There is no disputing the fact President Goodluck Jonathan had woefully failed to meet his target of generating five-thousand megawatts of electricity by the end of 2014. Even on the eve of New Year the government was generating only three-thousand-seven-hundred megawatts and was unable to transmit all of it because the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN couldn’t wheel it to the energy distribution companies.
Jonathan’s administration had on August 2 last year reduced its former target of producing six-thousand megawatts by December last year to five-thousand megawatts even as it announced an increase in gas price and seriously contemplating hiking the pump rice of petroleum. Only fairly recently, the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC announced the upward review of electric tariff, a situation that unsettled many Nigerians who had perennially decried such hike while power supply was abysmal and epileptic. The review of electricity tariff was absolutely unnecessary because the Federal Government had earlier pumped two-hundred-and-thirteen billion Naira from public funds into what has eventually turned out to be drainpipes that were PHCN’s privatized companies while the same citizenry that owned them are not only being taxed, but cannot point to any project financed by the money obtained from the sales of some companies.
It is, therefore right to conclude that Nigeria’s giant strides towards rapid progress have been slowed down by erratic power supply which severely stunted its development since 1999, thus ushering in a period of degeneration and retrogression in the country. Accordingly, most organizational structure in government that serves as foundation for managing all affairs had undergone spontaneous disintegration. Large-scale public systems and facilities necessary for economic activity, including power and water supplies; public transportations; telecommunications; roads and schools have suffered an unprecedented scale of neglect which nearly brought the country to an abrupt halt. Such was the fate foisted on the nation by inept and inexperienced leadership since 1999.
Nigerians are fully aware of these revolting developments which have adverse effects on aspects of the country’s socio-economic life, especially the dearth of electricity which crippled industrial growth and worsened unemployment situation in the country. This is in addition to paving way for spiraling inflation and agonizing high cost of living. There is no gainsaying the fact that these intolerable factors have largely been responsible for the social upheavals which have become a continual source of problems for the nation. They have subsequently provoked massive unrest as both the unemployed youths and the jobless elderly have been engaged in bitter conflicts, ethnic rivalry or religious bigotry particularly as their idle minds were turned into devil’s workshop.
These are not the only problems that continue to fester in a country disposed to violence and which the PDP government sadly failed to eradicate. But the emergence of all of these has been influenced by a common factor: economic recession occasioned by unreliable or inconsistent supply of electricity, just as there are numerous reasons that facilitated hordes of other difficulties that plunged the country into many incapacitating predicaments. Ex President Olusegun Obasanjo had just after his inauguration in 1999 vowed to deal with the electricity monster for good. He attributed the persistent power shortage to the apathy of the previous military governments which had allowed the situation to grow out of hand. Chief Bola Ige, then Chief Obasanjo’s new Power Minister had volunteered an outlandish promise of ending the power pickle within six months which subsequently turned out to be not only preposterous but quite impracticable.
Gradually the six-month period guaranteed by Bola Ige progressed into six fruitless years after which Chief Obasanjo moved frantically to solve that recurrent problem once and for all by contemplating the establishment of National Independent Power Project NIPP, premised on the idea of building more power stations based on unbundling the moribund Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN in an ambitious privatization exercise. As it was, the NIPP has developed into a white elephant project after it had guzzled more than US$16bn to no avail.
The unending delay in privatizing PHCN was solely responsible for the stubborn power problem which has been giving Nigerians sleepless nights. This fact was continuously demonstrated on numerous occasions when power supply was abruptly interrupted when various leaders were attending important functions. It was reported that some of them have to adopt a battery-powered equipment to conclude a speech they were delivering. President Jonathan ought to have after all buried his face in shame for his glaring failure to remedy the tragedy in the power sector. That has exposed him as hardhearted leader, unresponsive to a problem that poses serious threat to national stability and the welfare of his people.