Restructuring fractured infrastructure!
Eeeeeeewooo’ things fall apart and the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon our land”, Nelly Uchendu crooned, in the background music that heralded the now rested TV serial culled from the novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’ by the late Chinua Achebe. There is definitely no argument about how things are falling apart in Nigeria in geometric progression with governments’ efforts felt more in the order of an arithmetic progression! It is with this in mind that DrillBytes brings to the fore the alarming disappearance of marginal electricity from Nigeria and indeed, the lives of Nigerians. Electric cars are here, solar powered cars are here, water fuelled cars are coming and Nissan has promised an ethanol powered car by 2020.
Yet we are living in the primitive times of making a point with gunshots by blowing energy pipelines! These have all exacerbated the energy crisis and a restructure of the ruptured sector is not an option but a necessity.
Due to the increasing attacks on pipelines through which the country exports crude oil by vandals using desperate methods with the government being increasingly helpless in addressing the situation, several oil majors have had to shut-in their wells and almost all the marginal field operators have had to shut down their operations because they export their production through the facilities of the oil majors like Agip, and Chevron.
Apart from the government losing revenue from this, the source of living of hundreds of thousands in the sector have been terminated thereby increasing the percentage of the most vulnerable in the country. As if this is not bad enough, gas lines to some of the electricity distribution companies, DISCOs have seriously been compromised while electricity generating companies, GENCOs have all but collapsed fuelling the top range megawatts of darkness currently in circulation! The premium motor spirit, PMS otherwise referred to as petrol has lost close to 40% of its fanatics who have found ways of protesting with their pockets by looking “legwards”.
The artisans and small scale businessmen /women who altogether form the bulk of disorganized labour are presently suffering more losses than gains. Yet, these people are supposed to embrace a tariff hike in electricity even as they are presently paying for darkness supplied!
It is an unimpeachable fact that we are presently suffering from the accumulation of bad oversight from our collective amnesia and corporate myopia but shall we continue patching a seriously leaking bucket or change the bucket? The latter will be a better option as it is sure to deliver refreshing results. It takes about two weeks to a month to restore production to every major pipeline blown and yet, these vandals are not ghosts living in the skies.
Therefore, government must find ways to engage and re-engage them in order to reduce if not eliminate our collective losses. Regarding the rupturing or vandalisation of our pockets by the present pay-for-darkness tariff of the DISCOs, it is high time the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Council, NERC and the honourable minister for power find a more people-friendly and pocket-friendly solution to this corporate fraud!The sun is abundant in Nigeria, yet the God-given resource is being wasted with reckless abandon!
Hopefully, the 16M pounds hand of fellowship extended Nigeria by the United Kingdom will fastrack governments efforts in the area of solar energy. Additionally, we should endeavor to reactivate coal fired electricity and thermal electricity, see how we can upgrade our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure that can hardly go beyond 7Gigawatts in a country that needs thrice that amount but presently generates less than a seventh! Several homes, by individual arrangements, are now embracing solar panels to generate clean electricity from the sun and depend less on an increasingly pocket-unfriendly petrol and automotive gas oil, AGO known in local parlance as diesel.
For those who can afford it, they are currently enjoying the benefits of their investment and the quality of life that goes with it while the majority that cannot think in that direction let alone embrace the idea are currently gnashing their teeth in darkness while praying for the mirage-like change to happen in their lifetime, at least in the area of electricity! The responsibility of government is to make life more abundant for its people, secure them and get them working for the benefit of themselves and government.
No good for government officials to disagree with themselves on government policies in the market square and certainly, Nigerians deserve to live like decent humans and not otherwise. It is principally for this reason, government needs to restructure the energy sector to deliver optimally in order to drive Nigeria’s economy to the next level and increase the internally generated revenue from these strides to our collective good. Concerned ministers must be seen to work out, beyond words and promises, a more progressive solution by arresting the descent and restructuring the fractured infrastructure to the soothing relief of Nigerians.
Kayode Adeoye is an energy analyst in Lagos.