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One trillion dollar investment for energy infrastructure?


electricity (energy)

A recent bandying of mere figures by authorities in Abuja to the extent that they needed a whopping $1 trillion dollars worth of investment to modernise energy infrastructure in the country cannot impress anyone, after all.

The difficulty in the provision of energy to the Nigerian populace has been a recurring decimal over the years. Ever since the establishment of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, ECN, a precursor of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), was established as a statutory public corporation in 1951, the Nigerian society has been bedevilled with the recurrent challenge of providing electric energy to its teeming population both for household and industrial consumption.

The ECN then took over power generation projects of the government, which were carried out through the Public Works Department and from four native authorities. This addressed some of the challenges of power supply at that time.

Years later, with the onset of the Kainji Dams in enhancing power supply into the national grid, some measure of success was achieved at addressing the energy problem, which has remained recurrent, particularly with growing demand occasioned by rising population and industrial expansion across the nation.

Different efforts at solving this problem have led to various reforms in the sector with NEPA, under the Obasanjo Administration metamorphosing to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, which was later subjected privatisation during the Jonathan Administration. This led to the unbundling of the operations in the electric power sector into generation, transmission and distribution.

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, claims and counter claims were made between the government in power then and the Opposition that a notable member of the Opposition then, now the Minister in charge of energy, said that the provision of power to the people is not “rocket science” and that a reasonable government should be able to significantly address the power problem within six months of ascension to power. Though this statement has been controversially denied, the context is still useful, in this regard.

Apart from power supply, the country has had serious challenges in addressing the crisis in the broad energy sector. This crisis cuts across electric energy, fossil fuel energy, solar and wind energy, among others.

At a recent National Energy and Climate Change Summit held at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, a professor, stated that the country needs a whooping $1 trillion to fix or address the rot in energy infrastructure in Nigeria up to the year 2043.

He went ahead to shower praise on the present administration’s efforts in the sector by stating that energy investment risk assessment for Nigeria was moderate.

He went further by commending the administration for its effort to attract both domestic and foreign direct investment into the energy sector and finally stated that the “increased transparency and openness in governance” and the implementation of relevant executive orders by the government have enhanced the moderation of the risk in the sector.

A fallout from all these challenges and self-effacing claims by governments over the years is that the ordinary man in the street is no longer interested nor impressed by these throwing about of figures by the authorities or passing the buck nor “kicking the can down the road,” in the pretext of addressing the problems of society. People want energy supplies, not stories. People want government to stop this empty charade of blame game and excuses.

If energy infrastructure is dilapidated, government should get to work to address it. That is why they are in power. Lots of money have been provided for in previous budgets to address the inadequacies of the energy sector and what the people want is the manifestation of adequate uses of such funds in enhancing the living standards of the people through the provision of adequate infrastructure in the sector.

In this election year, quite expectedly, lots of promises and the pandering of figures have surfaced and so should bring the desired solution to the problems of the sector.

In the main, except these issues are addressed by migrating from rhetoric to action, the ordinary Nigerian would not be impressed by the unnecessary grandstanding and self-praise by the powers that be. What the people need is result not how much is needed to fix challenges.

The nation should be tired of empty promises on critical infrastructure even everyone needs to address ease of doing business in the country.

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