…As Senate Moves to Organize National Round Table Discussion on Power.
Shouts of “Nay” rented the air in the Red-Chambers during Tuesday’s plenary session as the Senate tremendously shut down a temporary ban on generator importation into the country.
The motion which was an additional prayer moved by Senator Francis Fadahunsi (Osun East) was aimed at curtailing the activities of generator importers as a means of making the Government sit up to address the nation’s power problems. Fadahunsi in his contribution to a motion moved by Senator Utazi Chukwuka titled “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems” made the prayer during a call for additional prayers by Senate President Ahmed Lawan the prayer was however shut down in a voice vote by the Senators.
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North) said Nigeria, with a population of 200 million and an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent per annum, is the seventh most populous nation on earth.
According to Utazi, the power generating or installed capacity of Nigeria in relation to its population and Gross Domestic Product cannot place the country to compete favourably in terms of development with other nations.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to find solutions to the power deficits faced by the country.
Citing Indonesia and the Philippines as examples, the lawmaker noted that both countries with a population of 267 million and 107 million, respectively, have installed power capacity of 60,000 megawatts and generating capacity of 42,465 megawatts as well as installed capacity of 20,055 megawatts and generating capacity of 16,271 megawatts.
The lawmaker while expressing optimism that Nigeria can set a realisable target of generating capacity of 100,000 megawatts in the next ten years, said the same can be achieved through a mix of energy sources such as natural gas, hydro, coal, wind and renewable energy.
He added that the various zones in the country are naturally positioned to take advantage of the various energy mix and renewables, particularly solar energy.
“The northern part of the country with vast expanse of land can tap into large solar farms while the southern parts of the country with significant reserves of natural gas and coal can generate power from same.
“Both the North and South have large water bodies that can still be dammed for hydro,” Utazi said.
The lawmaker further posited that Nigeria can improve on its transmission infrastructure by up-scaling its networks from the current 330kv and 132kv to 765kv super grid to enable big power plants to send power through such grid over long distances.
He added that beyond generation and transmission, Distribution Companies (DisCos) lack the financial and technical capacities required, thereby resulting in their inability to pay for power which Generation Companies (GenCos) delivered to the grid.
However, Senator Francis Fadahunsi (Osun East), in his comments said :
“We have to look into the activities of generator importers, this has been our problem since we have alternatives. Our international airports are still running on generators. If we rely solely on our nation’s power generation we shall know how to revive it . If the government can at least for five years ban the importation of generators we shall sit tight and get serious. Senator
Francis further expressed that nation’s power sector was privatized in haste error to people who had no expertise in power. He’s said” the problem is the way power generation and distribution was concessioned hurriedly in the past to certain people who did not know about power just because they had money.
Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central ), in his comments, urged the Federal Government to look into other sources of power generation.
He said ” We can generate energy from other sources like coal, hydro,gas and solar. We needed to for example to determine how much percentage of power can we generate using coal”. If we take Gombe, Enugu, Kogi we have enough coal in those states to generate this 100 000 megawatts that we seek, but we have decided not to take any action”. Let’s go ahead and dismantle whatever needs to be dismantled, let’s make sure that if we divide this according to the six zones we have maybe Southeast Electric distribution company, Southwest Electric distribution company and so on.
The Senate resolved to set up an adhoc committee on the problems of power generation, transmission and distribution in Nigeria to investigate the various power issues and report back within four weeks , it also resolved to organize a national roundtable discussion on the problems and solutions on the nation’s power