use of generators in government offices, as a first step to banning the use, sale, rental, repair and importation of generators into the country. This will make the government to sit up and confront the problem genuinely and comprehensively. This regime should re-allocate the N2b budget on generators to ensure improved electricity infrastructure generation, transmission and distribution throughout the country.

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