‘Forces President Buhari must fight to fix electricity



• Nebo asks new govt to wield the big stick
• Marketers fleecing customers

FORMER Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo has opened up, giving excuses why the government he served for two years and three months could not deliver reliable electricity power supply to Nigerians.

He blamed inadequate gas supply and vandalism for the failure, even as he was not miserly in his suggestions to the new Muhammadu Buhari administration on what to do, to get it right.

He was, however, quick to point out that the huge investments in the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and other investments in power generation had led to a historic 6000 mega watts installed generation capacity at handover.

For President Muhammadu Buhari, Nebo had a word of advice: “Wield the big stick and ensure there is gas to power if power generation is to improve.’’

Also, it has emerged that electricity marketers are fleecing consumers across the country using the unavailability of pre-paid meters as excuse.

Specifically, some marketers collect between N1,000 to N3,000 from customers who neither have meters nor are given electricity bills that represent whatever they are supposed to have consumed.

In a major interview just before the handover, Nebo said: “I hate excuses. But I would say that commitments were made to give us gas, but we didn’t get the gas. It is just as simple as that. It is very painful. I also blame vandalism.
But much of the blame goes to the oil firms and gas producers for what I consider their hypocrisy.

“They have been hypocritical with this whole issue of making sure that we have gas and helping us bring Nigerians out of darkness.”

He accused gas producers of being more interested in exporting the nation’s gas and diverting what remained for the domestic market to industries, instead of the power sector where it is greatly needed.

On generation, he said: “I regard the NIPP project as a huge benefit to this country. It wasn’t President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration that started it. It was started under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, but it was left to fizzle out until President Jonathan came on board. He re-energised it and got all the three arms of government to agree to continue and complete the 10 plants.

‘‘In fact, the NIPP projects are contributing more power than the legacy Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) power plants to the national grid today. I would say that Jonathan’s administration did phenomenally well. Most of the NIPP projects had been completed, with a few on-going.

‘‘Again, privatisation and commercialisation of these plants are still ongoing. The completion of the privatisation of the other assets of PHCN was wonderful, because the entire process was adjudged to have been very transparent by global referees and umpires who observed the whole process and who certified it was very accountable.

“Since then, the private sector has injected so much to revive ailing turbines, much more than government could ever have found the money to do. Today, we have Egbin Power Plant adding over 220mws, Ughelli over 400mws.

But my two regrets, however, are that we lost the war against vandalism and we lost the war against inadequate gas supply.

“This new government should take a cue and make sure that the petroleum sector does what it ought to do to make sure that there is enough gas going to the power plants. It is very critical. If the new administration does not do that, Nigerians are going to keep suffering in darkness.”

On vandalism, he noted: “I do hope that the administration would also fight vandalism and bring the vandals to their knees. If we don’t do that, we are still going to have a problem. Every two weeks, the gas pipelines are blown up.
It takes two weeks to fix them only for them to be blown up again within 24 to 48 hours of fixing.

‘‘It cost over N120 million and thereabouts every month to fix the pipelines that are damaged. But recently, it is costing over N1billion plus to make sure that the integrity of the transportation of the gas-to- pipeline is maintained.

“I think it is scandalous that we produce over 5 billion scf of gas every day, sell 4 billion and retain only 1 billion scf for local use. The one for local use is preferentially given to industries and not to power, starving the power sector of the needed gas to industrialise this country and I think that is a shame.”

He was full of encomiums for Jonathan, noting that a good foundation had been established in power generation capacity.

He said: “For generation, as I have said, the NIPP projects have been great and many of them are coming on board, and more and more plants would be ready. If there is gas, it shouldn’t take long before every Nigerian would know that a lot happened in the last few years with regard to the power sector.

‘‘It is very important that we look at the score cards.

For two years and three months, I was Minister of Power. Looking back, it hasn’t been a bed of roses. Even if it were a bed of roses, when you have roses, you have thorns. In fact, sometimes, we have seen more thorns than the roses. But we are grateful to God that the power sector has really come a long way.”

“Thankfully, a lot of funding has being injected into the transmission infrastructure. The grid is being strengthened, and for the first time, we were able to hit a peak of over 100,000 mega watts hours in a day within the Jonathan administration that the grid handled. We had less collapsing of the grid. We used to have systems collapse all the time. It is now minimised.

“With regards to distribution, privatisation, of course, has helped. Discos are now under the private sector. One or two are doing well, and the others are either average or not doing well. But I think government should continue to create an enabling environment. The hich will now give the power to the Discos. So, the Discos are suffering, simply because there is not enough power, and many of them are not able even to find enough money to keep them afloat. They need money in order to remain afloat.’’

