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Power Failure: Perennial Fuel Scarcity Puts More Pressure On Nigerians

By Laolu Adeyemi
22 May 2015   |   11:58 pm
The volume of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and diesel Nigerians consume daily may have relatively been reduced if the nation’s power sector has been more stable.
Fuel Scarcity

Some people queuing up to buy PMS at NNPC filling Station in Lagos

The volume of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and diesel Nigerians consume daily may have relatively been reduced if the nation’s power sector has been more stable.

Perhaps, money spent annually by the government in subsidizing the quantity of petroleum consumed on powering generating sets would have been spent on other developmental projects.

If there has been constant power supply, Nigerians would have spent less fueling generating sets and the nation’s economy would have been better. Needless to mention its ripple effects such as closure of many textile industries, relocation of many manufacturing companies to other African countries, lives lost during surgery due to power failure and insecurity, among others.

Nigeria has not been able to fix the power problem that has bedeviled its development, despite the billions of dollars expended on it.

The huge sums of money spent on the power sector with no fruition by successive governments have certainly portrayed the nation in bad light in the global world.

By 5p.m everyday, many petrol filling stations across Nigeria play host to many people who come to buy petrol or diesel to power their generators, all because power supply has been so epileptic.

They come in droves, kegs in hand, until nightfall or till when the filling station closes its gate for operation. Those who can’t afford bigger generators resort to smaller ones, popularly called “I Better Pass My Neighbour” which consumes at least four litres of petrol within eight hours.

Most areas in Lagos barely get power supply for four hours daily and so many people have resorted to running generators.

The situation is not new to Nigerians since the power outage problem is age-long. But the petrol scarcity, which has been biting harder everyday in Lagos and other parts of the country in the last two weeks, has compounded the problem.

The scarcity has lingered for a month now and very few Nigerians can now afford a litre of petrol as its price has skyrocketed. And the very few that can afford the N150 per litre price, which most independent marketers sell now, buy as low as two litres daily.

Head or tail, an average Nigerian now spends the sum of N600 to power his or her generator daily and possibly about N18, 000 since the scarcity broke out four weeks ago, The Guardian investigation revealed. Speaking to a generator technician, Nurudeen Ajao, on how much fuel the smaller generator could consume, he said three litres of PMS could only last for six hours using a smaller generator set.

“Others using bigger generator with 3.00 KVa output burns at least 10 litres for 7 hours,” he noted. Arithmetically, consumers of three litres per day spend N18, 000 per month going by the current price of N150.

At the end of every month, the sum of N18, 000 that would be expended on augmenting power could buy seven bags of cement for any tenant who wishes to own a house in the near future.

In another view, the same amount could afford the user a bag of rice, some tubers of yam, a 5kg of Semovita and at least four litres of palm oil that could sustain his or her family for a while.

Unless the very few that could afford fuelling their generators, most areas in the city are usually envelope with darkness at night- a situation that gives room for crime to be committed. Little wonder why crime rates keep increasing. A generator repairer who identified himself as Rasheed also disclosed that the business of repairing generators has continued to boom because most Nigerians live on generators and they have to service and repair it to keep it in good condition.

Nigeria spends an estimated sum of N796.4 billion annually on fuel to power generators, no thanks to incessant power failure all year round, an expert has revealed.

A breakdown by the expert shows that N540.9 billion is spent on diesel and N255.5 billion goes into the purchase of petrol annually for power generating sets.

According to a study conducted on electricity distribution among the six geo-political zones in late 2009, Nigerians enjoy only four to six hours of power supply; hence many Nigerians had to spend a lot of money to augment the rather poor supply provided by Power Holding Company of Nigeria in conjunction with the distribution units.

In the view of Godfrey Ogbemudia, Programme Director, Community Research and Development Centre, the expenditure on power is largely due to inadequacy in power supply.

Ogbemudia, who spoke at a forum, explained that the figure represented Federal Government’s budget of N796.7 billion for the capital expenditure for the 2009 fiscal year for 36 states of the federation.

Speaking with Idowu Motunrayo, a resident of Ijegun area of Lagos State, she told The Guardian that they only enjoy power supply for two hours in two days. “Power supply in my area is one-day on and one-day off.

And we had to augment the supply with generating sets,” only hoping the incoming administration would improve the situation. Until the promise of improving power generation becomes a reality, Nigeria’s spending on buying and fueling generators will continue to soar.

The business of importing generators into the country would continue to thrive, quantity of PMS and diesel consumed daily would keep going higher as the population increases.