Nigerians now pay more for electricity and fuel despite reforms.
In August 2010, barely four months after he succeeded his late boss, Umaru Yar’Adua, President Goodluck Jonathan launched the Road Map for Power Sector Reform in which he outlined his plans to effectively tackle the challenges of electricity supply in Nigeria.
At the occasion held in the nation’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos, the President told his audience, which included members of the diplomatic corps and senior government officials that with the road map, the problem of power outages in the country would end by December, 2012.
Under the programme, Mr. Jonathan said, a Super Transmission Network would be implemented while 5000 megawatts (MW) would be generated by international oil Companies. He added that there would be active exploitation of hydro-nuclear and coal power, a new gas policy, constitution of two presidential committees on power, the reconstitution of the boards and membership of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, and privatisation of PHCN.
About eight months later, while running as the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2011 presidential election, Mr. Jonathan enunciated the Power Road Map, this time under the broader Transformation Agenda. The agenda was anchored on how he would deliver programmes, policies and project in key sectors.
In the 28-page “Goodluck Transform Nigeria” which detailed the programme, policies and project he would deliver in key sectors if elected, the President promised to provide more power to Nigerians in the earliest possible time and even set a minimum target of 16,000 MW which he said would be achieved by 2013.
Mr. Jonathan promised to rehabilitate all existing power generation, distribution and transmission assets to give a minimum of 6,000 MW of electricity, complete all National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP, to produce at least 4,000 MW by 2012 and harness alternative sources of energy such as coal, wind and solar to generate an initial 13, 000 MW.
The president also assured that he would privatise power generation and distribution, concession transmission networks and construct new transmission network in 2011-2014 using the public-private partnership model.
“By common consent, solving the electricity supply problem in Nigeria is the key to the country’s development as it would unleash the tremendous capacity in the economy that has been hobbled by the inadequate and epileptic power supply,” Mr. Jonathan said.
Mr. Jonathan won the presidential election.
However, almost three years in office as the nation’s 14th leader since Independence, the President is still far from fulfilling the two contracts he entered into with Nigerians via the Power Road Map and Transformation Agenda.
Current power situation
Information pieced from various government documents show that the country’s current electricity generation for its over 150 million people hovers around 4,000 MW, a far cry from the 16,000 MW, which Mr. Jonathan promised would be achieved by 2013.
This clear deviation from the presidential promise on power infuriated an opposition leader.
“Are you not in Nigeria? Has the power road map worked? Where I am now, I am using (a) generator,” Emma Eneukwu, the National Publicity Secretary of the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, told PREMIUM TIMES. “This administration has failed Nigerians in all ramifications – in the area of power, security, infrastructure and others.”
According to “Sure and Steady Transformation,” a document released by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Research and Documentation, which highlights the achievements of the administration since its inception, the country attained a peak generation of 4, 322 MW in December 2011, which it claimed “is the highest ever attained.”
Information posted on the website of the Federal Ministry of Power said as at May 20, the nation’s electricity generation peaked at merely 3, 894 MW. Indeed, sometime last month, the ministry said that the generation went down to as low as 3, 500 before it picked up again.
The Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe in a separate compilation of his principal’s achievements, which was released to the media on Monday, said, “The Goodluck Jonathan administration has improved the power generation from around 2, 000 megawatts to 4, 502 megawatts in December, 2012, the highest since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.”
Mr. Okupe added that by July this year, power generation will hit 6, 000 MW and by December this year it will increase to 10, 000 MW.
The presidential aide based his promise on the earlier one allegedly made by the Minister of State for Power, Zainab Kuchi, who has since withdrawn it, saying that would only be possible by December, 2014.
According to Mr. Okupe, for more efficient power supply, the Jonathan administration has privatized the power distribution companies, DISCOs, under a most transparent bid process, adding that “today, large parts of an unprecedented number of cities and towns across the country are enjoying between 14 to 16 hours of uninterrupted power supply, except in some few areas where localized problems of power distribution network have created bottlenecks for smooth transmission.”
Another presidential aide, Reno Omokri, enthused that the apparent inability of the Jonathan administration to meet its power target is because of the failure of past government to invest in the sector.
“Between 1980 and 1999, no new investments were made in the power sector,” Mr. Omokri, the presidential adviser on new media, said.
He said despite the challenges, the administration increased power generation from the 2,300MW it met when it came to office, and the current figure.
While interacting with the members of the Senate Committee on Power last month, the Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo told his visitors that achieving stable power supply in the country was rough and blamed the problem on old and wrecked infrastructure.
With the about 4, 0000 MW the country generates for its 160 million people, Nigerians are among the most deprived of electricity supply in the world despite being an oil producer. It is nowhere near comparable to South Africa which generates 45, 000 MW for its 45 million people.
Despite these huge evidences, Mr. Jonathan shockingly told the CNN in an interview earlier in the year that his administration had made progress in giving Nigeria adequate power supply.