On how to solve the power supply problem, Nebo said: “The best way, the quickest way, the most inexpensive way of making sure that Nigerians get power, adequate power and eventually 24/7 power is embedded generation or distributed power.

‘‘If you have embedded generation, 10mws or 20mws, by the time you put 20mws in 10 different places, you would have 200mws. You can do that in one year. But for a mega 200, 400, or 500mw plant, it is a different thing entirely. By the time you build that, starting from concept, to design and financing, getting international partners, the partial risk and national sovereign guarantee, it would have taken five to six years.

“While in one year, you can have 50 of 20mws plants that translate to 1000mws, trying to do one mega plant of 1000mws takes five years. This means that we can actually give Nigerians 2000mws of power by embedded generation or distributed power every year, till the year 2020. With that, we will meet our target.”

He also called for action on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), noting that it would liberalise the market, and make it easier for more gas to be available.

The Guardian discovered that many people residing in the suburbs and villages are connected directly to the electricity poles without meters and they pay cash monthly, to marketers.

One such customer told The Guardian: “I approached the electric people in my area of Lagos for a meter and I was told that prepaid meters are not available. One of the marketers advised that I should pay N25,000 to get an account generated for me to enable me get connected and get bills from the Disco on a monthly basis, which I agreed.

‘‘The marketer collected the money from me without proof of payment and connected electricity supply to my apartment that same day with a promise to send me a bill by the end of that month. I was surprised at the end of that month, the bill was not sent, but the marketer came to demand N3, 000, which is supposed to be my monthly bill. He collected it with another promise to send the bill by the end of the second month, which I never got. This continued until I complained to a higher authority before they now started sending bills to me.”

The Guardian also discovered that most of the shops and houses in Aja, Okota, Agege, Sango, Ikorodu, Epe areas do not have meters, but rather, the marketers collect the money in cash every month.

The investigation also showed that most of the houses in the villages across the country are not connected to electricity meters, though the residents pay monthly to marketers.

For example, virtually all the houses in Atuagbo Uneah in Esan Central Local Council of Edo State are not connected to meters, but directly to the electric poles. The customers do not get monthly bills, but pay cash directly to marketers.

Also, in Npkehi, in Owerri North Local Council of Imo State, residents make monthly payments to workers of Enugu Disco who neither give them bills nor receipts.

The fact is that some marketers are feeding fat on the desperation of Nigerians with the excuse of non-availability of prepaid meters.

Lamenting the poor power supply in the country, Buhari at his inauguration, had said that despite the about $20 billion expended in the electricity sector in the last 16 years, no significant achievement has been recorded.

He however, vowed to tackle the issue of power supply during his tenure.

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    Excuses! Excuses! Excuses! All Nigerians want is constant and assured electricity, not excuses!

  • Kunle

    Even though Nebo was a Minister in that Ministry, he seems not to understand the depth of the problem. Everything is wrong with that industry. The privatization is faulty and built on corruption. The ongoing infrastructural development is fraught with monumental corruption, the metering, billing system… Except a holistic approach is adopted it will be another wasted time and effort in revamping the industry. We must note that some powerful Nigerian and their Asian (India and Lebanese) collaborators are seriously feeding fat on our power failure. It goes beyond Nebo’s submission to put things right in the Power sector. With this myopic perspective, I am not surprised why very little was achieved under his watch.

  • the_headline

    A foolish excuse!
    What stopped you from wielding the big stick? Monkey!

    • Fuzio

      He was not the president, fool.

      • Rose

        But he also wasn’t powerless…

        All he has is excuses now anyway.

      • Bobson Akpotohwo

        So why did he not tell whoever was the President to weild the big stick as he is now doing?

        • Fuzio

          I am sorry for calling you a fool. I lost my cool.

          • Paul Audu

            It is honorable to apologize when you realize your mistake but it is also more honorable to first examine yourself before you act.

      • m s

        He was too timid to make recommendation to Mr president abi?

    • tbt

      go back to school or at least back to your mothers womb so that when next you come back to the world, she would at least teach you how not to be calling names.

  • Joseph

    Prof Nebo had the opportunity to wield the big stick, why did he not do it.

    • Ish Adam

      Because he was not President Nebo!

      • emmanuel kalu

        he didn’t need to be the president to wield the power of the ministry of power. the minister of power has the power to mandate meter be supplied by a certain period. metering the nation should have being a condition of getting the money from CBN. he could use fines as a motivation for the discos.

