Nigeria power sector: the supply of darkness

Nigeria has struggled with poor power supply for decades.

The country has the lowest access to electricity globally, with about 92 million persons out of the country’s 200 million population lacking access to power, according to the Energy Progress Report 2022 released by Tracking SDG 7.

A World Bank report in 2021 also explained that a total of 74 percent of power users in the country are dissatisfied with the supply of electricity across the country while 93 percent of metered power users paid their bills regularly, 78 percent of electricity consumers in the country received less than 12 hours of power supply daily.

Amidst this challenge, Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu, early February announced the government’s plans to halt subsidies on electricity.

Adelabu at a press conference in Abuja said Nigeria must begin to move towards a cost-reflective tariff model.

He lamented that the country was indebted to the tune of N1.3 trillion to electricity generating companies, while its debt to gas companies stood at $1.3 billion, noting only N450 billion was budgeted for subsidy this year but the ministry needed about N2.9 trillion for subsidy.

Adelabu said that the proposed subsidy removal was aimed at effective energy administration and as a measure to streamline government spending amidst the ailing economy.

He pointed out that state governments will now be allowed to generate power independently to supply power to their states.

The proposed subsidy cut triggered concern across the populace as they argue that removal of another subsidy will further worsen the hardship of Nigerians occasioned by fuel subsidy removal.

Lagos State Chairman of Accord Party Dele Oladeji during a press briefing lamented that Nigerians would not be able to cope with the cost of electricity without subsidy.

He said, “Nigerians are already hard-pressed, and should no longer be impoverished by taking electricity beyond their affordability.

“The debt overhead can effectively be cleared if the Federal Government can block leakages and corruption.

“The planned removal will take electricity access and usage out of the reach and homes of 80 percent of Nigerians,” Oladeji added.

However, the timing of this announcement seems to have further aggravated the poor power supply, given the recent escalation in irregularities of electricity.

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Nigerians across the nation are currently experiencing epileptic power supply.

Especially in this period period of heatwave; an apparent unfair weather condition vetting heavily on humans of this planet.

The people are left to battle with a never-smiling but always shining bright-scorching sun during the day and with the latest not-funny development of power outage at night, they still have to experience the revenge of the sun for shining so bright in the daytime, by a way of saturating the earth with heat, making it uncomfortable for the common man to enjoy one of the gifts bestowed on him by nature, sleep.

The Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NiMet had predicted prolonged heat waves across the country, with temperatures reaching 39°C in the South and 41°C in the North.

NiMet warned that the high heat level can cause dehydration, heat-related illness, and respiratory issues, among other chronic conditions.

The agency said exposure to heat waves can pose serious health, social, environmental, and economic risks, adding that infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to heat stress.

However, electricity supply or power, as the case may be, which could have come in handy to alleviate and cushion the effect of heat, appeared to have worsened the situation for many Nigerians.

Interviews with citizens revealed that everyone shares almost the same burden, frustration and disillusionment.

A resident of Abuja, Mr. Cornelus Agaba, fanning himself under a shade, spoke against the backdrop of the power sector, noting that the government should rather look into stabilizing the power supply first to help cushion the effect of heat.

He said, “this country always majors in minor and minor in major. How can you be talking about an increment in electricity when power supply is not even available. Look at me here, I have electric fans in my house, but I have to come outside to receive air. And the worst part is that at night, these Nepa(AEDC) people will still not restore power supply.

From Kogi State, Mrs Hannah Akuh lamented over power outage saying for more than five days, she hasn’t used electricity. She said, “at night we hardly sleep because of the heat. My husband and I take turns in fanning each other because the heat is too much and if I want to buy fuel, it is expensive. So we have to bear it like that.”

Earlier in February, women protested at the office of the power distribution company in Port Harcourt, saying their husbands no longer make love with them at night due to excessive heat and poor power supply.

The power sector has been a thorn in the side of Nigeria’s development ambitions. Despite the government’s efforts to reform and revitalize the industry, progress has been slow, and citizens continue to bear the brunt of unreliable power supply.

Therefore, a holistic approach is needed in addressing both the subsidy issue and the underlying challenges within the power sector.

But before then, Nigerians are left to grapple with outcomes of poor power supply, hoping for a brighter future amidst the shadows of uncertainty that loom over the power sector.


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