Joe Ajaero, general secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), says Nigeria will continue to struggle with abysmal power supply unless it is able to improve the level of production.
Ajaero spoke with select journalists in Lagos, saying power generation in more than seven years has fluctuated around 4,000 megawatts whereas Nigeria’s population has soared to an estimated 200 million.
“No country can grow its industrial base when its national plan fails to match power generation with its population growth rate,” Ajaero said, stressing that continuous increase in tariff would not solve the problem.
He argued that unless there is a conscious effort by the government and investors in the power sector to improve generation and weak infrastructure, improvement in service to electricity consumers would remain a mirage.
According to him, whereas what is acceptable as international standard is 1,000 megawatts of power to a one million population, Nigeria continues to stay at the bottom of the pyramid, struggling with 4,000 megawatts to 200 million population.
He said the quantum of investments required to improve generation, transmission and distribution of power must be made, just as he accused the distribution companies of lacking technical competence to run the sector. Ajaero specifically noted that since the power privatisation in 2012, the investors have added “nothing” to what they inherited from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), a development he said negates terms of the power privatisation programme.
He submitted that increase in tariff would necessarily not lead to improvement in service to consumers, adding that “no single power plant has been constructed in the last seven years” while the distribution companies were still dependent on equipment pre-dating the privatisation.
“For example, 90 percent of transformers in the discos’ operations are overloaded, with no relief plan,” he said, adding that part of the power agreement was to be changing transformers but because the Discos want to maximize profit, they have refused to do so, leaving consumers to continue to pay for inefficiency in the system.