  • ifeanyi chukwu odomosor

    Nebo was trying to justify his inefficiency in the power sector. Today in AMERICA, only 15 states out of the 50 states are running privatized power sector and this just started 25years ago. My recommendation to the new Govt is to reverse the privatization of the entire DISCO and liberalize the generation sector to allow independent people to generate power and sell to the DISCO under the Govt. Revenue collection can be privatized. Privatization of the DISCO can come up when we are sure there is enough market participant in the generator sector with power availability to enable DISCO know what they are distributing,

    • emmanuel kalu

      what are you taking about? i don’t know of any state in america that has it own generation or distribution plant. they are all privately own. what the state does is regulate them tightly. the privatization was a good thing, now it is the matter of implementation that is the problem. our regulator are not doing their jobs.

  • ifeanyi chukwu odomosor

    KUNLE , You are extremely right with your judgement of the failures being experienced in the power sector. I tell you that both the President, Vice president and BPE all knew what happened in the privatization process
    They need to explain to Nigerians

  • Tito Kane

    Buhari should not fight but should just fix electricity.There is nothing to fight about.He should just tell all those generating plants mafias that their time is up.He should ask them all to stop importing generators into Nigeria and invest in Grids.That is all.Buhari should tell them to renouce their memberships in those foreign companies stock exchange that manufactures generators

    • Ish Adam

      Prof Nebo know s what he is talking about .Mafias are gangsters they have to be engaged in a battle in order to overcome them. Their illegal means of making money is at stake and they will not go down without a fight..

      • Tito Kane

        You are right but we THE PEOPLE are bigger than them all mafias

  • Olayimika Agoro

    Prof. Nebo explanation is more confusing than issue of power failure.

  • emmanuel kalu

    nebo, why didn’t you use your big stick to at least mandate that disco meter the nation. gas supply has always being the problem, yet there hasn’t being a single solution about it. so if you have gas supply problem, why do you continue to build all this gas power plants. how about building some renewable, solar panels could be installed in homes in less than a week. so vandals destrpy the pipe lines. have the generation plants come up with alternative for gas supply. you can truck it from oil fields to the plants, then store it on site( storage capacity range from a few weeks supply to over 6 month) they could have this gas moved by train to vaious generation area, then truck to final destination. why are pipelines visible to vandals. this pipes should be deep underground and only known to the oil company and the govt. so all this are just excuses

    • emeka

      You mean Govt will install the Solar panels in homes? Whose homes? This man does not understand what Gas turbines mean. What manner of trucks will transport 60MSCF continuously to one turbine 24/7?. And where is the train to transport the Gas from where to where? Are you living in Nigeria? The pipelines are 9 ft underground and every community knows the pipeline route in their area. See the type of advice you will give the president if you are made a PA. The former minister is right, Embed generation is the short term solution but eventually in the long run, Big power stations must be built and transmission lines too utilising the economy of scales. But they should be private sector driven with government incentives. Gas turbines remain the quickest and cleanest thermal method of power generation. Gas line vandalism is pure sabotage.

  • Lades

    The Ex-minister must be fully aware that what booted prof.Nnaji his predecessor out of that seat was conflict of interest and inability to achieve his promises to Nigerians. all of us knows what is happening in power sector because we are privilege to have access to the sector information. Nigerians should know that until we have enough megawatts privatisation of power sector is meaningless also the minister must answer a question of why do the investors refused to distribute electricity meters to their customers as promised for over two years after NERC has mandated the to do so? The minister once said no DISCO should bill on estimation still all over the nation estimation is talk of the town. in Benin DISCO R2 tariff is 17+ while in Lagos is 13+ somebody should explain that. In December a lot of these marketers were sacked due to non performance this time around not offences. another question to the minister is he should mention where and how much has been invested in the power sector by the new investors because in my area we by poles and repair transformer a senior man in the company told us there is no materials from the head quarters. sanction people for non metering of customers, wrong billing system, poor supply due to undersized and outdated materials. NEBO should tell us who bought those DISCO company and where is the money realised from the sales of DISCO company and stop talking of 1000 and 3000 naira. during the valuation of PHCN access the it was valued 200billion naira people should ask this man what is the worth of PHCN access all over the nation. Thank God President Buhari has been furnished with all these information so Prof. Nebo should stop giving excuses.

  • m s

    Mr NIPP I think you have said enuf good things but trying to make protection of pipelines and the sale of gas look like the business of other govt is confusing abeg enuf of this bragado

  • Engr Yinka

    A proposal to solve this electricity problem permanently which is similar to the minister’s recommendation had been submitted, just hope it will be given unbiased consideration by this new administration.