The power situation is, however, so bad that most Nigerians have now resorted to the use of generators. Even government establishments, including those under the Presidency as well as the Aso Rock Villa where Mr. Jonathan is a tenant, now have generators as major source of power supply with the government-funded PHCN as stand-by.
Studies last year showed business concerns generate about 28,000 MW of electricity with over a trillion naira while households, according to NERC’s estimate, spend 796.4 billion a year on self-generation.
In the same 2012, in a curious twist, Kabir Usman, the Director General of government-owned Centre for Management and Development, CMD, said there are about 60 million generators in Nigeria at the ratio of one per household of 2.5 people with an annual spending of N1.6 trillion.
Mr. Usman added that the poorest Nigerians paid more than N80/kWh burning candles, kerosene and firewood while manufacturers paid between N45 and 60/kWh on diesel to run generators.
However, analysts are quick to point out that although ensuring steady power supply remains in the minds of those at the helms of affairs, the sector is bedevilled by challenges which the government officials scarcely have the will to confront. One of the challenges is corruption and bad management which the country’s electricity workers have repeatedly asked the government to tame.
The other is inadequate budgetary provisions. In the 2011 Budget, the first he prepared as president, Mr. Jonathan allocated about N90 billion to the sector, about N66 billion less than what his predecessor, Mr. Yar’Adua allocated to it. The sector got the second largest allocation in 2012 with N161.42 billion after security which got N921.91 billion. In 2013, the sector got N77.36 billion.
Despite these rise and fall allocations, Nigerians are yet to benefit from steady power supply. In fact, some categories of hapless Nigerians were even made to cough out more money for electricity supply which they hardly enjoy as a new tariff got underway in June last year.
But it is not only in the power sector that Mr. Jonathan has failed Nigerians who elected him. In the oil sector, the president is yet to translate his promises into reality.
The oil sector
In his transformation booklet, the President had assured among other things that, in the bid to achieve balanced national economic development, he would focus on increasing oil production and refining capacity.
“This will stimulate local value-addition and strategically position the nation to meet the domestic demand for the refined products and take advantage of a new market niche-export of refined products,” he said.
He also promised that the gas sector would be “developed with special focus on meeting the domestic and individual demands of gas within the country, especially with the anticipated increased demand due to the Visions 20:2020 intent of rejuvenating the manufacturing sector.”
Besides, while elaborating further on the president’s target in the sector, the ministry said it would develop a comprehensive framework to increase production of crude oil to 4 million bpd, end long queues and price fluctuations in the filling stations, ensure the review of the petroleum industry law as captured in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, develop the gas sector by focusing on meeting domestic demand for gas and construct new and rehabilitate aging pipelines.
The ministry also planned to establish world-scale petro-chemical and fertilizer companies, develop the framework for local content in the oil and gas sector with a potential for 300, 000 direct and indirect jobs per year.
Current oil situation
Although, the Jonathan administration has embarked on some reforms which would reposition the oil sector, including pursuing the passage of PIB, the sector is still bedevilled by challenges which are clearly man-made. Crude oil production is still as low as 2.3 million bpd, a far cry from the projected 4 million bpd, while crude oil theft is on the rise.
The plan by the Yar’Adua administration to build three more refineries, which was inherited by the Jonathan administration, is not yet underway. The refineries were to be located in Lagos, Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Under the administration, Nigerians began to pay more for fuel following the partial removal of fuel subsidy early last year, and the country still imports a bulk of its petrol.
Although some highly-placed Nigerians have been charged to court over fuel subsidy, the administration has not generously manifested its will to stamp out corruption in the industry.
Several allegations of corruption against the oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke have never been looked into. A damning report produced by a panel headed by a former anti-corruption chief, Nuhu Ribadu, that about $13 billion (N2 trillion) has been stolen from the oil sector since the advent of the Jonathan administration is yet to be implemented.
The government owned National Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative, NEITI, in annual audit reports, which have been globally commended, indicted the petroleum ministry headed by Ms. Alison-Madueke, and many agencies under it, of large scale fraud. NEITI has repeatedly complained that its recommendations are not being implemented which is allowing corruption and inefficiency to thrive in the Nigerian petroleum industry.
Reacting to the apparent failure of the Jonathan administration to meet its set target, the spokesman for the Congress for Progressive, CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, said the Jonathan administration is everything, but unimpressive. According to him, the country has not in any way improved under him.
“The performance scorecard on the economy, security, education, youth employment, foreign affairs and infrastructural development reveals a dismal failure,” Mr. Fashakin said.
But his opposite in PDP, Olisa Metuh disagrees, insisting that Mr. Jonathan has repositioned the country, despite the security challenges confronting the nation.
“As a party, we will like to commend the President for his achievements. He has done well despite calculated attempts to distract him,” Mr. Metuh told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
“Just imagine (that) there are no security challenges, the President would have done far more than this. We discovered his achievements are under-reported. We are 100% behind the President because in the areas of electoral reform, power, infrastructural development, agriculture, FCT, he has performed. No Nigerian will say he has not brought improvements despite the distractions. We are happy.”