The power minister gave reasons for the poor power supply being witnessed.
Only 40 million Nigerians currently have access to electricity, the Minister of State for Power, Zainab Kuchi, has said; with the remaining 120 million of the population living in darkness.
The minister said this after Wednesday’s weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which was chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
She addressed the press, alongside the Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo; Information Minister, Labaran Maku; and Niger Delta Minister, Godsday Orubebe.
“We have 160 million Nigerians now and we are only giving power to 40 million of that population. what it means is that there are about 120 million Nigerians that are without power and wish to buy power,” Ms. Kuchi said.
Mr. Nebo, on his part, described the situation where only 25 per cent of Nigerians have access to electricity as a nightmare caused by human beings used by evil forces.
He attributed the current shortage in power supply to the lack of appropriate provisions in the 2012 budget for maintenance of power equipment; adding that the country did not anticipate the current slow pace in the privatization process. He said the problems are surmountable with divine intervention and the efforts being made by this administration.
He said unprecedented system collapses were being experienced in the power sector; while the rainy season has brought about heavy storms like the ones that shattered transmission lines in Bayelsa and Kebbi states which destroyed four transmission towers.
Mr. Nebo, however, painted a lucrative picture for the sector and called on investors to take advantage of the ongoing privatization process and government’s energy mix policy to invest in the sector which he said holds better prospect for lucrative returns.
“We need to deliver power to Nigerians and the only way to do this is by serious commercialization. There is even more money in power than in petroleum, all you need is a power plant and you will make money by the day,” he said. “The government has tried, we have all sorts of encouragement, we could go into coal, renewable energy so we need clusters of the windmill”
The minister also assured Nigerians that the 10,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity being targeted will be available by the end of 2014. He disclosed that 3,200 MW is currently available for distribution out of the 4,000 MW being generated.
Mr. Nebo said government was looking forward to partnering with independent producers; adding that power funding should not be left to government alone.
On the opportunities in the power sector, Mr. Nebo disclosed that government is focusing on energy mix, including those of solar, hydro and wind energy, to meet the energy requirement.
“We are looking forward into energy mix, what we are looking at are ways that will bring in so many other options; and the only way we can power Nigeria is, we have agreed, to look forward to IPPs (Independent Power Projects).
“We keep on saying we shouldn’t allow imperialism, yes we want foreign direct investment but we also want Nigerians to take ownership. If water can sell on the street, power can sell better because everybody wants power 24/7,” he said.
“So if we come together by way of synergy and we are able to build consortiums and the Independent Power Projects come in to address the issue of power need, it will not only be government looking for funding to do this. The energy mix that we want to come up with, there is solar, wind and hydros. And all these things are available in form of access to Nigerians.”
On current shortage in power supply across Nigeria, the minister attributed the problem to system collapse forced by the natural occurrences like rain storm which knocked out the entire area in Bayelsa State.
“It took about 10 to 12 days to restore power to Bayelsa as a result of the heavy storm which destroyed three transmission towers,” he said; adding that ” In Abuja, we would have had very stable power, but for the vandalisation of power equipment by youths in the area. It is easy for systems to collapse through trip offs which causes signal drops.”